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John Arcilla shares he almost backed out of ‘Suarez’ movie

When asked if he’s a spiritual person, Suarez: The Healing Priest star John Arcilla answers, “well, I must say yes. Mas gusto ko sabihin na spiritual ako kesa religious. Kung relihiyoso kasi mas panatiko ka sa simbahan, spiritual is mas naniniwala ka sa kapangyarihan ng pananampalataya at ng iisang Diyos. Meron ka mang sinasamahang grupo o wala, nire-recognize mo ang power and significance ng pananampalataya na hindi kasing lalim ng isang sekta o ng isang organisasyon,” John shares.

Synopsis: When Fernando was given the gift of healing at 16, he hid it for many years until he became a priest only to find himself in scandals and squabbes with the catholic church. Unfazed, he challenged head on but pauses when faced with the question — what if the gift is taken away from him? Based on the true to life story of Fernando Suarez.

But what does Arcilla know about Father Suarez, a known personality of the church, before accepting the role?

“Si Father Suarez, naririnig ko lang siya sa mga sister ko eh. Pero hindi madalas kasi naga-attend ‘yung mga sister ko sa kanyang healing mass. So ‘nung tanggapin ko ‘yung movie, since believer kasi ako ng healing eh. So mabilis akong nakapagsabi ng yes. Kaya nga lang ‘nung I was actually waiting for the script, I was actually looking for reading materials tungkol sa kanya, saka ko lang nakita ‘yung controversies. In fact gusto ko magback out, ayoko maging mouthpiece ng isang tao to justify himself. So, I ask the team na makipag-usap kay father para magkaroon kami ng story conference. Sabi ko, i-set aside ko muna ‘yung doubt ko, kailangan ko muna makausap si father, gusto ko siya mag-kwento. And I don’t want to ask him personally and directly about the controversy, gusto ko siya lang magsasalita kasi mejo awkward ‘yun eh. And after that meeting, sabi ko magde-decide ako kung itutuloy kong mag-pull out or itutuloy ko bang tanggapin. Gagawa na lang ako ng alibi, kumbaga may sakit ako or meron pala akong nakalimutan na proyektong na-oohan ko na. But then, when I arrived dun sa venue kasi, very positive ‘yung atmosphere tapos, I just saw him there, a very simple person and he’s not trying to justify himself when he’s telling stories, he’s not trying to defend himself. Walang gano’n, napaka-positive ng air. Sabi ko hindi ko makita ‘yung controversy na nabasa ko, ang nakikita ko isang simpleng tao na hindi jina-justify ang sarili niya so in-embrace ko ‘yung project. Sabi ko, tuloy ko na lang kasi parang hindi totoo ‘yung mga nabasa ko.”

We’ve seen John Arcilla in almost any characters. He has played the hero Antonio Luna in ‘Heneral Luna,’ he played a scary lunatic father in ‘Kuwaresma,’ a villain in the fantasy series ‘Encantadia,’ and more. It seems like he can do any role and with flying colors. And playing a priest in a movie to be released during the pandemic is what he calls something we need today.

The film also stars Dante Rivero, Rita Avila, Rosanna Roces, Jairus Aquino, Marlo Mortel, Troy Montero, Jin Macapagal and Ms. Alice Dixson in a very special role. Story and screenplay by Berbard Factor Canaberal and directed by Joven Tan from Sarangola Media Productions.

‘Suarez: The Healing Priest’ will be streaming on December 25 at upstream.ph. An official entry to the Metro Manila Film Festival 2020.

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