INC gears up for centennial with movie

Posted at 11/28/2012 1:02 AM | Updated as of 11/28/2012 1:02 AM

Richard, Bong, Albert topbill 'Ang Sugo'

MANILA, Philippines -- Three big-name actors will topbill the retelling on the big screen of the founding and legacy of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), as it gears up for its centennial anniversary in 2014.

Directed by Tikoy Aguiluz and written by Arlyn dela Cruz, "Ang Sugo (The Last Messenger)" spans three generations of INC leadership. Touted as a historic project -- local cinema's "movie of the century" -- by virtue of its subject and scope of production, the film will retrace the beginnings of INC, when it was founded in 1914.

"This is historical. Pinapakita dito kung paano nagsimula ang Iglesia ni Cristo. Ipapakita dito 'yung generations na dumaan pagkatapos ni Felix Manalo," actor Richard Gomez told reporters during a press conference held Tuesday, referring to the founder of INC.

The "Walang Hanggan" actor will portray the first executive minister of the church, who registered the INC with the Philippine government on July 27, 1914. One hundred years later, in July 2014, "Ang Sugo" will hit theaters in the Philippines.

With filming set in the first quarter of 2013, Gomez said he and his co-stars Albert Martinez and Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla, Jr. have started preparations for the respective portrayals.

The "Princess and I" actor will play the late Eraño Manalo, who took leadership of the INC in the 1950s after Felix; while the action star-lawmaker will play the role of Eduardo Manalo, the current executive minister of the Christian church.

"Sinimulan na namin [ang paghahanda]," Gomez said. "Pinakita sa 'min 'yung itsura ni ka-Felix, kung paano siya manamit, kung paano siya magsalita, pinakita rin 'yung klase ng pamumuhay na pinakita niya sa mga tao."

For his part, Revilla sees his role as Eduardo Manalo as a departure from his big screen roots. "Hindi na Bong Revilla the action star ang makikita niyo. For the first time, kumbaga isang ka-Eduardo ang makikita nila sa 'Sugo.' Pag-aaralan natin 'yung galaw niya, pananalita niya, mannerisms niya. Malaking hamon ito," he said.

Likewise, Martinez sees as challenging his role as "Ka Erdy" in the film. The Kapamilya actor said he feels pressured from portraying someone "very charismatic, very endearing."

"Kaya kailangan talaga in detail, pag-aaralan ko, the person, the man, the dream, the passion, lahat ng iyon. Kailangan ko rin malaman how he addressed his followers, at kailangan ko rin ma-imbibe kung ano ang nararamdaman niya when he does that," he said.

Pointing to the historical significance of "Ang Sugo," Martinez expressed pride in being able to headline a film that holds immense value.

"It doesn't happen everyday. 'Yung happiness ko as an actor, hindi ko ma-explain. It's something na hindi ko ma-imagine, but I'm really, really honored. I'm finally in the stage of my career na nakagawa ako ng ganitong klaseng pelikula," he said.