Film, faith and family were at the heart of a touching reunion among the cast and crew of ‘Ignacio de Loyola’– JesCom’s acclaimed biopic on the life and times of the Society of Jesus’ founder.
Through a Zoom call moderated by JesCom Creative Director Pauline Mangilog-Saltarin, dear friends scattered across time zones and continents were virtually brought ‘home’ for a few hours, sharing warm smiles and long-awaited hellos. Unforgettable on set memories and audition stories were rekindled once again.
“In my family, we have a belief where if something is meant to be, it will be. Sometimes, you just feel ‘this is me’, this is a familiar path that I just know. What made it easier to portray Ignacio was the love of my family, the love from you guys,” revealed leading man Andreas Muñoz, as his parents- surprise guests on the call- were overcome with emotion in thanking their son’s segunda familia.
As flashbacks of a deeply-treasured time came back to life over on-screen conversations, the Ignacio family also made sure to check up on each member’s living situation in this challenging time of COVID 19.
‘Change’ was the common theme that weaved their stories of coping with the coronavirus crisis. London-based actress Raghad Chaar recalled the never-ending “mask-on and social distancing” reminders blaring on her train ride. With their baby now six years young, Paolo and Cathy Dy found themselves preparing for the start of their son’s online classes.
Yet no ‘change’ was as drastic as that experienced by Assistant Director Bombi Plata, who found his lifelong career and profession completely reshaped by the pandemic.
“All I knew was making films and TV commercials. The lockdown forced me to go into online selling, and I’m now an official fruit dealer,” he explained.
“We got news that farmers in the province were throwing away their produce, with no way to transport these to urban markets. We got private vehicles to get the fruits, once people ordered from us.”
Amidst his sudden, life-altering ordeal, it was quite providential how a poignant lesson from Ignacio ended up saving Bombi.
“What saved me during this time of pandemic was the scene of the merchant, where Ignatius mentions the concept of Holy Indifference. You just have to accept things that have happened, because there’s a reason behind it.”
Acceptance of recent events though, took a teary turn, as the group mourned the passing of beloved costume designer and make-up artist Juvan Molina Bermil who succumbed to a long battle with a respiratory illness.
“He shared his light expansively in all productions he’d been a part of. He epitomizes the best of the Philippine film industry and possessed the unique Filipino energy to laugh, smile in the middle of adversity,” described Plata of the brilliant designer, whose intricate costumes brought audiences back to 15th century Spain.
From an opportune collaboration between Filipino and Spanish filmmakers, to its first screening in Manila on July 27,2016, ‘Ignacio’ has, in Jesuit terms, ‘set the world on fire’ and blazed a trail of prestigious accolades and international recognition.
Finally reunited after four years and ready to move forward as one, though today’s unprecedented times, the ties that bind the people behind JesCom’s banner film project remain stronger than ever- all thanks to Ignacio himself.
“What bound us together was having the mentality of magis that St.Ignatius taught. Always giving more and more, never stop trying to improve on your skill and how much you can give,” reminisced director Paolo Dy.
“One of the big things we learned during this pandemic was to focus on what’s really important. It’s in those small details, I believe, that the Lord shapes us to become what He wants us to be. When we focus on what’s vital, at the heart of what God wants, there we find happiness.”