With the Philippines’ rich and colorful history, a lot of filmmakers get inspired to use important figures and historical events for their films. And one of the most revisited and portrayed characters in Philippine history is Andres Bonifacio—the Supremo of the Katipunan.
The revolutionary hero who has been immortalized in paintings, monuments, and history books holding a bolo in one hand and the red KKK flag on the other has become a favorite subject on the silver screen over the years—not only for possessing a strong sense of nationalism but also for his personal life. (Read: These Video Games With Pinoy Heroes Could Be Your Next Favorite)
Today, on the 157rd birth anniversary of the brave hero, My Pope Philippines looks into several actors who played Andres Bonifacio in Filipino movies and rate them based on the accuracy of their portrayal of the Supremo.
Actors Who Played Andres Bonifacio: Gardo Versoza
Gardo Versoza portrayed the role of the revolutionary hero in Marilou Diaz-Abaya’s movie Jose Rizal in 1999. Although the film wasn’t fully about Bonifacio, his character’s storyline still intertwined with that of Rizal’s, hence Versoza’s cameo as Bonifacio.
And while the film went to bag several awards during the 1999 Gawad Urian and FAMAS, critics can’t seem to be convinced of Versoza’s portrayal of the Supremo. In a blog post by lawyer-critic Francis “Oggs” Cruz, he wrote that Versoza’s Bonifacio was “an unconvincing romantic wreck written as a cardboard cutout of blind idolatry.”
Actors Who Played Andres Bonifacio: Alfred Vargas
Mario O’Hara’s 2010 movie Ang Paglilitis ni Andres Bonifacio starred the now Congressman Alfred Vargas as the Hero of Katipunan. The film was part of the Director’s Showcase category of that year’s Cinemalaya Film Festival, and was the director’s last film. (Read: 3 Compelling Films by Cinemalaya Best Film Director Carla Ocampo)
Although many were pleased with Vargas’ passion for portraying the national hero, film critics still found his performance lacking when it comes to evoking the needed response from the audience. Critic Elvin Luciano wrote in a review that “[Vargas’] depth and intensity as the Supremo are felt during the hero’s turn to face the prosecutors… However, his portrayal of Andres Bonifacio did not leave enough impact to give what could have been a spine-tingling or anger-evoking performance as the hero who many Filipinos could sympathize with, especially since he is considered as the underdog in one of our history’s darkest chapters.
Actors Who Played Andres Bonifacio: Robin Padilla
Veteran actor Robin Padilla gave a very close to heart performance as Andres Bonifacio in Enzo Williams’ 2014 film Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo. Padilla’s portrayal is considered as one of the performances that gave justice to the true-to-life story of the Filipino revolutionary hero. SIFF FILM REVIEW praised Padillas’ performance saying, “Padilla fills the role with the requirements of a historical icon.”