‘Amigo’ returns to Bohol
Exactly a year ago today, Bohol suffered from a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that destroyed its famed churches and heritage sites—the same places featured in Oscar-nominated filmmaker John Sayles’ historical epic, “Amigo,” filmed in the province four years ago.
Last July, Hollywood actor Garret Dillahunt, lead star of “Amigo,” visited Bohol to check on the Filipinos he met during the shoot.
Dillahunt was a member of the cast of “No Country for Old Men” that won the Screen Actors Guild best ensemble award in 2008. He also received a best actor nomination in the Critics’ Choice awards for the sitcom “Raising Hope” in 2012.
He appeared in such high-profile films as “12 Years a Slave” and “Looper.” He is now in the FX crime drama series “Justified.”
Dillahunt was in Manila to shoot an Australian-Filipino indie film, Tom and Sam McKeith’s “Foreigners.”
After the shoot, he spent a day in Tagbilaran City, Bohol, before returning to the United States.
It was Dillahunt’s first visit to the island-province after “Amigo,” a film on the Philippine-American War.
“We were worried when we heard about the earthquake,” Dillahunt told the Inquirer two days before leaving for Bohol. “Then weeks after the quake, [Supertyphoon “Yolanda”] hit the province. Bohol took a pounding.”
In the United States, he heard the news that Spanish-era churches were reduced to rubble. “That is so sad. Bohol was a beautiful place.”
Soon after the twin disasters, Dillahunt and other “Amigo” actors, like Lucas Neff, James Parks and Dane DeHaan, banded together for Bohol. “Our friends’ homes were destroyed. A few of the ‘soldiers’ in the movie pooled some resources to help our friends rebuild,” he said.
(Neff also played Dillahunt’s son in “Raising Hope.”)
Dillahunt also stumbled on an organization called Helping Bohol, run by Pol Dano, a Boholano who now lives in Arizona.
“I had tweeted something about Bohol and Pol’s daughter got in touch with me,” he said.
Prior to his trip, Dillahunt told the Inquirer: “I am anxious to see my old friends, the family who lives on the patch of rice field where we shot ‘Amigo.’ I want to see what happened to their village, if the aid has reached them.”
He has kept in touch with that Filipino family through the years by snail mail. “I don’t think they have a computer at home but we’ve been exchanging letters.”
Dillahunt is currently sponsoring a Boholano child’s studies.
“I thought she was special, bright and seemed so interested in life,” Dillahunt said of his young ward. “She was 10 when we met. By now, she’s getting ready for high school.”
Although he was seriously concerned about the Boholanos, he expressed confidence that they would have the grace and the strength to overcome this trial.
“Filipinos are resilient people,” he said.
He knew this from firsthand experience.
While shooting “Foreigners” in Metro Manila, Typhoon “Glenda” hit the country.
“In front of the hotel where I was billeted, a tree fell on a van,” he recalled. “As soon as the weather cleared up, I saw a bunch of guys chopping the tree into smaller pieces.”
Dillahunt, who studied journalism in college, could not resist taking photos of the fallen tree, which he then posted on Twitter.
“When they saw me taking photos, the men smiled, joked around and waved their machetes in the air. I told myself: That’s pretty good humor, considering that one of those guys was the van’s owner.”
The men with the machetes taught Dillahunt a precious lesson in perseverance. “Their disposition said, ‘This is life. We have to move on. We have to dig our way out of this.’ I think that’s what I will find in Bohol as well.”
He was similarly impressed with the Filipino cast and crew of “Foreigners” (led by actress Angeli Bayani and child actor Whyzel Myo Indonto, Filipino-American boxer Chad McKinney and producer Bianca Balbuena).
“They are hardworking,” he said. “We all have stereotypes of foreigners …. The fun part of traveling is getting to see all of those stereotypes shattered. Filipinos work hard, for long hours, for very little pay. But they are professionals and very capable. Our team came from all walks of life. That’s the great thing about making movies. It takes so many different people and when it works, it’s like this weird little miracle.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.