By Boy Villasanta | Published: November 5, 2020
The pre-production phase of the film “Balangiga 1901” is now in full swing.
Its search of a leading lady is finally over.
When award-winning actress Alessandra de Rossi was offered the role, she courteously begged off.
“Hindi ko talaga kaya. COVID-19 pandemic pa. Mas mahalaga ang buhay ko kaysa Balangiga bells (I can’t really do it. It’s still pandemic. My life is more important than the Balangiga bells),” Alessandra said matter-of-factly.
Really Because Of COVID
It was prizewinning filmmaker Arman Reyes who gave his production designer-talent coordinator friend the cellphone number of Alex (De Rossi’s pet name).
Right there and then, Alex, rejected the project. “Akala ko dahil hindi kilala ang direktor kaya ka tumanggi (I thought the director isn’t popular so you begged off),” stated Arman in his online talk with Alessandra.
“No. It’s because of COVID-19,” said Alex.
“Understandable,” exclaimed Reyes.
“Balangiga 1901” will be directed by former tabloid editor and artist Danny Marquez.
The film tackles once more the infamous carnage of many American soldiers sent to Balangiga, Eastern Samar during the United States of America’s invasion of the Philippines in the beginning of the 20th century.
Most of the Yankees deployed by the American colonial government were killed by the Warays in Balangiga.
It was the resistance movement of the freedom-loving Warays that led to the defeat of the American forces.
Actor Ejay Falcon will portray the role of Captain Valeriano Abandor, the Chief of Police of Balangiga during the 1900s who led the movement against the US servicemen.
It was Abanador who rang the church bells as signal to the locals attack on the colonizers.
In retaliation, the surviving American soldiers killed innocent civilians including women and children.
They also took with them to the US the Balangiga bells as booties.
It was only last year that the bells were returned to the rightful church owners, the Church of San Lorenzo de Martir.
When Alex refused the role of a very pivotal woman in Abanador’s life, Danny and the rest of the creative team of Jarrimine Fortuna Film Production Corporation looked for her replacement.
It happened that Marquez knew award-winning actor Roi Vinzon.
Roi has a beautiful daughter, Ysabella Vinzon, also known as Lala Vinzon, the famous contestant in the talent show “The Voice Teens Philippines” where she was mentored by Bamboo Mañalac.
Danny immediately talked to Roi and Lala.
Lala’s mom is a former band vocalist until she turned to become a talent manager.
“Lala Vinzon replaces Alessandra. Lala fits the role to a T,” said Marquez, an erstwhile comics strip writer.
The whole of the Balangiga residents are behind the meaningful production of their local history. “Ipapakita lang naman namin kung ano talaga ang nangyari noon (We will just show what really happened then),” assured Danny.
Roi is very supportive of her daughter so he gives her acting tips.