Now that El Shaddai’s Bro. Mike Velarde’s book, Miracles are Forever—a series of stories on spiritual transformation of believers—is being filmed, it goes without saying that the charismatic religious leader has renewed his romance with filmmaking that started more than four decades ago.
It was in 1972 when Bro. Mike first tried his hand in moviemaking by establishing the company Velarde and Associates Productions. His maiden offering, Lilet, is the award-winning horror classic directed by the late National Artist for Film Gerardo de Leon, and starred Celia Rodriguez, Ronaldo Valdez, Lou Salvador Jr. and the late Vic Silayan and Tita Munoz. The film won for Rodriguez the Famas Best Actress plum.
In the same year, the company made an action caper billed Roulette directed by Ding de Jesus, and featured Rosanna Ortiz, Ronaldo Valdez, Rosemarie Gil and the late Charlie Davao.
Never having explained why he stopped making movies, Bro. Mike has film director and producer Carlo J. Caparas to thank for reminding him about his erstwhile passion for moving pictures. It is Caparas who will direct and co-produce the movie adaptation of Miracles of Forever under his outfit Golden Lion Films and Viva Films.
Caparas is now a convert of El Shaddai, who claims that it was Bro. Mike—his neighbor in Ayala Alabang—who first inspired him during a turbulent time in his life.
“Tuwa at pag-asa ang nakikita ko sa bahay ni Bro. Mike. Laging may mga ngiti sa mga labi ang mga tao. Na-inspire ako kaya ako nandito,” the controversial director was quoted as saying by an El Shaddai member who saw him along with his wife Donna Villa, and some of the cast members of Miracles are Forever, namely Yassi Pressman, Assunta de Rossi, and current showbiz bright spark Alonzo Muhlach and his dad, the original “Child Wonder” Niño Muhlach.
Comprised of a trilogy of true stories, Miracles are Forever will have Yassi portraying a confused youth; Assunta as a suffering mother who had planned to murder her own brood; and Richard Gutierrez as the lone SAF lone survivor of the Mamasapano debacle, who had said he survived because of an El Shaddai handkerchief his mother gave him the night before what is now known as the infamous SAF 44 Massacre.
Velarde, who says that these miracles of faith are all documented in the film, will also have a part within the trilogy as himself.