‘Juan de la Cruz’ makes formal farewell
About 1,000 supporters of the phenomenally popular fantasy-adventure series “Juan de la Cruz” trooped to Trinoma on Saturday to see their television idols for one last time.
The ABS-CBN program will air its final episode on Friday.
Children dressed in Juan’s famous red-and-brown costume brought toy swords, spears and bows and arrows for the meeting with lead star Coco Martin, who sang and danced and gave them goodie bags during the hourlong Grand Juan Fun Day at Trinoma Activity Center in Quezon City.
The Trinoma show started around 5:30 p.m. with Juana Cosme singing “Ibong Ligaw,” a cut from the second volume of “Juan de la Cruz: Official Soundtrack.” Roel Manlangit, grand champion of the recent season of “Pilipinas Got Talent,” then performed “Basta’t Maghintay Ka Lamang.”
“Pinoy Dream Academy” finalist Liezel Garcia serenaded the audience with “Kaibigan Lang Pala,” then Jovit Baldivino, “Pilipinas Got Talent” 2010 champ, did his version of the popular novelty song “Pusong Bato.” Angeline Quinto, grand winner of “Star Power” in 2011, performed “Sana’y Kapiling Ka.”
Cast members of the Engkanto World were then introduced. Actors Shaina Magdayao, who plays Prinsesa Mirathea; Lara Quigaman, as Reyna Nerea; Martin del Rosario, as Bagno, and Marlann Flores, as Liway, came on stage in full costume.
They were followed by characters from the Aswang World: Diana Zubiri (Peru-ha), John Regala (Agor) and Ron Morales (Abdul). Albert Martinez, who portrays Samuel or Haring Aswang, was a no-show. Zsa Zsa Padilla, who plays Samuel’s wife Laura, was supposedly part of the segment but went up the stage only during the finale.
Erich Gonzalez, as Juan’s girlfriend Rosario, then led the Kapatiran cast members in greeting the fans. Eddie Garcia (Lolo Juls), Gina Pareño (Loley), Neil Coleta (Asiong), John Medina (Agustin), Slater Young (Tony), David Chua (Bruce), William Lorenzo (Ben) and Izzy Canillo (young Juan) comprised the group.
Rap sensation Abra sang “Alab ng Puso” before lead star Martin was finally introduced. Martin sang Orange and Lemons’ “Hanggang Kailan.” Joined on stage by Coleta and Medina, he sang Eraserheads’ original, “Pare Ko.” The audience cheered the loudest when he tried to steal a kiss from Gonzalez during their medley with Magdayao.
Martin’s talent manager and Dreamscape adprom head Biboy Arboleda said he was especially proud of the “Juan de la Cruz” team, consisting of almost 500 people, who worked hard on the program for almost a year.
“We faced all the challenges together,” he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Monday. “I will always cherish the experience we had. I pray that the brand would expand into a movie and perhaps another TV series.”
He added, “Juan de la Cruz, the character, was created to inspire the hero in every Filipino. I believe it has succeeded in its goal. What’s unique about it was that it also promoted nationalism and inspired people to continue nurturing the spirit of bayanihan.”
Originally for the big screen
“Juan de la Cruz,” a creation of Rondel Lindayag and Dindo Perez, first aired on the Kapamilya channel on February 4. It was originally conceived as a movie for the 2012 Metro Manila Film Festival. In August 2012, ABS-CBN business unit and Dreamscape head Deo Endrinal announced it would be serialized, with Martin and Gonzalez in the lead; Malou Sevilla would be at the helm.
Martin plays Juan, an orphan brought up by a priest who nurtured his faith in God. Unknown to Juan, he is the son of King Aswang and is prophesied to lead his minions and eventually take over the world.
As an adult, he becomes the leader of the Kapatiran, a group seeking to destroy the Aswang colony, after he discovers that his biological mother is one of the Guardians, a group of human defenders against evil forces.
The show culminates in an epic battle between good and evil, with Juan attempting to defy the prophecy.
After only three weeks of airing, “Juan de la Cruz” became one of the most successful local fantasy dramas. In a survey released by Kantar Media in February, it registered a high of 42.6-percent viewership.
Endrinal attributed the program’s success to the effort of its creative team to make sure it “catered to audiences of all ages.”
He said, “While the creatives made sure it talked to 5-year-old kids while writing the script, they likewise saw to it that the show appealed to older viewers. Beneath the tale of the Tagabantay battling the Aswang lies a compelling family story, peppered with romance and adventure.”
Endrinal added, “Through the show, we tried to showcase the values inherent in everyday Filipino heroes—courage, sense of justice, wisdom, faith and fortitude. As we aptly put it in our finale script, we’re all heroes because every Filipino is a Juan de la Cruz, ang Tagabantay.”
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