Bea Alonzo, Maricel Laxa cast in US film '1521: The Battle of Mactan'

Shiela Reyes, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 05 2022 12:19 PM | Updated as of Aug 05 2022 04:43 PM

Bea Alonzo, Maricel Laxa and the cast of '1521: The Battle of Mactan.' Handout
Bea Alonzo, Maricel Laxa and the cast of '1521: The Battle of Mactan.' Handout

MANILA -- Fil-American filmmakers are mounting a feature that seeks to showcase a love story against the backdrop of the epic clash between pre-colonial Filipinos and the Spanish forces of Ferdinand Magellan in Mactan, Cebu more than 500 years ago.

The movie "1521: The Battle of Mactan" is a collaboration between US-based Filipino producer Francis B. Lara Ho and Fil-American actor-director Michael Copon.

It will feature Copon himself as Lapu-Lapu, American actor Danny Trejo as Magellan, and Filipino actresses Bea Alonzo and Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan as sisters Diwata and Ahmani, respectively. Puerto Rican actor Hector David Jr. portrays Diwata’s love interest Enrique.

The film opens with Diwata, who dreams of being transported to pre-colonial Philippines while exploring the ruins of an ancient Spanish fort. In her dream, she becomes a native princess who falls in love with Magellan's handsome translator Enrique — but their romance get caught up in the conflict.

The events become more complicated after Diwata awakens, and soon finds the line between her dream and reality blurring.

The film will also be told largely from the perspective of Lapu-Lapu, regarded as the first Filipino hero for leading the forces that defeated the Spaniards.

In a virtual press conference held Thursday, Copon, whose Hollywood credits include "One Tree Hill" and :"Power Rangers Time Force," shared how they chose Alonzo and Laxa-Pangilinan to be part of the movie.

As for Laxa-Pangilinan, he said: “You know, they say you marry a reflection of yourself too. Meeting Anthony, I was so amazed by his presence. When I found out his wife is an actress, whoa, who is she? I want to meet her. Because his presence was kind of like the idea of what I was thinking for the older sister of Diwata.”

“So I had seen her tapes, I YouTubed it, it was just spot on. I didn’t need another thought of it. She’s got this elegant beauty about her, this elegant poise about her that is Ahmani,” he added.

On the other hand, Copon said Alonzo was an easy choice because of her credits and talent.

“When I found out who she is and what she’s accomplished thus far, my thing that I am excited about is that I did direct Bea’s first international, global Hollywood movie… I knew for a fact that Bea, with her success and her talent, she’s the right one for Diwata,” he said.

While the movie highlights Filipino history and culture, Lara Ho emphasized that this is not a historical movie.

“The good thing though is our production designers, our writers and our director read a lot, did a lot of research. We did consult a lot of historical experts. However, we want to make this very clear, we are not making a historical movie. We are not talking 'Bonifacio' here, we are not talking 'Goyo.' This is really a love story, kinda like Pocahontas and Romeo and Juliet,” he said.

Copon echoed this and said that "1521" would not focus entirely on the Battle of Mactan, citing the romance between Diwata and Enrique, which he described as the "heart and soul" of the story.

According to its producers, the film would be shot entirely in Palawan, picked for its scenic beaches and mountains.

“We chose Palawan because there are so many parts of Palawan that still look like it’s in the 1500s. It’s untapped” Copon said.

"1521" is scheduled for release on June 12, 2023, coinciding with the 125th celebration of Philippine Independence Day.

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