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24 October 2015

Cover: "Being John Arcilla"

John Arcilla is one of the most underrated and unappreciated actors of the Philippine film industry even though he looks and talks like a typical Filipino. He is a competent character actor regularly playing supporting roles in both films and television dramas. Unknown to many film and television viewers, Arcilla is a veteran stage actor and has honed his acting prowess on the often neglected arena of Philippine theater. I first watched Arcilla in “Mulanay” (1996) and then the following year, he appeared in Carlito Siguion Reyna’s “Ligaya Ang Itawag Mo Sa Akin” (1997) opposite Rosana Roces.

Arcilla is fast becoming one of the Philippines’ few international actors. He played a minor role in Tony Gilroy’s “Bourne Legacy” (2012), a devoted husband and social worker in Jacco Groen’s “Lilet Never Happened” (2012), and then he brilliantly played a corrupt police officer in Sean Ellis’ heist movie “Metro Manila” (2013). This year, Arcilla adeptly carried a film on his own as he played Antonio Luna in Jerrold Tarog’s historical blockbuster “Heneral Luna,” which has been chosen as the Philippines’ entry to the 2016 Oscars for the Best Foreign Language Film category. 

In a perfect world, the likes of Arcilla should dominate Philippine cinema, but alas, at present, we have to contend with mestizo actors whose only claim to fame is their “white” heredity. In a country populated by predominantly brown-skinned people, this reality is truly ironic. 


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