Thursday, September 17, 2015

Heneral Luna (2015)

There are movies and books about heroes. But what makes some stand out is the willingness of the masterminds of these works of art to let go of the kid gloves and to discuss the heroes as if they were human too... because they were. One such mastermind, and I am a big fan of him, is Ambeth Ocampo; especially with how he treated Jose Rizal and the Luna brothers. He made them look like ordinary Filipinos without discounting that they've led extraordinary lives.

And speaking of the Luna brothers, a movie called Heneral Luna showed up in my must-watch movies this year. So I trooped to the mall with my aunt and uncle to watch it.


It was a movie that tugged on so many emotions. I had a laughing fit seeing the men comically retreat as the enemies kept moving forward and as the General forced people to join the troops if they didn't want the "Heneral Artikulo Uno" enacted on them. I held my breath as the General charged towards enemy lines and thought that he was shot in the torso. I felt frustrated to see that the officials of the Philippine republic, led then by Emilio Aguinaldo, were fragmented and were easy to anger. And finally, my jaw dropped in shock to see how brutally the General was killed by Filipino soldiers who lost face and wanted their revenge.

At the end of the day, however, I ask myself: has anything changed in Philippine governance? The names of people in office certainly did; but did the values and the attitudes change?

Was it really that bad to be under a colonial ruler but with highly developed economy? Were Filipinos so focused on fighting off the Spaniards that they didn't see the bigger picture... or that they didn't realise that the colonisers were playing them for fools?

Filipinos tend to use the term "nationalism". But did they (in the early 20th century) and do we really know what that means? In the face of globalisation, is the nationalist view still relevant?

Tough questions, I know. Thank you, makers of Heneral Luna (the movie), for making us, Filipino movie-goers who saw the film, think and mull over tough questions. Heneral Luna (the movie) is really a welcome change from all the traditional takes on national heroes and certainly from the number of pop movies that dealt with spousal infidelity these days.