Ilonggo film on Filipino heroism premieres June 5

Ilonggo film producer Francis Lara Ho invites everyone to watch the award-winning film ‘1521: The Quest for Love and Freedom’ as it hits cinemas nationwide on June 5. (Mariela Angella Oladive photo)

By Mariela Angella Oladive

“1521: The Quest for Love and Freedom,” an internationally acclaimed film produced by Ilonggo Francis Lara Ho, will premiere in Philippine cinemas nationwide on June 5.

Ho, a native of Dueñas, Iloilo, dedicates this film to the Philippines, aiming to showcase the nation’s rich history and the heroism of its people. “It is my family’s desire to honor our heritage, and this is our gift to the motherland,” he said during a press briefing held at WaterWorld Iloilo in Alta Tierra Village, Jaro, Iloilo City.

Ho’s journey into filmmaking began in 2019. According to him, “1521” offers a new perspective on Lapu-Lapu, often misrepresented in Western narratives, by showcasing his fight for freedom.

Ho explained that Westerners have historically portrayed Ferdinand Magellan, the Portuguese explorer who sailed for Spain, as the hero in the Battle of Mactan.

“Many think that Lapu-Lapu is a savage warrior and pirate who rapes women, and I wanted to change that negative image of not only Lapu-Lapu but of the Filipinos,” he remarked.

“1521: The Quest for Love and Freedom” is a historical-romance film starring award-winning Filipino actress Bea Alonzo as native princess Diwata and Hollywood actor Danny Trejo as Magellan.

The movie recounts the events of the Battle of Mactan in 1521, while incorporating a fictional love story between Diwata and Enrique amidst the backdrop of Lapu-Lapu’s heroism.

The film features a star-studded cast, including Hollywood actors Michael Copon, who also directs the film, Hector David Jr., and Costas Mandylor.

“The film blends historical drama, action, and romance, drawing parallels to Romeo and Juliet’s forbidden love amidst a fight for freedom,” said Ho.

To ensure historical accuracy, the team consulted primary sources. Ho also highlighted that women held equal standing with men during the pre-colonial period.

Alonzo’s portrayal as a babaylan celebrates the strength and leadership of Filipina women.

Ho refuted claims that the movie is akin to a Filipino version of Pocahontas.

“In a nutshell, ‘1521’ portrays the classic Romeo-Juliet love story, not Pocahontas’ Filipino version. This is one of the movie’s backlashes for people who only see the trailer. It’s a historical drama–the battle is historical, the love story is fictional.”

“1521: The Quest for Love and Freedom” has garnered international recognition, being shown in over 600 theaters in the United States last October 2023.

The film has won several prestigious awards, including Best Feature Film at the Athens IMA Film Festival, Best Feature Film and Best Cinematography Feature Film at the Swedish Film Awards, and Best Feature Film at the London Independent Film Awards.

“These achievements stand as a testament to the exceptional cast and crew, the history-making production partners, and the inspiring Filipino bayanihan spirit behind the film,” Ho expressed.

The film will be distributed by Viva Films and will be available in more than 100 cinemas nationwide, timely for the Philippines’ 126th Independence Day celebration this June 12.

Ho invited Filipinos to support the film, emphasizing its importance in highlighting Filipino history and resilience.

“This is a must-see movie for every Filipino. This is our history. Only the love story is fictional,” Ho reiterated, noting that the film is suitable for family viewing since it’s Rated PG.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here