The movie “Alagwa” depicts the relationship between a single father, Robert, (Jericho) and his son, Brian (Bugoy Carino). The movie explores the seedy reality of human trafficking, when the father loses his son at a mall one day. Going by the trailer, one might think it’s a rip-off of a Western action movie like “Taken,” but in reality, it is something else. It is subtler than that. The actors in the film make sure of that, with Jericho’s understated portrayal of the struggling father and the chemistry between him and the child actor playing his son.
With minimal dialogue and deft cinematography, “Alagwa” manages to convey different feelings–of love, pain, poverty and despair. With every hand held camera movement, viewers get a glimpse of the chaos of Manila and its dark underbelly. The dirt and filth made me cringe, but at the same time I knew it to be true. I could almost feel the heat as Jericho/Robert walks the streets of Manila in search of his son.
The end of the movie is something else.
After the red carpet premiere of “Alagwa” at the recently concluded 2013 Newport Beach Film Festival, fans swarm Jericho. He smiles through it all and gamely poses with everyone. He even remembers some of the fans he’d met on previous U.S. visits!
“It’s a great experience, I had never been to that many film festivals before--this showed me a different style of filmmaking,” Jericho says. The film was screened at other international film fests including the 17th Busan International Film Festival in South Korea and the 24th Palm Springs International Film Festival. It tackles the very serious problem of human trafficking, a cause that Jericho has taken up personally.
According to director Ian Lorenzos, it took only 11 days to film “Alagwa.” Jericho says: “I’ve watched the film ten times and it still gets me every time. I think Ian brought us to a place, where people fall in love with the characters Robert and Brian …and then BOOM he cuts it! That right there is heartbreak for me…you can physically feel it…and the ending gives you a different kind of relief but of course, I can’t tell you what that is. It’s very interesting. Honestly, I love the film.”
Days after the film’s second screening in Newport Beach, Jericho is named one of three actors to win honors for Outstanding Achievement in Acting. It isn’t the first time his acting’s been noticed either. He won similar honors for the movie “Subject: I Love You” at the 2011 Newport Beach Film Festival.
Despite all his success, Jericho has his feet firmly planted on the ground. He points to the sky, when asked how he’s remained humble all these years: “I would be nothing without Him. That’s what keeps me grounded.”
Marcie Taylor is a writer, photographer and social media strategist based in Orange County, CA. She is the author of the book, Missing Mangoes: For Filipinos and Those Who Love Us. Connect with her on Twitter @suburbanmama, Facebook and her site.