‘Mandirigma’ director: Film idea came before Mamasapano tragedy
TERNATE, Cavite—“We need to make more films that depict love of country… this project is one of them,” said journalist-filmmaker Arlyn de la Cruz, whose “Mandirigma” tells the stories and struggles of the Philippine Marines.
De la Cruz denied that she was riding on public interest in the Mamasapano tragedy. She had been working on the story since October 2014, she said. The clash where 44 members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force died took place in late January.
“I finished the script second week of January. If my film reminds viewers of Mamasapano, it’s just because police officers and Marines are all warriors,” De la Cruz noted. “Even members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (whom the SAF 44 fought and lost to) are warriors—although for different causes and beliefs.”
De la Cruz’s debut movie, “Maratabat,” about people who rallied against an abusive and corrupt leader, was an official entry to the New Wave section of the 2014 Metro Manila Film Festival.
“Maybe another movie will be done about SAF 44. This one is about the Marines—what they are like in battle, what sacrifices they make,” De la Cruz told Inquirer Entertainment during a visit to the set inside the Marine Barracks of Camp Gregorio Lim here, four hours away from Manila.
Close to the truth
De la Cruz, an Inquirer reporter, has covered the Marines since the early 1990s. “I’ve reported many times about their victories and defeats, the situation at the front lines,” she said. “Most of us get to read only about the number of soldiers who perish in an encounter, but we don’t really know how they die. This movie will be as close as possible to an actual battle.”
A group of Marines serves as De la Cruz’s technical advisers. Most are members of the Reconnaissance Force. “I’ve known them since the ’90s, yet I still have to ask them very important details. For example, what actually happens during an assault? The consultants show the actors accurate moves. In one assault scene, real Marines join the actors.”
Luis Alandy plays the central character, Capt. Arlan Salcedo. De la Cruz related, “The character ties two very important events depicted here—one happened in 2006, the other in 2014. Salcedo was a lieutenant in 2006 and is promoted to the rank of captain. He encounters the same enemies he fought in 2006 but, this time, armed with proper training to defeat them.”
“Mandirigma” also features Ping Medina, Alwin Uytingco, Victor Basa, Marc Solis, Carlo Cruz, Jericho Ejercito, Ken Anderson, Alvin Fortuna, Roland Inocencio, Dennis Coronel and Mon Confiado as the main antagonist.
“I admit that my peg for Mon’s character was [the late Zulkifli Abdhir, or] Marwan—so I named him Hamda Marawan,” said De la Cruz. “When Mon called my attention to this, I said I didn’t intend it to hit so close to home.”
“Mandirigma,” a coproduction of Blank Pages Productions and Starquest Alliance, is set to open in theaters on June 12, Independence Day.
*Photos by Boy Cabrido
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