By WALDEN SADIRI
Will it be a one–two knockout combination punches for awarded director Joel Lamangan (at the box-office, that is) when the bell rings for "Pacquiao The Movie" on June 21?
After the box-office success of Lamangan’s comedy "Manay Po!" comes the true-to-life story on film of the country’s newest and unorthodox national hero, Manny Pacquiao, who’s triumphs and even defeats on the boxing ring has been the rave of every Filipino and even boxing aficionados around the world.
With Jericho Rosales in the title role, "Pacquiao The Movie" aims to resonate the struggles of the boxer while growing up in the province and his journey to becoming the most watched boxer since heavyweight greats like Mike Tyson.
"I do believe it would make money," Joel expressed positively. "A lot would like to know the life story of Manny especially now that he is the hero of many Filipinos."
"Pacquiao The Movie" stays close to the boxer’s life. What’s on the film is 100% his life and there weren’t anything edited out nor added.
"If I used my cinematic license for this movie, it is for artistic purposes. But I stuck with what Manny told me and the film is 100% true. Kung ano ang sinabi niya sa amin yun ang nakalagay. We did not leave anything na itinatago like yung kahinaan niya nandun pa rin," he explained.
Joel admitted during an interview aboard Super Ferry 12 where some parts of the film were shot that Manny Pacquiao requested them to take out some parts which he didn’t agree with.
"Nag request siya. I told him it’s his story and it’s in the papers. Everyone will say na hindi totoo kung walang other women. Sabi ko I didn’t want to create a monument. Sabi ko you’re a person. That means you’re multi-dimensional. Ibig sabihin you are capable of mistakes, you have emotions, you have success, you have defeat — all of those we have to show. Hindi puro highlights lang. Pati yung pag knockout sa kanya we have to show," Joel pointed out.
He also stressed that the truth wouldn’t affect him negatively. But if they would glamorize him, the more that people would not like the movie because they know the truth.
"Because of his weaknesses and his being a person, because of that, people will love him and people will identify with him. Hindi naman siya Diyos. May mga struggles siya at may mga struggles silang mag-asawa."
So what was the challenge for a multi-awarded director in mounting a bioflick like "Manny Pacquiao The Movie?"
"The challenge is in it being about a hero, how to make the person appear to be a human being not like a monument. That he was capable of making mistakes, that he was also an ordinary person. Nagbago lang ang status because he succeeded…what I saw in him when I did this film was an ordinary person who became so lucky. Talagang nabiyayaan siya at nanalo. Representative siya ng mga ordinaryong tao who aspires na maging mabuti ang kalagayan niya at magtagumpay siya!"
With regard to Jericho Rosales who plays Pacquiao, he was hands down to the determination of the actor to portray as closely as possible the boxer. He even pitied him because the fight scenes were really physically taxing!
"Kawawa nga siya. Mahirap gumawa ng boxing na eksena na hindi tumatama. It would be seen through the camera if the punches were fake. Natatamaan talaga at nakakatama talaga. It was inevitable and it was hard to prevent the accidental punching of the actors. Like si Jiro nahirapan din. Natamaan din because mga totoo nilang kalaban tunay na boksingero!"
As for Jericho, he was all praise for him in this film project. He was also grateful to Mommy Rose Flaminano who cast him as Pacquiao.
"Because of Jericho’s hectic ‘Panday’ schedule, I was tempted to change him. But this film was really for him. So we waited at mahusay siya talaga," remarked FLT’s Mommy Rose.
"This is my first title role and I’m very happy and thankful that FLT got me…I loved my role because in the few minutes that I’ve met the boxer in the press conferences, I was already in awe, what more if I was given a longer chance to know him…I found out na napakahirap ng buhay niya pati sa ring kasi masasakit talaga ang mga suntok na matatanggap mo. Idol ko siya talaga," shared Jericho.
Lamangan has good words for his cast.
"They are intelligent actors and they follow my instructions easily. At kayang kaya nilang lumitaw sa husay ng acting nila. I also respected their inputs…this is not an action movie. This is about the life of Manny Pacquiao so it is more dramatic because it tackles his hardships in life as well as his victories!"
Also in the movie are Tirso Cruz III who plays Pacquiao’s father, Jay Manalo, Jaclyn Jose, Bayani Agbayani, Polo Ravales and Zoren Legaspi.
Next in line for Joel Lamangan is the film version of the comic book heroine "Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah" which has been reported to star the Divine Diva Zsa Zsa Padilla with Rustom Padilla.
Supposedly shying away from this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival, "Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah" is said to be one of Regal Entertainment’s official entries. So why did he accept it?
"When Mother Lily had some differences with Mark Meily, he asked me if I was interested. I just can’t say no to Mother Lily," was his simple reply.