Haunting Heneral Luna

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I AM not into social media at all, old fogey that I am, but it has its uses. When the movie “Heneral Luna” was about to be pulled out of theatres, it was Filipino netizens on various social media platforms clamoring for an extended run that saved the day. The word spread like wildfire: the movie is better than good. It deserves to be shown longer.

It does. If you have not seen it please do.

Early this year, in this column, I recommended “Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo,” which won nine awards at the 40th Metro Manila Film Festival, including Best Picture and the Gat Puno Antonio Villegas Cultural Award, but lost heavily at the tills.

The film, according to Robin Padilla its lead star and coproducer, cost P100 million to make and another P150 million to promote. At the time of his acceptance speech for Best Picture, Padilla said the film had only earned P10 million and pleaded to the public to go see the movie.


If Padilla’s “Bonifacio” was worth seeing, “Heneral Luna” is too, and it is made so much better. The screenplay is crisper, and the production values are as good as any big budget Hollywood film. It is also beautifully directed with a superb acting ensemble led by John Arcilla who owned the character and transformed the historical Luna into an all too human character.

The film is produced by the same Bonifacio production group, Articulo Uno. I understand they will next come out with the Gregorio del Pilar biopic.

I congratulate them. It is films like “Heneral Luna” that will help raise our Lazarus-like local film industry from the dead and will help provide the life-force that would help it to breathe again and even thrive amidst the realities of today’s global market.

I am glad to hear the film is still showing and that Filipinos have been marching into “Heneral Luna” theatres in droves. It is now also our official Oscar entry for Best Foreign Language Film category.

Indeed, this is a film that haunts you long after you have left the safe confines of the theatre.

It is entertaining yes, but it also educates and provokes thought and stirs something in you. You brood over it and wish to see it again.

Films can make statements and ask questions. Sure there are films that are pure escapist entertainment. But there are also many that can leave lasting impressions; that can move hearts and minds.

“Heneral Luna” is one such film. Even as it entertains, it helps us face certain realities about our society that perhaps we are afraid to face. They reflect and mirror our lives—our flaws as well as our virtues, our hopes and dreams as well as our fears, our most glorious humanity that inspires, and our most grotesque inhumanity that disturbs.

Just like “Bonifacio,” “Heneral Luna” reminds us, quite disturbingly, that our leaders and social movements have always been wracked and ultimately defeated by factional dissent and bitter infighting; that the worst enemy of our nation are Filipinos themselves, Filipinos clinging and fighting, not for their country and the common good, but for self-serving interests.

Antonio Luna was murdered by his fellow Filipino revolutionaries, not by the American forces he was fighting, just like Andres Bonifacio, the Katipunan founder, was murdered by his own Katipuneros.

To this day, Filipinos are still preying on fellow Filipinos.

Filipinos have the most self-destructive tendencies imaginable. We only have ourselves to blame for what is wrong with our country. We ask, how could we have been so wrong? Only to keep repeating the same mistakes.

Historian Ambeth Ocampo likes to say history does not repeat itself, we repeat history, and this is so true.

We keep repeating the tragedies of history because most Filipinos don’t know their history and don’t learn from them.

This is a tragedy in itself, our biggest tragedy.

ernestoboyherrera@yahoo.com

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2 Comments

  1. “We keep repeating the tragedies of history because most Filipinos don’t know their history and don’t learn from them.”

    translation: we seem to keep on voting for the same thieves all over again and again and again!

  2. totoong maraming mga pilipinong traidor sa kapwa nila pilipino,kahit sa religion mismong dito nagmula at hinulaan at isinulat sa bible ng diyos para ipagmalaki ng pilipino ,pero masdan mo sila pa mismo ang gustong pumiggil dito para sa kabutihan ng ibang religion na galing sa ibang bansa . Colonial metality ang marami sa tao dito,Mahirap na talagang mabago ang kinagawian ng ilang pilipino. Tinawag tayong mga indio ng kastila ,pero masdan mo mahal na mahal nila ang mga ito.