Enough with Rizal
How far has media strayed away from the big three, Rizal, Bonifacio, and Aguinaldo? Not far. Last year we had Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo. Three years ago we had El Presidente, Aguinaldo’s biopic, and Jose Rizal: The First Hero. I’m ready to bet my money that there will be another movie featuring these three next year. In Filipino, sawang-sawa na ako sa kanilang tatlo. Our history is so rich with historical figures and it pains me to see these three’s stories repeat over and over. We are in the time of remakes, reboots and sequels and yet I don’t see anyone unearthing the stories of our buried heroes in the best way possible, meaning, not limiting them to just holidays on a calendar or an illustration and words in our history books. A biopic on Lapu-Lapu was released 13 years ago! Where’s the movie on Apolinario Mabini? Don’t even get me started on the lack of representation of women’s contribution to our long battle to freedom. Antonio Luna wouldn’t be my first choice, but it’s a great start.
How much do we actually know about the general? He’s Juan Luna’s brother. He has a great mustache. He was part of Rizal’s squad back in Madrid. Heneral Luna gets to focus a name that we know but a person we don’t.
The End of Hero Glorification
Filipinos sure do know how to glorify things. We can see this in our fandoms. From One Direction to Naruto, Filipinos are intense in expressing their love and fascination. I believe this why it’s so hard for screenwriters to make a script that depicts the big three as actual human beings. Rizal must always be a spitting image of a Renaissance man with the cleanest conscience and clearest moral compass. Bonifacio must be the man of action who gets martyred by the intelligent and merciless Aguinaldo. These are not our heroes; they are their legacies that they left behind. It’s all good when we learn this in a classroom setting when we were in elementary. But when you distribute media for the general public that is designed for children who cannot think in a different perspective and grasp the whole truth, that’s where we have a problem. If you say smack about any of the three (well, you can exercise that right with Aguinaldo just a bit) then you are dead meat in this country.
But here we have Heneral Luna, calling the general that has an abroad education and that was friends with Jose Rizal a lunatic. There is no indication that Antonio Luna is the perfect role model that we should be shoving down our children’s throats. He is a war freak and his blood lust is off the charts. Yet he uses his violence for the sake of our freedom. There is subjectivity. There is humanity. It’s not plain boring hero glorification. This movie finally gives us a story on a hero that cannot be merely explained by our history textbooks. Now isn’t that the goal of every period film?
Through the years, I believe that the cinematography for historical movies has improved. We have so many resources that are leftover from our past. The problem is we do not have the technology like Hollywood to enhance these authentic sets to give the shot a total feel of the past. However, if you watch the video above, Heneral Luna’s cinematographer Pong Ignacio talks about what he did in the film and you can tell that they really stepped up their game. There was much research and dedication given into the making of this film that you just cannot overlook. Ignacio says that it was the director, Jerrold Tarog, who pushed him to this level. Jerrold Tarog must be one of our most prominent directors in the film industry. He directed Mariquina, Sana Dati, Senior Year and several Shake Rattle and Roll films. Just mentioning some of his films should give you enough reassurance that he knows what he’s doing here.
So please, give this movie the hype it deserves. It’s about time we finally have a movie like this and I’m just glad I’m alive to see our film industry improve so much.
- Anna Cayco
Illustration by Gii Encarnation