John Arcilla

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John Arcilla, star of On The Job: The Missing Eight and Heneral Luna, is bringing an old-school charisma to a new golden age of Filipino cinema


When John Arcilla played the titular role in director Jerrold Tarog’s historical epic Heneral Luna, he spoke five words that helped cement the film’s place in the annals of Filipino cinema: “Bayan o sarili? Pumili ka!” (“Nation or self? Choose!”). Arcilla played Antonio Luna with such a potent mix of stateliness and raw machismo that the character all but jumped out of the screen.

That skill likely comes from the actor’s many years of experience—he’s been in the business since the 1980s, after all, and even had a role in Lino Brocka’s 1989 film, Orapronobis. But Arcilla has only gotten better over the years, which is why he finds himself with roles in many modern classics: 2013’s Metro Manila, 2016’s Birdshot, and even the hit show, FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano. One of his proudest accomplishments, though, is a fairly recent one: For his role in On The Job: The Missing Eight, a 2021 series by director Erik Matti, Arcilla took home Best Actor at the 78th Venice International Film Festival.

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Did you know?

According to his profile on Twitter, John Arcilla is a descendant of the late President Manuel L. Quezon on his mother’s side. 

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