Posts Tagged ‘Andres Bonifacio’


El Presidente_Fiction Film Based on a Historical Figure??

December 26, 2012

By describing Metro Manila Film Festival 2012 entry El Presidente, centered on the First President of the Philippines Emilio Famy Aguinaldo as “fiction film based on a historical figure,” [Click to read Philip Cu-Injieng’s Aguinaldo and his story], by no less than its director Mark Meilly, isn’t there the possibility of exaggerating, NOT treating, even distorting historical facts to serve whatever purpose the filmmaker or the producer want the audience to see, perhaps believe? By saying so, shouldn’t this sever its description as a historical drama film and simply call it a  period movie?

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines FICTION [originating from Middle English ficcioun, from Middle French fiction, from Latin fiction-, fictio act of fashioning, fiction, from fingere to shape, fashion, feign] as, 1: something invented by the imagination or feigned; specifically : an invented story; 2: an assumption of a possibility as a fact irrespective of the question of its truth <a legal fiction>; and 3: the action of feigning or of creating with the imagination. [Source:]

If a film is fiction therefore, or as Merriam-Webster defines it, as an “invented story” — though based on an actual historical figure’s life, and a controversial one at that — is it still ethical to use the real name of the actual person and call the film that person’s bio-pic?

Treating something historical — in narrative, documentary or docu-drama form, the creative artist’s way is surely the domain of the filmmaker. But when declared as FICTION, creative freedom or creative license comes in with his personal, or the producer’s prerogatives, “likes and demands” possibly put in. He/they can give reason for any change in the real story, and who’d question that but primarily the descendants of the historical subject who may get offended, or elated depending on their family’s depiction; or the historian’s who are after facts based on evidences. But which is easy to counter by stressing to those who’d question  the truth that it is NOT a DOCU. In other words, those who would demand for truth can be countered by simply stressing on such distinction. Anyone who’d question the truthfulness of events highlighted, the film treatment, and how the director sees the character saves him from criticisms and further questions that may come from those who’d stick to reality. I shouldn’t bother as a viewer to question anything given the fact that the film is fictionalized. Because it is not a documentary film afterall… Why then, should the producer brag about the presence of historians as consultants in their set if the freedom to “invent story,” has been exercised?

Clearly, this sort of a “waiver” is the film’s redeemer as far as content is concerned. Very wise indeed! They can exaggerate or downplay characters, and manipulate truth to suit any particular purpose. Aguinaldo or Bonifacio can be a BIG giant of a hero or otherwise; any character for that matter may be trivialized, even eclipsed depending on what the artist’s imagination has “feigned” or “created.” Everything depends on where he wants to lead the audience or what’s the desired action they want from them. The principle of marketing and advertising to sell a product applies.

Packaging, reinventing and marketing Jeorge Estregan as a REEL hero, like former president Erap Estrada in the past, is very useful for recall purposes when the former aims for a higher government post in the future. This is the bottomline. A pattern is forming…


Thy Womb and El Presidente_2012 MMFF Entries That I’ll Watch

December 25, 2012

I intend to watch Thy Womb by Cannes Film Awardee for Best Director Brillante Mendoza and El Presidente by Mark Meilly. The first one because I loved Mendoza’s “Lola”, and I want to watch a Nora Aunor film. [I walked out though on his film “Kinatay” because of bad projection]. Next, I’ll watch El Presidente where Nora Aunor was directed by Tikoy Aguiluz for the first time. I want to see the difference between the handling of actors of Meilly and Tikoy, and how they see through the lens. What do I mean here? The composition , lens choices, and blocking of characters. I know Tikoy’s films well enough having edited almost all of them. Especially so because I met Carlo Mendoza, both film’s cinematographer last November during the last CineManila International Film Festival. We watched a Thai film together and he told me that differences were there in Tikoy’s and Meilly’s works. He even said that what the directors wanted, not what he wanted came out. Their preferences are clearly perceived; it was the color grader in fact who first saw the difference when the footage from two directors had to be graded.

The last film by Meilly that I saw was Baler which didn’t really struck me. I liked Crying Ladies better. Tikoy managed to get old Aguinaldo’s aura from Estregan’s performance, I wonder how he’d be as young Aguinaldo who was 27 years old when he became President under Meilly’s helm? [Asiong Salonga died at the same age – 27 or 28]. It must have been very, very challenging for Meilly to “exorcise” Asiong out of Estregan’s “system.” It is because I saw remnants of Asiong’s action in Jeorge Estregan’s El Presidente trailer; he was firing using two guns – “a la Fernando Poe;” the same action he added in Asiong’s for those who have already forgotten it. Understandably, it must have been one of his dream actions to be a “hero,” and who wouldn’t want to be, especially if it is your film production? Both roles were played by Estregan who is much older than the two. Kaya challenging din kay Gov..

Baler and El Presidente are of course incomparable. The latter would and should have more action and drama, Aguinaldo’s life being action-packed. I also hope that Bayani Agbayani transcends his image as a comedian. Playing as Baldomero Aguinaldo, Lolo of Ex-Prime Minister Cesar Virata must have been a real challenge for him. I hope he doesn’t make the audience laugh; otherwise, it’s EPM Virata who’d first to cry!

Anyway, Emilio Aguinaldo’s life is quite familiar to me having worked with my Cavite historian brother Isagani R. Medina who made extensive researches on Aguinaldo and Cavite’s local history. I was in fact, his main assistant: field photographer and researcher, proofreader, book layout artist, encoder, etc. The 1996 Centennial Edition of his 824-page book, Ilang Talata tungkol sa Paghihimasik (Revolucion) nang 1896-97 was the last book he edited, annotated and published. We worked on the book for two years. I shot hundreds of photographs for that particular book. Some of my memorable experiences in the book’s preparation was the actual handling of “Acta de Naic” or the Naik Agreement document from the collection of Jose P. Santos and Atty. Jorge de los Santos. I remember that my brother took a lot of time as he painstakingly tried to identify the signatories. I also personally touched to photograph the transcript of records of Dr. Pio Valenzuela at the UST Archives. I had goose bumps when I touched the transcript on thick parchment paper. I never imagined in my life that I would one day be able to hold them. Anyway, I have learned that Emmanuel “Manny” Calairo is on board as its Supervising historian, that’s great! I am quite happy about it. Knowing him personally from his undergrad days, being my brother’s student, and a follower of his ideas, historical writing style and methodology which can be gleaned from the first books he wrote and published, i.e., the book on Kawit, there is less to worry about the historical facts that would be put in the film. Manny is also an alumni of Metro-Manila College in Novaliches founded by my brother-in-law Dr. Mamerto Miranda, Jr. and later run by our eldest sister, Dr. Ligaya M. Miranda.

But our experience with Asiong Salonga last year where the producer’s so-called film ownership license made them bypass the intellectual property rights of a director, doing as such what they wanted on that basis and belief, completely disregarding the director, and what is surfacing as artistic license to change fact is what I am worrying about. Nevertheless, I respect the artistic license of a creative artist, to what extent it will be used when treating not only a historical but a controversial character is something we have yet to see. It is a crucial matter though. But I hope compromises were made and decisions done with Meilly’s rights respected. That’s important!

With the coming centennial birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio next year, El Presidente will enhance better Bonifacio’s actual role in the Revolution. If facts are presented the way they should be, Aguinaldo will be better understood by the Filipinos especially the youth, that is, if they would accept facts based on evidences, and if they were not done in exaggeration. Like in my brother’s article, “Aginaldo para kay Aguinaldo,” I expect them to highlight – Aguinaldo as Father of the Philippine Flag, the National Anthem and therefore, Father of Philippine Freedom.

I have browsed on El Presidente’s original script which Tikoy asked me to read; and Meilly’s as well sometime last August. Both end with bullets of events. But it is my hope that that’s just on paper as I have great hope for the film’s potentials because of the story and its milieu. It is not surprising that the film is said to be two-and-forty minutes long; if needs be, it can be longer. For as long as they give way to Gov’s dramatic, but not melodramatic action. Let his action speak loud not the edit or useless visual effects. If an edit distracts, that only means there is a problem, guys! But that will only happen pag nakialam na naman ang mga producer. Pabayaan nyo ang direktor, pwede ba?

Nevertheless, I congratulate Gov Jeorge Estregan for finally producing and realizing his dream film…That in itself is a FEAT! Now, we’ll see where feat and defeat comes in if at all… On Apl  de Ap take — I don’t think it succeeded. It’s off the film’s beat! Hindi bagay. For the youth they say. What works on one, may not work on the other, the Asiong formula didn’t seem to work this time. Even the music theme of Asiong, La Paloma by Ely Buendia, caught on like wild fire or viral once uploaded. In fact, you may, or may not believe it, but up to now, searches on Asiong Salonga still daily land on this blogsite.


Do You Believe in Spirits?

April 19, 2012

It was dawn. In the borderline between sleep, dream and waking-up stages, I got up as scenes during the Tejeros Convention in 1897 — between Andres Bonifacio and Daniel Tirona played in my head. I sat still on my bed thinking of Emilio Aguinaldo at the trenches while the convention was on. Everything was quiet. Slowly, I heard the sound of a ticking clock inside the room fading in. It became loud that I wondered where the sound was coming from. My sight landed on the clock of my deceased brother – a historian – [colleague of Dr. Zeus Febski, at sympre pa, ni Prof. Teodoro Agoncillo]. It’s his birthday tomorrow. But that clock’s battery has long been drained. It’s been dead for months, for a year or more, in fact. Why it suddenly ticked again after a long time, and loudly quite surprised me. I had goosebumps. I knew my brother was around. I took his message, and his reminder that his birthday is coming, and more importantly, it seemed he wanted me to finish what I have started writing – a script outline on the life of Aguinaldo. I have done the script outline of Act 1 already – which I then believed also came from him. That was last year – when I also suddenly got up from sleep when images clearly played in my head re one of the most crucial segments in the life of Aguinaldo and Bonifacio — I wrote them down continously as if I was guided. I felt as an instrument merely to concretize the story by jotting them down. Dahil nagparamdam na naman, I do feel obliged to continue the rest of the story in film script outline form. But I need to read again their history. Anyway, lots of history books are still in the house. [Half or maybe about 2500 books were already moved to Novaliches to form part of the future Dr. Isagani R. Medina Library and Museum].

Tomorrow, I will consult with my brother. Will “meet” him at the Manila Memorial Park to get more notes. Ha!Ha! This is no joke. Last year, before I started shooting Mi Ultimo Adios I brought my “proposals,” my “storyboard studies”, my whole file – for his blessings, as well as my parents of course! Blessed by them, and by God-who else? everything turned out well as you must have seen on the outcome.

Do you believe in spirits? Well, it must be pretty obvious, that I do.


Mi Ultimo Adios in FSL is the 132nd Translation of the Poem

December 8, 2011

I misheard Rizal Shrine Curator, Zarah Escueta when we met during the NHCP meeting a few weeks ago. Mi Ultimo Adios in Filipino Sign Language is the 132nd  NOT 123rd translation of the poem. I stumbled upon her blogsite – the Curator’s Note, and saw it there. Today she sent me a copy of her proposal mentioning the same thing. SO! pang 132 na ang FSL Version mula 1897 nang unang isalin sa Tagalog ni Andres Bonifacio ang tula na sinulat ni Dr. Jose Rizal sa wikang Kastila.


Huling Pahimakas_Binasa ni Vim Nadera

November 24, 2011

Currently working on Huling Pahimakas written by Andres Bonifacio in 1897. A copy is found in Luneta etched on stone along with the English and Spanish original version of the last poem of Dr. Jose Rizal. Huling Pahimakas for the film A Mi Patria was read by Vim Nadera, film consultant. See below to read, or click to download: HULING PAHIMAKAS_Bonifacio. This is for the Filipino Sign Language – Filipino version of the film. Subtitles will be in English or Spanish.

Ang Huling Paalam / PAHIMAKAS [1897] / Sinulat ni Andres Bonifacio

Pinipintuho kong Bayan ay paalam,
Lupang iniirog ng sikat ng araw,
mutyang mahalaga sa dagat Silangan,
kaluwalhatiang sa ami’y pumanaw.

Masayáng sa iyo’y aking idudulot
ang lanta kong búhay na lubhang malungkot;
maging maringal man at labis alindog
sa kagalingan mo ay aking ding handog.

Sa pakikidigma at pamimiyapis
ang alay ng iba’y ang búhay na kipkip,
walang agam-agam, maluwag sa dibdib,
matamis sa puso at di ikahapis.

Saan man mautas ay di kailangan,
sipres o laurel, liryo ma’y putungan
pakikipaghamok, at ang bibitayan,
yaon ay gayundin kung hiling ng Bayan.

Ako’y mamamatay ngayong namamalas
na sa silanganan ay namamanaag
yaong maligayang araw na sisikat
sa likod ng luksang nagtabing na ulap.

Ang kulay na pulá kung kinakaylangan
na maititina sa iyong liwayway,
dugo ko’y isabog at siyang ikinang
ng kislap ng iyong maningning na ilaw.

Ang aking adhika sapol magkaisip
ng kasalukuyang bata pang maliit
ay ang tanghalin ka at minsang masilip
sa dagat Silangan hiyas na marikit.

Natuyo ang luhang sa matá’y nunukal,
taas na ang noo’t walang kapootan,
walang bakás kunot ng kapighatian
gabahid man dungis niyong kahihiyan.

Sa kabuhayan ko ang laging gunita
maningas na aking ninanasa-nasa
ay guminhawa ka ang hiyaw ng diwa
paghingang papanaw ngayong biglang-bigla.

Ikaw’y guminhawa laking kagandahang
Ako ay malugmok, at ikaw’y matanghal,
hiniga’y malagot, mabúhay ka lamang
bangkay ko’y masilong sa iyong kalangitan.

Kung sa libingan ko’y tumubong mamalas
sa malagong damo mahinhing bulaklak,
sa mga labi mo’y mangyaring itapat,
sa kaluluwa ko halik ay igawad.

At sa aking noo nawa’y iparamdam,
sa lamig ng lupa ng aking libingan,
ang init ng iyong paghingang dalisay
at simoy ng iyong paggiliw na tunay.

Bayaang ang buwan sa aki’y ititig
ang liwanag niyang lamlam at tahimik,
liwayway bayaang sa aki’y ihatid
magalaw na sinag at hanging hagibis.

Kung saka-sakaling bumabang humantong
sa krus ko’y dumapo kahit isang ibon
doon ay bayaan humuning hinahon
at dalitin niya payapang panahon.

Bayaan ang ningas ng sikat ng araw
ula’y pasingawin noong kainitan,
magbalik sa langit ng buong dalisay
kalakip ng aking pagdaing na hiyaw.

Bayaang sino man sa katotong giliw
tangisan maagang sa buhay pagkitil;
kung tungkol sa akin ay may manalangin
idalangin Bayan yaring pagkahimbing.

Idalanging lahat yaong nangamatay
nangagtiis hirap na walang kapantay,
mga ina naming walang kapalaran
na inihihibik ay kapighatian.

Ang mga nabao’t pinapangulila,
ang mga bilanggong nagsisipagdusa,
dalanginan namang kanilang makita
ang kalayaan mong ikagiginhawa.

At kung sa madilim na gabing mapanglaw
ay lumaganap na doon sa libinga’t
tanging mga patay ang nangaglalamay,
huwag bagabagin ang katahimikan.

Ang kanyang hiwaga’y huwag gambalain
kaipala’y [dinig] doon ang taginting,
tunog ng gitara’t salteryo’y magsaliw,
ako, Bayan yao’t kita’y aawitin.

Kung ang libingan ko’y limot na ng lahat,
at wala nang kurus at batang mabakas,
bayaang linangin ng taong masipag,
lupa’y asarulin at kanyang ikalat.

At mga buto ko ay bago matunaw
mauwi sa wala at kusang maparam,
alabok ng iyong latag ay bayaang
siya ang bahalang doo’y makipisan.

Kung magkagayon na’y aalintanahin
na ako sa limot iyong ihabilin
pagkat himpapawid at ang panganorin
mga lansangan mo’y aking lilibutin.

Matining na tunog ako sa dinig mo,
ilaw, mga kulay, masamyong pabango,
ang ugong at awit, pag hibik sa iyo,
pag-asang dalisay ng pananalig ko.

Bayang iniirog, sakit niyaring hirap,
Katagalugan ko pinakaliliyag,
dinggin mo ang aking pagpapahimakas;
diya’y iiwan ko sa iyo ang lahat.

Ako’y patutungo sa walang busabos,
walang umiinis at berdugong hayop;
pananalig doo’y di nakasasalot,
si Bathala lamang doo’y haring lubos.

Paalam, magulang at mga kapatid
kapilas ng aking kaluluwa’t dibdib
mga kaibigan bata pang maliit,
sa aking tahanan di na masisilip.

Pagpasalamatan at napahinga rin,
paalam estrangherang kasuyo ko’t aliw,
paalam sa inyo mga ginigiliw,
mamatay ay siyang pagkakagupiling!