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Supreme

Controversial docu opens in theaters

- The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Filmmakers Marty Syjuco and Michael Collins brave the many thorns of the Philippine justice system in their critically acclaimed documentary, Give Up Tomorrow. The film revisits the old wounds of the Chiong sisters murder case, which, 15 years ago, was dubbed Cebu’s “trial of the century.”

The case began when sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong disappeared at a mall in Cebu. A woman’s body was later found raped and murdered — the corpse tagged as one of the Chiong sisters — and a Filipino-Spanish culinary arts student by the name of Paco Larrañaga was arrested for the crime.

The problem, according to the documentary, is that at the time of the crime, Paco was in Manila, 300 miles away from Cebu, and couldn’t have been anywhere near the victims. This assertion has been supported by dozens of witnesses as well as photographic evidence.

Despite this, and in a dramatic turn of events, Paco and six others were convicted to life imprisonment, a verdict which was eventually raised to death penalty due to pressure from the public and widespread media attention. While the death penalty has since been abolished, the six remain in Bilibid prison, while Paco is now serving his life sentence in Spain.

Elaborate frame-up?

The filmmakers believe that Paco was not given a chance to speak or defend himself, so they produced Give Up Tomorrow. The film discloses a collection of interviews with forensic experts, political analysts, and major players in Paco’s case, not to mention controversial pieces of evidence that were left uncovered for a long time.

Give Up Tomorrow raises the terrifying question: “What if the so-called Cebu’s trial of the century was actually a mistrial?” In addition to building a case on Paco’s innocence, the film exposes the messy series of events that surrounded the trial, revealing the interconnected complexities that permeate the Philippine judicial system, from elaborate frame-ups to shameless displays of political favors.

Due to the film’s controversial subject mater, filmmakers Syjuco and Collins had some trouble finding local venues for screenings. Fortunately, some theater managers have realized how important it is for Filipinos to see this eye-opening documentary.

Give Up Tomorrow will be screened in Metro Manila at Robinsons Galleria and Robinsons Ermita from Oct. 3-9, and at TriNoma, Greenbelt 3, and Alabang Town Center from Oct. 5-7. In New York City, theatrical playdates are set for Sept. 28. In Cebu, meanwhile, Give Up Tomorrow had its very first screening last Wednesday, Sept. 26, with a possible theatrical run to follow.

* * *

For more information, visit http://www.facebook.com/giveuptomorrow.

ALABANG TOWN CENTER

CEBU

CHIONG

FILMMAKERS MARTY SYJUCO AND MICHAEL COLLINS

GIVE UP TOMORROW

IN CEBU

IN NEW YORK CITY

MARIJOY AND JACQUELINE CHIONG

METRO MANILA

PACO

PACO LARRA

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