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September 22, 2016

Hermano Puli: 5 Reasons Why You Should Watch This Historical Biopic

Ang Hapis at Himagsik ni Hermano Puli

Hermano Puli is a story about love...
The love of a prophet for his God, the love of a nation for its culture and the love of a native for his country.

Filipino pride is once again gracing the big screen with this much-awaited movie about an almost forgotten Filipino hero: Apolinario de la Cruz better known as Hermano Puli. Ang Hapis at Himagsik ni Hermano Puli (The Agony and Fury of Hermano Puli) brings light to the hero’s revolt against the Spanish colonial government in the Philippines because of religion.

Hermano Puli isn’t familiar to most which is why watching the film is the perfect reminder of his contribution in the Philippine history that's forgotten outside of his hometown in the province of Quezon. Here are five reasons on why you should watch this historical biopic about a Filipino hero we shouldn’t forget:

1. Brought to life by an accomplished director

The film is directed by Gil Portes, a native of Quezon Province and is known for his successful works. Besides directing, he is also known to be a scriptwriter and a producer who has won a number of awards in films. Three of his films – Saranggola (1999), Gatas (2001) and Mga Munting Tinig (2002) – were submitted to the Academy Awards' Best Foreign Language category.
After graduating from the University of Santo Tomas with the degree in Journalism, he worked as a copywriter for advertising firms but he wasn't pleased with what he was doing so he tried to enter the television industry. He then decided to do further studies where he got his masters degree in tv and film production in less than two years.
Almost a year of being back in the Philippines, he was offered a 10-month training program at the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) in the UK. In 1974, he produced his first ever drama anthology, Huwaran. By 1976, Gil Portes debuted as a filmmaker with his first film, Tiket Mama! Tiket Ale! Sa Linggo ang Bola. Although he has worked with major studios, he considers himself as the original indie director since most of his films are independently financed.
The journey of creating Ang Hapis at Himagsik ni Hermano Puli, also an indie film, wasn't a smooth road since they experienced a number of problems. But at 71 years old and being able to bring to life one of his dream projects – a biopic about a hero from where his roots come from – is a great deal for him especially because he likes creating passion projects that personally matter.

2. Backed up by a production like no other

Director Gil Portes first found out about Hermano Puli in early 1998 when an old man approached him in Quezon Province while filming at that time, handing him a manuscript with details of the preacher's life. From then on, he promised to make a film about this forgotten hero from Lucban, Quezon.
In 2015, Ang Hapis at Himagsik ni Hermano Puli's script development and pre-production were in the works and was accepted as an official entry in the Metro Manila Film Fest but he withdrew when the original producer backed out. Director Gil Portes then talked to affluent families to get the funding for the film. Portes and one of the cast members were having lunch in a restaurant across Limbaga 77 one day when they thought about talking to the owner.
Luckily he got in touch with Mr. Rex Tiri, owner of Limbaga 77, who is actually a huge fan of films. After a series of meetings, Mr. Rex Tiri finally decided to help produce the film under T-Rex Entertainment Productions. Its production finally started in December 2015 and came to an end in February 2016 with Aljur Abrenica in the title role.
Furthermore, screenplay writer Eric Ramos talked to expert historians to provide its audience all the right information. He says this is a historical drama and wants to be truthful about telling a story of Hermano Puli's heroism.

3. Lead actor is destined to be Hermano Puli

Before Aljur Abrenica accepted the role as the lead of Hermano Puli, he shared to Director Gil Portes his experience on battling depression and overcoming rejections and criticisms. He further improved his craft of acting by studying more about the film and was heavily invested in it – reading on whatever materials he can get his hands on, tracing the roots and paths of Hermano Puli.
He even went to Puli's hometown in Lucban, Quezon without telling Director Portes, went to the place where he was born and grew up and even to the river where the religious rebel bathed. Portes assures everyone they'll get to see a different kind of Aljur Abrenica in the film and is the perfect person to portray Puli. Fun fact: Aljur Abrenica is joined by his siblings Vin and Allen Abrenica in the film.
Did you know? The role almost went to Dennis Trillo although he is too mestizo. Moreover, Gary Estrada also wanted the role but Hermano Puli was only 27 years old so he didn't make the cut.

4. A new breed of actors to watch out for

Catch actress and model Louise de los Reyes as a devoted Cofradia follower who is in love with Puli; Markki Stroem who is known for being a musician as the Spanish officer who ordered the execution of Puli; Menggie Cobarrubias as the Spanish friar; Enzo Pineda and Vin Abrenica as Cofradia leaders and Rosa Pesigan as Puli's brother.
Other actors include Allen Abrenica, Abel Estanilao, Stella Cañete, Jun Nayra, Simon Ibarra, Kiko Matos, Bani Baldisseri, Archie Adamos, Diva Montelaba, Elora Espano, Johann Villanueva and more.

5. The interesting story of Hermano Puli

More than 50 years before the martyrdom of Rizal, Bonifacio and Luna, one man led a revolt in the name of equality and religious freedom.
In 1814, Apolinario de la Cruz was born in the town of Lucban, Quezon. He wanted to be a priest and tried to join the Dominican Order in Manila but was rejected since the religious orders were closed for indios. Better known as Hermano Puli, he was a Filipino religious leader who founded and led the Cofradia de San Jose in retaliation to the racism of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial period.
When his own religious order reached its peak, they had 9,000 to 10,000 members from the provinces of Tayabas, Laguna and Batangas. The Spanish government sent military forces to put an end in the Cofradia fearing for an armed rebellion. On October 1841, Hermano Puli and his followers resisted the attack but more troops were sent in November the same year where the Cofradia was captured, tried and executed.
It was previously believed that Puli led a revolution against the Spaniards since he was not allowed to be an Indio priest so he put up the Cofradia de San Jose (Confraternity of St. Joseph) with fellow indios. The movie shows that such Cofradias were really encouraged by the church to help spread the faith, especially in other regions. As of writing, there are still a number of followers especially in the town of Lucban where he was born.
Puli put up his own Cofradia when he was only eighteen years old and was only twenty-seven years old when he was killed by the Spaniards. Ang Hapis at Himagsik ni Hermano Puli aims to show its audience that you can actually be a hero at an early age.
The film gives light on the heroism of the young Filipinos of the past who sacrificed themselves for the freedom we have today. Like Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, General Antonio Luna, Apolinario Mabini and more, Hermano Puli was also just a young man who stepped up and questioned the inequalities of the Spanish colonial era.
Ang Hapis at Himagsik ni Hermano Puli, produced by T-Rex Entertainment Productions, opens on September 21 in cinemas nationwide. Visit the official website at or like them on Facebook for exclusive updates.
Movie Info

Ang Hapis at Himagsik ni Hermano Puli (2016)

Biography, History

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