Character actor John Arcilla shed off his notorious kontrabida side and displayed the real him – calm and pleasant – in this episode of Kapamilya Chat.
The interview opened with good news about FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano’s week-long all-time high viewership that happened recently during the much-anticipated face-off of the Task Force Agila and Renato Hipolito (John Arcilla).
The Kapamilya actor said seeing those numbers make them feel extra inspired especially since they are taping hand to mouth, meaning the scenes shot today will air tomorrow. The record-breaking views make the sacrifices worth it, “Ang sarap ng pakiramdam. Sulit na sulit ang pagod, hirap, at puyat. Pati mga worries mo kasi whether we like it or not, may sacrifices naman tayong lahat sa lock-in taping, eh pero sulit na sulit.”
For him, Renato is someone he’s already known for long. It’s been four years since joining the show, so he’s already comfortable with the role. He looks at the characters as if they are real people, and it’s the secret to a convincing portrayal. For instance, he already knows Cardo (Coco Martin) so much, how he is as a cop and a family man, thus John mastered how to attack the protagonist’s emotions and in the process elicit ‘gigil’ from the viewers.
“Mas gaganahan ka kung paano mo dadagdagan ‘yung mga nuances, kung paano mo ma-build. Kasi ‘yun lang naman ang technique, eh. The secret sometimes is alam mo naman kung paano magagalit ‘yung audiences, eh,” he added.
Their new challenge, though, is of course the new normal setup and the weather and outdoor setting, especially in the recent episodes where they had to engage in long outdoor battles under daylight. It took them a total of five days, three of which are consecutive, to shoot the week-long skirmish between the Task Force Agila and Renato’s battalion.
One of those episodes highlights the death scene of Teddy (Joel Torre) and Virgie (Shamaine Buencamino). Mounting it was a real challenge according to John, “Sobrang init tapos ang lawak ng tatakbuhan mo, madamo, mapuno. Pero minsan ‘pag nandoon ka na, nakakalimutan mo na ‘yung obstacles. Wala nang bagay ‘yung init, mga talahib, wala na ‘yung maalinsangan kapag concentrated ka na sa ginagawa mo.”
We find it interesting that John, the notorious kontrabida responsible for Teddy and Virgie’s death, also cried watching the episode. But, of course, it would be hard to imagine him showing sympathy to the characters because we’re so convinced of his portrayal. He calls it the magic of acting.
“Sobrang umiiyak ako habang pinapanood ko ‘yung death scene ng mag-asawa. Pero sIyempre as Renato Hipolito, kailangan galit ka. That’s the magic of acting, of being an actor, na-e-express mo ‘yung iba’t ibang facets ng emotions,” he said.
John went on to talk about the bond on set of FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano. Cliché as it may sound but there’s no other way to put their relationship but “family.” The pandemic, despite the scare, kept them whole as if it’s a common enemy they have to fight. They look after one another.
“Hindi lang simpleng lumalim ang pagsasamahin n’yo at the same time meron kayong sabay-sabay na binabakang challenge. So lumalim talaga ‘yung kwentuhan, hindi lang simpleng tungkol sa malalabnaw na bagay kundi pagtingin sa sitwasyon, buhay, pamilya,” he shared.
He also had good and honest words to say about Coco, who doubles as their director. “Mahal na mahal ko ‘yang bata na ‘yan,” John said, adding that Coco has remained down-to-earth through the years despite the stardom. Although, sometimes it feels strange hearing his own director call him ‘Kuya John’ or ‘Tito John.’ Using three words to describe the Primetime King, he went for “seryoso, pilyo, at mahusay.”
On his character, John said Renato Hipolito is a smart guy with thirst for power. But his lack of compassion is the setback for his success and desire for leadership. The catch is Renato isn’t aware of this. “Wala siyang iniisip kundi ang ambisyon at kapangyarihan. Papatay siya ng tao, papatay siya ng mahal niya, makuha lang niya ‘yan.”
They have one similarity, though, and that is their unbreakable tenacity. “Kapag meron akong gusto, ‘pag pinanghawakan ko ‘yan, hindi ako titigil hangga’t hindi ko ‘yun nakukuha. ‘Yung determination na ‘yun, mula pagkabata ganun na talaga ako.”
Listening to the veteran actor, it’s worth noting that determination can be synonymous with manifesting. What he believes, he achieves. “Lahat ng nangyari sa buhay ko, lahat nang ‘yan mula pagkabata, nakikita ko na ‘yan sa ceiling namin. Pinapanood ko ‘yung sarili ko, ‘Ganito ‘yung mangyayari.’ I’m like watching a movie… Lahat ‘yan nakikita ko 5 or 7 years old ako, lahat nangyari.”
More than the determination, having fun is also part of the journey. “Mahal ko, eh. I am so fulfilled every time na alam kong may nabibigay ako sa kapwa ko. ‘Pag meron akong gustong mangyari, i-she-share ko sa kapwa ko.”
For John, it is important to find that purpose and share it to others. For instance, when he dreams to act in a project, it isn’t for mere fame or recognition but for a bigger purpose such as to bring inspiration and lessons to other people.
When John joined FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano in 2017, the hate was so intense and he would block a lot of followers on social media. It’s different now. Not only the bashing waned a little, fans have become more open-minded as well. But if that’s not the case, John would respond in a subtle way. Those who still see him as the bad guy can check out his TikTok videos and you’d be surprised at how fun he is in real life.
Lastly, John left a message to his character, Renato Hipolito, telling him that the true measure of power is kindness and that he must use his abilities for the greater good.
“Sayang ang galing at talino mo, gamitin mo sa kabutihan. Kasi kung hindi mo nakikita ang paligid mo at ang sarili mo lang ang nakikita mo, hindi ka talaga magaling. Ang pagiging makasarili ay hindi katalinuhan,” John told Renato.
We hope Renato’s change of heart is possible in the end. For now, watch out for gripping action and exciting plot twists in FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano, weeknights, on Kapamilya Channel, Kapamilya Online Live, and A2Z.