Thursday , June 13 2024

John, muntik mag-back out sa Suarez: The Healing Priest   

SA sampung pelikulang kalahok sa idaraos na digitalized MMFF2020 (Metro Manila Film Festival), isa sa inaabangan ay ang biopic ng Healing Priest na kamakailan lang pumanaw, si Fr. Fernando Suarez.

Kaibigan ni Fr. Suarez ang pinagkatiwalaan niyang gumawa ng kanyang biopic, ang producer na si Edith Fider.

At ang napisil ni Ms. Edith na gumanap sa katauhan ni Fr. Suarez eh, ang premyadong aktor na si John Arcilla.

Kinapanayam ko si John at inusisa sa naging reaksiyon niya nang i-offer sa kanya ang role.

“Naririnig ko na ang pangalan niya sa mga Ate ko who were attending his healing masses. So its another biopic like film kaya excited ako. Naka-YES kaagad ako. 

“But when i started researching on his life… i found all the controversies. Nagdalawang isip ako. Gusto ko mag back out. Baka kako maging mouthpiece lang ako to justify his controversies. So i was thinking of an alibi to back out but then i realized i have to be fair- kasi when i watched him speak in all of his homilies na pinanood ko sa youtube, sobrang awed ako sa charisma niya. 

“What i can see is an honest sincere charismatic persona. So I asked for a schedule to meet him personally and i just want to listen to his stories, i want to feel him as a person. I did not tell anyone that After the talk I will decide if babawiin ko yung yes or itutuloy ko. Depende sa makikita at madidinig ko. 

“But then when i arrived there was a positive air and when he started to talk I saw a sincere person- ni hindi ko nakita na may puwang yung bintang sa kanya. So after the encounter. Hindi na ako nagdalawang isip.”

Ang kanilang pagkikita ni Father Suarez. May memorable conversations ba? Nagbigay ba ng advice sa kanya? Paano nito hinipo ang buhay niya?

“Napaka simpleng tao ang kaharap ko na nagku-kuwento ng kanyang mga experience, isang taong positibo na naka-entrust lahat sa Diyos ang buo niyang buhay. 

“So, biniro ko siya, sabi ko ‘father baka hindi maging interesting ang portrayal ko ng character n’yo kasi as i see you now- what i see is a very positive persona- who leaves everything to God. Wala kayong ka proble-problema. Napaka positive- ang saya nyo lang- Gusto ng tao may drama.’ 

“’Kuwentuhan nyo naman ako ng nga experience nyo na. Nahirapan din ba kayo- naiyak din ba kayo o nag doubt na ba kayo sa faith nyo o sa Diyos dahil sa isang karanasan? Then he told me things and that if i will put myself into it I guess I have received the answer that i am looking for.’”

Kinumusta ko ang kanyang pananampalataya.

“Oh wow. I grew up in a very religious family. My mother was a Carmelite Missionary Sister before she got married. My father came from a clan of priests. I was practically a boy who attends mass every Sunday studying in a catholic school sa Mt. Carmel College. 

“When i was in highschool i lived in a Parish convent as an altar boy, a Choir Guitarist and became as assistant to the Choir master in Baler, Aurora. 

“I even took an entrance to priesthood twice. It was in the third application that i found a door opened for me to priesthood – but it was then when I became active in Community Theater thru PETA and i regularly have shows in school campus in Manila. So from dapat seminarista naging artista. I am not a fanatic CATHOLIC. But i have a strong foundation with my faith in the Higher being. Mas naging liberated lang sguro ngayon ng konti ang pananaw ko sa mga relihiyon but my faith is still alive.”

Ang pandemya. Paano siya napektuhan nito?

“Actually it was sad and scary during the first week. I feel that the world is like deteriorating. Ramdam na ramdam ko ang lungkot at tahimik ng mundo. 

“Nakakaiyak – i felt we are in a decay… but then after a week sobrang naging positive yung tingin ko. Minus the presence of PANDEMIC ang daming sobrang advantages. 

“The sky is bluer- suddenly may mga insects na pumapasok sa haus na hindi ko dati nakikita- ganun daw kasi yun eh- if the nature is happier you can see it thru the presence ng birds and and insects- then may mga birds na nakakapasok na sa bintana… then once a week ako ang nag go-grocery. I don’t want my staff to do it. i will not be able to control how strict they will practice the protocols but i know how i will. 

“Sobrang ang sarap ng feeling na walang traffic, walang tao sa mall- tapos almost ang nga families are together, people are beginning to learn how to cook for themselves, yung iba natututong mag plant. So sobrang napaka positive para sakin. Environmentalist kasi ako. 

“So I felt that the world is HEALING with no exaggeration. Ganun na ganun ka positive ang dating sakin. So basically masaya- tapos nanonood ako sa netflix ng mga nature films about the earth- nag titiktok ako mas maraming time! Nun lang may nangyari sa family namin na mawala ang father ko tapos nasa Baler siya – ni hindi kami maka byahe ng mga pamangkin, mga apo ko mga kapatid hindi kami maka tawid to see him- he is just 5 hours away from him- hindi ko marisk na zero covid sa BALER.  

“Tapos I SHOULD take  advantage Of the small privileges na pinoprovide sa akin to skip the protocol- na guilty ako- d rin ako maka decide sa halong guilty and takot din ako. Na makakahawa ba ako or mahahawa ba ako sa daan who knows- everything does not understand the virus yet when my father passed away- ni isang araw lang and wake right after lang ng balsamo, kasi dapat burial kaagad. 

“The first plan was to bring his body in Manila para ma cremate. No crematorium sa Baler, so we can still be together as family with his URN sana after na wala ng lockdown. Pero di nakaya ng travel protocols-no funeral homes in BALER who wants to bring the body kasi they need to be quarantined for 14 days in manila bago makakabalik. 

“Basta madaming complications. Dun NAG start yung depression ko. Dun ko naramdaman yung restrictions ng lockdown. Tapos sunud sunod na yon- 3 kamag anak- ang nawala tapos 3 close friends na talagang close as family. Yun na ang KINALALIM ng lungkot ko. 

“Buti na lang ng mag start ang mga locked in tapings ng “FPJAP”, yun nagkaroon ako ng release or catharsis. One of the good compensation if you’re an actor- you can express all your frustrations, anxieties and anger by portraying roles. 

“Then yun- ngayon mas gusto ko pa yung dati na strict PROTOCOL NA WALANG TRAFFIC WALANG TAO SA MALL, the EARTH IS HEALING pero sana WALANG COVID. Ibang stress nanaman ito PARANG BUMALIK NA NAMAN SA DATI.

The passing away of Father Suarez.

“It was for me a miracle. Like a story written on a stone. I felt that his life is in full circle. 

“Imagine he was in the middle of finishing of telling his life-story to the world in 3D, then just a week before the full shoot will wrap up, na vindicate ang case niya- VATICAN issued a letter na absuelto siya. So na vindicate din yung hindi ko pag paniwala sa accusation sa kanya. Then just after the night he saw the almost finished rashes of his life story he died in the middle of a sports that HE PASSIONATELY LOVE, ang tennis. No sufferings. He just collapsed towards the end of his game. No seizure. DOA. Ansakit ang BIGAT. 

“Pero alam mo ang nag pagaan sa loob ko? He died in feb 4 his bday is in feb 7… he died and after 3 days he symbolically rose again thru his bday. Napaka symbolical nun para sa akin- parang designed. Naiyak ako sa KAHIWAGAAN. His life is in full circle-life story-vindicate-died in his favorite sports-and symbolically rose again on the third day-i suppose to sing in his bday- but then they gave me a spot to sing in His burial. It was so sad and sweet. And i somehow was lucky that i was part of that design in the full circle of his life. Thats how i read his death.”

Now, the movie as part of MMFF2020.

“Sobrang saya kasi yan ang pangarap na pangarap niya. Masaya ako para sa kanya. Pangalawa na lang na pamaskong handog ito dahil sa panahon ng pandemic walang sinehan- walang audience hindi mo alam kung saan platform mo babawiin ang iyong expenditures at kung sino manonood ng kwento mo. This first ONLINE MMFF is another miracle. Sana lang masuportahan ng ating nga manonood at sana may pang gastos ang tao to watch ALL the ENTRY films online.”

Naging pari na ba siya sa pelikula o teleserye?

“Wala akong matandaan kundi yung maiksing stint sa “Be Careful with my Heart” na naging significant din naman ang maiksing appearance ko doon. But this one is really meaningful in all aspects. The before, during and after I did the whole project is a beautiful story in itself for me.”

Isang pelikulang ramdam ng maraming magdadala ng pagpapala sa lahat!

HARD TALK!
ni Pilar Mateo

About Pilar Mateo

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