Nowadays, Jun Urbano is busy promoting his newest baby, a film titled Ibong Adarna, which is set to open in August in cinemas nationwide.
“I am so proud of this film because it is really a beautiful piece,” said the director.
According to Urbano, he chose the classic tale because it is a significant part of Filipino culture. A required reading in the secondary school level, the book with an unknown author, follows the search for the Ibong Adrana, a magical bird who can bring healing through song. When a king falls ill with a mysterious disease, the kingdom’s three princes embark on a journey to find the elusive bird.
It is only the fourth time for this epic to be adapted into big screen. The first was in 1939 where Urbano’s father National Artist for Film Manuel Conde served as technical director.
Conde remade the film in 1950 in full color, while the last production one done in 1980, starring the late King of Comedy Dolphy.
As writer and director of the movie, Urbano admitted that he changed many parts of the “to make it even more Filipino.”
He explained, “I removed the Hari from [Kingdom of] Berbania and replaced it with a Sultan from Maharlika. It is set in Mindanao and the Mountain Province during the pre-Spanish colonial time.”
He also injected Filipino elements like the nuno sa punso, mangkukulam and higante. Moreover, the costumes designed by Joey Luna were inspired by the T’boli tribe.
Despite using his creative license as much as he can, Urbano promised, “I had to give respect to the story.”
A powerhouse cast has Joel Torre and Angel Aquino starring as the Sultan and Sultana; Rocco Nacino portrays their son; and Leo Martinez and Benjie Paras portray the scheming villains. Lending support to the main characters are Lilia Cuntapay, Gary Lising and Kuhol. Karen Gallman who plays the Ibong Adarna is being introduced in the film.
Ibong Adarna is also special to Urbano as it is his first major project in a long time. Asked if the film is independent, he answered yes because it is not produced by any mainstream film outfit.
“But it is a big-budgeted film that spent P25 million,” Urbano noted. Among the film’s most expensive aspect were the computer-generated images.
So funded the production of Ibong Adarana? “My friends, who are not from the movie industry did. They are businessmen who want to see a good film that is not romance, comedy or horror,” he replied. “So I told them, give me the money and I’ll do one!”
Because of the trust his friends gave him, the director said it is very important that the film earns big at the box-office. “I just want to return their investment. If this happens, I am hoping there will be more movies of this kind to follow,” Urbano said.
Florante at Laura is next in the director’s horizon.