Ely Buendia’s sister Larissa on playing a power woman in ‘1521’

Ely Buendia’s sister Larissa on playing a power woman in ‘1521’

/ 12:20 AM June 17, 2024

Ely Buendia’s sister Larissa on playing a power woman in ‘1521’

Scene from “15:21: The Quest for Love and Freedom”—PHOTOS COURTESY OF INSPIRE STUDIOS

Ely Buendia’s little sister Larissa recently made her debut on the big screen as Hara Humamay, the mysterious Queen of Cebu and wife to ruler Rajah Humabon in the historical drama “1521: The Quest for Love and Freedom.”

Inspire Studio head Francis B. Lara Ho said Larissa stood out during her audition, and that no one knew she is the iconic rock singer’s sister.


“This may sound like I’m tooting my own horn, but they said they were so impressed with me because I came prepared. I had memorized my lines and they said I had the presence, the voice and accent of the queen they were looking for,” she told Inquirer Entertainment in a recent interview.


Since the movie is also about female empowerment, Larissa said she researched on the role she was tasked to portray. “I was surprised that there was not a lot [of material] about Hara Humamay. It seems like the only thing we know about her is what she wore on the day of their baptism. That’s all I could get,” she began.

“That gave me freedom in terms of my portrayal. I naturally gravitated to playing her as a strong woman. She is the queen, so I made her slightly imperious, but there’s also a softness to her because she loves her husband, Humabon,” Larissa explained.


“I also made sure that there’s a certain ambiguity in her personality so people would ask, ‘Is she conniving or does she just love her husband and her people?’ I hope that made my performance a bit more layered.”

The film, with American director Michael Barder at the helm, is set in the pre-Spanish era and attempts to revisit the battle of Mactan in Cebu between tribal leader Lapulapu and Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan.

In the movie, Filipino actress Bea Alonzo plays Diwata, a tribal princess who falls in love with Spanish soldier Enrique (Hector David Jr.) Magellan is played by American Danny Trejo.

It was shot in in Tagkawayan Beach in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. “It’s been a dream of mine to visit Palawan. It was as beautiful as I imagined it to be … the wild beauty of it. Too bad I wasn’t able to tour because of work. I’ll be back there again someday,” said Larissa.


The actress added that Bea and Danny made her experience working on her first movie even more memorable. “Danny was so humble and down to earth. He has an almost childlike aura about him. I can’t wait to post pictures of us together,” Larissa said.

‘Bonded well’

“Bea is such a professional. Her performance in this movie is awesome. The tenderness and strength in her role as Diwata is something to behold.”

When asked what it was like working with her cast mates, Larissa said: “I’m really an introvert so I dread meeting new people. But I swear, we all really bonded well on the set. They guys are like my brothers now. I’m so thankful that I met them, thankful that I became part of this project where I experienced a lot of firsts.”

American actor Danny Trejo as Ferdinand Magellan

American actor Danny Trejo as Ferdinand Magellan

Meanwhile, Francis recalled how Danny ended up being part of the movie. “It was a great honor for Danny to play it. He knew that he was not the lead. In fact, he is almost the secondary villain. His only concern was his safety, so I flew with him from Los Angeles to Palawan to make sure he felt comfortable. When he arrived at the airport, immigration people started calling him ‘Machete!’ In Palawan, kids called him, ‘Spy Kids!’ He was everyone’s uncle there,” said Francis.

“When Danny read the script, the role of Magellan resonated with him because Magellan was a big figure in history. I gave him pointers on who Magellan was from the perspective of a Filipino. He also did his own research. During the filming, he became friends with everyone. I think that’s also his strategy of internalizing his role. He was able to understand Filipino culture a little better,” he added.

Francis said Danny “endured working in mud, and with the rain and mosquitoes. Sometimes, he would just nap under a tree. While shooting their sword fights, he fell down several times. The role called for it. His face would hit the sand, but he was fine with it. Danny is a joy to be with.”

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The film has been screening in cinemas nationwide since June 5. INQ

TAGS: 1521, Ely Buendia

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