A few weeks ago, director Erik Matti, and actors John Arcilla and Dennis Trillo went to Italy for the Venice International Film Festival. Their new project, “On The Job: Missing 8”, was set to premiere at the prestigious film festival. After it had premiered, the audience gave them a five-minute standing ovation, Dennis Trillo received praises from the guests including “Parasite” director Bong Joon-ho, and a Best Actor trophy for John Arcilla.
But for Direk Erik, it’s not just praises and a standing ovation that he took home from his trip to Italy. He also got to bring home blessings from Pope Francis himself! (Read: Erik Matti Highlights Dangerous Reality of Media Workers In HBO’s On The Job Series)
According to the director–who took to Instagram to share this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity–a Filipino priest they were having dinner with shared a confidential piece of information. “Every time he comes from his travels outside of Italy, when he returns he passes by this small church to give an offering to Mama Mary,” the director wrote.
Coincidentally, the following day after their dinner, Pope Francis would be coming home from his trip to Bratislava.
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Riskiest ‘ambush’ of their lives
Because this was not the usual venue or time that the Holy Father would meet an audience, Direk Erik called it their “biggest and riskiest ambush” yet. Their priest informer made some calls and found that the pope will be arriving at the Vatican at 3PM. So their motto for the day was, “Attack the church before 3pm and get ready to call out the Pope.”
“We had all our religious objects prepared for Pope’s blessings. It will be swift and fast,” the director shared. He added that he and his wife, screenwriter Michiko Yamamoto rehearsed their “Viva Lolo Kiko!” chant, after finding out that the pope had a soft spot for Filipinos and would respond to the chant. (Read: Here’s Why Lolo Kiko Wants You to Live Life Like St. Anthony de Padua)
“[Michiko] rehearsed the line with me, “Viva Lolo Rico!”. I corrected her, “Viva Lolo KIKO!” Not Rico. And she rehearsed it over and over again. Kiko, Kiko, Kiko. Not Rico,” Direk Erik quipped.
At 3:40PM, they saw Lolo Kiko slowly walk towards the chapel to offer flowers to the Blessed Virgin Mary. His wife mistakenly called him Lolo Rico, but quickly corrected it to Kiko–to which the pope himself smiled.
“The Pope smiles. Blesses us all. Now, I can sin some more.”