Looking forward to ‘Topakk’ the movie

Published March 21, 2021, 7:30 AM

by Deedee Siytangco


Erwin Tagle with senator Pacquiao for Kid Kulafu movie

It’s a film to watch, not only for its entertainment value, but also for its focus on a very timely subject—mental health awareness

The best mayor in my books is undoubtedly Francisco “Isko” Domagoso of my city, Manila!

I have lived here all my life and have had several mayors, Antonio Villegas, Erap, Fred Lim, Ramon Bagtsing, yes, Arsenio Lacson in my childhood, but in the two years or so of “Yorme,” Isko’s nickname, tenure, my present mayor is the champion!

His dedication to faithfully serve his constituents is truly admirable and in a later column let me relate how he saved me and my family from panicking from the deadly COVID. So, stay with me ‘til next week.

Now, a unique and relevant Filipino motion picture with the intriguing title of “Topakk” will soon hit the movie theaters and delight movie audiences.

The action-filled thriller focuses on mental health awareness and is headlined by JM de Guzman and Sid Lucero. It is written and directed by Richard Somes.

Erwin Tagle with Bryan Revilla and director Richard Somes

A collaboration of Somes, de Guzman, and fight director Erwin Tagle, “Topakk” is intended to raise the standards of Filipino action films, comparable to those of the US, Japan, and other countries.

Erwin Tagle, son of art impresario/concert producer Elizabeth Sison Tagle with artist Ernie Tagle, served as fight director of Sam Milby and Eugene Domingo in Kimmy Dora, ang Kyemeng prequel, Star Cinema’s Kid Kulafu. He was overall fight sequence coordinator for the Manny Pacquiao bioflick, where Buboy Villar played the young Manny. I saw Erwin grow up from a scrawny boy to a full-packed martial arts expert.

“We trained Buboy in partner-drill. We concentrated on the Pacquiao footwork and his ‘killer’ left, which was very obvious during his early years,” Tagle said.

Other celebrities who have benefited from Erwin’s fight direction are Liza Soberano, Yassi Pressman, Nadine Lustre, Ryza Cenon, Vice Ganda, Sid Lucero, and JM de Guzman.

Before the pandemic had set in, Tagle was the local stunt director for the soon-to-be-released 10-part television series, “Almost Paradise,” which was shot in the country.

The series was produced by American Dean Devlin and line-produced by ABS-CBN with a reported budget of $55 million. Its cast includes actors and actresses who are top Filipino stars.

Tagle started dabbling in martial arts (boxing and Muay Thai) more than 10 years ago. “I love to compete,” he declared. “Fighting is the highest level of competition.”

‘A good leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.’ —John C. Maxwell

“When a worthy opponent goes all out, in the heat of a competitive situation or event, you learn to dig deep and discover reserves you never knew existed. Your opponent gives you the distinct opportunity to learn valuable lessons,” he added. “And this is why, after every bout, fighters thank their opponents.” Certainly, it is the honorable thing to do!

Through “Topakk,” Tagle hopes to strengthen his advocacy of giving value and livelihood to Filipino stuntmen, long-maligned and belittled. He is very vocal about the cause of stuntmen and has partnered with LGU mayors such as Lenlen Oreta of Malabon, Lino Cayetano of Taguig, and soon Vice-Mayor Gian Sotto of Quezon City, to be able to provide the jobless stuntmen with a means of livelihood.

He has thus taken a small step toward improving the lives of Filipino stuntmen, who are essential to action movies, during this time of the pandemic. Already he has secured the help of FDAP chairman Liza Dino Seguerra, who is sympathetic to his cause.

On this subject, he bewails the inaction of certain people in high elective offices who, if they wished to, could alleviate the plight of the stuntmen.

“Topakk,” which provides stuntmen with much-needed jobs, is another step toward Tagle’s goal. Shooting of the film, observing the IATF protocols, starts on March 23.

Proud of my young friend Erwin Tagle!