John Arcilla hopes 'OTJ' story 'can open people's eyes'


Posted at Sep 14 2021 06:36 PM | Updated as of Sep 16 2021 10:21 PM

John Arcilla won best actor in the prestigious Venice Film Festival for his role as Sisoy in ‘On The Job: The Missing 8.’
John Arcilla won best actor in the prestigious Venice Film Festival for his role as Sisoy in ‘On The Job: The Missing 8.’ HBO Asia


MANILA — Acclaimed actor John Arcilla hopes the story of “On The Job: The Missing 8” will not only enlighten, but move Filipinos to action against corruption in government. 

In the Erik Matti film, Arcilla portrays a corrupt journalist who questions his loyalty to a politician when eight of his colleagues go missing.

With his performance as Sisoy, Arcilla made history this week as the first Southeast Asian artist to win best actor at the 78-year-old Venice Film Festival.

“On The Job: The Missing 8” is inspired by true events, from prisoners temporarily freed as hitmen-for-hire, to the disappearances of journalists who bare corrupt practices in government.

While Matti did not set out to produce the film as an advocacy title, Arcilla welcomes the possibility that it “can enlighten some people’s minds and can open some people’s eyes,” he told ABS-CBN News.

“Because if you’re not going do something about such crimes and crisis in our society, this will not just stay, this will worsen,” he said.

“If people will be enlightened because of this film, sana ay may gawin din ‘yung tao, hindi lang basta imulat ‘yung mata.”

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Voting in the 2022 elections is one of the ways, if not the ultimate means, for Filipinos to effect change, according to Arcilla.

He urged fellow voters to elect leaders who will not use their position for self-gain — unlike politicians depicted in “On The Job” — and who will educate Filipinos about their rights.

Having essayed numerous roles that reflect Philippine issues, from the titular “Heneral Luna” to the terrorist leader Renato Hipolito in “FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano,” Arcilla said his taking on Sisoy in “On The Job” is motivated by the same advocacy he has long held since his career beginnings in 1990.

“Since I started as an actor, I’ve always had this belief that we are not just entertainers. We can also be catalysts for change. I believe actors and artists can transform a society,” he said.

“Every time I step on stage, I always say, ‘This is for the Filipino people. I wish can touch some broken hearts, I can heal some lost souls by doing this role.’ I’ve had that mantra since I started acting.

“Because I believe that we entertain, but at the same time, we should also enlighten, and people should learn something from the stories they’re watching.”