Heneral Luna
SECOND WIND - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura (The Philippine Star) - October 9, 2015 - 10:00am

At brunch with my Rizal cousins I had to confess I had not seen Heneral Luna and was terribly embarrassed. The producer was my neighbor and had invited me three times. The first time my grandson, who lives in England but was living with me here, was leaving for that night. I could not go. The second time another grandson was moving in that night. I couldn’t go again. The third time they invited me to the premiere. I had no appointments so I said definitely yes. Then my daughter asked me to house sit. She lives far away so I couldn’t go again. Family relationships kept getting in the way.

Then my cousin Noelle said she hadn’t seen the movie either and wanted to go. We decided to go together. But first we had to have lunch at Elias at Robinson Magnolia mall, my favorite shopping place since I moved to San Juan. It is not too big. It is fairly quiet when compared to other malls and I can find almost everything I need but I had never discovered Elias before. It took my cousin who lives in Barcelona to make me discover it.

 I ordered sinigang ng hacendero, sinigang made with lechon. It was superbly delicious. Now at last there are two restaurants I love in that place. Elias and Gaucho, an Argentinian steak place. Both offer food to die for.

 Then we went to see Heneral Luna. I proudly whipped out my heavy flashlight and used it to better see where I was going. Senior citizen. Must be always prepared for the dark. I don’t know if it helped us really or it just gave us confidence but we found our seats. No trouble at all.

What can I say? It’s a beautiful movie. It made me so proud of knowing some of the people who worked on this movie. I will not tell the story of the movie Heneral Luna. I will just say that if you haven’t seen it, you should see it. It is worth every minute and you will get a human glimpse of our history, which, I might add, none of us average Filipinos learned properly in school, where they left out the real stuff of life, the characters of the people, the way they thought and fought, their indiscretions, the intrigues that went on. And then being Filipinos, we naturally take sides in the intrigues when we should not. We should view them objectively and understand where the intrigues took us — to a merciless assassination of a brave man.

The biggest intrigue was between Antonio Luna, who was the lead general of the Philippine revolution, and the businessmen, M. Paterno, played by Leo Martinez, an old friend of mine so I remember his name, and Felipe Buencamino played by Noni Buencamino. In the middle of this intrigue was Emilio Aguinaldo, who was then the Filipino president, and Apolinario Mabini, the cripple, who was supposed to have gotten crippled because of some sexually transmitted disease (STD).

I thought these intrigues were normal during a war and especially during a fragmented and tough revolution such as the Philippine revolution was then. The generals or the military was all for war and winning and the businessmen were more for negotiations with the enemy for the sake of business, of keeping the money flowing and the goods coming in and making life easier for the people. That was natural to me. I as a spectator could understand both sides. But then, of course, for them who were in the thick of battle that resulted in the calling of names and hatred for each other, the usual envy and intrigue that finally resulted in the assassination of Antonio Luna.

 This movie is excellently done. I don’t care that someone told me the costumes looked new. For me, that’s a really small point that should be ignored. The script was initially researched and written by Henry Francia, whom I had met in high school but who has since passed away. He’s been gone for many years. But it was worked on by the outstanding director Jerrold Tarog  and Eddie Rocha, who is also the producer. Eddie and his wife Annie are my neighbors.

The lead role of Antonio Luna is played by John Arcilla, who is an excellent actor. The remarkable thing about this movie is it doesn’t really have any popular actors like Piolo Pascual or whoever. But it’s excellent. Bravo, Eddie! Outstanding work! Congratulations seem an inadequate word for this success. I hope you win many international awards. This movie certainly deserves it.

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