Jerrold Tarog talks ‘Goyo,’ Paulo Avelino, and topping ‘Heneral Luna'

BOY GENERAL. Paolo Avelino plays Gregorio Del Pilar, a talented but still immature military man who comes of age in the film. Photo courtesy of TBA Studios

BOY GENERAL. Paolo Avelino plays Gregorio Del Pilar, a talented but still immature military man who comes of age in the film.

Photo courtesy of TBA Studios

MANILA, Philippines – Fresh from the success of his latest film Bliss, director Jerrold Tarog is now nearly halfway through shooting his next project, Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral, the second film in a 3-part series about the lives of Filipino heroes.

Tarog had only good things to say about the Paulo Avelino, who plays the title character Gregorio Del Pilar. Tarog, who had already worked with Avelino in two other films including Goyo’s prequel Heneral Luna, said that he and the actor had already mastered each other’s pace.

“He’s good, he’s really good,” Tarog said at the grand launch of TBA Studios, the company behind the film. “He keeps surprising us actually. Meron siyang nagagawa na hindi namin ineexpect (He does things we don't expect).”

Goyo will pick up where Luna left off: two days after the assassination of Antonio Luna in the previous film, to be exact. It will focus on the life of Gregorio Del Pilar, who was known for his youth as well as his military success in the Philippine Revolution.

As in Luna, Tarog is portraying Del Pilar as a flawed character, an anti-hero of sorts.

Sobrang bata niya nung naging heneral siya. Merong part sa kanya na immature. In a way, 'yun ang naging tema ng buong pelikula: yung parallelism between the maturity of Goyo, and yung maturity natin as a nation,” Tarog said.

(He was so young when he became general. There's a part of him that's immature. In a way, that's the theme of the entire film: the parallelism between the maturity of Goyo and our maturity as a nation.)

“It’s really a coming of age story, kung paano nag-mature yung isang heneral na ang isip lang is yung fame niya and yung past heroic deeds niya, maturing into someone na ready ibigay yung buhay niya,” he added.

(It's really a coming of age story, how one general who only thought of his fame and past heroic deeds matured into someone who was ready to give up his life.)

Bigger film

With the critical and commercial success of Luna, one would think that things have gotten easier for Tarog, but the director shared that shooting Goyo is even more challenging, if only for the sheer scale of the film.

Medyo minsan nalulula pa kami pagdating namin sa set kasi ganun siya kalaki (Sometimes we get overhwelmed when we get to the set because it's that big),” he said, sharing that some scenes have up to 600 people that need blocking.

“Nakakaoverwhelm minsan, pero masaya kasi nakakagawa kami ng ganitong pelikula(It's overwhelming sometimes, but we're happy because we can make films like this). We’re very fortunate,” he said.

At the moment, Tarog alternates between shooting days and editing days – a routine that now has them 23 days into a targeted 60-day shoot. They aim to finish the film by October.

While production is in full swing, Goyo has yet to be given a release date, though Tarog confirmed that it will be coming out in “late 2018.”

Does he think this project will top Luna, which is considered by many to be his breakout film? “In terms of box office, I hope so,” the director said.

Manuel Quezon

If Goyo is successful, Tarog said they will go straight to the 3rd planned film in the series, which will focus on Manuel Quezon, who was played by Benjamin Alves in Luna.

While Tarog has yet to flesh out the story for that film, he said that it may involve having two different actors play the title character. 

“I have a different idea for the storyline of Quezon. Meron akong (I have a) young Manuel Quezon and I have a way older Manuel Quezon," he said, adding that he doesn't have a story yet, so he doesn't know how big a role each actor will have.

For now, the director is placing full focus on Goyo – and not even the idea of awards or box office success can distract him: “Iniisip ko lang, shooting araw-araw. Wala na akong ibang iniisip… wala akong time para magisip ng ibang bagay.”

(All I'm thinking of is shooting everyday. I don't think of anything else. I don't have time to think of anything else). – Rappler.com

Amanda T. Lago

After avoiding long-term jobs in favor of travelling the world, Amanda finally learned to commit when she joined Rappler in July 2017. As a lifestyle and entertainment reporter, she writes about music, culture, and the occasional showbiz drama. She also hosts Rappler Live Jam, where she sometimes tries her best not to fan-girl on camera.

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