Friday, August 12, 2011


La Aunor and El Presidente:
Nora Aunor and Laguna Gov. ER Ejercito
are flanked
by producer Mylene Enriquez and director Tikoy Aguiluz.

by Jerry Donato
The Philippine Star
Friday, August 12, 2011

Period films are few and far between. That’s why El Presidente starring Laguna Gov. ER Ejercito and Nora Aunor is something to look forward next year. Let’s admit it: There have been few historical films made in recent years. Baler and Amigo come quickly into mind. While others like Independencia seem to fall under the independent genre.

El Presidente is a breather from commercial and indiemovies populating the silver screen. One doesn’t need to cross one’s fingers for any production delay because theepic movie is all systems go. The cameras started to grind early this week. The producers have allocated a budget amounting to P80M to P100M. Cinephiles can expect a grandiose set design and colorful costumes capturing the movie’s milieu. Robin Padilla has expressed interest in playing the Andres Bonifacio role.

“Yes, I did,”offers Gov. ER when asked if he had to inform his uncle, former President Joseph Estrada, about Nora’s participation in the movie. At the height of the call for Erap’s resignation, Nora sided with then Vice-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. “I asked his permission that Ms. Mylene (Enriquez, filmproducer) was getting us as actors for El Presidente at para makasama si Ms. Nora Aunor. Ang sagot po ni Pangulong Erap sa akin, ni Tito Joseph, ay ‘Sana kumita ang pelikula.’ Ang sabi ko, ‘Tito Joseph, hindi naman po yung kita ang hinahabol ng aming producer. Ang hinahabol po dito ay para makagawa ng isang quality film.’’’

Gov. ER also recalls that his uncle has recently issued a statement over DZMM and ABS-CBN that Erap has forgiven those people “he has to forgive, especially Ms. Nora Aunor. And past is past. It’s about time to forgive everybody and be friends again. I’m very sure the former President and Ms. Nora Aunor will cross paths and talk again.”

Recording an album and doing movies are what Nora misses the most while in the states. But she admits she was set to go to Manila to see her brother Buboy Villamayor.

“I really wanted to visit my brother even if there was no movie project to make; no press and fans to welcome me,” she says. “I wanted to know how my brother was.”

But German Moreno, Nora’s business manager, told her to delay a bit her homecoming because there were possible projects under negotiation for Nora. She obliged and one of the results was the Tikoy Aguiluz-directed and Scenema Concept International-produced film.

Since El Presidente is her first movie in eight years, the Maria Agoncillo role for Nora is as big as her stature. Gov. ER says Nora’s onscreen presence is felt all throughout the film. She plays the second wife of Gen. Emilio Famy Aguinaldo. After the demise of the first wife named Hilaria del Rosario due to leprosy, Emilio and Maria tied the knot. He was in his late 70s while she was in her early 60s. The governor says the movie will also revolve around the idea that behind the president — a great man at that — is a great woman. Gen. Aguinaldo lived for 95 years.

Contrary to the linear chronological storytelling common in biographies, El Presidente begins with Gen. Aguinaldo being wheel chaired by Maria towards an American journalist waiting for them. In between scenes, different sequences from the general’s life will appear via flashback.

El Presidente might run for two and a half hours capsulating Gen. Aguinaldo’s struggles and triumphs as a stateman, patriot, revolutionary leader, father and husband from his birth in 1869 to his centenary in 1969.

Whether it is an indie or mainstream filmEl Presidente is simply a welcome change.



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