"Banal" explores the secret lives of men in uniform

Alfred Vargas (back to camera) as Jason and PaoloContis as Cris get down and dirty for a fight scene in Banal. This Metro ManilaFilm Fest entry is the directorial debut of Cesar Apolinario, reporter for GMANews and Public Affairs.

As a GMA-7 news reporter, CesarApolinario covers the police beat and he used this as the basis of his firstfeature-length film Banal. This Metro Manila Film Fest entry is basedon true incidents involving the local police and tackles the personal crisis ofSWAT members. Banal is the only digital film that will compete in theupcoming 33rd MMFF.

For his directorial debut, Cesarhas tapped Christopher de Leon, Alfred Vargas, and Paolo Contis to help unravelthe mystery behind the death threats against Pope John Paul II when he visitedthe country. It will be shown on New Year's Day, January 1, 2008.

Banal (2007)

Director: Cesar Apolinario

Producer: Ina Alegre (ComguildProduction Co.)

Cast: Christopher de Leon, AlfredVargas, Paolo Contis, Cassandra Ponti, Paolo Paraiso, Evangeline Pascual, InaAlegre

SYNOPSIS. Cris (Paolo Contis) and Jason (AlfredVargas) are two policemen with opposite personalities and philosophies—Crisis the epitome of the rare, near-extinct breed of honest cops while Jason isthe basurero, the legman/front man who does the dirty work of hisdistrict's high officials.

Despite their contrasting natures, the two forge an unlikely friendship duringtheir Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) training, a friendship born ofconflict and competition, and bordering on brotherhood.

The unlikely architect of their friendship is Major Sagala(Christopher de Leon), their SWAT trainer. An alcoholic and once a basurerohimself, Sagala sees in the two young cops the raw talent and skill that couldmake them the best force he has ever seen. A loner and an outcast, anddespite his rough and tough exterior, Sagala finds the sons he never had inJason and Cris.


Five years later, Cris is transferred from Cotabato toJason's SWAT unit in Manila. His mother is in need of an operation unavailable inthe province, prompting him to make the request. It is only then that Jasonfinds out that he is the godfather to Cris's son, and that the boy is alsonamed after him. For the first time in his life, Jason feels the warmth of afamily.

But Cris is a changed man. An encounter with a localpolitician in Cotabato has left him scarred physically and emotionally. Hisfaith in the system he lived for has been replaced by a cynical hatred for theworld.

As the Pope's visit to the country draws near, Jasonand Cris uncover a plot to assassinate the Pontiff. For Jason, cracking thiscase would mean his ascension from a basurero to legitimate policeofficial—until he finds out that the seemingly holy Cris is involved in theplot to kill the holiest man in the Roman Catholic Church.

As a bomb ticks its way to an explosive ending, the two menmust confront each other in a deadly role reversal that will test theirfriendship.

Banal explores the unseen side of police work, stabsat the unscrupulous behavior of the media in everyday events, and shows anuncompromising picture of Philippine society. In today's world, angelscan become demons, and sinners can become saints.

Click MORE PICTURES to view behind the scenes photos.





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