MANILA, Philippines — Some celebrities may have shied away from the Philippines because of news about extra-judicial killings and the Marawi attack. But not actor, producer, director, martial artist and musician Steven Seagal.
The 65-year-old Seagal is on his nth visit in the country to shoot the new action TV series General Commander, where he plays the title role of Jake Alexander, a former CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) operative who fights crime without the constraints and the rules of the CIA.
Seagal will be here for at least nine months to shoot the series in Vigan (where his friend, former Ilocos Sur governor Chavit Singson hails from) and other tourist spots in the country.
“I don’t feel like this is a dangerous place,” he told media in a press conference at The Peninsula Manila Hotel. “I think it’s a place that’s up and coming with the new leadership.”
Seagal is referring to Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, whom the Hollywood celebrity is “a big fan” of. In fact, he thinks Duterte “has been instrumental in making the Philippines a safer place.”
Seagal is also a big fan of the Filipino people because he finds them “gentle, kind, musical, fun, humble and (armed with) a great sense of humor.”
This is the reason why he keeps coming back to the country, even if he’s been around in so many places around the world.
Seagal even knows the word salamat (he ended the presscon with this word) and about the Bataan Death March, which he’d love to play a role in should a new version of that milestone in Philippine history be filmed in the country.
But his immediate concern is shooting scenes for General Commander and finding two Filipino actors who can play the role of agents in the series.
“At least 90 percent of the production (team) will consist of Filipinos. They’re a good workforce,” Seagal revealed.
He added that the labor cost is lower.
Another thing going for the Philippines is its location, which Seagal and other American film lovers find “a little bit exotic” and therefore different.
Then, there’s the Filipino martial arts, like the arnis and others, which Seagal would like to include in General Commander.
“That’s a really good idea!” he exclaimed when asked if he plans to use Filipino martial arts in his projects.
Seagal may not be Filipino. But he’s promoting the Philippines every step of the way.