“We all have flaws but we can form a perfect love for country.”
This, according to theater and movie actor John Arcilla is the powerful message of the historical action epic Heneral Luna, which will open in theaters on September 9.
Produced by Artikulo Uno and directed by Jerrold Tarog, the latest period film seeks to resonate with Filipino viewers, particularly in terms of evoking patriotism, and rekindling a deeper appreciation for Philippine history, politics and nationhood.
“Malinaw po sa amin na ang ating movie goers ay mahilig sa rom-com and horror,” John acknowledged at film’s grand press conference on Thursday. “But we invite them to take a risk and watch this historical film because this is presented differently—isang masigla, masaya, at punong puno ng aksyon na pagbalik sa nakaraan.”
Joining him in this biopic on the life and times for the fierce General Luna are Mon Confiado as Emilio Aguinaldo, Epy Quizon as Apolinario Mabini, Leo Martinez as Pedro Paterno, Nonie Buencamino as Felipe Buencamino, Bing Pimentel as Doña Laureana Luna y Novicio, Mylene Dizon as Isabel, Ketchup Eusebio as Captain Pedro Janolino, Arron Villaflor as Joven Hernando, and Paulo Avelino as General Gergorio del Pilar.
Based on a script written in 1998 by E.A. Rocha and the late Henry Hunt Francia, Tarog found the material and revised it for a contemporary audience.
Set against the backdrop of the Philippine American war, Heneral Luna dares to provoke strong reactions with its brutal depiction of history. The film asks some hard-hitting questions: Was General Luna a hero or a rogue? Why was he feared—not just by the soldiers of the revolutionary army—but also by certain elements in the newly formed and tenuous cabinet of President Emilio Aguinaldo? And was Luna’s death the handiwork of an elaborate conspiracy?
“The issue here is bigger than the movie and even bigger than General Luna himself,” John explained. “In more ways than one, this is a timely wake up call for all of us. It makes us question our Filipino psyche, and makes us ask why we, despite the hundred years or so that have transpired, haven’t really changed at all as a nation.”
Director Tarog, who is actively involved in the movie’s nationwide school tour in partnership with Dakila, is constantly amazed at the keen interest of students in the film and its themes.
“For a filmmaker, there is no better sense of fulfillment than to create that kind of impact with his audience, and I’m very happy that Heneral Luna has inspired a ‘cultural reawakening’ of sorts among today’s younger generations,” he imparted.
As an interesting sidelight, singer-songwriter Ebe Dancel wrote the theme song of Heneral Luna, titled “Hanggang Wala Nang Bukas.” The anthemic rock song is now playing on FM stations.
Himself a staunch advocate of patriotism, Ebe said, “I think there should be a little General Luna in all of us. Let us not be afraid to stand up for the things we believe in.”
For more details on the movie, log on to www.henerallunathemovie.com.