Let me first catch my breath out of sheer happiness.
The movie date I have long waited for finally happened. SM Tarlac cancelled it a week ago but finally got back to its senses and re-screened it in the evenings. Since it was my day-off yesterday, I chose the 6:45 screening. Considering I’m coming from two towns away, I arrived an hour earlier. I felt relieved to see so many Tarlaquenos packed Cinema 3 last night to see this. There is hope after all. This is the first film I have ever watched alone. I didn't have a date, pop corn, soda, whatever. I only have a bottled water and this inexplicable enthusiasm.
I have always been fascinated with Philippine History (Emphasis on Philippine.) I’m a tsismosa so I love all the drama, betrayal, conspiracies, family secrets, all those juicy bits. Kinda like Game of Thrones - only that it happened to real people with some events/decisions that still affect us today. Luckily, my HI 101 professor was full of Behind-The-Scenes off-the-history books trivia. I was so in love with these stories and characters that this is the only class I got a flat uno for. Among these characters, General Luna is by far my favorite. And the fact that we have the same birthday - October 29. I know it sounds crazy to some but for a girl who reads Tarot, this is big deal.
I was elated to see most of the stories she shared about Luna are seen in this film (yes! My professor wasn’t lying!) Like him being a great military tactician, excellent marksman, short-tempered and easily piqued, a strict disciplinarian (bitch slaps men in uniform), a non-apologetic, foul-mouthed general but a romantic at heart. He is no saint, but you cant deny his passion for our country. He is a man with a vision and knows that he is good at what he does. The public sees this as hambog (like how some people see Dick Gordon) to which he welcomes because he said ‘it’s part of his job.’ One account I remember told by our professor but not on the film was when KKK men tried to recruit Rizal. He politely declined but suggested for the secret group to hire Antonio Luna as their military strategist. I heard something funny from my seatmate while watching. He said why the hell did Aguinaldo become a hero. Well, he is a good businessman, negotiator and politician. But he is very insecure. With the Bonifacio brothers, historians claim he only wanted exile for them but was persuaded that the Supremo was after his presidency and had to be eliminated. And he did the same to Luna. He knew these Filipinos can take over and are more deserving of his position. And for a soldier to die of old age, that's really pathetic.
I will not pretend I am a cinephile who has seen a lot of movies. I have a penchant for foreign language films (Cidade de Dios, El Labirinto del Fauno, Amores Perros, La Vita e Bella) so my movie taste is not what you can call mainstream. And on this weird limited taste, I could say this film showed several techniques, camera angles and sequences (love that long sequence showing his childhood, life abroad in one nice long shot narrated by his Mom) that are impressive for local filmmakers. I especially like the hidden premonitions like the skinny pig upon his arrival in Nueva Ecija before his tragic death.
I am a frustrated writer so I was really fascinated with the screenplay. Good job for combining Spanish, old Tagalog (there is old English, right?) to modern kalye lingo. Luna's one-liners, hugot statements, even curses were all tastefully made. And I must say, John Arcilla was at his best in this film. Always knew he was good but his Luna portrayal was just perfection. The movie is an affirmation of my love for this man. I was right to idolize this unrecognized hero. There wasn't much about him in history books but the film wanted to give this general the recognition he so rightfully deserves. And very timely I must say. When we are also at a crossroad about to choose the next leaders in this upcoming elections. Luna was fighting for freedom. At that time, from the Americans. Fast forward 2016, who among these candidates are fighting for freedom - from poverty, idiocracy, oligarchy, crime and corruption? The movie shows us that now is the perfect time to reflect.

Published by Karenina Delta