Jerrold Tarog and Paulo Avelino: Goyo is our 'biggest film to date'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 6) — The anticipated historical action biopic "Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral" is Director Jerrold Tarog and actor Paulo Avelino's largest project yet.

"Well, actually to be honest it's different just for the mere fact that it's the biggest thing anyone of us has ever done. It was a constant process of trying to catch up with the scale of the thing," Tarog told CNN Philippines' The Source on Thursday.

The highly-touted historical film revisits one of the turning points in Philippine history through the life of Gregorio "Goyo" del Pilar. Avelino stars as Goyo, one of the youngest generals during the Philippine-American war.

READ: Paulo Avelino: 'Goyo' about power, responsibility

For about eight months, the cast and crew worked in grandiose sets which aim to give its viewers a realistic glimpse of the past. One of the important locations in Goyo's life was Dagupan, and the set for that was built from the ground up.

"It is actually the biggest film I've done to date, and the biggest sets I've been to as well not only because they recreated a whole town, but also the scope of our locations and the scenes, soldiers," Avelino explained.

Tarog added, "Doon sa Tarlac, we had to recreate yung town center sa Dagupan. We had to build mga facade ng churches, mga alcalde's house... lahat iyon, full size."

[Translation: In Tarlac, we had to recreate the town center in Dagupan. We had to build facades of churches, mayor's house... all of those, full size.]

The crew also shot in Mount Balagbag in Rizal, which is about 700 meters above sea level, for the scenes on Tirad Pass, the setting of a battle and the film's anticipated climax. At least 200 people had to climb the mountain regularly and face unpredictable weather conditions - especially fog.

"It was rainy season that time... minsan naglalakad nalang mga tao. Ganoon siya kahirap kasi," the director said.

[Translation: It was a rainy season that time. Sometimes people just walk. It was that hard.]

Despite these challenges, Tarog and his team committed to working on the film, especially since producers already approved it. He knew that they will also be facing financial risks.

"There was always a big risk… Well, inapprove nila eh, so let's do this," he said. "So meaning mas malaki yung kailangan niyang mabawi sa cinema."

[Translation: Well, they approved it, so let's do this. It means it needs higher earnings in cinemas.]

Tarog directed the highest grossing Filipino historical film of all time, "Heneral Luna," which had a budget of ₱80 million. It had ₱180 in million gross sales in the box office.

The 41-year-old director says "Goyo," which is a sequel to the action biopic, is a contrast to Luna's character. Instead, the film will be more relatable to its viewers as it features the "quiet" life of Gregorio del Pilar.

"I was looking for someone na internal naman ang [with an internal] conflict... Whereas Luna was more loud, this one is more introspective," said Tarog.

He said that the narrative also brushed on critical thinking and re-evaluating one's priorities.

"May isang element sa storyline about analyzing yourself and what's important to you," he explained. "Yung buhay ni Goyo that time, parang right hand siya ni Aguinaldo... Dumating siya sa point na kailangan niyang pag-isipan kung pakakawalan niya yung ego niya…'yung glory, para i-sacrifice yung sarili niya para sa bayan."

[Translation: There is an element in the storyline about analyzing yourself and what's important to you.... Goyo was like the right hand of Aguinaldo at that time. He came to a point where he had to think whether he would lose his ego and glory to sacrifice himself for the country.]

"Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral" will be showing in cinemas on September 5.

CNN Philippines intern Samantha Corrales contributed to this report.