We all witnessed how he was betrayed; we all saw how he was morbidly killed. After seeing him, sympathizing and finally rooting for him, we have come to hate those who wronged him.
Yet, there is that nagging question why a man as bold and fearless like Heneral Antonio Luna was neither able to demand nor convince his perpetrators to drop their arms. What was going on in Heneral Luna’s mind with every gunshot and with every stab of the bolo that struck his body.
Adobo Magazine’s “An Inspirational Talk by Heneral Luna,” featuring John Arcilla, the actor who portrayed him in the box office biopic, offered his thoughts on how he lived his life, its brutal end, and issues that plague the country today.
Luna on betrayal. “Punyeta! Ano ba? Mali ba na ipakulong ang mga negosyante at ang mga pulitiko na ang gusto lamang ay ang yumaman habang nakikipag sabwatan sila sa mga dayuhan at ako ay nakikipaglaban sa mga dayuhan (Was I wrong in jailing businessmen and politicians who only wanted to make themselves richer as they schemed with the same foreigners I was waging this war against)?”
Luna on his harsh actions. “Mali ba na ipakulong ko ang isang heneral habang siya ay namamasyal sa isang giyera? Maliba na tanggalin ko ng ranggo ang isang kapitan dahil niyayari niya ang isang babae sa gitna ng labanan samantalang namamatay ang kanyang mga kasamahan? Punyeta! Mali ba na sampalin ko ang sundalo dahil binabastos niya ang kanyang uniporme at kumikilos siya na isang bandido? Mali ba na sabihin ko na inuuna nyo ang inyong sarili kesa bayan? (Was I wrong in jailing a general because he was playing hooky during the war? Was I wrong in stripping off a captain’s rank because he was in the company of a woman while his comrades were dying? Was I wrong in slapping a soldier because he had no respect for his uniform and acted like a bandit? Was I wrong in accusing them of being selfish toward their country)?”
Luna on activism. “Bakit nag-aaway tayo bilang mga Pilipino at hindi tayo nagdadayalogo? Kailangan ba dapat nagra-rally? Malakas ang power ng People’s Parliament—napatalsik natin ang diktatura dahil sa People’s Power pero dapat ba laging ganoon? Di ba tayo pwedeng umupo para magkasundo? (Why do we Filipinos fight among ourselves rather than talk about our issues? Do we always have to go to the streets to achieve change? Can’t we sit down and discuss or differences)?”
Luna on leadership. “Kailangan ba talaga sampu-sampu ang opisyal na tatakbong presidente sa atin? Bilang isang bansa, gusto ba nating lahat maging lider? Napakaliit ng ating bansa. (Do we really have to have more than a handful of presidential candiates? As a country, do we all want to be leaders? Remember that the Philippines is a very small nation).”
Luna on the youth. “Natatawa nga ako sa kumpare kong [Jose] Rizal, sabi niya, kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan. Eh paano yun pag nakapwesto ka’t nakaupo, dahil matanda ka na ay magnanakaw ka na lang tutal kabataan naman ang pag-asa ng bayan. Sila na ang bahala… Ang pag-asa ng bayan ay tayong lahat. Nilusob ko ang giyera, tinaggap ko ang lahat ng bala, sa edad na 33, dahil tayo ang pag-asa ng bayan—lalaki, babae, bakla, tomboy, matanda o bata, tayo ang pag-asa ng bayan. Kasama lang ang kabataan (I find it funny how my friend Rizal said that the youth is the hope of our nation. Does that mean that just because you’re old and you’re in government, you can steal from the country’s funds, since the youth is the hope of the future anyway? The hope of our future lies in all of us. I faced war; I took bullets at the age of 33 because we are all the hope of this country—men, women, gays, lesbians, young and old. The youth is just a portion of the equation).”
Luna on today’s Philippines. “Baka ang Pilipinas ay hindi isang suliranin kundi may suliranin na kailangan nating pag-aralan at gamutin (Maybe the country’s state is not a problem, but there is a crisis within that needs to be studied and mended).”
Luna’s challenge. “Pagkatapos nating umiyak at tumindig ang balahibo sa sinehan, saan natin dadalhin ang pagmamahal na nabuhay para sa ating bayan, saan (After the crying and the goosebumps [from Heneral Luna, the movie], what do we plan to do with that patriotism that was roused within us)?”
Luna on self or country. “Bakit mo tinatanong at bakit mo kailangan mamili kung bayan o sarili samantalang pag minahal mo ang bayan, ay kasama na rin ang iyong pamilya at ang iyong sarili. Pakisabi po ito sa ating mga kababayan. (Why do you have to ask and choose between yourself and country when the truth is, when you love your country, you love your family and yourself in the process. Let this be known to our countrymen).
Luna on radical change.“Kung nais nating ang radikal na pagbabago, kailangan nating magkaisa. Kung nais nating magkaisa ang bayan natin ay kailangan natin ng isang radikal na pagbabago. Mga kapatid, mayroon tayong isang malaking kaaway kaysa Amerika–ang ating sarili (If we want radical change, we need to be united, and for us to be united for country, we need radical change. Brethren, we have a bigger enemy other than America, and that is ourselves).