'For nation building': GMA gives 'Maria Clara at Ibarra' almost same budget as 'Encantadia'

Kathleen A. Llemit - Philstar.com
'For nation building': GMA gives 'Maria Clara at Ibarra' almost same budget as 'Encantadia'
The cast of the upcoming historical, time travel series "Maria Clara At Ibarra," a show based on the two popular novels, "Noli Me Tangere" and "El Filibusterismo" written by National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal.
Philstar.com / Kathleen A. Llemit

MANILA, Philippines — GMA-7's upcoming historical, time travel series "Maria Clara at Ibarra" is touted to be a "mega serye" that goes beyond the ratings war on TV. 

Seasoned theater, film and TV actress Ces Quesada said that "Maria Clara At Ibarra" is a "mega serye." She also thanked GMA-7 for taking the risk in producing an expensive show and contributing in nation building. 

"Hindi kasi ito ordinaryong teleserye. I call it 'mega serye' in terms of scope, artistic, ethical, production, everything... 'Yung effort nila para mag-nation building, I call it, 'yun nga, 'yung responsibility goes beyond ratings. I am so happy that somebody took this risk," Quesada said at last week's presscon where she and the rest of the cast attended in their costumes. 

Julie Anne San Jose, who plays Maria Clara, was absent because she was in the United States for a GMA-7 concert. Apart from her, Tirso Cruz III and Andrea Torres were not present during the presscon.  

Quesada plays Tiya Isabel, the sister of Kapitan Tiago (played by Juan Rodrigo) who is the known father of Maria Clara. 

"Maria Clara at Ibarra" is based on the classic literature "Noli Me Tangere" and "El Filibusterismo," written by National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal. GMA-7 put a twist on the show by introducing the popular time travel or transmigration genre by creating the character of Maria Clara "Klay" Infantes, played by Barbie Forteza, a modern-day nursing student who does not care about history and gets transported back to the Spanish era, specifically meeting the characters of the two books. 

The show's supervising producer Helen Rose Sese disclosed to Philstar.com after the media conference that the pitch for the show happened as early as September 2020. 

She said that GMA Drama had always been taking risks in introducing "innovative concepts" on TV. 

"Ang unang-unang na-mention was love of country of every Filipino, medyo nawawala, 'di ba? Lalo na sa kabataan. Iba na 'yung focus nila ngayon and that's what we want to bring back, na ma-appreciate ng mga kabataan and for them to be also involved sa current events na nangyayari sa bansa natin," Sese said. 

She added that the show is slated to run for 20 weeks and is expected to air until February. If it becomes a hit, they are already studying on producing its second season since there are quite a lot of events that transpired in the two books. 

As hinted by Quesada and as observers noted, "Maria Clara At Ibarra" looked expensive with the costumes, CGI and on-set locations. 

How much did GMA-7 spend for the show? "Not allowed (to disclose) but I can... Halos ka-budget siya ng 'Encantadia.' That's how big it is," Sese shared. 

In an interview, "Encantadia" 2016 director Mark V. Reyes said that his show's budget is equivalent to three non-primetime shows or two primetime shows. 

"Maria Clara At Ibarra" also stars Dennis Trillo as Crisostomo Ibarra, Rocco Nacino as Elias, Tirso Cruz III as Padre Damaso, Juancho Triviño as Padre Salvi, Gilleth Sandico as Doña Victorina, Lou Veloso as Prof. Torres, David Licauco as Fidel and in a special guest role, Andrea Torres as Sisa. 

Zig Dulay directs while Suzette Doctolero is headwriter/creative consultant. The two previously collaborated on another GMA-7 hit, "Legal Wives." National Artist Ricky Lee serves as content development consultant. 

The show is set to premiere on October 3 right after the nightly newscast "24 Oras."

RELATED: Julie Anne San Jose on life and love in 'Slam Book' interview

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