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WATCH: ‘Heneral Luna’ star John Arcilla on Paulo Avelino: ‘Kaya niya ‘yan!’

Vernise Tantuco
WATCH: ‘Heneral Luna’ star John Arcilla on Paulo Avelino: ‘Kaya niya ‘yan!’
Paulo Avelino is all set to star as Gregorio del Pilar in an upcoming film by Jerrold Tarog

MANILA, Philippines – “Trick or treat!” Heneral Luna star John Arcilla greeted his fellow cast and crew-members at the Heneral Luna thanksgiving party. The actor was decked out in his full Antonio Luna costume for the event on Thursday, October 29.

John caused quite a stir as he entered the party, stopping to pose with fans in between interviews too, using the stage’s fake rifles as props. Paulo Avelino, recently announced as the star of an upcoming movie about General Gregorio del Pilar, answered questions nearby. Jerrold Tarog, who helmed Luna, is set to direct. 

After the announcement that the movie was in the works, John spoke to Rappler and answered our question about his advice for Paulo for his upcoming role.

“I think Paulo Avelino is a good actor, and I think he knows what he wants and –” John paused, thinking. “Kaya niya ‘yan (He can do it)!” he finished, laughing.

Paulo starred alongside John in Heneral Luna as General Gregorio del Pilar, a young general during the Philippine-American war, known for leading the Battle of Tirad Pass. Del Pilar led a troop of Filipinos against American soldiers, allowing then-president Emilio Aguinaldo to escape to safety.

John later passed his General Luna hat onto Paulo after the announcement earlier in the night. 

A NEW GENERAL. John Arcilla, who played General Luna in 'Heneral Luna,' passes on his hat to Paulo Avellino, who is set to play General Gregorio del Pilar in the upcoming movie. Beside them are producers EA Rocha and Fernando Ortigas. Rappler screengrab

During the interview, the John said that it’s difficult for him to give advice to Paulo, because it implies that he’s better than him. 

“But I trust him, I trust him. Let’s say I trust him,” finished John. 

Beyond the cinemas


After patting down his mustache and making sure his pants were correctly stuffed into his knee-high boots, John also spoke passionately about how he feels about the film’s success and the impact he hoped the film would have.

Heneral Luna has earned more than P200 million since it was released on September 9, and is the official entry of the Philippines to the 2016 Oscars in the Best Foreign Language Film Category.

“Baka nga kulang yung salita dun sa nararamdaman ko, baka hindi magtugma yung nararamdaman ko doon sa limitation ng words,” he started.

(Words might not be enough to describe what I’m feeling, my feelings might not match the limitation of words.)

John said that he’s happy about the impact that the movie has had to the people who have seen it. “Mas masaya ako dahil ang daming estudyante na nabuhayan ng pagmamahal sa bayan, mas masaya ako para doon. Mas masaya ako dahil ang daming nagtetext sa akin sinasabing ‘Sir, ngayong tinatanong ko, nagui-guilty ako sa kung ano ba ang nagawa ko para sa bayan ko at puro reklamo lang pala ako,'” he shared.

(I’m happy because there are so many students whose love for the country was ignited, I’m happier because of that. I’m happy because a lot of people text me saying ‘Sir, now that I’m asking questions, I feel guilty about what I’ve done for the country because all I’ve done is complain.’)

Artikulo Uno, the film’s production company, screened the movie in different schools all over the country.

Nonetheless, John was adamant that we have a long way to go, in spite of what Heneral Luna has achieved. “Ang wish ko kasi is, okay, nagustohan ng lahat, okay nagustohan natin, nabuhay ang pagkamakabayan natin, pero saan natin dadalhin ‘to?

(I just wish, okay, everyone liked it, okay, we liked it, our nationalism was brought to life, but where do we take this?)

John explained how he wished that our love for the film and the country would transcend a stop at the movies. “Sana, kung anuman binuhay sa loob ng sinehan dalhin sa labas (I hope that what was brought to life in the cinema is brought outside).

“I’m not trying to be idealistic here, because this is not just a film, this is about us, as Filipinos… sana madugtungan, at hanggang sa labas mag-transcend sana yung transformation, hindi lang sa mga puso natin kundi sa ating mga Pilipino, bilang bansa (I hope it connects, and the transformation transcends outside, not only in our hearts, but also to us Filipinos, as a nation).” –

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Vernise Tantuco

Vernise Tantuco is on Rappler's Research Team, fact checking suspicious claims, wrangling data, and telling stories that need to be heard.