Bea Alonzo, Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan to star in Hollywood-Philippine production about Battle of Mactan

Kristofer Purnell - Philstar.com
Bea Alonzo, Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan to star in Hollywood-Philippine production about Battle of Mactan
Bea Alonzo, Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan, and Danny Trejo will all star in "1521" about the Battle of Mactan
Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan via Facebook, "1521"

MANILA, Philippines — Award-winning actresses Bea Alonzo and Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan are set to play sisters in the upcoming film "1521," which will depict the events at the historic Battle of Mactan.

"1521" is a groundbreaking collaboration between the United States and the Philippines as it will be the first time a Hollywood production is making a project about the Philippines in the country itself and featuring Filipino actors.

The film's Filipino-American director Michael Copon, best known for his early work in "Power Rangers" and "One Tree Hill," will be portraying the legendary hero Lapu-Lapu through whom most of the story will be told.

Alonzo and Laxa-Pangilinan's characters are named Diwata and Ahmani, with the former setting up the film through a dream sequence that will blur the lines of reality and history, almost reminiscent of the series "Outlander."

Related: Bea Alonzo willing to work with all exes except for you know who

Latino icon Danny Trejo, famous for his character Machete in numerous films especially with Robert Rodriguez, will play Ferdinand Magellan while Copon's "Power Rangers" co-star Hector David Jr. will play Magellan's translator and Alonzo's love interest Enrique.

Copon said Laxa-Pangilinan was chosen because she "embodied the powerful Filipina woman" and for her beauty and poise, while Alonzo's credits spoke for her hence the "One More Chance" star's inclusion.

The director added that he was looking for someone with a nature akin to Rachel McAdams and he was drawn to Alonzo's bashfulness, also saying he was excited to direct her in her first Hollywood role.

Production on the film has already began in Palawan, home province of the film's producer Francis Lara Ho who lauded the Philippines for being ahead during its golden age of cinema after wartime.

Ho said the idea for "1521" started with desire in his heart to tell Filipino stories of heroism, and upon meeting Copon in April began to conceptualize making a documentary about Lapu-Lapu, which eventually became a full-length feature.

Copon echoed this by saying he was dedicated to making movies about Filipino culture, with Filipinos and as much as possible in the Philippines, and through "1521" hopes to bring such storytelling to the highest level.

The producer clarified that "1521" is not entirely a historical film such as Filipino films "Bonifacio" and "Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral," but rather, a love story set against the backdrop of war such as "Pocahontas" and "Braveheart," though they still took inspiration from historical documents.

Related: Bea Alonzo reacts after touring Thailand at same time as Gerald Anderson, Julia Barretto

Copon actually compared Mel Gibson's titular character in "Braveheart" to Lapu-Lapu and their similar courage to fight for their people.

Lara Ho also backed the decision to shoot in Palawan rather than Cebu because the former island had jungles and areas that still look like the 1500s, plus, to provide more opportunities for Palaweños which he surprisingly found were incredibly talented.

"Sad to say that Palawan is one of the richest in terms of natural resources but our poverty level is very high compared to other provinces," Lara Ho added. "That's why I'm hoping that bringing projects here would change that."

"1521" is set to be released on June 12, 2023, which will coincide with the 125th anniversary celebration of Philippine independence. Lara Ho and Copon are in discussion with numerous organizations to ensure global distribution is expansive.

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