Aljur Abrenica’s most challenging role to date
Though he has been working as a professional actor since 2007, Aljur Abrenica admitted that he didn’t start truly loving the craft until two years ago. Now, he has embraced it, he said, and is taking it more seriously.
For instance, for the coming historical movie “Ang Hapis at Himagsik ni Hermano Puli”—in which he portrays the eponymous 19th-century Filipino hero—Aljur prepared himself by doing his own research and legwork, so that he could “give justice” to what he described as his career’s “most challenging” role thus far.
“Compared to the other projects I’ve done in the past, this one I really focused on—I immersed myself in it,” said the 26-year-old GMA 7 talent at a recent press conference.
Aljur, on his own initiative, spent three days in Lucban, Quezon province, to get a feel of the place where Puli was born and grew up, as well as to hear stories from the people living there. “I talked to the locals. I walked on the path Puli used to take from his home to the town proper—a two-hour trek. I visited the river where he used to take a bath,” he said.
He also read textbooks and scoured the internet to gather as much information on Puli as he could. But it was tough work, Aljur admitted, because there weren’t that many written material dedicated to the unheralded historical figure—a charismatic crusader who waged a revolt against the Spaniards in the name of religious freedom.
Eventually, it occurred to Aljur that Puli—whose real name is Apolinario de la Cruz—could very well be one of the most important heroes of our country, but whose contributions remain largely unknown to the general public.
“I grew frustrated because I believe Hermano Puli deserves more recognition among Filipinos. He was one of the first people who recognized the need to fight oppression, to fight for their rights,” related Aljur, who purposefully shed more than 10 pounds for the role, through strict dieting.
“This is what this movie aims to accomplish—to introduce to the public who Hermano Puli was,” added Aljur, who got his start in show biz via the fourth season of GMA 7’s reality-based artista search “StarStruck,” which he won.
Helmed by Gil Portes, “Ang Hapis” also tackles Puli’s formative years as a pious boy who dreamed of becoming a priest.
Later on in life, he tried to enter a religious order in Manila, only to be turned down simply because he was a native Filipino.
“I did all that research because I wanted to know every available detail about him—from the way he moved, how he looked, how he preached,” Aljur said, adding that unlike other more naturally gifted actors, he had to put in more effort.
Also in “Ang Hapis,” which opens on Sept. 21, are Louise de los Reyes, Enzo Pineda, Markki Stroem, Kiko Matos, as well as Aljur’s younger brothers, Vin and Allen. “It’s a dream come true to be working with my brothers. We got to bond after our scenes and celebrate if we do a good job,” he said. “This experience definitely made our relationship deeper.”
In the past, Aljur had been criticized for his “wooden acting”—a comment sparked by the fact that he once played “Machete” on television. Portes, however, observed that Aljur has shown improvement over the past few years.
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