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Entertainment

Into the world of Amaya

JP Mitog - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - GMA 7 presents Amaya, a historical fiction epicserye that forms part of its primetime offerings beginning in May. Set in the 1500 Central Visayas milieu, the world of Amaya is brought to life through elaborate sets, villages, infrastructures and costumes that stay as historically accurate as possible with the help of two historical consultants from the University of the Philippines.

Stepping onto the scene that contains the karakoa feels literally like entering another world. The karakoa is the pre-Spanish warship primarily used for transportation and battle purposes. The GMA 7 production team headed by Rodel Cruz (of Encantadia) came up with the karakoa by repurposing an empty hull lent to them. Rodel tells us that the karakoa alone cost nearly P2M to build. He clarifies that because they needed the ship to be sea-worthy, the costs shot up immensely what with the installation of a working engine.

Back then, the karakoa’s engine was fueled not by a machine, but by 100 rowers or so. As the Amaya cast is already filled extensively with warriors, setting aside 100 men for the sole purpose of rowing the karakoa seemed too much of a luxury, even for this type of production. Rodel further shares that the karakoa’s specification and intricate details were made to resemble the real thing down to the smallest carving and design. It took over a month to build the ship, and amazingly, the ship is one of the smaller sets of Amaya.

Rodel reveals that Amaya’s directive is to make a new standard for primetime viewing. This new genre is called the epicserye and the key is to raise the bar. Rodel says, “From what we see, it’s promising that we’ll make it.”

Marian Rivera and Sid Lucero of Amaya

From creating entire indoor and outdoor villages for the story’s main protagonists and villains, Rodel says it wasn’t an easy task to create life-size, believable sets that allow the characters of Amaya to move around and breathe in with as much authenticity as possible. The main villain, Rajah Mangubat, even owns rare Chinese artifacts, which Rodel explains, “dahil may trade talaga na nangyayari sa 1500’s, mas mahirap gawin ang Amaya dahil may point of reference. In Encantadia, whatever was in my imagination, I found ways to execute it. Here, you have to consult visual and scholastic research.”

“Personally, I’m happy we are able to do it in spite of all the limitations such as: the budget, having to work within a specific point of historical reference, and more.”

Rodel also brought in theater costume designer Gino Gonzalez to help clothe the characters of Amaya. While the story of Amaya is fictional, the inspiration for the clothing is not. Gino looks to several Asian countries to draw up his designs and patterns for Amaya. With fabrics from Malaysia, Singapore, India, and Indonesia, the look of Amaya becomes uniquely regional. Gino explained that in order to create a 1500 Visayan tribal identity for everyone on Amaya, they had to do historical research for three months. As they continue shooting, the clothing and costumes are given the constant check by the historical consultants to ensure they stay faithful to what would have been worn in that era.

The look and design of the costumes relied heavily on the boxer codex, a language of symbols in place before the arrival of the Spaniards. Its watercolor drawings represent what people looked like then, with rough sketches of what they wore as well. To complete the look of the cast of Amaya, a combination of the tribal shapes is tattooed on each member to represent their tribe. This process takes up a chunk of the time every shooting day and Gino remarks that all the intricacy and attention to the finest details justifies the P3M already spent on costumes, clothing and accessories alone.

Production team head Rodel Cruz

The story focuses on the interactions between Rajah Mangubat, played by Gardo Versoza and Datu Bugna, played by Raymond Bagatsing. The major plot centers around Marian Rivera’s title character Amaya, the binukot or secluded princess and her journey to understand who she really is, her desire to seek justice and her forbidden love.

It’s a story of epic proportions, with battle scenes and swordfights inspired by arnis and martial arts. These complex details and highly structured scenes make Amaya a definite must-watch for primetime viewing.

Meanwhile, Amaya had a two-day roadshow over the weekend, visiting key cities of Pangasinan, Pampanga, Cabanatuan and Nueva Ecija. Cast members, headed by its lead star, had mall shows at the SM City Rosales Event Center, CSI The City Mall Dagupan Atrium, SM City Pampanga Event Center and the NE Pacific Mall Parking Lot in Cabanatuan City.

Tune in to GMA 7 weeknights after Captain Barbell to clearly experience why it sets the new standard for primetime television in Amaya.

An outdoor village set

AMAYA

CABANATUAN AND NUEVA ECIJA

CABANATUAN CITY

CAPTAIN BARBELL

GINO

RAJAH MANGUBAT

RODEL

RODEL CRUZ

VERDANA

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