Heneral Luna

I watched two movies last weekend. One’s epic, the other’s an epic fail!

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Both films should’ve been similar in terms of their main characters’ irascible personality and the overall theme of passionately fighting for freedom. Unfortunately, the latter wasn’t able to live up to expectations, messed the original storyline and just sucks big time.

HENERAL LUNA

As a fan of Korean sageuks and Japanese jidai gekis, I was overjoyed at finally being able to watch a highly entertaining and thought provoking mainstream historical movie of our own. We’ve seen a lot of Rizal and Bonifacio’s, so it was a fresh idea to come up with one for such an eccentric hero, Antonio Luna. General Antonio Luna was the most brilliant Filipino military officer during the Philippine-American war. It’s a shame that most young people in our country today don’t even know who he is. The stupid online memes are real. My friend heard it herself. The girl sitting next to my friend at the theater kept saying that Juan Luna is Heneral Luna. *facepalm* Juan Luna is his older brother, an accomplished painter and political activist of the Philippine Revolution. How Filipinos couldn’t even tell the difference is just beyond my comprehension.

Leading the powerful ensemble is John Arcilla, one of the most versatile character actors in the Philippines. As Antonio Luna, he was deemed as arrogant, always boisterous but also brave and passionate.

With a movie that’s historically based with issues so pressingly relevant, beautifully directed and scored by Jerrold Tarrog, there was no need to nitpick. There was great attention to detail…

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…And the script was written in a poetic yet conversational manner. “Para kayong mga birhen na naniniwala sa pag-ibig ng puta.” Heneral Luna managed to make curse words sound so meaningful and tasteful. And with John Arcilla’s stellar performance,an anti-hero who’s perfect for the millennials came to life.

The movie didn’t have to be all serious and too preachy. There was the right amount of humor amidst the foreigners’ oppression and political conflicts. It entertains as it effectively conveys the real virtues of Filipinos then and now, as well as the diversity that hinders us from being a greater nation. Personally it reignited my interest in our own history and hopefully it piqued the interest of the young’uns who don’t even bother to know anything. Why was Mabini sitting the entire time? Like why the f%$$ do they not even know that?…  

Nakakaguilty. Pinagtatawanan at kinaiinisan ko ang kamangmangan ng mga kabataan pero kung tutuusin, isa rin ako sa dahilan kung bakit nagkakaganito sila ngayon. Bayan o Sarili?  Ako mismo, pinili ko ang sarili. Isa akong guro. Lisensiyado. Pero mga Koreano ang tinuturan ko imbes na kapwa ko Pilipino. Bakit? Hindi ako mapapakain ng mga Pilipino. Kailangan kong suportahan ang mga kapatid ko para makatapos sila ng pag-aaral. Nung mga panahong yun, naaksidente ang tatay ko at hindi makalakad. Kahit naman ang mga kaibigan kong guro,yung mga matatalino at maabilidad, kung hindi sa call center, ay nasa abroad.  

Pagkatapos ng pelikula, nangingiyak ako, hindi lang dahil sa sinapit ni Heneral Luna sa kamay ng kapwa niya Pilipino kundi dahil alam natin na hanggang ngayon, mula sa politika hanggang sa relihiyon maging sa love teams sa TV, ginugugulgol ng napakaraming Pilipino ang oras sa pagtatalo imbes na sa pagkakaisa para mapabuti ang bansa. Kahit ako, wala rin naman akong nagawa.

(Trans: …But then I feel guilty. The youth’s ignorance made me feel amused and annoyed at the same time when in fact, I am partly responsible for all these. Nation or Self? I chose the latter. I am a teacher. A licensed one. But I chose to teach Koreans instead of Filipinos. Because teaching our kids don’t put food on the table especially when I have to support 2 younger brothers and a father who just had an accident then, his leg in a cast. Even my smart and talented friends from the same course chose to work either at call centers or abroad.

I was left teary-eyed after watching the film, not just because of Heneral Luna’s horrendous death in the hands of his own countrymen, but because it mirrors the fact that until now from talks about politics to religion to even “love teams” on television, most Filipinos spend their time on online bickering instead of putting their heads together in improving our country. And even I, couldn’t do anything.)

This is just the beginning. Heneral Luna’s end credits teased us with a sequel featuring another General, Gregorio del Pilar. Avengers Style.  I hope the throngs of films that romanticized cheating and glamorizing mistresses, plus a bunch of shallow humorless comedies with an array of product placements would be replaced by aesthetically captivating and culturally awakening movies like this.

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