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How Kuya Ipe drew real tears from Bong

Bong Revilla as Indio is half-human and half-diwata with special powers

If there were to be a historical drama-fantasy series that would reach epic proportions, it would have to be Indio, currently running on GMA’s evening primetime.

Indio, a Spanish term for Filipino commoners during the pre-colonial to Spanish colonial era, chronicles the life of Malaya/Simeon (Bong Revilla) who rises from the ranks of slaves to one of a demigod in his quest for freedom from the Spanish Crown. Its powerhouse cast includes Jennylyn Mercado, Michael de Mesa, Maxene Magalona and Rhian Ramos.

It is also a mix of the real and the imagined, the gods and legends of our land that could rival those of the Romans and the Greeks and the wars waged in the name of love between a mortal and a God.   

Ynaguiguinid, Goddess of War, has fallen for a warrior tribesman and bore him a child. Native couple Tarong and Linang, found and adapted him, naming him Malaya (free). Being half-human/half-diwata, Malaya possesses supernatural abilities, incredible strength and invulnerability. Upon discovery of these abilities, wily governor-general Juancho adopts Malaya, calling him Simeon until Juancho’s evil deeds are uncovered and involvement in the death of Simeon’s love Rosa.

With this discovery, Malaya focuses on the ultimate task of protecting the commoners or Indios from the abuses of the Spanish colonial government.

Jose Marie Mortel Bautista (legally changed to Bong Revilla) was born Sept. 25, 1966, and starred in numerous action movies in the ’80s and ’90s, some with his father, Ramon Revilla Sr. His first film was Dugong Buhay (1983) at age 17. His latest film, Si Agimat, Si Enteng Kabisote at Si Ako for the 2012 Metro Manila Film Festival was an action comedy with Vic Sotto and Judy Ann Santos.

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Bong entered politics as vice governor of Cavite at 29. In the May 1998 local elections, he won a full term for the position of governor. Bong is married to Lani Mercado who also joined the political scene and is current representative of the Second District of Cavite. They have six children

In the field of television, Bong has had less participation, mostly in action comedies for which he won as Best Comedy Actor for Idol Ko Si Kap in the 2001 PMPC Star Awards for Television, and Best Educational Program Host for Kap’s Amazing Stories again in the 2009 PMPC Star Awards for Television.

It is therefore with much trepidation that Bong rejoins television, not with comedy but with an epic-serye, the most ambitious yet embarked upon by GMA. We caught up with Bong, strangely enough, at the Dinagyang festival in Iloilo where he led the contingent of stars from GMA, and we were with a group of journalists invited to cover the event. 

Sen. Bong shared his rigorous acting training for his role in Indio under director Laurice Guillen, Pen Medina, and Philip Salvador admitting it to be his first time, and he wanted to do it right. “I want people to see a different Bong Revilla.” It will be the second epic-serye from GMA, the first being the much-admired and highly successful Amaya.

At the lunch press conference, the cast of Indio Bong, Jennylyn Mercado and Rhian Ramos arrived practically straight from the airport. With them was Philip who refused to join the official party, saying he was just there as the best friend of Bong. We cornered everyone’s Kuya Ipe whom we had known as Lino Brocka’s protégé and asked him to level with us.  

 He admitted to having been Bong’s coach from the time of Ang Panday when Bong had began to realize he couldn’t just play around with the FPJ starrer that had been entrusted to him. But this time for Indio, Phillip said he is stricter to the point where they would be fighting over his firmness and uncompromising stance.

Kuya Ipe told us, “Whatever Lino taught me, I passed on to him.” He told Bong he wanted consistency and sincerity in the character. “I don’t want to see Bong Revilla. I want to see Malaya or Simeon.” He recalled giving him exercises, asking him to give differing attacks in various scenes. He would make him do the breakdown scene over and over again, demanding that the tears fall on specific lines then call a cut. Then he asked Bong to pick up where he had cut!

“He was like a little boy when he finally got it. This is the first time I saw him so excited. He wants to grow as an actor and would want to win a Best Actor trophy not because he is Bong Revilla, but because he was good in the character he had portrayed.”

 We left them both still discussing and arguing over something. Upon returning to Manila, we tuned in on Indio, and have been tuning in since then. We love the Simeon we are seeing. Truly, Bong the actor is well on his way to achieve his dream.

(E-mail us at bibsymcar@yahoo.com.)

 

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