Movie producer apologizes to Bea Alonzo for ‘bad calls’ made on set

Movie producer apologizes to Bea Alonzo for ‘bad calls’ made on set

/ 12:10 AM May 26, 2024

Movie producer apologizes to Bea Alonzo for ‘bad calls’ made on set

Bea Alonzo plays a “babaylan” in “1521” —PHOTOS COURTESY OF INSPIRE STUDIOS

Months after the manager of Bea Alonzo went public to air their side on the mishap while shooting the historical drama “1521: The Quest for Love and Freedom,” it is now the turn of the film’s producer to publicly apologize.

Inspire Studios head Francis B. Lara Ho said he is “taking responsibility” for decisions made on the set that eventually inconvenienced the actress. He already reached out to Bea and her manager Shirley Kuan prior to speaking with the media last week but has yet to receive a response.


“I hope she hears this: I apologize. Because of my limited knowledge and experience—I’m a first-time producer—I made some calls that apparently didn’t help her, and I take responsibility for them. It wasn’t my intention to hurt her,” Francis told Inquirer Entertainment during the media gathering organized by Viva Entertainment, the film’s distributor in the Philippines.


He continued: “Shirley is a family friend. Her family would spend time with us in America. We’ve known each other for three or four years. Last time I heard, she and my wife would talk, but they probably don’t talk about me or the production. I also want to apologize to her. It was never my intention for our relationship to turn this way.”

‘Unreasonable demands’

In September 2023, a report was published quoted the producer saying that Bea made “unreasonable demands” that were not included in her contract, and that she failed to show up during the fitting of her costumes. This was also why Bea ended up paying for the repairs, he was quoted to have said.

On the other hand, Shirley claimed they were not aware of the fitting schedule. She also said the costumes were ill-fitting so Bea had them repaired to avoid any possible wardrobe malfunction while filming.

Movie producer apologizes to Bea Alonzo for ‘bad calls’ made on set

Producer Francis B. Lara Ho of Inspire Studios—MARINEL CRUZ

Francis said he was also preparing to send invitations to Bea and Shirley to attend the special screening on May 29 in Manila. Another screening is scheduled in Cebu City on May 30. The film will have its local nationwide run starting June 5.

Set in the pre-Spanish era, “1521” is the story of a beautiful native princess named Diwata (Bea), who falls in love with Enrique, a Spanish soldier (Hector David Jr.). They fight for their forbidden romance as they are pulled apart by their loyalties to their own people.

‘Gift’ to PH

Francis said the film was a “gift” to the country when it celebrated its 125th independence last year. “This was why we screened this on June 12 in 650 cinemas in America. My dream of filling up Hollywood streets with people wearing the barong Tagalog and Filipiniana was fulfilled on that day. Everyone was there. They didn’t talk about politics or religion, but about how proud they are of being Filipinos. That, to me, is my Oscars,” he said.


The film was shot in Tagkawayan Beach in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, and not in Cebu where the actual Battle of Mactan happened. “As much as possible, we didn’t want to use computer graphics, so we searched for a place that still looked like it’s from 1521. Where else can we find that but in the Philippines’ last frontier? I’m glad we made that decision because we won best cinematography at a festival we attended in Sweden,” he began.

Movie producer apologizes to Bea Alonzo for ‘bad calls’ made on set

Vic Romano as Udong

“Second reason is that, since I’m also based in Palawan as often as I’m based in the US, the majority of our resources are there. In fact, the area we converted into a Mactan village is my family’s own land,” he explained. “Third, as a Palaweno myself, although I was born in Iloilo, I want to provide opportunities for people there to earn.”

Setting the record straight

Francis added that the mission of “1521” is to finally set the record straight about what really happened between Lapu-Lapu, the king of Mactan, and Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan. “If you have access to Prime Video, you will see a series titled ‘Boundless,’ which shows the perspective of a European producer and filmmaker,” he began, adding that one episode shows a version of the Battle of Mactan where Lapu-Lapu is depicted as “a savage, fear-mongering rapist and pirate.”

Movie producer apologizes to Bea Alonzo for ‘bad calls’ made on set

Michael Copon as Lapu-Lapu

Francis continued: “Lapu-Lapu is our hero. He is a man of honor, and yet he was portrayed that way. If no one will stand up for him, then the world will always think of him as a pirate who lived by extorting money. In fact, I’ve received some backlash from foreigners accusing me of historical revisionism. My mission now is for the world to know who we really are, that we are not savages, and that Magellan did not discover the Philippines. When he arrived, we already had our own writing system, our own language, and an effective justice system.”

Historical accuracy

In terms of historical accuracy, Francis had to first clarify that “1521” is not a documentary, but a dramatic piece, “with action and romance.” He added: “The battle is historical, but the love story is fictional. Of course, we went to the primary source, the one written by (Venetian scholar Antonio) Pigafetta. But when it came to the actual look of the balangay and the costumes, our production designer consulted the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA),” he said.

Movie producer apologizes to Bea Alonzo for ‘bad calls’ made on set

Henry David Jr. (left) as Enrique and Danny Trejo as Magellan

“1521” is also about women empowerment, claimed Francis. “Based on our research, ours used to be an egalitarian society. This means that women were of equal footing to men. When the Spaniards came, everything changed. The women came only second to men,” he added. “This is not the Filipino version of ‘Pocahontas.’ Diwata fought for her community. This is more like a Romeo and Juliet story in the context of the Battle of Mactan in the 16th century.”

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Directed by Michael Barder, “1521” also features Michael Copon as Lapu-Lapu, Vic Romano as Udong, Costas Mandylor as Lorenzo, and Larissa Buendia as Humayhay.

TAGS: 1521, Bea Alonzo

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