The wait is over for moviegoers who have been anticipating the film Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral starring Paulo Avelino as the titular Gregorio del Pilar. The epic historical movie unspools nationwide on Sept. 5.
Also excited for the movie are Goyo stars Mon Confiado, Art Acuña, and Alvin Anson. The three actors were part of the 2015 movie Heneral Luna and will continue to play pivotal roles in its much-awaited sequel.
Mon’s role as Emilio Aguinaldo is one of the most memorable in Heneral Luna, earning him acting nominations and praises from movie critics. His nuanced portrayal of the first President of the Philippines is easily one of the many highlights of the Antonio Luna biopic, making many viewers question whether Aguinaldo was really a hero or a villain.
“People had mixed reactions on my portrayal of Aguinaldo in Heneral Luna,” Mon said. For him, one of the biggest cliffhangers of Heneral Luna is his character’s participation in Luna’s death. “Many are asking who killed Antonio Luna. May involvement ba talaga si Emilio Aguinaldo?”
Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral sees Mon’s Aguinaldo grappling with the consequences of his action in Heneral Luna. This, apart from trying to maintain his position as president of the Philippines, means Mon has to depict the “human side” of Aguinaldo that shows both his love of the country as well as his political ambitions and personal interests.
“His biggest struggle as a human is his being president in Goyo. Gusto niyang magtagumpay yung bansa natin, but at the time I guess gusto niyang ma-maintain yung power nung pagiging leader niya sa bansa natin,” he said.
Besides doing additional research and reviewing his Heneral Luna performance to make his acting consistent, Mon also had to lose weight to accurately depict a leader who is in the throes of war.
“N’ung magsisimula na kaming mag-shoot para sa Goyo, ang unang sinabi sa akin ni direk Jerrold (Tarog), kailangan ko raw magpapayat. ‘Magpapayat ka, kasi dalawang buwan kayong tumatakas, dalawang buwan kayong ‘di kumakain’,” Mon shared. “Yung mga eksena, halos bundok lang. Halos di talaga ako kumakain para ma-maintain yung pagkapayat. In a way, it helped me experience their struggle.”
The same goes for Alvin Anson, who played General Jose Alejandrino in Heneral Luna and Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral. Alejandrino is one of Antonio Luna’s trusted comrades; his role in Goyo is informed and motivated by Luna’s death in the previous film.
“There’s really a big change in his character. Alejandrino has a lot of questions about Luna [and his death] that will be answered in Goyo,” he said.
Alvin says he relates to Alejandrino because he sees “a lot of things that happened in the past, that were shown in Heneral Luna and Goyo, are still happening up to now.” He added, “I guess most of the time, we’re still not learning from our history.”
This, for him, is the beauty of Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral as it allows the general public, especially the youth, to have a glimpse of the past. “I’m just very proud to be part of this project. [Like Heneral Luna, I know this will] have an impact on our youth,” he said.
Art Acuña found his role as Manuel Bernal, one of Antonio Luna’s main allies, to be both physically and emotionally challenging.
In 2017’s Angelito, the short film that bridges the events of Heneral Luna to Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral, Bernal finds himself on the run as the men of Gregorio del Pilar pursue him after Luna’s death.
In Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral, Bernal’s story expands, showing the audience his fate in the hands of Del Pilar after Luna’s assassination. For Art, the difficulty in playing his character is in properly depicting a person whose spirit is being challenged by his opponents.
“The physical stuff, anybody can do that. But yung spirit mo ang china-challenge dun. Yung soul mo. Makakaganti ka ba? Kung hindi, ano maiiwan mo para maalala ka nila, para maalala ka ni Goyo?” he said.
Reflecting on the impact of playing a historical character like Bernal, he added: “Basically, they’re just people. They can be from any century. Even if it’s modern times or old times, your heart is the same; your spirit is the same. You fight the same, you cry the same. So, really, I don’t get too academic about it. I just trust my instincts.”
Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral, directed by Jerrold Tarog, is produced by TBA Studios, Artikulo Uno Productions, and Globe Studios.
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