Bataan: On the set of Bonifacio
Bataan: On the set of Bonifacio
Amadís Ma. Guerrero (The Philippine Star) - September 12, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Two sisters of Robin Padilla — Rebecca and Carmela — are members of my group, the Andres Bonifacio Concert Choir (ABCC), headed by renowned composer Jerry Dadap, whose masterpiece is the musical Andres Bonifacio: Ang Dakilang Anak Pawis, first presented at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in 1979 with a cast of 200. Tommy Abuel played the Narrator.

We are now in the midst of rehearsals for the play, which ends in the cruel, painful death of Bonifacio at the hands of Aguinaldo’s hatchet men. Rebecca is now the Narrator.

By a happy coincidence brother Robin is now essaying the role of the Supremo in a film to be shown in this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival — Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo. Robin’s ex-lover, Vina Morales, plays Bonifacio’s wife Gregoria (Oryang) de Jesus.

Daniel Padilla and Jasmine Curtis-Smith are also in the movie. It is directed by Enzo Williams, produced by Rina Navarro and E.A. Rocha; written by Enzo, Carlo Obispo and Keiko Aquino; with Sonny Sison as stunt coordinator. Both Enzo and Sonny are Filipino-Americans who are Hollywood talents.

So off we went to the idyllic town of Bagac, Bataan, where location shooting was underway at the heritage resort of Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar. A sequence was being shot with a wretched Indio (Jose Nikolas Herrera) groveling before the evil friars (Miguel Faustman and Kuya Manzano) as Andres (Robin) and Oryang (Vina) approached.

The usual delays, make-up pauses and take after take.

Later, Robin talked to media and showed his serious, nationalistic side, although he claimed he does not want to stay here anymore (“ayoko na dito”) and wants to be based in Spain, where he wants to learn the language and do research on Philippine history.

Why the title Ang Unang Pangulo when it is Emilio Aguinaldo who is officially our first president?

“Even Aguinaldo called Bonifacio Pangulo,” asserted Robin. “Hindi contrabida si Aguinaldo dito. Magkaiba lang (ang pananaw). Kailangan mamulat ang kabataan sa katotohanan. Binura ng Kastila ang pagkatao natin. Kaya kailangan ipaliwanag ang Katipunan. It is not communistic but a way of life.”

He added, “Kung di dahil kay Bonifacio wala tayong kalayaan.”

At the same time, Robin said the film is not all seriousness. “It’s historical but entertaining, walang sermon. That’s why we put in Daniel and Jasmine.”

As for Vina, Robin said she gave new life (“panibagong buhay”) to the role of Oryang. All historical accounts depict her as a strong woman who endured much for love of country and husband. His love for Vina was not rekindled (“on and off naman kami”) during the shooting, he said in answer to a question from a colleague. But they have great chemistry onscreen, after a long absence.

Alam mo naman ang mga Bisaya (Vina is from Cebu),” laughed Robin. “Malambing pero matapang!”

The very charming Vina admitted that it was a bit “weird” at first working with Robin again. “He’s open, nakakatuwa,” she observed. “I’m very comfortable doing the scenes with him. In a way, I missed him pero hanggang dun lang. Meron syang love life, ako wala but I’ll get there. I’m strong now. Of course, you also want peace.”

She added, “He has changed a lot. I’m proud of what he has become.” To which Robin suddenly declared, “Mahal ko si Vina.” And she replied, “I love him but in a different way now.”

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