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Why "Indio" is worth the millions

Thrilling and visually captivating is how I describe the kapuso epic series "Indio," which is now nearing the end of its five-month run.

The series, top billed by Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla, Jr., is said to be GMA's most expensive primetime series yet (Yes, more expensive than "Amaya"!). The network has apparently spent millions of pesos for its production and post-production (editing, visual effects, etc.), props and sets.

"Indio" is shot primarily in the far-flung towns of Pagsanjan and Cavinti in the province of Laguna (almost 5 hours drive from Quezon City) with several scenes shot in Intramuros, Subic and other towns in the north.

An entire Spanish-era village was built along the banks of the Pagsanjan River in Pagsanjan especially for the series. It is where most of the "Pueblo" scenes are shot. The setup includes a church facade, the Spanish quarters (including the mansion of Senyor Juancho and Donya Victoria), and the village of the locals.

The high production cost of the series may also be attributed to its stellar cast which includes some of GMA's prime artists like Jennylyn Mercado, Rhian Ramos, Solenn Heussaff, Rachelle Ann Go, Michael de Mesa, Jackie Lou Blanco, among others.

It seems that GMA's heavy investment in "Indio" is all worth it since advertisers are happy to place their commercials in a show that is not only wholesome but also educational.

Because the series is set in the Spanish-colonization era, the characters, costumes, props and the dialogues were crafted in such a way that they accurately represent the time period. The producers even went further by employing the guidance of several history experts, which are constantly consulted by the writers as they develop the story.

Although "Indio"'s story is not based on an historical event or character (unlike "Amaya"), students and history enthusiasts could pick a lot of learnings from it. The series depicts the kind of life the native Filipinos lived under the dictatorial rule of the Spanish colonizers who pejoratively called them "indios." It also shows how the pre-Christianized natives believed in gods and demi-gods found in nature -- the diwatas -- who ruled their world and whose wrath they fear so much.

While the ratings war remains to be tough and the battle is fought day by day, the people behind this wonderful series have a reason to sleep soundly at night -- for they not only have done their jobs well, they have also created a piece of art that viewers will always remember.

Kudos, "Indio"!

Simeon searches for wife Esperanza and son Antonio

In last Friday’s episode, a platoon of Spanish soldiers led by Senyor Juancho (Michael de Mesa) attacked the hideout of the native rebels. Armed with only their spears and shields, the natives, led by Simeon (Sen. Bong Revilla, Jr.), defeated the Spaniards despite the latter’s heavy artillery.

Simeon’s wife, Esperanza (Jennylyn Mercado) came out of their hut to find out what had just happened. But as soon as she stepped out, Senyor Juancho cornered her and her son Antonio. Senyor Juancho had planned of taking Esperanza and her son hostage so that he could force Simeon to surrender what remains of his supernatural powers to his right hand man Mariano.

Simeon later learned that his wife and son are in grave danger. He figured that it was Senyor Juancho who abducted his family and he’s determined to take them back. Simeon thought that the only way to find out where Senyor Juancho hid his family is to threatening the commandant’s wife Senyora Victoria. Simeon broke into Donya Victoria’s home and forced the First Lady to speak up. Unfortunately, Donya Victoria doesn’t know either.

Simeon sought the help of the diwatas, but despite their supernatural powers, they were unable to determine the location of the hostages. Magayon (Rhian Ramos) proposed that they wait for the abductors to state their demands and act accordingly only thereafter. However, Simeon, worrying about his wife and son, refused to wait and give in to the demands of the captors. He insisted on searching for his family despite the risk.

Will Simeon find Esperanza and Antonio? How far will he be willing to go to save his family? Will he surrender his powers to Mariano? Find out the answers as the saga continues in “Indio,” airing weeknights after “24 Oras” on GMA-7. - Neil Celeste Rara, GMA Social Media (@neilrara on Twitter)