Posts Tagged ‘Emilio Aguinaldo’

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Mabini Descendants Interviewed

December 11, 2014
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Chika time before the interview with Mabini descendants

Last November 21, I interviewed two descendants of one of our great heroes, Apolinario Mabini whose Sesquicentennial Birth Anniversary is being celebrated this year. He was most vocal and active against Spanish and American sovereignty over the Philippines at the turn of the century. American newspaper reports called him the “Brains of the Insurrectos”. Fearing that his presence in our country would bring in trouble, they sent him on exile to Guam in 1901. He could only return to the Philippines — as their term of conditions — if he swears his oath of allegiance to the US. Ms. Pelagia Mabini, a third generation descendant recounted that when asked to kiss the American flag, Mabini vehemently refused.

Mabini Descendants

Third Generation Descendants of Apolinario Mabini — Pelagia Mabini from Monico Mabini family line and Reynaldo Mabini from Alejandro Mabini family line who quite resembles the looks and simplicity of his Lolo Apolinario

An “insurrecto” to the Americans; he was to the Filipinos — the “Brains of the Revolution” and “The Sublime Paralytic.” Yes! he was a physically disabled man, paralyzed in 1896 two years after he graduated from UST. As a writer and political philosopher, Mabini was feared, and quite annoyed the Americans because of his unwavering conviction to fight for absolute independence. It just showed how much the Americans valued the power of the mind and the pen over physical disability. Isn’t that cool?

Mabini was appointed as Chief adviser of the first Philippine President, Emilio Aguinaldo in June 1898. He was also the first Minister of Foreign Affairs. He could have been the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court were he not discriminated due to his disability. In January 1899, he became the prime minister or president of the council of secretaries of Aguinaldo Cabinet.

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Ms. Pelagia Mabini in front of the genealogical graph of Mabini Family. She used to work as Museum technician in Tanauan, Batangas. She shared stories about Mabini that were handed down to them by their parents and grandparents. [Shot during my interview with her, Mabini Museum in Tanauan]

Mabini resigned however when factions and clashes of ideas with the ilustrados arose; time when he felt that was not serving the popular will as many were against his convictions. Even then, he continued to write inflammatory articles against the Americans when they took over the Spaniards after the Treaty of Paris was signed on December 10, 1898. The Filipinos’ trust was betrayed as time and history would reveal.

Anyway, during my research, I actually saw the need of providing Deaf access to information on Mabini. The audiovisual materials at the Mabini Museums, both in Tanauan, Batangas and in Sta. Mesa, Manila obviously only target the regular hearing audience and elementary students it seems, based on the treatment and the type of graphic presentations used. For our project, I want the students to feel the ambience of Mabini’s time. And that is only possible by showing actual photos and documents available, sparse illustration, if none at all, and news reports about him in the 1900’s. Most importantly, I want to expose the students to lesser known heroes at the time of Mabini and Rizal.

From July of this year, I have already visited museums, archives, went to the National Library to check on available microfilms that are relevant to his life, and maximized on the use of available books in the personal library of my deceased historian-brother Isagani Medina — a big influence on the type of docus that I am doing, and want to do. I also interviewed for the film a historian, Arch. Jaime Silva, the blind architect, and the curator of the Mabini Museum.

Apolinario Mabini was born in Talaga,Tanauan, Batangas on July 23, 1864. It is a town located outside Manila. Without traffic, one can get there in an hour or so. Nearly a month ago, I was there.

[The project is being made in collaboration with DLS-CSB School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies].

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THY WOMB_Cinematic; How About EL PRESIDENTE?

December 30, 2012

Brilliante Mendoza’s Thy Womb’s timeframe is short; Mark Meilly’s El Presidente is long. Literally, the former is shorter in duration; the latter, nearly double its length. The former is an indie film with a budget obviously minuscule compared with the latter which reportedly spent P130 Million to produce. Perhaps because it is a period picture that entailed a lot of costumes, and needed many actors as it covers different phases in our country’s history  –from the latter part of the Spanish period c. 1896-97 [excluding the childhood flashback of young Emilio Aguinaldo] up to time he died in 1964. It is a star-studded film while Thy Womb has but a few actors who so powerfully and naturally acted, you’d feel they were just plucked out from the actual Badjao  community in Tawi-tawi.

Asiong Salonga [DC Version] Director Tikoy Aguiluz, my associate editor Yuka and I were together at Resorts World to watch One More Try hours before the MMFF Award’s Night was to be held . The 10 pm show tickets were sold out however so we just chatted during and after dinner. We first talked about how Tikoy is credited in El Presidente which he hasn’t yet seen. The film actually started with Tikoy’s shot of Aguinaldo writing in his study room. Tikoy is acknowledged as Second-Unit Director which is not proper. Let’s be clear about this. Tikoy was the film’s original director. How can he be possibly acknowledged as such when Meilly was nowhere and was “inexistent” or not in the picture at all when Tikoy shot Nora Aunor’s sequences last July in between post-production of Asiong Salonga 2011? Tikoy was the Director of those film sequences sans Meilly, so why should he be credited as the second-unit director??? Moreover, I asked Tikoy if he shot the meeting of Aguinaldo and Marcela Agoncillo sequence [first appearance of Nora Aunor]. Tikoy replied “No!” She looked so funny in it and she doesn’t reflect the grace of a Marcela Agoncillo. That’s a hilarious scene as it appeared to me. Mukhang ewan si Nora dun, wala akong masabi! Filler na filler ang dating.

Anyway, we ended up talking about Ang Sugo, the 2014 Centennial Anniversary film about Felix Manalo, the founder of Iglesia ni Cristo which Tikoy will shoot  in 2013.

Of the two MMFF entries that I watched, I consider Thy Womb as cinematic gem; El Presidente is a fancy jewel or a raw gem which should have been polished better. Nanghinayang ako sa El Presidente for the following reasons, all subjective of course:

1)      CINEMATOGRAPHY. As I’ve previously posted, I wanted to see the difference between Tikoy and Meilly’s “style. Cinematography is one film element that can give lead to it. As Carlo Mendoza, Asiong and El Presidente’s cameraman himself told me, it is actually what the director wants NOT HIS that shows on the film. It’s the Director’s call in other words. By saying so, I expected concrete differences in Carlo’s work from two different directors. And yes! their style and preferences actually showed. Tikoy’s Nora sequences were said to have been graded to go or balance with Meilly’s because of clear differences.

Tikoy in all his film has always controlled the look, composition and lighting of his film. He is not afraid to demand extreme close-ups and wanted chiaroscuro lighting; the more contrast in light and shadows the better. On the contrary, El Presidente scenes are largely well-lighted, giving it the TV movie quality and look common in our TV network productions. Whether in wide forest shots or on actor’s midshots, you’d feel the presence of lights and reflectors. Dramatic lighting where mostly needed wasn’t maximized to give the proper mood. Nowhere akong napa-WOW [except perhaps in Cecille de Mille wideshot of the fight between the Americans and the Revolutionaries, but not on how the fights were edited predictably with effects]; also the wideshot of the forest when the revolutionaries were evacuating Cavite. Unlike in Thy Womb where handheld shots and close ups, beautifully framed composition, available lighting were used to give the documentary feel, the reality and naturalness of the environment, El Presidente coverages and scene compositions are generally ordinary. In the former, the lighting helps a lot in giving character and texture to the film. The Tejeros Convention sequence for ex. could have been better dramatized if the lighting mood was proper, with Angry Men as a peg perhaps, so that the build up of tension parallels with the rising anger of Bonifacio character as played by Cesar Montano. So does the part when Aguinaldo joined the Katipunan. Dramatic lighting was absent in one of the most important event in Aguinaldo’s life. Cinematography in El Presidente is uneven. In some, there are even loud video noises. Inserting unnecessary photos also contributed to photographic inconsistencies making the segment like an AVP. Choosing Thy Womb for Best Cinematography is right judgment. [MMFF Winner for Best Cinematography: Odyssey Flores, Thy Womb]

2)      STORY / SCREENPLAY – content is epic in proportion, fine! But by putting so much, El Presidente loses a lot more. It gave more emphasis on events, on action scenes to show perhaps the production costs and producer’s expenses. It failed to dramatize more the conflicts of the man, his person, his dilemma, his psyche so that we could have ride with his feelings deeper – his difficulties as catalyst of Philippine revolutionary forces. The highlight of his life is Philippines independence; that’ s what he lived and fought for in the first place, it was his and the country’s turning point. But the build-up is seemingly lacking, it felt like it was just an ordinary sequence in the film when it appeared. The nationalism fervor could have been more sparked, more built up as we see them fight that led to the triumphant waving of our flag, and hearing the national anthem in 1898. Aguinaldo lived during such time when atrocities were committed by Americans, when spies were aplenty. There were lots of room to work on surprise and suspense to make the story more gripping and interesting. If you are not aware of it, there are many secret doors to exit or enter Aguinaldo’s house which could have been utilized to add drama and show the dangerous life our heroes had to go through. After the Spanish period, there’s sense of urgency to finish the film, it is like shuffling of cards fast to bring Nora Aunor onscreen, and who disappeared just as fast, to finish off the movie. Thy Womb’s story is actually a simple love story — what a woman could do for a man she loves so much and wanted to be happy. El Presidente is also a love story, and a more complex one — what a man did for his Mother Country. With the latter’s story complexity, more could have been done to make it better. It had all the chance to be the best but unfortunately meeting MMFF deadline is the culprit. I don’t want to react about the historical accuracies or inaccuracies since they already claimed  that it is either only 95% accurate, or “fiction based on a historical character.” I’ve seen some of the changes but there’s no point talking about them out of respect for the filmmaker’s “creative freedom.” I just wonder how they affect descendants of heroes focused on.  [MMFF Winner for Best Story, Henry Burgos for Thy Womb; Best Screenplay, One More Try]

3)      ACTING – No variations in the acting or performance, even the looks of Jeorge Estregan from the time he pledges as Katipunan member to the time he declares Philippine independence. He is obviously acting; Aguinaldo’s soul or just his aura was not in him except in the few shots taken in his house in Kawit, or when he was already old and rarely some in between when he has no dialogues.  Happily, walang timba nang luha sa puntod [tulad sa Asiong] nang nakaluhod pagkamatay ni Candido Tirona. O dahil wideshot ang kuha? Yun nga lang bakit hinimatay pa? But then there’s a shot while he was in the cabin, wailing…dun kaya??? Ewan ba! Tikoy would prefer silent, and mellowed acting there, I am sure. And I would love to edit out  unnecessary melodramatic acting too. Favorite stances from Asiong surfaced as follows: the way he pointed at the picture of Queen Christina to Baron Geisler, the way he stopped [forgot the character] when two of his men were about to fight and of course, using two guns a la traditional cowboy  [a la Asiong, more so a la FPJ] while fighting when we know that guns were scarce during those days; and just a gun was commonly used. Oh well, “creative license”?

Moreover, I have witnessed that using comedians in serious roles wasn’t effective. As Baldomero Aguinaldo, or Lolo/grandfather of former Prime Minister Cesar Virata, Bayani Agbayani’s first appearance alone elicited laughs, though he wasn’t making a joke. So does, Epy Quizon. In one sequence where Gerald Ejercito as Crispulo Aguinaldo died, his expression with matching slow motion made those seated beside me to laugh and exclaim: Ano ito comedy? [MMFF Winner for Best Actor, Dingdong Dantes; Best Actress: Nora Aunor, Thy Womb]

4)      EDITING – It was refreshing…a sigh of relief for me NOT TO SEE the Fade In/Out to Black that they used to destroy Asiong Salonga. Either narendahan ng director or natauhan sa senseless and stupid use of those devices. Nevertheless, the slow / fast motion and freeze effects in fight sequences were used again, but this time too overly done that they became predictable. They were fine to a certain extent but they should have been sparingly used to maximize the effect and heighten the drama. Another funny cut [just to shorten the already long film perhaps] is when Gregorio del Pilar was shot. He fell down from his horse. Shot on top-angle, hands presumably of the Americans enter frame and shown in the act of destroying his rayadillo or undressing him. That was the impression the shot gave. The problem is: the scene faded out at that point that it gave the impression Del Pilar would be raped. Many in the audience laughed, including me…the historical fact is Del Pilar was divested of his personal belongings. But that’s it, the shot was cut too short it gave another meaning and “malicious” impression to the audience. For every cut that you do, there is a reason…[MMFF Winner for Best Editing,Vito Cahilig, One More Try]

5)      PRODUCTION DESIGN – Costumes, art design in general are good, clearly the art department researched but in many scenes, even at the height of fighting, the general’s uniforms are SOOOOOOOO clean and white, SOOOOOOOOO new that my feeling was that they have just come from the tailor or from the laundryhouse. Niluma man lang sana bago suutin. In fact, among the first trailers the producer came up with and released, it was as if they were advertising Tide bar and soap: “Ano ang mas malinis, mas maputi?” The settings are good; location is the same place where some of the Asiong’s scenes were shot. Moustache in some sequences were not properly glued,  they look they’d fall anytime; or they were just too big for the character’s face, they looked so funny. It has not the naturalness in costumes, and settings of Thy Womb, complementing with the natural acting of the main players that contributed to overall design giving the film its right to win the award. [MMFF Winner for Best Production Design, Thy Womb]

6)      MAKE UP – I don’t know why they won when the first appearance of the “old woman” had been very disconcerting because of bad makeup, so much so that I wished they used a real, old woman there. The same with the actors who were so tidily made up…with faces looking unblemished. Probably, quantity of casts to put the make up on mattered, or in their criteria. [MMFF Winner for Best Make Up, El Presidente]

7)      DIRECTION – My guess was right, it was Best Direction for Brillante Mendoza. Afterall, he succeeded in really making his cast, especially Nora Aunor get into the character and soul of a barren midwife, who worked hard in looking for someone who could fulfill the wish of her husband to have a child. The choice of image sizes, extreme close ups, and handheld movements make the viewers part of their world or become the characters themselves. The use of silence and wide shots when needed; the concentration on the character’s soul; which in Jeorge Estregan as Emilio Aguinaldo, Meilly failed to achieve. There is distance between the audience and the character. You do not get “into” the character.  There is no emphathy. At times, Estregan’s dialogue delivery are so reminiscent of Asiong Salonga, astig ba? There is something missing in Aguinaldo’s character the way he was portrayed. The director has a big hand on this. And with the use of cursive scripts to caption or introduce the scene, the film turned out to be like reading a history book. Kulang na lang ng turning a page or page peel transition.El Presidente is like Baler, only better because of the important subject it tackled. [MMFF Winner for Best Picture, One More Try but Best Direction for Brillante Mendoza; Best Second Picture, El Presidente]

I watched the first screening of Thy Womb at SM MOA with less than 15 people in there last December 26; El Presidente in its second screening with nearly fully packed seats. Kulelat pareho sa takilya ngayon but worth seeing especially Thy Womb which despite winning the major awards, some theaters have pulled the film out because of poor revenues. But I hope many more could watch it, if only to know the culture of our Badjao community… really appreciate La Aunor, and get a surprising treat from Mendoza. For a change!!! Unfortunately, if last year it was grand slam for El Presidente producers who also produced Asiong Salonga, it was probably grand sla_ for them this year for not winning the major awards they were targeting and for sure expecting deep in their hearts. But I still laud them for producing it…as I’ve said, realizing an epic and a dream film is in itself is a big FEAT. Defeating the other purposes for which the film were made is another matter. There are other award-giving bodies, aesthetic values of jurors vary, as well as their criteria. Hope is there for those who didn’t make it this time.

Lastly, I do not know whose bright idea it was to put the Memoirs of Aguinaldo at the the end of the film. By doing so, they have limited or suggested a biased and one-sided version of his life… Di nila naisip yun?

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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: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fiction]

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…

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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.

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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.

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Here Comes El Presidente!!

August 7, 2011

This morning I had a talk with Angelo Aguinaldo, great grandson of Emilio Aguinaldo, and curator of Aguinaldo Shrine. He called me up and we talked about the coming shoot of El Presidente [starring Jeorge Estregan, Jr, as Emilio Aguinaldo and Nora Aunor as Maria Agoncillo] to be directed by Tikoy Aguiluz. I met him last year but I know better Ate Linda [Aguinaldo], his auntie who used to be the shrine curator. With my brother Isagani R. Medina, noted Cavite historian, we used to have lunch prepared by Ate Linda and Gina Ayran. Aguinaldo Shrine is like home to us. We were always welcome there – and even after my brother passed away, they welcome me as much as when my brother was still alive. Sometimes, I share with them the delicious bibingka available from a nearby store located near the bridge. I remember that we spent my brother’s birthday once at the shrine when he was already wheelchair-bound. The Aguinaldos respect my brother a lot, probably because of his contributions to the historiography of Cavite Province and his researches on Lolo Miong. I have worked and helped my brother on all the books that he published about Cavite. In fact, I was the one who prodded him to publish Cavite Before the Revolution, his doctoral dissertation. I volunteered to encode his voluminous notes, researched and did field works on his behalf when stroke disabled him from his activities. We are full-blooded Cavitenos since both our parents hailed from the province [my father was born in Corregidor; my mother in Naic]. I still remember attending fiestas to our families living in Cavite City, Kawit and Ternate, and my father talking in Chabacano with them.

Ilang Talata nang Paghihimagsik…was the last book annotated, edited and published by my brother with the help of Cavite Historical Society led by EPM Cesar Virata. The book is centered on the exploits of Aguinaldo and the Magdalos. It was written by Carlos Ronquillo, then Secretary-General of President Emilio Aguinaldo. It was when I worked on that book that I better understood what we only used to memorize like parrots — the Magdiwang – Magdalo faction; what happened to Bonifacio from the time he lost the battle in Pinaglabanan, and some other details about that critical period in our history.

Anyhow, Gov. Jeorge Estregan Jr’s obsession to do the role as El Presidente will be instrumental in making the epic film possible. In God’s time, it will be realized. I met him and observed that it is his passion and obsession that will turn his dream to reality. I do not doubt his sincerity though I only met him then for the first time in his ancestral house in Pagsanjan because of Asiong Salonga film. I told Angelo about it and I came to know that Ate Linda is Gov’s kumare. Small world!

I also assured him that Tikoy will be doing his very best to make the film really good. That though creative treatment will be employed, historical accuracy will be uppermost. My brother’s book will be one of the main research sources along with the Memoirs of Ka Miong, and other books on him.  It is high time for the Filipinos to know Emilio Aguinaldo, the man, the nationalist, the Father of Philippine Flag and the National Anthem! The film is something overdue. Ka Miong deserves the right and proper recognition of his contribution to Nationhood. It was him who propelled our destiny to become the first independent country in Asia with its own Constitution.

As I’ve always said, truth and the right information will lead people to understand better any subject in focus — be it in a documentary or narrative film format.

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Focus on Heroes

February 25, 2011

After many months, it was only yesterday that I met again with friend and colleague Tikoy [Aguiluz] to talk about his upcoming film on the First President of the Philippines Emilio Aguinaldo. I was happy of course, as I am on the other hand going to work on the interpretation of Rizal’s poems in sign language. My work for my brother on his researches on Aguinaldo gave me a perspective that contributed to a better understanding of Aguinaldo who became unpopular because of the death of Bonifacio and Luna. Question such as “Sino ang nagpapatay kay Bonifacio?” still crop up until now. Teachers of history should be introduced and be welcome to new findings relative to said event. They should dig deeper and read on written accounts re what happened during the Tejeros Convention, and what led to Bonifacio’s downfall. In doing so, they should be open-minded though.

To focus attention on the achievements of our heroes will always be a worthwhile endeavor. No time will surely be wasted when spent on people who made history. As instruments to perpetuate their memory, our share of preserving their glory our way, or however seemingly unimportant they maybe, will nevertheless benefit future Filipinos who value history or those who will look back to study past events, appreciate and learn from them. Future generation may gain inspiration, or said heroes may eventually serve as their role model. We must not forget that among our heroes, the “Brains of the Katipunan,” polio-stricken Apolinario Mabini stood out, and became the inspiration of Persons with Disability in our country.