BY: Pilar Mateo

WHO wouldn’t recognize the surname, Abellana this side of showbiz.

The millennials are definitely aware of a Carla Abellana in their midst. A good actress who dabbles in many other things like hosting and singing.

But before there was a Carla, there was an Abellana who became a household name in the 80s because of his PJ character in the number one teleserye at that time, “Annaliza” with the late Julie Vega headlining it.

Rey “PJ” Abellana’s entrance into the program can be said to be a blessing in disguise. It was a role intended for another actor, his “brother” under the late Alfie Lorenzo’s management, Lito Pimentel.

“Lito had an appointment the day the producer Rey Benedicto, the director and the staff had to see me. Si Tito Alfie was very insistent that they give me a chance. Kasi, wala akong ka-background-background sa acting. Pero alam mo naman ang Tito Alfie, alam niya kung may potensyal ka o wala.

“The rest is history. Hindi madali for me noong una. Kasi nga, may Ilonggo accent ako. Eh, magaling si Tito Alfie. Kung ano ang gagawin sa character ko. Talagang pushed.”

Those were Rey’s glory days he shared with the better half of the tandem he shared with Leni Santos. They were the KathNiel during those times. Doing movies left and right to push their tandem.

Alongside with the acting was the singing.

“Alam mo naman during those times, uso ang shows sa provinces. Lalo na kapag May time. Piyestahan na ‘yan. Kaya malaking bagay na may alam ako sa pagkanta. Maraming booking. Promo ng movies namin, kailangan kumanta kami.”

It can be said, the talent in singing runs in the family. All his brothers-Jojo, Dino, Noli, even Martin can sing.

Said Jojo, “Ako, had my focus talaga in singing. Kaya I was out of the country most of the time. Sunasalang sa bands abroad. Had shows there. Mas matagal ang pagi-stay ko doon.

“Ang nasa Japan pa up to now is Noli. Si Martin is here with us. Si Dino naman still sings kahit na may businesses na siyang inaasikaso. I think, more than anything, first love na talaga naming magkakapatid ang kumanta. Kaya kahit ang mga barkada namin, they sing also. Dino tried his luck in “Tawag ng Tanghalan” in “Showtime”. And another friend namin. Hindi man sila umabot sa dulo ng laban, marami naman ang naka-appreciate sa kanila kaya up to now, there are bookings para sumalang sila sa mga shows, kasal, among other things.”

As the pandemic ensued, brother Rey and Jojo were invited by producer Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, in his Borracho Films to be part of his advocacy project, “Mamasapano: Now It Can Be Told”.

“We just signed our contracts, which happened before Christmas. Our shoot will be this January 2021 na. Nakapagsimula na ng ilang scenes pero ‘yung mabibigat na eksena talaga will be shot sa may maganda’ng panahon. Kasi, killing fields kaya kailangan kung ano ‘yung nangyari eh, siyang maikukuwento ng mga papel na gagampanan namin sa pelikula.”

Added Jojo, “I was told na isa sa SAF 44 soldiers ang gagawin kong character while si Kuya is one of the military personnel na may mataas na katungkulan.”

The brothers during dinners in Rey’s awesome abode in the heart of Quezon City with his wife Sheena and two kids and their cockatiels are always filled with nostalgic moments.

Looking back at their wonderful life in Silay in Negros.

“Naalala mo, Pi. Nung pinuntahan talaga ako ni tito Alfie doon sa Bacolod para lang ipagpaalam ako kina Mama para mag-artista sa Manila. The house is being taken care of Mama’s siblings. Good memories!”

Rey and Jojo are part of a movie that will retell the journey and the life of the SAF 44 and their demise, asking for justice.

“The Mamasapano clash was an incident that occurred during a police operation, codenamed Oplan Exodus, which took place on Sunday, January 25, 2015, at Tukanalipao, Mamasapano, Maguindanao, by Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) (allegedly joined by United States Army Special Forces) …”

As the title says, “Now It Can Be Told”.

And the brothers Abellana are excited to be part of an epic project.

The movie boasts of a big cast including Edu Manzano, Alan Paule, JC de Vera, Rez Cortez, LA Santos, Aljur Abrenica, Jojo Alejar, Juan Rodrigo, Ritz Azul, Myrtle Sarroza, Jannah Zaplan, Kuya Manzano and Claudine Barretto, directed by Law Fajardo from the script of Eric Ramos. (30)

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