The Mike de Leon film Citizen Jake finally made its world premiere after being developed for almost two years.
Atom Araullo not only served as the lead actor but he also co-wrote the story with director Mike de Leon and Noel Pascual.
After the invitational screening held at the University of the Philippines Film Institute last night, March 10, PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) and select reporters had the chance to ask Atom about the controversial movie that namedropped a lot of politicians including the Marcoses.
"I was a co-writer.
"It's a work of fiction but it sends a strong message. We stand by what the film says," declared Atom.
Citizen Jake is a family drama set amid current political and social events. Atom plays Jake Herrera, journalist and estranged son of powerful Philippine senator (played by Teroy Guzman).
Driven by disdain for his father, Jake moves to Baguio City where he attempts to build a new life as a blogger and college teacher.
However, circumstances force him to try to solve the brutal killing of a young, female student in the university where he teaches in. Jake conducts an investigation—a move that brings him face to face with corruption and his personal demons.
In the movie Citizen Jake, Atom's titular character is obsessed with a family called the Marcoses. He is furious that after all these years, the cronies of Marcos have not served jail time.
In real life, Ferdinand Marcos was declared the winner in the 1965 elections and was inaugurated as president. He was reelected in 1969, making him the first Philippine president to serve a second term.
On September 21, 1972, Marcos imposed Martial Law and became a dictator. His two-decade rule ended on February 25, 1986 when he fled the country as a result of the EDSA People Power Revolution.
In this Mike de Leon film, Jake's girlfriend Mandy (played by Max Collins) asked him to stop his crusade against the Marcoses.
Mandy sat beside her boyfriend and tried to put him in a sexy mood.
Jake asked Mandy, "How can we get in the mood with that?" He was looking at his laptop that showed the photo of Imee Marcos.
After the screening, Atom was asked: is he ready for the backlash from this movie?
"Sure," he quickly replied.
Is he ready for the negative feedback that would come from people, especially those who will react to the numerous references made in the film regarding the Marcoses?
"History is our best teacher. We have gone through that dark period of our history and those stories are taught in school.
"We built monuments and remember the people who sacrificed themselves. That is not up for debate. This is an established historical fact.
"I don't see anything controversial in that."
The invitational screening caps almost two years of work that began in late 2016 when director Mike de Leon announced that he was embarking on Citizen Jake and had chosen reporter Atom to play the journalist character.
The former ABS-CBN reporter recalled, "It took us a long time. Umabot kami ng 9 -10 drafts and even then, we were changing even when we were shooting the film, there were changes pa rin.
"Of course, sa editing mayroon napalitan, may nabago. I was really involved in every step of the process."
Citizen Jake is a work of fiction but the characters are based on real persons. Of this, Atom pointed out: "Lagi naman. All fictional characters are based or inspired by real people."
When asked if he is open to accepting more acting projects in the future, the GMA-7 reporter-TV host answered, "It's not a priority."
When asked why moviegoers should watch Citizen Jake, Atom pointed out:
"Number one, I hope to be entertained. It has, hopefully, an engaging story, one that they can follow.
"It is family drama and perhaps, certain elements that you an relate to.
"It has a very political message.
"Politics is inescapable. You can try and run away from it but it will always catch up because we are living in a world of politics so might as well study it and understand what is going on in our country.
"If it pushes the audience to think, that would be enough."
Would he invite the Marcoses to watch the movie? "Sure, of course," said Atom with a smile.