After ‘Burgos,’ Rocco to portray ‘San Pedro’

B. Allie Tah
Mandarin-speaking actor-registered nurse pursues idealism of Jonas role in film bio on Filipino saint

PERSONA. Rocco pursues idealism of 'Burgos' in next film bio. Photo by Jerald Uy/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – JM de Guzman’s loss is Rocco Nacino’s gain.

Fresh from his critical acclaim as Jonas Burgos in “Burgos: A Mother’s Love,” GMA contract star Rocco Nacino will soon appear in another real-life role — as Pedro Calungsod, the second Filipino to be canonized after Lorenzo Ruiz.

The film, “Pedro Calungsod, Batang Martir,” will be a competing entry in the 2013 Metro Manila Film Festival this December.

To the benefit of Rocco’s screen persona, this role may well serve as a companion piece to the idea of modern sainthood conveyed in the “Burgos” film.  

The Mandarin-speaking registered nurse replaces the talented but troubled JM de Guzman in portraying the life of the altar boy from Cebu who was martyred in Guam in 1672, at the tender age of 17, for his missionary work for the Jesuits.

READ: Filipino Catholics celebrate Pedro Calungsod’s canonization 

According to the project’s writer and director, Francis Villacorta, JM’s father, journalist Ronniel de Guzman, had notified him a few months ago that JM had to withdraw from the film “due to health reasons.”

JM had been associated with this project since last year, when the Vatican also canonized Pedro Calungsod.

JM’s popularity was on the rise at the time. The young actor from Dulaang UP had a hit daytime serye, “Angelito: Batang Ama,” and also starred in the indie films “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank” and “Intoy Shokoy ng Kalye Marino.”

Then came speculations of substance abuse in the wake of his breakup with ABS-CBN actress Jessy Mendiola.

His father also had to clarify rumors that JM had become a vagrant. Ronniel de Guzman says his son is on the way to recovery.

Last June, “Pedro Calungsod” was selected as one of the 8 competing entries in the Metro Manila Film Festival which closes this year.

In Joel Lamangan’s “Burgos,” screened at the Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival on August 3, Rocco was praised for his role as the abducted activist.

“Burgos” will be shown in cinemas in September. –