“My inspiration was the idea that we can show the tribes that education is not evil and the truth that God has good and wonderful plans for us.”


John Valdes Tan is the director of OLIGASE. He also serves as CBN Asia’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, while actively directing films produced by CBN Asia.


Director John Tan chose to direct OLIGASE for its unique story – about a belief system of some Filipinos that has kept them in the dark, and captive for many years. He firmly believes that its story is increasingly relevant, as many Indigenous Filipinos continue to suffer – losing their ancestral land and falling victim to human trafficking because of their fear of learning.


OLIGASE is a film that has greatly excited Director Tan, it being the kind of story that has not been told in cinemas before. He stresses the need for Filipinos to know more about their indigenous countrymen and their culture. For Director John Tan, the aim to share this ‘valuable knowledge’ to more Filipinos is what drove his passion to give all in directing OLIGASE. “It is like uncovering treasure, when we try to get to know our fellow men.”


Director Tan reveals that one of the central topics of the film is fear. He believes in the power of fear to rob people of their potential. He also believes in the greater of power of knowledge and education to defeat fear, which begins with awareness of real dangers in the world that must be known and faced.


Historical truth and accuracy were important to Director John Tan. Thus, he chose to shoot the film in the remote villages of Marilog District in Davao City, where the Matigsalug people live. He and his team also selected people from the Matigsalug tribe to compose most of the cast and the film’s main actors. They conducted acting workshops before shooting the film, revealing the cast’s inborn talent for the craft.


Director John Tan’s greatest hope is that audiences will be encouraged and inspired by OLIGASE.


Director John Valdes Tan is also happily married. He shares his life with wife, Lani, and their two sons, Paolo and David.


“Ironically, the world is much bigger than I thought, but our dreams and aspirations are almost all similar. We all just want better lives and will do whatever it takes to get there.”


Icko Gonzalez is the co-director for OLIGASE. A man of many talents, Icko is an actor for both television and theater. He is also a host, writer, visual artist, and a film enthusiast. Icko is also the head and director of the Superbook Team in the Philippines called “Batang Superbook”.


Occasionally, he also hosts the daily inspirational show, The 700 Club Asia. He has also played the role of Kuya Maki in the children’s educational program, “Oyayi”. Icko is also known for his role as Kuya Bok in the hit educational children’s show, “Sineskwela”. A gifted actor-director, he has played challenging roles in CBN Asia’s Holy Week Special, Tanikala, while also having directed several plays and films.


For OLIGASE, Icko’s passion and experience as actor-director became key, as he led acting workshops for the first-time actors from the Matigsalug tribe. He devoted his time with them – training, teaching, and interacting with them – completely immersing in their culture, tradition, daily lifestyle, and beliefs, helping him give more life and truth to the story of this indigenous tribe.


Icko views OLIGASE as a very special film that depicts some of the important social issues in our country – the lack of education, fear, and limiting beliefs. He is fully convinced that Filipinos must now know the truth about some of our indigenous countrymen and the harsh reality that is happening in some parts of the country.


He hopes that through this film, people’s eyes and hearts will be opened. He hopes that the message of OLIGASE will be heard and acknowledged, that Filipinos will be compelled to pray, care, and share what they can to help their countrymen.


Icko is happily married to his beloved wife, Mariam.


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