John Arcilla on the power of acting

Published February 24, 2022, 11:30 AM

by Jessica Pag-iwayan

The 78th Venice Film Festival best actor raises an important question for those watching ‘On the Job: The Missing 8’

HISTORY John Arcilla carves his name in the history as the first Filipino actor who bagged the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the Venice International Film Festival (Jessica Pag-iwayan)

“We saw the film, what are we going to do now?” 

During the official Philippine cinema premiere of the highly anticipated film “On the Job: Missing 8,” at the main theater of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), John Arcilla, the first-ever Filipino actor who won the best actor award at the Venice Film Festival for the same movie raised this important question to all of its viewers. 

Helmed by award-winning director Erik Matti, “On the Job: Missing 8” is the sequel to 2013’s film “On the Job.” This three-hour-and-28-minute long sequel shows the heinous act of political suppression that forces journalist and local town celebrity Sisoy Salas (John Arcilla) to reassess his moral standards. 

“Now the biggest question is: We saw the film, what are we going to do now?,” Arcilla says. “When I was a young boy, I watched films about corruption and crime. And now that I am older, these still happen around me, even to people I know. What’s happening to us?” 

Acting as a noble profession

Looking back to the numerous roles he has played since he started as a theater actor who spent most of his time at the CCP before he entered mainstream media, Arcilla shares how it has made him realize that acting is a noble and a powerful profession. 

“When we create characters, it is actually a study of human behavior. When you study a character as an actor, it is a study of human psychology. When we study the era of a certain story, who and when it was written, and where the story took place, it is for me comparable to social science,” he says “That’s why, for me, acting is a noble profession.” 

He adds that acting has the capacity to reach into people’s souls and touch lives. “Performances, thoughts, lives, broken hearts. Performances can reach out to lost souls, it can encourage decisions,” the 55-year-old actor says. “That’s how powerful our work is. Or I think that’s how powerful my work is. That’s why I keep on doing what I do.” 

But aside from touching people’s lives, Arcilla also believes that film should entertain. That is why even though “On the Job: The Missing 8” is a gripping thriller, the way the story is told will keep viewers entertained—making the more than three-hour-long stay in the cinema while wearing a face mask all worth it. 

“Also I believe that acting performances or films should also entertain people. Entertainment somehow soothes painful hearts,” he says. “They say that laughter is the best medicine. So while we are trying to impart knowledge or to invite people to do something or to liberate their minds, we are also entertaining them through films.” 

“On the Job: The Missing 8” is co-produced by Globe Studios. This is currently streaming on HBO Go as a series. But for those who want to watch it as a film, it will be participating at the Montañosa Film Festival in Baguio this coming March.