Mapping out the gorgeous real-life filming locations of GMA's 'Maria Clara at Ibarra'
Are you tuning in to Maria Clara at Ibarra?
Directed by Gawad Urian-winning filmmaker Zig Dulay, the series is a modern retelling of Jose Rizal's Noli Me Tangere, turning it on its head with the introduction of a Gen-Z nursing student named Maria Clara, or "Klay" (Barbie Forteza).
Amid her family's financial struggles and domestic abuse, Klay magically gets transported to the 1884 novel after she says that she does not need to read it to graduate. She then meets the charming Crisostomo Ibarra (Dennis Trillo), and his timeless paramour, Maria Clara (Julie Anne San Jose).
The teleserye, which premiered on Oct. 3, has been praised for its superb casting, attention to detail, cinematography, sociopolitical themes, and gripping storyline.
But one detail that never misses the audience's attention is just how engrossing the 19th-century locations can be. With its dewy color-grading and impeccable set pieces, the streets of San Diego feel visceral and warmly familiar to how Rizal described them in the novel.
PhilSTAR L!fe spoke with GMA Program Manager, Edlyn Tallada-Abuel, to get the inside scoop on just how they pulled off the world of Maria Clara at Ibarra.
"Iba-iba ang locations namin. Meron sa Ilocos, Batangas, Laguna, Bulacan, Tanay, and Pampanga," Tallada-Abuel shared.
"We have historian consultants for both creative and production details. Up to now, ongoing lahat ng consultations and confirmations with them. And sila mismo, amazed na amazed sa kinakalabasan ng bawat episode."
Yung pagpili is based kung paano naka-describe sa book and script. Kung paano ang bawat details at sulok na naisalarawan... Sobrang binusisi talaga namin ang bawat detalye.
She went on to share the local destinations and far-apart destinations that the production team had to visit before putting the project onto the screen.
"Yung exterior ng mga bahay, mostly sa Ilocos namin shinoot," she said. "Yung Intramuros kung saan nahimatay si Klay was shot in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte, including the Beaterio facade."
For San Diego, the church is in Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur, while the facade and grand entrance of Crisostomo‘s house is in Sitio Remedios, Ilocos Norte."
"Most of the streets na kunwari Intramuros were along Calle Crisologo," she said, as they also utilized the nearby hotels and establishments in the old area such as Hotel Felicidad, Villa Angela, Hotel Luna, and Hotel Venetto.
'Yung La Campana restaurant naman where Crisostomo brought Klay and met his friends is Hotel Luna, also along Calle Crisologo in Vigan," she said.
The interior of Kapitan Tiago’s house meanwhile, is shot in Taal, Batangas.
"Yung pagpili is based kung paano naka-describe sa book and script. Kung paano ang bawat details at sulok na naisalarawan, 'yun din ang hinanap ng team," the project manager added.
From furnishings, wall decor, floor plans, they wanted to make sure that there weren't any traces of anything that wasn't fit to the century of Rizal and his characters.
"Sobrang binusisi talaga namin ang bawat detalye."
Tallada-Abuel also said that they used green screens and effects necessary for the series, such as in the streets of Calle Crisologo and the San Diego Property of the Ibarras.
"May mga video effects din na ginagawa for set extensions and enhancement para magmukhang period ang kabuuan."
Because of certain details that did not fit the era, the team also opted to choose different IRL locations that would be used for different purposes in the fictional world. One example is the Intramuros Church, where Klay first learns of her predicament, and the San Diego church.
Aside from the locations themselves, Maria Clara at Ibarra also makes sure that the set pieces and costumes are top caliber, as they hold workshops for costumes, accessories, and even the small details such as the shoes of the characters.
"Pati hairstyle nila, inaral ng production with the guidance of our consultants," Tallada-Abuel said.
To ensure that there would be the seamless transition whenever characters speak in Spanish and Filipino, a Spanish coach was also present during shooting and prior to their workshops.
Ultimately, Maria Clara at Ibarra is a testament to the craft of today's Filipino creatives, combined with historical fact-checking and downright love for the craft.
Just like Klay who landed in the late 1880s, the series proves that even during these times, there's something to be said about giving justice to the works of Dr. Jose Rizal, and hearing the lessons that his time imparted.