The docudrama titled “Alaala: A Martial Law Special” which aired Sept. 17 on GMA Network was highly praised by netizens and is still a hot topic online.
Depicting the lives of human rights activists and writers Boni Ilagan and Pete Lacaba during the Martial Law years, the docudrama served as an eye-opener for a lot of viewers whose knowledge about Martial Law is very limited.
The AlDub fans, who watched mostly because the drama starred Alden Richards as Boni Ilagan, had a wake-up call about the horrors of Martial Law during the rule of Ferdinand Marcos.
With the script written by Boni Ilagan himself, a lot of viewers said that the film expanded their understanding about the real situation during the Martial Law Years under Marcos. Those who have very little idea about what really happened during the dark past of our nation’s history were thankful that GMA Public Affairs came up with the Martial Law special and asked them to come up with similar docudramas in the future.
In “Alaala: A Martial Law Special”, Boni Ilagan recounts how he and Pete Lacaba (played by Rocco Nacino) were tortured by government operatives during Martial Law and how his activist sister Rizalina, had disappeared and gone missing, too. His sister is one of the more than 800 Desaparecidos who is missing up to now.
The whole cast including Gina Alajar, Rocco Nacino, Bianca Umali, and Alden Richards received accolades from the viewers, for their sterling performances.
Even the helmsman of Alaala, multi-awarded Director Adolfo Alix Jr, gained a lot of followers and admirers for how he presented the story of Martial Law victims. The dramatic scenes were nicely woven with the stories of the real-life Martial Law victims as well as old video clips, and analysis of facts and figures during the Martial Law era by historians and respected human rights advocates.
FYI, Alix is also the director of a film titled “Madilim ang Gabi”, which tackles the so-called extra judicial killings (EJK), another hot issue of national relevance. The film was shown to much acclaim at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Praise for Alden Richards
Alden Richards, playing the lead role of Boni Ilagan, was very credible as a young Boni. Principled and idealistic, Boni fought for what is right even if it endangered his life. His torture scenes were so heart-wrenching and painful to watch, that some viewers found themselves crying and others opted to deliberately skip them.
For taking on a role that others might have passed on due to the current political climate in the Philippines, Alden was described as “brave” and “courageous” by a lot of viewers.
And though he may have lost some fans on one side of the political fence, he gained others in return. His fans and most of the AlDub nation, are truly proud of his work in “Alaala”. We presume his supportive love team partner and the other half of AlDub, Maine Mendoza, feels the same way too.
The daughter of Boni Ilagan named Dessa Rizalina Ilagan, thanked him on Twitter: “Padayon @aldenrichards02! Thank you for taking the challenge and opportunity to depict my father’s life. #Alaala”
Director Alix was also all praises for Alden: “A courageous and committed performance @aldenrichards02 #Alaala That scene with @ginalajar28 is heartbreaking.”
Alix was referring to that portion which touched the hearts of numerous viewers. In the said scene, Boni (Alden) told his mother (Gina Alajar) that his sister Rizalina (Bianca Umali), never came to their designated meeting place. The implication was that she has been arrested by the military.
As Alden Richards cried in the scene, his image was replaced by the real Boni Ilagan, crying at the memory of his lost sister. The transition scene was one of the most memorable in the docudrama, with netizens tweeting about the scene over and over again.
Alden on his role as Boni Ilagan
Although Alden Richards is known as one of the best dramatic actors today, playing the role of the student activist Boni Ilagan, wasn’t easy for him. He said, “Physically, psychologically, emotionally, mentally—mahirap ‘yung role (the role is difficult). I’ve never been tortured in any of my roles when I was doing projects with… in terms of soaps, in terms of movies,” Alden said.
He further explained, “Ako yung nangto-torture most of the time, so I’m new to this. Kaya nga nung by the time na ginagawa na yung eksena, kahit hindi talaga tumatama or hindi talaga dumadampi yung physical abuse, psychologically kasi mai-imagine mo siya. So that was really my motivation when I was doing this role. It doesn’t really require much effort to act out the scene kasi isipin mo pa lang yung terror and yung horror nung mga bagay na ginagawa sa kanila during that time, sobrang maaaffect ka na. It affected me. Mahirap siya. Nakakapagod. Like nung first day I was so tired. The scenes that I’ve done for this project na requires so much. Walang scene na light for me, dito. It really requires a lot of effort to be in the character of Sir Boni during that time. (I was the one doing the torturing most of the time. That’s why by that time the scene was being done, even if I was not really hit or even if the physical abuse never really touched me, psychologically you can imagine it. So that was really my motivation when I was doing this role. It doesn’t really require much effort to act out the scene because you just have to think of the terror and horror of the things done to them during that time, you will be so affected already. It affected me. It was a difficult role. It was tiring. Like during the first day, I was so tired. The scenes that I’ve done for this project requires so much. There was no light scene for me here.)
Watch the video of Alden Richards on playing Boni Ilagan
— GMA Public Affairs (@GMA_PA) September 17, 2017
In portraying the life of Boni Ilagan, Alden has made an indelible mark in his career as an actor. Not only because he gave a brilliant performance but also because wittingly or unwittingly, he made his stand about human rights, a very relevant topic in light of what is happening in the Philippines today.
Boni Ilagan said about his years of being a student activist, “Was it worth it? Yes it was worth it because I could not have made a difference kung hindi ako naging aktibista at kung hindi ako nagsulat ng mga bagay na naisulat ko na sa akala ko naman ay nakatulong para ang ating mga kababayan ay mabuksan ang isip. (…I could not have made a difference if I did not become an activist and if I did not write about about things which I thought helped open the minds of our countrymen.)
If Alden Richards would be criticized by some for accepting the role as Boni Ilagan, we are sure he would give a similar answer like that of Boni.
Playing the role of Boni Ilagan, the artist that is Alden Richards made a difference.
Through a popular actor like Alden, the message of the docudrama has reached more people than what one would expect with a typical documentary.
Alaala has become a vehicle to educate many Filipinos, about human rights and about what happened during the years of Martial Law under Marcos.
On his Twitter account, Alden thanked his followers for watching Alaala. More than a thousand congratulated him and thanked him in return, for his performance.
Alden might not realize the impact and relevance of what he did. But in playing the role of student activist and writer Boni Ilagan, he has encouraged many viewers to at least be aware of the harsh realities during the Martial Law period under the Marcos regime. He has been instrumental in letting others re-think and re-examine their current views regarding human rights, freedom of speech, and democracy.
Full Episode of Alaala
If you are one of those who wants to watch “Alaala” online and you’re scouring the internet for the full version of Alaala or full episode of it, don’t bother with the poor copies.
GMA Public Affairs has announced that it will replay the full episode of “Alaala: A Martial Law Special” on Saturday (September 23), 5 PM at GMA News TV.
Mark that schedule on your calendar now. “Alaala: A Martial Law Special” is a must-see docudrama for all Filipinos, especially the young.