• History, etymology & stars

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    THE 40th Metro Manila Film Festival had eight final entries: Kubot: The Aswang Chronicles 2, Praybeyt Benjamin 2, Feng Shui 2, My Big Bossing’s Adventures, Shake Rattle & Roll 15, Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo, English Only, Please and Magnum Muslim .357.

    Watching Bonifacio was revisiting history learned in intermediate grades while English Only, Please was a witty and engaging take on etymology of words and the nuances of language in a Philippine setting. Both films were not your usual slapstick comedy or telenovela take or long and boring run on historical characters. One was serious enough to want you to review history as taught in the schools after watching the movie. The other was light and funny because it mixed English as well as gay talk with viewers laughing at every definition which was a break from the usual romantic comedy formula. Random cards showing the definitions of various words (like “mot-mot,” “kitakits,” “taralets,” “yi hii” or “chikinini”) helped in adding humor at every juncture.

    There are five reasons why you should watch Bonifacio. It was graded ‘A’ by the Cinema Evaluation Board so the technical aspects are excellent from direction, cinematography, editing, production design, musical scoring, sound, and acting performances. Fight choreography helmed by renowned Hollywood stunt director Sonny Sison, a Hollywood stunt director known for his works in ‘Godzilla’ (2014), and ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ (2013) choreographed the movie’s fight scenes. Outstanding cinematography with award-winning cinematographer, Carlo Mendoza, known for his work in ‘Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story’, ‘Bwakaw’, and ‘Rosario’ lends his expert visual storytelling to the film. Shot using ARRI Alexa Camera, a first in the Philippine film industry. It was shot entirely using the ARRI Alexa camera and processed using the ARRIRAW workflow. The same high-precision camera and post-production tools were used in the making of notable Hollywood films like Alfonso Cuaron’s ‘Gravity’, ‘The Avengers’, and ‘Life of Pi’; and the all-star cast led by Robin Padilla, a strong believer of what Andres Bonifacio stood for. Getting the right mix of theater people and stars also gave the movie a strong sense of artistic pride.

    Dumbing down was not the objective end of these two films unlike others in the final 8. Surely being a top grosser in this film fest is all about having almost all movie houses running the commercial, sure formula, slapstick kind or the shrieking variety. When you have the First Sister and the First Nephew and the leader of the country watching and endorsing it, top grosser is it.

    Enzo Williams and Dan Villegas, directors of Bonifacio and English Only, respectively, may not be the Brocka and Bernal of our time but it is a welcome development to have more of their kind. The movie Bonifacio also used a moving komiks type narrative mixed with real life shots.

    Interestingly, the film Bonifacio showed how politicians ruin good moments. It played on power (wanting to remove Bonifacio in favor of Aguinaldo), positioned democracy as an excuse for mass support, bending the rules to promote one’s political agenda and using education as the basis for leadership position.

    English Only had a unifying funny takeaway, “traffic sa EDSA”. It connected with the audience every time it was mentioned. It was surreal. The catchall excuse has deep undertones to a populace wanting good and decent basic services.

    In the film Bonifacio, a line was uttered: “Buhay ko ang tinaya para sa Bayan, ikaw ano ang handa mong itaya?” And this is where we are as we welcome 2015.

    With 18 months remaining for the Aquino administration, taking a page from the Obama rebound may be in order to finish the reform momentum and to institutionalize it. FOI and the Competition policy are must. Strengthening the OMBUDSMAN and COA are urgent so the gains of he anti-corruption effort are cemented in place. Finish the pending political cases so once and for all there is cloture. Intervene in the PCOS mess so that 2016 is not a foregone conclusion via ramming through. Bring down the cost of energy so the economy can grow more. Get all 2016 candidates to agree on a long-term infrastructure plan as well as the budget for it so that we don’t sputter through the transition.

    Each of us has our own guiding light, a star for some, plastered on the heaven’s above. Mark Twain used to say, “we had the sky up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made or just happened.”

    “Stars mean a lot to people as ever since we first came into being, we have gazed at the stars in wonder. They have become representative of freedom and hope, and it is wonderful to think that our ancestors and their children, and their children’ children, and their children after them will look at exactly the same stars that you did.” Stars unite generations. Stars bear witness to our dreams and our prayers.

    Kayo, anong itataya nyo sa bansa?

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