An independent movie about the martyrdom of Pedro Calungsod, the Filipino saint who will be canonized in Rome on Sunday, will start shooting in November after months of pre-production, its writer-director has told InterAksyon.
“The preparation is really taking time. We will shoot in November through December,” Francis Villacorta said in an email interview on Saturday.
“Pedro Calungsod: Batang Martir” will star rising actor JM de Guzman, best known for his role in the ABS-CBN soap opera “Angelito: Batang Ama” as Calungsod, a Cebuano altar boy who suffered religious persecution and was murdered for his missionary work in Guam in 1672.
The idea for the movie came to Villacorta three years ago when he came across two lengthy articles on Calungsod by John Schumacher, a Jesuit priest.
“Early 2011, I began digging deeper into the story of the young martyr by researching the story of his superior, Fr. Diego Luis de San Vitores, and the San Diego Mission to the Marianas (Guam),” he said.
“The film,” he elaborated, “is an epic historical drama that will detail the events of the San Diego Mission and how Pedro Calungsod evolved as a catechist, young man, faithful assistant and soldier of Jesus Christ. It will show the audience Pedro’s growth as a Christian at a time of resistance to the Christian faith.”
Villacorta had told InterAksyon in April – when another group had also announced its intention to make its own Calungsod biopic – that he was writing the screenplay with a little inspiration from his lead actor, a Theater Arts graduate of the University of the Philippines.
“From the very start of this project, I knew that JM is the perfect Pedro,” Villacorta said. “I am now in the process of drawing parallels between him and Pedro so I can mold a memorable screen character. The fact that little is really known about the young Filipino martyr makes this cinematic mission our very own journey into discovering Pedro.”
Villacorta is making the film without any official blessings from church authorities, but he plans to solicit their support for the finished product, set for release early next year.
“I will be seeking their endorsement after I have shown them the movie. The product will have to speak for itself. If they like it, then maybe they can help endorse it. But I’m
doing the film because I want everyone to understand the story of Pedro Calungsod and
the importance of the Christian faith,” he said.
Calungsod was beatified by Blessed John Paul II in 2000. He will be canonized along with six other saints by Pope Benedict XVI in Rome on Sunday, making him the second Filipino saint after Saint Lorenzo Ruiz.