Heartthrob Aljur Abrenica and seasoned filmmaker Gil Portes team up for the first time in Ang Hapis at Hinagpis ni Hermano Puli (The Agony and the Fury of Hermano Puli), a historical drama about Apolinario de la Cruz who founded the religious brotherhoon Cofradia de San Jose in Tayabas (now Quezon) in 1831.
Because of Puli’s quest for religious freedom, he was the local Catholic hierarchy declared him a heretic. The Spanish colonial government sentenced him to death. Puli’s fiery love for the Filipino culture, people and nation is highlighted in this new film which opens in theaters nationwide today.
Written by Enrique Ramos and produced by T-Rex Productions, Hermano Puli was the closing film in the recent 2016 Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival. Since that screening, it has gained a lot of interest and feedback. Manila Bulletin’s NR Ramos described the movie as “entertaining and engrossing.”
Veteran writer Sylvia Mayuga was impressed by Aljur’s performance, saying, “The casting of young Aljur Abrenica as Manong Puli was felicitous. His perfectly controlled portrayal of Puli’s divine calling honors the price paid for an exalted mission. Puli’s execution to authentic chanting of the Tagalog pasyon, the soul of folk Christianity’s fervor alive and well in Tayabas, is a deeply moving master’s touch.”
Clips of the film have been presented at school tours. The Hermano Puli “Bayani Ba ‘To?” school has visited Baguio, Cabanatuan, Baliwag, Malolos, Metro Manila, Laguna, Quezon, Batangas, Naga, Cebu, Iloilo, Bacolod and Davao. The response from students and teachers has been almost phenomenal. The trailer posted on the movie’s Facebook page has garnered 3.5 million-plus views and received 12,312-plus shares. The theme song “Alamat” performed by the band Let Gravity is also gaining airplay on radio.
Another feather on Puli’s cap is its inclusion in the short list of nine Filipino films being considered by the Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP) as the country’s entry to the Oscars. (Although Brillante Mendoza’s Ma Rosa was the final choice to be sent to the Oscar’s Best Foreign Language Film category search.)
To Direk Gil, who marked his 71st birthday on Sept. 13, all this is a dream come true. “Ang Hapis at Himagsik ni Hermano Puli is one of the projects in my bucket list. I am happy to have completed it. What makes me happier now is the positive reaction and enthusiastic interest in Puli.”
Aljur says, “Ginawa namin ang pelikula kasi hindi kilala si Puli sa labas ng Quezon at parang nakalimutan na siya sa kasaysayan. Kaya nakakataba ng puso na maraming excited na makilala si Hermano Puli at mangahas na umibig sa Diyos at sa bayan na katulad ng ginawa niya.”
Apart from Aljur, the film also stars Louise Delos Reyes, Enzo Pineda, Menggie Cubarrubias, Ross Pesigan, Acrchie Adamos, Markki Stroem, Simon Ibarra, Aljur’s real life brothers Vin and Allen, Sue Prado, Kiko Matos, Stella Canete, Diva Montelaba, Abel Estanislao, and Alvin Fortuna.
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