MANILA -- After earning praise for his turns in foreign films "Metro Manila" and "The Bourne Legacy," veteran actor John Arcilla takes on his biggest role to date as General Antonio Luna in the biopic "Heneral Luna."
The movie from director Jerrold Tarog made its world premiere at last month's Asian American International Film Festival in New York City. It opens in Philippine cinemas on September 9.
According to the film's synopsis in the AAIFF website, the movie tells the story of the revolutionary army commander "who knows the way of the war."
"After 300 years as a Spanish colony, the Philippines must face a new foreign power trying to overtake them: the United States of America. Wanting to fight for his motherland and freedom, General Luna wishes nothing but to be a completely independent and unified country, away from the Spanish and Americans," it said.
In an interview on "Aquino & Abunda Tonight" on Monday, Arcilla noted that the film's period is already familiar to him, having played Mariano Trias in another historical film "El Presidente."
"Bago dumating sa akin ang project na ito ay madami na akong nagampanan na role na hero ng ating bansa. 'Yung era sa akin ay very familiar na. Then siguro 'yung backbone ay iba kaysa sa isang fiction na character. Kasi sa isang fiction character madaling pagkasunduan ng writer, director and the actor. Kapag ito ay isang totoong icon, mayroon kang kino-consider na mga accounts, may negative, may positive which I really have to embrace all," Arcilla said of his preparation for the movie.
"Siguro nakaka-relate ako sa temper niya. Kasi 'yung family namin may pagka-tough love din eh, ganoon mostly ang Pinoy. (Ang temper niya) mabilis siyang magalit. Pero naisip ko nung ginagawa ko na siya, na-discover ko na hindi lahat ito ay uncontrollable, 'yung iba ay calculated. Kasi halimbawa kailangan niyang ipakita kung paano maging isang matatag na sundalo kasi very immediate ang war at huge ang enemy," Arcilla told host Boy Abunda.
Arcilla considers Luna the Andres Bonifacio of the American-Filipino war.
"Kung si Bonifacio ang lumaban against the Spaniards, siya ang lumaban ng diretso sa Amerikano. Hindi siya pinapaniwalaan or in fact kahit naniniwala sa kanya, mas naniniwala siya na gustong makipag-ally ng mga politiko noon and he is very brave to say na 'no they are not friends, they are enemies,'" he said.
But aside from being the "bravest general of the Philippines," Arcilla pointed out that Luna was also a poet and a musician.
"He is a graduate of pharmacy at nag-aral siya ng military. Kapatid niya (si Juan Luna). In fact, siya ang nagtayo ng precursor ng PMA at siya ang pinaka-brave, sinasabing he is the only general of the Philippines. 'Yun ang sinasabi ng mga Amerikano and yet mahal niya ang kanyang bansa," Arcilla said.
In the movie, Arcilla worked with Kapamilya actors Arron Villaflor, Joem Bascon and Paulo Avelino and he has only good words for the young actors.
"'Yung dedication nila, 'yung energy nila sobrang ang tataas. 'Yung kailangan nilang magpuyat, kailangan nilang lumipat sa show pagkatapos ng kanilang taping. Kitang kita mo 'yung dedication," he said.
"Siguro dahil ang daming artista ngayon they really have to prove something. Ngayon mas maraming gustong maging artista so they really have to prove na ito ang dedication ko at kaya kong gawin ito. Hindi lang importante na maganda ako at gwapo, nakikita ko 'yon sa kanila," Arcilla said.