Paulo feels ‘burden’ of being Goyo actor, producer

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Paulo feels �burden� of being Goyo actor, producer
Paulo Avelino is not only the lead star of Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral, playing the title role of Gen. Gregorio del Pilar, but he’s also one of the film’s executive producers

MANILA, Philippines — Paulo Avelino is not only the lead star of Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral, playing the title role of Gen. Gregorio del Pilar, but he’s also one of the film’s executive producers. The historical epic, now showing in cinemas nationwide, is the second installment of director Jerrold Tarog’s trilogy of Filipino heroes, which has been touted as “bayani-universe,” that began in 2015 via the blockbuster hit Heneral Luna.

Set during the Filipino-American war, Goyo tells the story of the “revolution as it marches on against the Americans after the death of Gen. Antonio Luna. The conflicted philosophies behind the heroic struggle continue and become personified in the colorful character of Goyo, one of the youngest generals of the Philippine Revolution.” Produced by TBA Studios, Artikulo Uno Productions and Globe Studios, Goyo also serves as the opening film of the celebration of the Centennial Anniversary of Philippine Cinema.
Paulo’s decision to co-produce was because he wanted to feel the “burden” of making sure that the film will be patronized by the public.

“It gives more of yourself. Just being hired as an actor, you just do your job. Tapos, ako pa naman, tamad ako mag-promote. There’s more than just this. I feel like if you produce, you have this burden and responsibility to make the film work. It’s like — I will also feel it. And I feel that burden. I need to do everything to make the film better, to make sure the film will be watched and that there’s extra effort,” the 30-year-old actor told the press recently.

With research based on Nick Joaquin’s A Question of Heroes, Teodoro Kalaw’s An Acceptable Holocaust: Life and Death of a Boy-General, Gen. Jose Alejandrino’s The Price of Freedom, The Letters of Apolinario Mabini, among others, direk Jerrold had said that in the film, he tries to present a “balanced” picture of the boy-general, a heroic at the same time flawed person.

The director added that for one, Goyo was accused as the “hatchet man” of the first President of the Philippines Emilio Aguinaldo. “He was assigned to capture Luna. Parang may ganun siya na order. Goyo enacted the order but he wasn’t able to capture Luna. Yung flaws niya dun na medyo sunod-sunoran siya and Goyo was a bit vain. In the middle of a war, he was still concerned whether his clothes were clean, his boots were well-polished. Nagpapadala pa rin siya ng nanay niya ng fresh na uniform … and marami siyang pinag-sabay na girls (he would ask his mother to send him fresh uniform… and he had many girls at the same time).”

As for Paulo, the least-known information he learned about Goyo while doing the film included the “physical side, I didn’t know that may golden tooth si Goyo… Other thing was he was rumored to have a lot of girls but there’s proof because there are letters that proved that. Was he a playboy? Di naman, mapagmahal siguro, hahaha (Maybe he was just a loving person). The other things I discovered about Goyo, they didn’t become part of Goyo anymore because the film takes after Luna dies.”

Despite his perceived flaws, including his youth, Goyo learned about sacrifice, Jerrold pointed out.

“So if anything, (the audience) can look at it, the idea that Goyo learned how to sacrifice. I don’t want to give away too many things in the theme, but the idea of sacrifice is one important thing, the idea ng pagkilala ng sarili mo is not really a kind of egotism. It’s more of learning to let go of your ego for the greater good,” Jerrold said. 

For the millennial generation, in particular, they can look at the movie narrative “from the point of view of someone who has been given such a big responsibility and because he was very young — when Goyo died, he just turned 24 — that point of view of someone given such a huge responsibility by the president of the Philippines no less, how are you able to handle that, how will you grow up, how will you realize that your life is so fragile and that anytime, you can go? So, how can you give more meaning to your life?”

What did Jerrold see in Paulo that made him perfect for the title role?

Paulo surmised, “I think Jerrold wanted him to be different. I auditioned for Luna and from there, it transitioned to this film. I think Jerrold saw that the introspection of the film, it should also come with the character. Tini-try ko ngayon maging mas madaldal ngayonpero may pag-ka introvert (pa rin ako). I think that is one of the reasons (they got me).”

With him topbilling the biggest Philippine film ever made to date, no surprise if he’s being asked whether or not he’s ready for his “star status” to grow even bigger. Paulo, however, admitted that he’s at a point in his career that he wants to take a break. “I’m very grateful for all the people who helped me, I would say, rise, not just as an artist but also a celebrity. I will always be grateful but it comes to a point when you get to realize that parang gusto ko ng magpahinga (that I want to take a rest). Hindi dahil sa akin pero ang hirap na hindi mo magagawa ang gusto mong pelikula dahil kesyo ganito or ganyan. I want to do films and projects at my own pace and not because I need to do a film or a blockbuster hit or because of this or that, di lang para mag-grow ako as a person but also to help the film industry or the people who are in need in the industry.”

According to the actor, his present ruminations in life have something in common with that of Goyo, especially when it comes to questions about “what you should prioritize in your life?” After doing this role, Paulo said, “you get to realize that — and I’m sure a lot of you will get to realize it — life is short. So, why do we keep being distracted from what we really need to do or what we have to do, or the bigger responsibilities that we have in life?”

Going beyond the personal level, Paulo has learned “a lot” about history. “After researching and reading so many stuff, these types of films encouraged me and sparked something in me to like research more and find out more about our history, especially during the time when the Americans came here. Like, how much of our history is not really taught to the younger generation or how much is written. These are just a few things. But (doing this film) made me so curious, gave me more love and gave me more hope in the country. That’s one thing I hope that Goyo could give to our audiences ­— to spark and ignite something in them, to have more love for and hope in the country.”

Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral also stars Carlo Aquino as Col. Vicente Enriquez, Mon Confiado as President Emilio Aguinaldo, Epy Quizon as Apolinario Mabini, Arron Villaflor as Joven Hernando, Gwen Zamora as Remedios Nable Jose, Empress Schuck as Felicidad Aguinaldo, Che Ramos-Cosio as Hilaria Aguinaldo, Art Acuna as Maj. Manuel Bernal, Rafa Siguion-Reyna as Col. Julian del Pilar and Benjamin Alvez as Lt. Manuel Quezon.

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