Heneral Luna’s triumph

FROM A DISTANCE - Carmen N. Pedrosa - The Philippine Star

There is the historical “Heneral Luna” that is the subject of a blockbuster film showing in several cinemas in Manila. There is also the historical “Katipunan” organized by Filipinos for their wars of independence against two colonial superpowers Spain and the US in quick succession, demonstrating how brave Filipinos were, armed only with their bolos.  They were fighting for freedom in near impossible circumstances. Yet they did.  Today, “Heneral Luna,” the film shows the gory nature and treachery of that war. Its producer Francisco Ortigas said he financed the film because it is a time for a national awakening.

It is about Filipinos who fought bravely to form a nation in the 19th century. That was not to be. Filipinos failed because they could not close ranks and instead of uniting against the enemy they were fighting among themselves. The real enemy was not the Americans but ourselves. They could not agree on a strategy of war against the colonialists. Felipe Buencamino and the conservatives wanted to make peace with the Americans, but Antonio Luna and the radicals would not give up saying they would fight even if it took a hundred years.

Had Luna’s proposal to take Manila before the US expeditionary force arrived been followed, the Americans would have had nothing to negotiate with the Spaniards in Paris. You can’t negotiate something you haven’t got. Had his idea to switch to guerrilla warfare been pursued, the Americans would have tired of the war in terms of lives and cost just as they did against the Vietnamese 80 years later.

To me this was the most precious lesson of “Heneral Luna.” The film ended with the brutal assassination of the Heneral and so did the Filipino dream of liberty. Superior military hardware does not necessarily guarantee victory. There lay the genius of Heneral Luna.

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Joaquin Pedro Valdez, an independent filmmaker wrote an open letter to Jerrold Tarog and his team. He said “the film missed the target audience and the people who need to watch it most.” The open letter went viral in social media. He compared some Filipinos (including himself) to the villains of the film for “spreading our legs for what we ignorantly believe is the most powerful nation.”

His letter was published in Interaksyon.

“I’m sorry for the missed target. While I joined the hundred something warm bodies of a packed Cinema (and thousands on Social Media) in applauding the work… while I earnestly prayed you retrieved your investment with every sold out theater that runs this extended run…while I celebrate the accomplishment the countless names in the credits have created…I’m sorry but I think you missed your real target audience. All of us in the periphery are just enjoying the collateral damage of your attempt. Like a true marksman you aimed clearly but missed the kill – Malacanang, Congress, Senate, the Supreme Court.”

He lamented that “candidates for the Philippine Presidential Elections in 2016 have not even watched the film.”

“After the buzz dies down, after Pastillas Girl or some other shallow TV Network war or sex scandal kills the well-deserved hype of your film the way they brutally killed and murdered Luna, everything will be back to the disturbingly normal,” Valdez said. Unless the enthusiasm from its nationalist implication is followed up the awakening will be shortlived.

 “I’m sorry for enjoying the benefits of this Freedom, but being too pussy to fight for it,” he added.  He laments that some Filipinos are too busy with their own affairs, business, agenda and vanity, they have forgotten the true meaning of sovereignty.

“I’m sorry nothing has changed…Count me in your revolution…I have a good amount of blood to spill too,” Valdez said.

His blog post “A Letter to Jerrold Tarog and the Team behind Heneral Luna” is being shared and going around social media. The link to the letter is, bertoinbrogues.com

More importantly the movie “Heneral Luna” has opened a new avenue for revolutionary politics that can reach the masses. This column supports this new medium for reviving the lessons of our exceptional history.

 “Heneral Luna” is a debut for serious movie making thanks to Jerrold Tarog and company. Thanks also to Fernando Ortigas, the producer and financier who gambled and hit a jackpot. I am glad it was nominated as the country’s entry for 2016 Oscars. It will be watched around the world.

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MISCELLANY: I was not able to attend the Philippine Cancer Society but I think this is a worthwhile project that needs to be written about. As I told my friend, Agnes, who worked hard to make it a success, this column will help. It is good to use huge social events of the wealthy to raise funds. It is the equivalent of corporate social responsibility. The gala night of the Philippine Cancer Society, honored Men of Exemplary Influence and Best-Dressed Women of the Philippines. The ballroom of the Makati Shangri-la was packed with guests for a good cause.

But more than that, the event was a testament to the efforts and perseverance of the PCS to fight cancer especially among the poor. My late father-in-law, banker Pio Pedrosa, was the first president of PCS. The funds will be used for a better awareness of cancer.

The focus was appropriately not on the personalities but on the advocacy for PCS programs and better health care in the country.

The PCS organization is ably led by its Chairman Roberto M. Paterno and its Vice Chairman Antonio Ma. J. Guerrero. A special group within the PCS has continuously pursued these fund-raising programs -- for the Best Dressed Women of the Philippines, led by its Honorary Chairman Imelda Cojuangco and its Event Chairperson Helen Ong; for the Men of Influence led by its Chairperson Consul Ma. Agnes T. Huibonhoa which honor men who are pillars of business, medicine, government, and other sectors of society.













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