Brightlight Productions’ Magikland is unmistakably expensive film by local standards. In fact, it is one of the most ambitious films ever made in the recent Philippine cinematic history with 95 percent of the shots meticulously created with state-of-the-art visual effects that took almost two years to complete.
While we can talk all day about the pricey film and how its impressive sets were constructed, talking about the hero kids in the film is also an interesting topic.
Brightlight’s top gun Albee Benitez and his townmate filmmaker, the late Peque Gallaga, who was also the story writer of Magikland, choose the young actors to play the lead characters in the movie simply because they wanted the audience to focus more on what the story can offer.
“Some people were asking why we didn’t cast older actors, the popular ones. Our idea was, we wanted to offer a film that doesn’t bank on the stars. We have cast four brilliant young actors in this movie. Remember when Anne Curtis was cast in Magic Kingdom? She wasn’t a big star yet when she starred in that movie. So, we are using the same principle here,” Benitez told Manila Standard Entertainment in an interview.
Magikland is a fantasy film which themes are rooted in age-old Negros myths that is why the heroes’ names pay homage to the local landscape: Boy Bakunawa, Mara Marapara, Pat Patag, and Kit Kanlaon.
Now let’s meet the four kid heroes as introduced by director Christian Acuna.
Boy Bakunawa is the top player of Magikland, the game. He’s the group’s leader. He played Magikland as an escape from his problems. He is a kid with a golden heart. He knows the most about the game. His way of dealing with the hardships of caring for his sick mother is by playing the game.
Boy Bakunawa’s weapon is Espada ng Katapatan (Sword of Truth), which goes back to his core as a loyal and golden heart person. “Boy, teamed up with the Bakunawa, the Dragon King, the mythical god of Magikland, they fight against the evil Lord Mogrado-or. A boy stands for the common good and believes if you lead with your heart you can never go wrong.
“Migs Cuaderno is perfect for a strong hero that leads the team. Migs was able to really execute the range of heavy emotions. Migs is really very good at his craft, and could really deliver,” Acuna noted.
Pat Patag grew up on the streets and doesn’t have any parents to take care of him.
He comes to the story when he chances on the phone of a top player of the Magikland game. Pat is a little rough around the edges but because of everything he has been through he has a resilient nature, able to weather any challenge. He wears the Baluti ng Katibayan (Armor of Resilience) and is connected to Pawi, the turtle god of the ocean.
“Joshua Eugenio, plays Pat Patag. It was initially very hard to cast Pat, because the role required such comedic timing and real natural charisma. So we were lucky we found Josh. His acting was the ‘no acting’ style. He was just himself and was very confident to really just throw lines,” the director said.
“The first time we saw him and saw him act, we knew we found Pat Patag. In the group he became the spontaneous one, giving a much-needed carefreeness to the bunch. On the set, Josh would randomly tell jokes and make the whole crew laugh. He was the perfect choice for Pat Patag,” he added.
Mara is the motherly figure of the group. She’s the one that nourishes. Her strengths lie in care and empathy. That’s why she serves as the group’s healer. Her power is drawn from the Pulseras ng Kapayapaan (Bracelet of Peace). She is connected to Usasa the forest goddess.
“Elijah Alejo’s character could not be farther from Mara’s personality. Eli’s is very loud and outgoing, but her looks fit our vision for Mara. Eli’s acting was very versatile as she played the motherly Mara. “On the set, Eli was easy to direct. She had a natural charm that came through as she took on the role,” Acuna underscored.
Kit Kanlaon is small but terrible, as the youngest but the most aggressive one in the group. “She’s very brash, and the polar opposite of her sister Mara. She wields the Maso ng Katapangan (The Hammer of Courage) and is connected to Idikidik, the temple god.
“Princess Rabara is the youngest in the cast, only 9 years old when the film was shot, she showed so much maturity. “Princess also had a different personality from Kit’s character. She is a good actress, learning to play her character as we went through the workshops, showing a great ability to move and fight. Princess grew well into the character,” Acuna concluded.