Arnold Reyes says Wildflower will be extended until 2018

IMAGE Mark Atienza


The selection of Birdshot as the opening film of Cinemalaya 2017 is a dream come true for Arnold Reyes.

The actor has been part of various entries to the annual festival of independently produced movies since its inception in 2005.

“Nagulat nga ako,” Arnold told PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) at the grand launch of TBA Studios, the production company behind Birdshot, last July 26 at the Marquee Tent of EDSA Shangri-La Manila Hotel in Mandaluyong City.

Arnold plays one of the lead roles—a righteous cop named Domingo—in the indie flick directed by Mikhail Red that won Best Film in the Asian Feature section of the Tokyo International Film Festival in 2016.

“Kasi sa tagal ko naman sa Cinemalaya na nagpa-participate, parang nangangarap ako na sana, one day, meron akong pelikula na maging opening film ng Cinemalaya,” he said.

Arnold, who won Best Supporting Actor in Cinemalaya 2009 for his fine performance in Astig, added: “Cinemalaya ang mahal na mahal kong film festival sa atin sa Pilipinas kasi ang mga unang indie ko na ginawa, part of Cinemalaya.

“Every year, I’m blessed na meron akong ginagawa, so sabi ko, ‘Sana, ma-experience ko naman ’yong opening film.’ Heto na siya!”

To make sure that he will be able to attend Cinemalaya’s opening night on August 4 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), Arnold has asked for permission from the producers of the ABS-CBN teleserye Wildflower, in which he’s a mainstay, to give him a break from taping sessions on that particular day.



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EXTENDED UNTIL 2018. In Wildflower, Arnold plays a shady character named Arthur dela Peña.

“I’m so honored na part ako no'ng Wildflower,” he said. “Actually, no’ng una pa lang namin na nag-taping at nabasa ko ang script, sabi ko, ‘Ang galing, ang bilis!’"

He explained, grinning: “Feeling mo, hindi sila nauubusan ng pasabog. Bumalik ako, may malaki na namang mangyayari and hindi ko puwedeng ikuwento kasi  pag nilabas niyo ’to, hindi pa nangyayari.”

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Arnold added that he’s happy to be playing a character such as Arthur “kahit medyo on and off ang pagpasok ko.”

“Every time na papasok si Arthur, may nangyayaring malaki,” he pointed out.

“Ngayon, ang laki-laki ng pasabog ni Arthur. So, sabi ko nga, ‘After kaya nito, ano pa ang mangyayari kay Arthur? Meron pa ba?’ Sabi nila, meron pa.”

Arnold believes that Wildflower’s run has been extended until 2018.

He wondered aloud: “Hindi ko alam kung puwede nang sabihin, ha? Pero, ang alam ko, hanggang January. Ang huling dinig ko, hanggang November. Una, naging August, naging November. Ngayon, dinig ko, hanggang January.”

“Pero, siyempre,” he said, laughing, “alam niyo naman sa TV, hindi natin talaga alam kung hanggang kailan. Puwedeng sumobra pa do’n, parang [FPJ’s Ang] Probinsyano. Puwedeng mas maiksi.”

The actor, who started acting in theater and got his big break in indie films, expressed delight when talking about his fellow cast members, including lead actress Maja Salvador and veteran stars Tirso Cruz III and Aiko Melendez.

“Grabe!” he said, beaming. “Alam mo, siyempre, ’yan ang mga hinahangaan kong tao, di ba? Hinahangaan kong mga artista.

“Siyempre sa umpisa, nahihiya ako, bumabati ako. Pero naii-star-struck pa rin ako hanggang ngayon na pag kaeksena ko sila, nando’n pa rin ang nerbyos kahit paano.

“Pero siyempre, napaka-generous nila as an actor, e, so kahit pa’no nagiging madali para sa akin ang trabaho ko. At, siguro, dahil sa nerbiyos na ’yon kaya siguro nagiging maayos ang resulta ng trabaho ko.”

When asked about his opinion on the prevailing trend among afternoon soaps that lean towards sexy themes, Arnold gave a hearty laugh.

“Sa amin naman, hindi, e!” he said. “Meron din, pero hindi do’n naka-focus.

“Well, siguro kaya maraming gano’n baka ’yon din ang hinihintay ng mga tao sa timeslot na ’yon. Kasi, di ba, ratings-driven na tayo? Baka mas mataas ang rating pagka-gano’n.”

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“Pero I’m sure may guidance naman ng mga magulang at ng MTRCB,” he added, referring to the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board.

“Kumbaga, may rason naman siguro bakit nagkaro’n ng sex o love scene. Hindi lang basta nag-love scene para makakuha ng mataas na rating.

“I’m sure, may pinanggalingan, di ba? May justification naman kung bakit kailangan magkaro’n.”


INDIE AND MAINSTREAM. Arnold feels honored and fortunate to be working on different platforms, particularly indie films and mainstream TV.

“No’ng nag-umpisa ako, do’n ako nahirapan,” he recalled. “Kasi theater ako galing. Sa theater, ang laki ng acting, di ba?

“So, para sa akin, every time na may gagawin akong pelikula, tine-take ko ’yong opportunity to learn. Lagi kong sinasabi, ‘Teka lang, bawas, bawas. Film na pala.’

“Tama ang question mo, medyo magkaiba nga ’yong acting sa indie at sa TV. Kasi sa TV, di ba, masyadong mabilis ang mga pangyayari, so ang acting namin, medyo malaman.

“Sa indie kasi medyo ano lang, kalmado lang. Nangyayari lang ang lahat ng emosyon, gano’n.

“Pero pareho kong nae-enjoy. At saka with the help of my directors, di ba? Bilang artista naman iga-guide ka naman ng direktor mo. So, ’yon! Natuto akong mag-adjust sa tagal na rin ng pinaggagawa ko.”


BIRDSHOT SCREENINGS. Arnold displayed the same impassioned feelings for Birdshot, which was selected as the opening film of Cinemalaya 2017.

“Excited ako talaga,” he unabashedly admitted.

He went on talking about his character, Domingo, a pivotal part in the movie’s story that revolves around the killing of a Philippine Eagle, which is an endangered species under the protection of the state.

“Pulis si Domingo na mula sa ibang assignment, ’tinapon sa do’n sa lugar kung saan nangyari ang Birdshot,” he said, adding that the production was shot in Isabela province.

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“Si Domingo kasi medyo gusto niya parating siyang nasa tama. Bilang pulis, gusto niya, nagagawa niya ’yong trabaho niya.

“Gusto niya, pag may ’binigay na assignment sa kanya, gusto niyang ma-solve, gusto niyang mabigyan ng katarungan, gusto niya, kung sino ang dapat mabigyan ng katarungan.

“So, nasa tama siya lagi. And because of that, nagkaka-leche-leche ang buhay n’ya. So, pagdating niya dito sa lugar kung saan nangyari ang Birdshot, may mga pinahawak sa kanya na kaso na biglang inalis sa kanya.

“Kasi ’yon pala, may mga involved na mas malalaking tao. So, do’n ko nakilala ’yong magiging superior ko, si John Arcilla.”

Arnold described John’s character as “sanay na sa sistema” who issues a warning that goes something like this: “Kung meron ka bang malaman na hindi mo dapat malaman, handa ka ba sa puwedeng mangyari?”

Speaking of John Arcilla, his younger costar has only praise for the esteemed actor known for such unforgettable portrayals in the historical film Heneral Luna (as the revolutionary hero) and in the fantasy TV series Encantadia (as main villain Hagorn).

Arnold remembered being anxious on working for the first time with John in Birdshot.

“Kinabahan ako,” he admitted. “Okey, galing ako ng theater. Si John Arcilla, well, isa sa mga tinitingala namin sa theater.

“Kaya no’ng nalaman ko na si John Arcilla, meron akong takot na naramdaman na parang kailangan kong mag-ano, step up. Pero, sabi ko, ‘Kalma lang, Arnold, kalma lang.’

“First namin ng pagta-trabaho, nagkasundo agad kami. Na-enjoy ko ang trabaho with John Arcilla kasi ang dami kong natutunan sa kanya. Sobrang generous.

“Panoorin mo lang siya sa eksena, ang dami mong matutunan as an actor. Grabe! At saka, siya, pagdating sa eksena, kabisado lahat.

“Nagugulat nga ako, reading pa lang, ‘O, kabisado mo?’ ‘Oo, hindi ako natulog kagabi.’ ‘A, okay.’ Nahiya ako sa sarili ko. Kaya, sinisiguro ko… well, ako din naman, gano’n. Kaya lang, parang, ‘John Arcilla, o! Alam na lahat.’ Di ba? Ang galing!”

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Arnold has the same respect and admiration for his director, Mikhail Red, who at 25 years old, has done only one movie before Birdshot.

“Well, lagi kong sinasabi ’to sa mga festivals na pinuntahan namin abroad na parang ang dali na makatrabaho ang isang direktor na alam niya ang vision niya, alam niya ang gusto niya,” he said, referring to his director, whom he calls by his nickname, Mik.

“Would you believe na...ngayon lang ulit ako nakatrabaho na naka-storyboard muli umpisa hanggang dulo?” he asked in awe.

“Oo, nakita ko ’yon, parang, ‘Wow, ang galing!’ Ibig sabihin pinag-isipan niya bawat shot. And, in fairness, ha, after ng mga takes namin, pag nakita ko, ‘Uy, pareho ’yong shots.’ Ang galing!”

“Kaya para sa akin,” he continued, “ang ganda ng Birdshot kasi hindi lang siya nag-concentrate sa editing, sa color grading… Binusisi nila ’yong sound.

“Kumpleto ’yong Birdshot in terms of quality, kasi talagang binusisi nya lahat. Para sa akin, blessed ako na makatrabaho ang isang katulad ni Mik.

“Sa sobrang bata niya, ang bata pa n’ya, pero pag pinanood mo ’yong pelikula n’ya, parang gawa na ng isang seasoned director.

Arnold turned playful while recalling the best comments he’s heard during Birdshot’s screenings in filmfests abroad.

“English kasi, hindi ko maulit,” he quipped. “Pero thankful ako na na-appreciate nila ’yong trabaho namin, not just me but ’yong buong cast.

“Ang ganda din kasi ng script kasi din. Ang ganda ng development ng script, ng characters namin kaya na-appreciate.

“In fact, every time na may screening kami sa Tokyo International Film Festival, and ngayon, kagagaling ko lang sa New York Asian Film Festival, lagi kaming full house. So, ’yon! Na-appreciate nila.”

What would he consider the hardest part in his portrayal of policeman Domingo in Birdshot?

“’Yong torture scene,” he replied. “Meron akong torture scene do’n na ginawa. Saka ’yong eksena na—kasi hindi ko puwedeng ikuwento—may mga eksena na challenging para sa ’kin bilang artista.”

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After serving as the opening film of this year’s edition of Cinemalaya, Birdshot will participate in the first ever Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino.

Along with 11 other selected movies, Birdshot will be screened during the film fest’s duration from August 16 to 22 covering around 790 cinemas nationwide.




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