Indio is Bong’s gift to his fans
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - January 8, 2013 - 12:00am

It’s almost as big as a movie.

Correction: Indio is even bigger than and presumably better than a movie, what with its budget and a powerhouse cast that includes (to mention only a few) Phillip Salvador, Jennylyn Mercado, Rhian Ramos, Michael de Mesa, Jackielou Blanco, Sarah Lahbati, Rachelle Ann Go, Jomari Yllana, Agot Isidro, Solenn Heussaff, Sam Pinto, Dominic Roco, Robert Arevalo, Melissa Mendez, Bobby Andrews, Benjie Paras, Luis Alandy, Ramon Christopher, Jillian Ward and Alden Richards (as the young-adult Malaya, with Vincent Magbanua as the kid Malaya).

“Indio is my gift to my fans,” said Bong Revilla who plays the title role (a.k.a. Malaya). “People are used to seeing me in comedy roles on TV. This time, they will see me on TV as they see me in movies, and they don’t have to pay any admission fee for it. I’m just as excited as everybody else about this telemovie.”

Set to premiere next Monday, Jan. 14, on GMA, the historical drama directed by Dondon Santos was conceptualized early last year by writer Suzette Doctolero (also behind such epic GMA shows as Encantadia, Etheria and Amaya), under the supervision of Dr. Vic Villan of UP who was the consultant for Amaya and Dr. Rolando Borrinaga.

Funfare talks to Bong during a break at the Indio pictorial, some shots of which you’re seeing for the first time only in STAR.

How much more challenging is Indio than your previous roles (TV and  film)?

“Doing Indio is very challenging. Ngayon lang ako gumawa ng isang palabas na may semblance of historical accuracy. So to be believable, I have to put myself at the setting of the story and I have to act and talk the way people did at that time.

“It’s also only now that I’m doing a daily series which requires a new kind of physical preparation and management of schedule. I have always said that the arts is my first love, but it is now way down in my list of priorities. First, I’m a public servant; second, a husband and a father; at pangatlo lang ang pag-aartista para sa kabuhayan.

“So time management is very crucial because the shoot almost always lasts overnight because I hardly have much free time. This is the biggest challenge I think.”

How did you prepare for Indio (diet, workout, etc.)?

“Needless to say, I really take good care of myself so that I may be able to meet the rigors and demands of our work, and the characters we are portraying. But again, para maging believable, kailangan mong paghandaan ng mabuti ang role, more pa sa pagganap kaysa sa pisikal. I think I am now back to my old shape as Panday 1’s. It’s important that I allot time for workout, considering my tight schedule.

“I also had another workshop with direk Laurice (Guillen). I have been in acting more than half of my life, but I realized that I have to hone my skills even more. There is really no end to growth and learning.

“Also, my good friend Ipe (Phillip Salvador) has really been a great help. He is always on the lookout for me. Indio is an entirely different genre from what I am used to do. I want the televiewers to see not Bong Revilla, kundi si Indio.”

Did you do some research since its theme is historical?

“Yes, I did some reading, at nakipag-usap at kwentuhan tayo sa mga consultants ng show who are history professors and experts. Kahit fictionalized ang show, it has some historical undertones that should at least have some sense of accuracy.”

As senator, what’s your criteria in accepting TV roles since TV is so accessible to young viewers (free, no admission price unlike in theaters)?

“Whether for a movie or TV show, I see to it that the roles I play will convey a positive message to the viewers, especially the youth. Although the roles we portray are not perfect, siyempre tao lang din naman ang mga ginagampanan natin, but we make sure that the characters have virtues that people can emulate and that includes having a good character, being responsible, being hard-working and making sacrifices for the good of other people, among others.”

Do you have a hand in choosing your co-stars?

“Well, they asked for my suggestions. But as far as the decision-making process is concerned, I left it all to them.”



Sarah not pregnant?


Because of her plan to take a leave from showbiz and join her father in Switzerland and study there, gossipmongers are busy speculating that Sarah Lahbati might be pregnant (by her boyfriend and Seduction leading man Richard Gutierrez).

Funfare asked Richard’s mom Annabelle Rama (busy campaigning in Cebu where she’s running for congresswoman), probably the most reliable source, and Annabelle firmly said no. “Hindi siya buntis!”

According to the latest GMA statement, Sarah’s Artist Management Contract with GMA Network is effective until Feb. 2015 and that “there is no provision for leave of absence in the said contract. Any leave is subject to prior agreement between the Network and Sarah. Therefore, Sarah’s unilateral decision to go on leave, despite its earlier disapproval by the Network, is a violation of her contract with the Network. Further, her declared trip to Switzerland for an indefinite period, without the prior consent and approval of the Network, will be an additional violation of her contract…”

GMA likewise accused Sarah of, among other things, “walking out during taping, causing an additional production cost of P500,000” and signing a contract with Royal Era Entertainment & Artist Management which is owned and managed by Annabelle.

Sarah said that she was offered by top management of GMA to sign a contract with ICONS management (ICONS Talent Management is said to be a GMA-7 management arm) just a few months before she signed up with Royal Era.

But according to Sarah, “I didn’t sign with ICONS because they wanted to deduct another 15% on top of the 25% that is being deducted by GMA Artists Center. We found that too steep of a deduction for someone who is just a newcomer such as myself.”

What’s up?

• Oops! Yes, of course, it’s Isabelle Allen who plays the little Cosette in Les Miz, with Anne Hathaway as Fantine, her mother. The adult Cosette is played by Amanda Seyfried (who will play the title role in the Linda Lovelace bioflick) while Samantha Barks plays Eponine (whose landmark song is On My Own). Thanks to readers Dr. Casey Tiongson, Katrina Go and Alfred Francisco Geronimo for calling my attention to it.

(E-mail reactions at You may also send your questions to For more updates, photos and videos visit or follow me on www.twitter/therealrickylo.)

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