Rocco Nacino shoots torture scenes as missing activist Jonas Burgos

Rocco Nacino (left frame) acts opposite Lorna Tolentino in the indie film Burgos, which depicts the disappearance of activist Jonas Burgos. Lorna Tolentino (middle) plays Edita Burgos, the mother of the activist who was abducted in 2007.


Rocco Nacino continues to shine in out-of-the-box roles that push his boundaries as an actor. His latest role as Mayor Joseph Santiago on GMA News TV's first drama mini-serye Bayan Ko earned good reviews from various sectors of society.

These days, Rocco keeps busy by being part of indie films such as Ang Sayaw ng Dalawang Kaliwang Paa, Madaling Araw Mahabang Gabi, and I Luv U Pare Ko, among others.

His latest film project is the Joel Lamangan-helmed film titled Burgos.

In Burgos, Rocco plays the title role of Jonas Burgos, an activist who was abducted in broad daylight on April 28, 2007. Jonas is the son of the late press freedom icon Jose “Joe” Burgos Jr. The story is told from the perspective of his mother, Edita Burgos, played by Lorna Tolentino. The film covers the abduction and subsequent events after Jonas's disappearance.

In an interview with PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal), Rocco narrates that they recreated the abduction based on witness accounts. "Ipapakita kung paano ako nakidnap, naganap sa Ever Gotesco Commonwealth so doon namin ginawa sa Ever Gotesco.

"Tinry namin gawin as close as doon sa nangyari talaga."

How did he prepare for the role as a peasant leader? "Nagresearch din ako kung ano nangyari, paano nagkaroon ng ganoon, kung paano nangyari yun, yung panahon na nangyari yun."

Did he have any hesitation or fears about doing such a heavy role? "Kinabahan ako kasi di ko pa naman napagdaanan yung ganoon, so a lot of research para malaman kung ano nangyari," the young actor explains.

The film and the making of it has even more significance, as Rocco reveals, "Hindi lang siya ang biktima noon, maganda sa film na eto...si Direk Joel aktibista rin siya dati."

He continues, "Gusto niya makatulong kahit sa isang family, na magspread yung cooperation ng tao para hindi lang isa ang matutulungan, na lumitaw pa yung ibang nawawala." Many activists remain missing to this day due to a variety of reasons.

How did Rocco prepare himself for the torture scenes in Burgos? Did he shoot those himself or use a body double?

Rocco quickly answers, "Oo, ako talaga." To prepare for these physically challenging scenes, he points out, "Thinking about pain, makukuha mo rin agad...kung paano sila mag-interrogate ng tao, two days yung bugbog, makikita mo 'yan doon."

Is it true he went naked all the way? Rocco reveals, "Walang ganoon, alam naman ni Direk Joel Lamangan, makikita naman sa film, hangga't kayo ko i-act, walang hubad-hubad...parang ipapakita daw niya na nude ako pero hindi naman talaga."

Last April, Edita Burgos submitted new evidence asking the Supreme Court to order the Court of Appeals to re-open the case of her son.

Was there added pressure on Rocco considering these new developments?

"Nakakakaba sobra...may eksena kausap ko yung pamilya, kinakabahan ako pero eventually with the guidance of Direk Joel Lamangan I was able to pull it off."

He explains, "Very sensitive yung film, e. Everyone's really serious kasi andoon din yun family pinapanood nila kami."

Rocco reveals that there were times when the family members became emotional while observing the shooting. "May times na naiiyak yung mga kapatid ni Jonas kasi parang nakikita daw nila si Jonas sa akin."

He surmises that he was able capture how Jonas moved in real life.

Rocco laughs a little as he tries to explain, "Di ko rin alam, e, I don't know...siguro parehas kami na medyo makulit pagdating sa family so I thought of them as my family din."

His similarity became a plus factor in bringing him closer to the Burgos family, "Kaya lumalabas yung pagiging makulit ko at yun din ang nakikita nila kay Jonas."

"Nagkataon na same personality kami."

When it comes to the physical resemblance, Rocco describes what he had to do to look more like Jonas Burgos. "Dagdag sa balbas, uhm yung buhok...Kailangan bibo ako pagdating sa pamilya kapag kausap ko si Edita Burgos, sa mga kapatid...ganoon nga daw siya sa family niya..."

Rocco is very grateful for the support shown by the Burgos family. "What I am to my family, yun din nilabas ko kasi sabi nila nakikita nila talaga si Kuya Jonas sa akin."

Rocco also says it helps that he is working with veteran actress Lorna Tolentino as his mother in the film. "There's something really special about her, a lot of people are looking forward to it."

Does he ever think about getting an award because of the roles he picks?

Rocco candidly remarks, "I never think that way, 'Mananalo ako ng award.' Trabaho muna ako para makakatulong ng ibang tao.

"Pangalawa, it 's a really sensitive film kailangan articulate sa lahat."

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