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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Nov 25, 2015

Historical Drama 'Hermano Puli' Pushes Through With A New Producer, Still Starring Aljur Abrenica

DIRECTOR GIL PORTES is all fired up. His pet project, “Ang Hapis at Hinagpis ni Hermano Puli”, is finally pushing through after it backed out from being an entry in the Metro filmfest. He found a new producer who’s willing to support the historical drama all the way, Rex A. Tiri, president of Lifeline Diagnotic Supplies who earlier produced Elwood Perez’ “Esoterika Manila”. “Rex was introduced to me by actor Alvin Fortuna two days after I backed out,” says Gil. “After three meetings, he agreed to bankroll the project. Siguro we’re really not meant to be in the filmfest and this might be a blessing in disguise kasi we’ll have more time para busisiin at mapaganda ito.”

Gil says he first learned of Hermano Puli while shooting “Miguel/Michelle” in Lucban, Quezon in 1998. “I researched on him and he’s one of our forgotten heroes. He has always wanted to be a priest but Indios like him are not allowed so he formed a religious Kapatiran called Cofradia de San Jose. At first, the church was supporting it but it spread to other provinces, so the Spaniards got threatened that it’s becoming very powerful so they invented stories that it’s a cult where orgies are performed and women get pregnant. This triggers a religious revolt led by Hermano Puli, until he was arrested, had a mock trial and was executed. His body was cut into four. His head was displayed in front of the church while the other pieces were placed on the entrances to Lucban.”

There’s a movie before titled “Hermano Pule” written and directed by FV Alfon in 1979 with Tommy Abuel but Gil says his version will be very different, written by Eric Ramos who did thorough research with the help of a UP professor, Rina Boncalan. Aljur Abrenica has always been his only choice for the title role of “Hermano Puli”. “I was surprised when I went to Lucban as I learned nandun na si Aljur for three days, personally researching on Hermano Puli. Humanga ako sa dedication niya sa role at sa movie.”

Aside from Aljur, the other members of the cast are Louise de los Reyes as Evangelina, a girl so in love with Puli who wants to be pure for the Lord; Enzo Pineda as Gustavo, Puli’s right hand man; Vin Abrenica as Apolonio, Puli’s follower who hates Spanish priests after his bride was raped by a priest and later becomes the leader of the Colorum that exists until today; Menggie Cobarrubias as Padre Sancho, who initially supports Puli then becomes his tormentor; Kiko Matos as the Spanish Governor Ortega of Tayabas who is kind to Puli; Markki Stroem as a Spanish officer who tortures Puli (he’ll be the most hated character in the movie, says Gil); Alvin Fortuna as Kabesang Isko and Althea Vega as his wife. Also in the cast are Kristoffer Martin, Ana Capri, Dennis Coronel, Jess Evardone, Abel Estanislao, Diva Montelaba and Allen Abrenica (the youngest brother of Aljur) who will play a teener raped by a priest. Shooting starts in Lucban on December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Here’s wishing that this historical drama will be as successful at the box office of the recent “Heneral Luna”.