CINEMATIC JOURNEY – Director Gil Portes traces the cinematic journey of “Hermano Puli,” the closing film of Cinemalaya on Aug. 13 and showing commercially last week of September.
Gil recalls that in 1995 he asked if he’s interested in doing a movie on Hermano Puli (Apolinario de la Cruz), the hero history has forgotten. Gil was only vaguely familiar with Hermano Puli even if he’s from Pagbilao, Quezon, only a few minutes away from Lucban, the birthplace of the man who led a movement for religious equality during the 19th century, when Spain ruled the Philippines.
Direk Gil wanted to do so, but no producer was interested. The project remained a dream until last year, when a politician from Quezon gave enough money for research and script (by Eric Ramos). “Hermano Puli” was accepted as one of eight entries to the 2015 Metro Manila Film Festival, but Gil had to back out when the politician decided not to bankroll the project.
LOOKING FOR – Direk Gil and his lead actor, Aljur Abrenica, searched high and low for a producer, an angel (in a manner of speaking) who would bankroll an epic (read expensive) like “Hermano Puli.” Well nothing came out of their efforts.
Gil was about to give up when an actor-friend, Alvin Fortuna, suggested they talk to businessman Rex Tiri, who earlier produced Elwood Perez’s “Estorika Maynila.”
Like most Filipinos, Rex had no idea who Hermano Puli was. But trust direk Gil’s persuasive power. Rex gave the green light and forthwith Gil assembled cast and crew. Louise de los Reyes was tapped to play the leading lady, joined by Enzo Pineda and Aljur’s younger brother, Vin and Allen Abrenica, among others.
The cinematic journey continues. “Hermano Puli” is eyeing several international film festivals, two or three of which are interested.
Hopefully, after the journey of “Hermano Puli,” he will no longer be a forgotten hero.