John Arcilla on bringing ‘Heneral Luna’ to life

Alexa Villano

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John Arcilla on bringing ‘Heneral Luna’ to life
'I mean, makikita mo ang kanyang mga flaws bilang isang tao. Nasasaktan siya, nagagalit siya, nagmumura siya.'

MANILA, Philippines –  Moviegoers are in for a treat as Heneral Luna hits theaters September 9. In the movie, the fierce, strong military man is brought to life by actor John Arcilla. He recently spoke to reporters about the unique role and why the film still calls to mind problems that continue to this day. (READ: Heneral Luna: Para sa bayan o sarili?)

Meron na akong familiarity doon sa era. But somehow iba yung temper, iba yung tempo niya, iba yung rhythm kaysa sa ibang mga characters, which ako naman ang significance nung character niya is yung thundering voice and thundering laughter,” John said during an interview with reporters for the movie.

(I have some familiarity with the era. But somehow, the temper is different, the tempo is different, the rhythm is different from the chracters, which for me the significance of the chracters is his thundering voice and thundering laughter.)

“As a character, siguro yung temper niya. Nakaka-relate ako kasi ganun yung temper ng family namin,” he said.

(As a character, I guess it is his temper. I can relate to the temper because my family’s temperament is like that.)

John said the movie about Luna will give people the chance to see the person he is beyond being the brother of painter Juan Luna and beyond the textbooks. 

“Makikita mo na may flaw. Hindi yung sa textbook…I mean makikita mo ang kanyang mga flaws bilang isang tao. Nasasaktan siya, nagagalit siya, nagmumura siya,” he said. 

(You will see his flaws. Not from the textbooks…I mean, you will see his flaws as a person. He gets hurt, he gets angry, he curses.) 

“Mostly our historians, ang tingin nila kay Heneral Luna ay bayani talaga. Hindi dahil sa pinopromote nila kung hindi sa pag tinanong sa mga historians bayani, talaga si Heneral Luna,” he added.

(Mostly our historians, they see General Luna as a hero. Not because they are promoting him but if you ask the historians, General Luna is a hero.)



John who has played many roles in theater and on TV, and well known for his role in 2013’s Metro Manila, described Heneral Luna as a movie for today’s viewers, saying the films still reflects ongoing problems today. (READ: 10 movies featuring PH national heroes)

Ang makikita nila actually yung sakit nating Filipino yung religionalism. Isa iyon sa nagiging dahilan kung bakit watak-watak tayo, even before the Americans came and ruled, we have already been divided. I think naging sakit natin iyan noong panahon ng mga Espanyol…” he said.

(What they will see actually is the sickness of the Filipino which is regionalism. That is one of the reasons why we are divided, even before the Americans came and ruled, we have already been divided. I think that was our sickness way back during the time of the Spaniards.)

RELEVANCE. John Arcilla says 'Heneral Luna' shows issues the country continues to face today. Photo by Alexa Villano/Rappler

“Aside from the regionalism na sakit natin is well, nakakatakot yung pinapatay mo yung kapwa mo Filipino na supposedly nakikipaglaban sa isang colonizer,” he added.

(Aside from regionalism, which has become our sickness, it’s very scary that you are killing your fellow Filipinos who are supposedly fighting against a colonizer.)

John said the movie is still very relevant because it depicts the situation Filipinos are going through to this day. 

“The film is significant and it has two connotations. First it is a potential to the marketing department. The second, it is sad and it’s scary because after 120 years or so, relevant pa rin ang pelikula mo (the movie is still relevant). Nangyayari pa rin (It’s still happening). Wow! Nakakatakot iyon (that’s very scary),” he said.

John said the movie will also give today’s Filipinos the chance to look back on the country’s history.

“For me, this is a review of kung nasaan na tayo bilang (of where were are as) Filipino. And kung nasaan man tayo ngayon, ito yung sakit natin na puwede ba ayusin na natin para matuto na tayo (And where were are today, this is the problem that we should fix, so we will learn from it).”

Set during the Filipino-American war, Heneral Luna tells the story of General Antonio Luna, known as one of the country’s best military tacticians. General Luna wants to fight for the country’s independence, but others don’t agree, and it’s a turbulent time in history. The movie shows Luna’s battles – particularly when it comes to the Filipinos who betrayed him.

Mga kapatid, meron tayong mas malaking kaaway kaysa sa mga Amerikano – ang ating sarili,” he says in the film’s trailer. 

(Brothers, we have an enemy greater than the Americans – ourselves.)

Heneral Luna, directed by Jerrold Tarog, also stars Mon Confiado, Arron Villaflor, Bing Pimentel, and Mylene Dizon, with the special participation of Paulo Avelino. –  





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Alexa Villano

Alexa is one of Rappler's Lifestyle and Entertainment reporters, covering local entertainment news to a wide range of topics from beauty pageants to reality shows.