Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Some time ago, an American blogger (Nathan Allen, the same one declared persona non grata in Sorsogon a while back, simply for exposing a problem) posted in his inital impressions about the Philippines, an observation about the sharing practice, in this case referring to food: “If you pull it out, you better be ready to share it.”
Filipinos are familiar with this. It’s supposed to be a gesture, but there are times it can cease to be a gesture and be abused. Whenever we go out buy and buy some food, when we come home and either family members or friends see it, they’ll exclaim, “O, why didn’t you buy more for everybody?” Thus, Allen’s observation that we should share stands true. But that’s not all. The people who would demand the sharing are probably people who are not even needy or hungry. They just want to be given stuff. And if they didn’t need it after all, they might end up throwing away whatever was shared, thereby making it all a waste.
Thus, the question may be raised, are Filipinos doing some unnecessary sharing? Are they being forced to do it? Perhaps not as much as I assume. But it does seem that Filipino culture has carried sharing to a point that it has become abused. Abused as in, people want others to share to them while they share nothing. Meaning, they become completely dependent as shown in our logo: Juan Tamad.
When sharing means you work and share, others don’t and feed off you
In a previous article, I lamented how Filipino “poor” tend to see the rich as obliged to provide them with hand-outs. We consider this one of the core reasons for the dysfunction of the Philippines. Perhaps one of the things that encourage this attitude is the culture of sharing that we have.
Of course, many Filipinos do hate that some people who could work actually refuse to do so, and insist that someone else works to support them. The pattern of helping others is certainly a normal part of society. For example, if someone had an accident or disease and became disabled, they might need to stop work for a while or have reduced work, while other family members provide for them. This is an emergency situation and it happens. However, the problem is when Filipinos are not disabled at all, but refuse to work while seeking support from others. This is what the responsible Filipinos hate, since it is abuse. Yet, it could be the culture of sharing that emboldens the irresponsible Filipinos to do this. “Aren’t we supposed to help each other” or “you’re Christian, you’re supposed to be kind, so support me” could be among the possible dialogues by the medicant for this abuse.
You can see many situations where this is abused. I’m sure many know cases of people who have begotten children, only to later ask their mom or siblings to take care of the child for them. And the tagasalos (catchers, of the responsibility) say, “find work and support your kid yourself,” the parent will throw a tantrum, say life is hard, say their relatives are cruel, and will likely find another person to land in bed and have another kid. If the working person says, “what if I die,” the abusive mendicant will say, “then leave a pension for me!” This is getting more common not just among poor people, but even among middle class and even richer people. Such people feel that they are entitled to dump their responsibilities onto someone else – and that nothing is wrong with it. Sometimes, when a person comes of age, the question is not, “what job will I get when I grow up?” Instead, it’s “who’s going to support me?” Sadly, this has crept its way into becoming part of our Filipino identity.
One of the most common situations of Filipinos is wherein a whole family depends on one person for everything. For example, there is a family where they have three children. The father is a construction worker, but is often drunk. The mom works part-time and likely earns more than the father. The eldest child is a daughter, who they put most of their money into. So she graduated and she works, while she is the one supporting not only the family but the studies of her two siblings. Meanwhile, the mom and dad stop working and depend on their daughter. She is in effect the sole breadwinner. Let’s say she disappears one night, and it is found that she was raped and murdered. The family may cry that they lost their only hope and all is lost. They find the idea of having to work horrifying. In families like this, clearly something is wrong.
That’s only one of the possible situations of dependence Filipinos have, but you get the picture. In cases like this, it’s as if the Filipino family is rigged to blow. The situation of the family is made delicate so when the one pillar is broken, everything goes down. But perhaps, culturally, a tradition of unnecessary sharing or abuse of sharing is one of the bombs laid in this pillar?
The Possible Origins of Laziness
One reason why Filipinos are this way could be perhaps because we had lazy landowners as our “image models.” Some writers have indicated that our oligarchs were descended from plantation-owning people who did not work. They just made the workers do all the harvesting for them, and they earn from the crop sales. This was the “elite” of our country, which the “ordinary” Filipinos seek to emulate.
When a Filipino wants to get a glass of water, he won’t want to get it himself; he orders someone to get it for him, like a servant. I remember a celebrity director describing when he had first moved to his own place. He said, “Back at home, when I cry ‘patis,’ the maid brings it to me. When I moved to my own place, I realized you buy patis at the store.” This amused and dismayed me at the same time. Some Filipinos are raised like dons and donyas, so that when they go out on their own, they are shocked that they have to do things themselves. Is that how we were raised? A work colleague once noted that the Philippines has a culture of spoiling, the “don/donya” spoiling culture.
Perhaps, owing to the context of the times, many people who lived in the 1950s and 1960s are still around. These were still the times where house helpers were commonplace (well, they still are; there are even OFWs who work as maids abroad, but have maids for their families at home). There was relatively little protection for abused maids, since protections similar to the Kasambahay Law did not exist. Another aspect was that in these “old” times, the man was expected to work, and the rest of this family depended on him. The wife was often a housewife, and did not work. If the wife worked, that was seen as a social malaise back then. I find it ironic that the wife, despite not working, held the purse strings in some cases. Some wives, being stuck in the house, lacked the financial knowhow to handle money carefully, thus leading to families actually becoming “poor” when times became hard. This might have been one of the roots of the attitude that it’s perfectly all right to take over someone else’s money; thus, perhaps becoming another manifestation of the medicant attitude of people.
Yet another theory I have. This is in relation to people believing that our tribal past is better than our modern colonial society; that people are better off in the time of the “bahags” rather than with modern technology. In those times, it would seem that the modern concept of family was absent. This concept is that the nuclear family is sacred, with the principle of fidelity in place, so neither father or mother go and have sex with other people, and that they should be responsible for caring for and training their own children (and not others’ children, and other parents are not responsible for their children). In the “old days,” there seemed to be no concept of fidelity and people just fly from partner to partner and have sex. When they have children, it’s the village responsibility and even the biological parent may not be taking care of the children. And in those days, with less health care and other modern advances, more children died; out of 18 borne by one man, 12 of them die for example (and ‘modern’ people get mad at abortion and even contraception, saying these kill children). Thus, I imply that the concept of responsibility comes more from the west these days.
It’s even possible indeed that there were people who didn’t work, and that there are people in the village who did. Because of the social structure, those not working were perceived as “lazy” by the western eye. It was seen as, some work, some don’t. So the argument is that Filipinos are not lazy and that what is seen as laziness is argued to be the culture of pre-colonial times.
But we are no longer under pre-colonial times and we have accepted the culture of the western nuclear family. We should also accept the concept of responsibility and accountability for our own action. It is ironic that Filipinos, being mostly Christian (but even non-Christians will appreciate this), seem to avoid the Bible verse saying, “he who does not work should not eat.” Because of primitive culture, Filipinos likely do not believe in the dignity of work. They would rather believe that there is no dignity in work! But this is wrong and unethical.
An Issue of Responsibility and Accountability
We still have that problem that people leave their responsibilities. And our culture of sharing’s insistence that you should share and can never refuse to do so, comes with the belief that people have the right to demand sharing from others. If you refuse to share – even if what you share will be used from wrong (such as giving money to someone who will only use it to buy illegal drugs) – you are evil. This belief should be challenged.
The modern society, as influenced by the modern west, propagated DIY (Do It Yourself – that’s why there are sitcoms like Home Improvement). It’s not like the old days wherein, when you buy a TV, you still have a TV installer man to do it for you (akin to having a servant do it for you). These days, when you buy a TV, you install it yourself. It’s easy, really.
But there are still people who still believe they have the “right” to have others do things for them. To have servants and the like. To be lazy. To not work. To be shared to and not to share. Mendicant culture still makes sites like Get Real Philippines relevant today.
One may say, it’s not only in the Philippines. Even in America, there are people who abuse welfare and dole-outs. I have been told that most people who receive welfare are whites. Perhaps some are children who had the pensions of their parents transferred to them (perhaps pensions should be made non-transferrable to children), and thus they don’t know the dignity of work. But saying Filipinos can imitate this and not be wrong is a terrible mistake.
It reminds me of the recent proposal to have the law force children to support their parents in case the parents choose it. One of Get Real Philippines’ webmaster Benign0’s well-known sayings is, you cannot legislate good manners. Yet here is a proposal to legislate “good manners.” Despite the good intention of this law, it has great potential for abuse. Abusive parents who abandoned their children can game the system to force these children to provide for their abusive habits. Even if the abusive parent uses the money to get drunk all night, the children can’t refuse to give, because the law will force them to. This may be seen as more abuse of the Filipino sharing tradition.
Breaking the system of dependence would require everyone to desire to individually work and pitch in. Filipino culture should be inserted with the appreciation of working for one’s own keep, and not being proud of what someone else gave them (hmm, perhaps that’s one cause of Pinoy Pride). It also has a relationship with Filipino views of responsibility and accountability (although we know what the Filipino tendency really is – to avoid these).
Of course, this is a more complex issue than it seems at first. In the case of a person who willingly abandons their children, relatives have adopted the kids or else no one will take care of the kid. They irony is that this may embolden the irresponsible person to have more children, since someone will catch the responsibility. It’s something that legislation cannot solve, since laws are not enforced anyway. Treating laws as suggestions is part of the culture too.
Thus, abuse of sharing and mendicancy continue remain among the perennial problems of the country, and Filipinos are divided over the issue. We may advise Filipinos that there’s no need to share with those who don’t work and there’s no right to demand being shared to. But without a moral compass to adhere to, and unless the culture more accepts the DIY mentality of more responsible societies (among other things, of course, like economic development), Filipinos will just stick to the same old bad habits.
Recently, Filipinos have proven that if they work together towards a common goal, they will achieve it sooner rather than later. This was evident in the success of the hashtag #Aldub which is based on the names of the current most popular manufactured love team on television between Alden Richards and Maine “Yaya Dub” Mendoza. Millions of Filipinos worked hard to bring it to the top of the trending topic list on social networking site Twitter not just locally, but also globally.
Yes, it’s only Twitter and some of you might say that it’s not hard to type a few words along with a hashtag. However, the point is, millions of Filipinos both in the country and abroad have been focused for weeks now on one thing and one thing alone – to help a local television network win the battle of the ratings. And succeed they did. Executives of television networks like GMA Network have never been happier raking in the cash without spending too much money on publicity. The fans of the love duo were doing all the marketing for them for free.
Another group of people who are happy that most Filipinos are preoccupied or distracted by the love lives of two fictitious characters on television are the country’s public servants particularly President Benigno Simeon Aquino. With just a few months left in office, BS Aquino is likely to breeze through it and might even get good marks thanks to the high or feel good affects Filipinos are getting from the fantasy world provided by television.
The people who use television to escape from the harsh realities in the country tend to associate the happiness they feel when they watch their favorite show with contentment towards the performance of the current government. This is not good news at all for the future of the country. Filipino public servants can pretty much get away with murder and other criminal activities while the majority is glued to the tube.
The advent of social media has made it easier for people around the world to stay connected and to communicate. It should be helping Filipinos discuss topics and issues that can solve the problems plaguing the nation. Instead, most Filipinos are using social media for disseminating and exchanging shallow and useless information that will not help them grow as a people. It seems instead of helping the country move forward, technology is pulling Philippine society backward.
We cannot underestimate the power of social media. Most people get their news from Facebook and Twitter nowadays. That’s because when people are bombarded with too much information, their attention span gets shorter. So they simply rely on “news” people share on their newsfeed for the latest updates. The downside to this is that, a lot of people including Filipinos, have become lazy and could not be bothered doing their own research about what is really going on around them. This is why it is easy to feed people with propaganda and even easier to distract them with entertainment.
With the phenomenal success of the #Aldub using social media, one cannot help but think about the other more important issues that Filipinos should be bringing to the top of the trending topic. I can think of a few:
1. Traffic and flooding problem in the country particularly in Metro Manila.
2. Risk exposure to the effects of climate change and the need for better disaster preparedness.
3. China’s threat against our territorial claims on the West Philippine Sea.
4. High crime rate including threats from Islamic terrorists in Mindanao.
5. Energy and Water crisis.
6. High unemployment rate.
7. Appalling conditions of the victims of natural disasters.
8. Theft of public funds using mechanisms such as pork barrel and Presidential slush funds by public servants.
The importance of all of the above is self-evident. Most Filipinos experience the challenges of overcoming them on a daily basis. But unfortunately, they prefer to spend their time escaping in the world of trashy entertainment. If they continue to ignore these things, the country will continue its downward spiral. No amount of watching noontime shows can help them escape it. The good news is, if Filipinos work together towards these common goals, they will find the solution to their problems sooner rather than later.
It’s hard to tell if it is the timing of the phenomenal explosion of the AlDub fad or the simple fact that politics has just gone so far down people’s hierarchy of things to give a shit about. But just from looking at the sorts of things Filipino ‘netizens’ are tweeting about nowadays, politics and social issues no longer seem to be the hot topics they used to be. That’s not too surprising considering just how blah the presidential race is what with the three utterly uninspiring candidates that Filipinos are forced to choose from. Just sad.
To be fair to the incumbent President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III, back during the heady days of the 20009-2010 presidential campaign, Filipinos who supported him genuinely saw him (albeit misguidedly) as a beacon of hope. The vote and partisanship across all camps was passionate, and the campaigns were competitive in a relatively good way. The candidates who put up a heroic fight against the Yellow horde who propelled BS Aquino to the top of the polls were all competent and on fire!
Sure, we lamented the same intellectual shortfalls in the political “debate” of the time — the lack of proper platforms, the same epal (grandstanding) approach to campaigns, the lack of a convincing debate between candidates, and an electorate that was all heart and no brain. As it turned out, Philippine politics was yet to hit rock-bottom. The presidential race today is an even more wretched intellectual wasteland than the previous one. Indeed, it was one thing, back in 2010, for a brain-dead electorate to choose the one unqualified and, ultimately, incompetent candidate amongst and abundance of excellent options then. But today is an even worse situation — the same brain-dead electorate is faced with a critical choice to make in what is essentially a bleak landscape of options.
It’s therefore not surprising that Filipinos have simply tuned out of their rotten politics. It’s a free market anyway. Why waste time keeping attuned to what is essentially a sad old story with a predictable ending — a presidential race being run by three uninspiring horses with the only thing certain being that one of them will win. That outcome in this instance fails the So What? Test. So what if Grace Poe wins? So what if Jejomar Binay wins? And, yeah, so what if Mar Roxas wins? What exactly differentiates one from the other two? Now that one is a head-scratcher.
Filipinos, however, now seem less inclined to spend the few months in the lead up to the elections scratching their heads over the blah-ness of today’s Philippine politics. They will, instead, be spending their days catching the best rubbish that the Philippine entertainment industry has to offer. And there’s lots to look forward to — if you’ve got a stunted mind.
That’s the trouble with the free market. It sounds good in principle. The big assumption that underlies the concept is that the “wisdom” of such markets will ensure that the most optimal emergent outcome will come about. But like the notion underpinning “democracy” that the “people’s will” is what is best for the nation, there is now ample cause to question to the wisdom of the free market for ideas in the Philippine setting. Just as it is evident now that the power to choose leaders that Filipinos have wielded for the past three decades failed to produce real results, the notion that a free market where producers of media products would be in fierce competition with one another for Filipino eyeballs would drive quality upwards has come to question.
Is it really wise to allow Filipino tastes to determine what sorts of television shows and cinema are served them?
That’s sort of like allowing 10-year-olds unlimited XBox time when they have mounds of homework due over the coming week. You cannot allow a free market to reign in a market that is ill-equipped to handle said freedom.
Democracy is, essentially, a form of government that assumes some level of intelligent engagement from the citizenry. In that sense, the intelligence of the citizenry is of utmost national concern. Intelligent voters are critical to the nation’s future. Indeed, the consistent failure of Philippine democracy to produce good results (in the form of good leaders and good lawmakers) for Filipinos owes much to an electorate and citizenry that lacks the intelligence to apply itself productively to getting the most out of this modern form of governance.
The obvious reality that Philippine society is intellectually-bankrupt begs an obvious solution: there is a need to put controls on its entertainment industry where much intellectual capital is squandered. Why continue feeding an already dumb people with dumbing-down entertainment? It just does not make sense. Filipinos are poisoning their own well — the well from which their democracy drinks!
Today’s political commentators lament the appalling mediocrity of today’s presidential bets. Rightly so. But they fail to see the root of Filipinos’ dysfunctional taste in politicians. The three bozos currently running for president are mere products of Filipinos’ disturbing lack of any ability to think through their political choices, much more apply a serious mind to the task. How can they? The only affordable form of entertainment in the country — television — is an outlet of the most repulsive mind poisons. The opiates that TV screens flash at Filipino eyeballs all day reduce their audience to a vacuous lot of chattering, hyena-laughing dimwits. The “trending” topics in the Filipino Twitter verse are a sad monument to the things Filipinos find important despite the growing pile of “homework” — building a nation — that they are neglecting.
Perhaps it is time to re-evaluate whether Filipinos have earned their right to watch garbage on TV. Is it time to switch off the TV, unplug the XBox, and sit the kids in front of their desks so that they could get started on their homework? The alternative to that option is not a pretty one. What we decide to continue (or not continue) doing will spell the difference between a future of doing great things or a lifetime of flipping burgers at a McDonald’s joint.
[Photo of Pabebe Wavers courtesy GMA News Online.]
Sunday, September 27, 2015
The problem with public housing is that the people who live in the house did not earn the money to buy it.
They just reside there at the expense of the taxpayers.
Because of this, the residents do not have "pride of ownership”.
They do not respect the property and do not care for it as they would if it were their own.
They neither appreciate the value of the property nor understand the need to maintain or respect it in any way.
Note the common theme of the following photographs
The desk in the White House that Obama sees fit to put his feet on /
Was built from timbers of the HMS Resolute and was a gift from Queen Victoria to President Rutherford B. Hayes.
It is considered a national treasure and icon of the presidency.
The White House belongs to the people of America.
Its treasures should NOT be used by ANYONE for a foot rest!
These photos are proof that this man has no class whatsoever and show an innate disrespect for our White House.
SO, HERE'S A MESSAGE FROM THE PEOPLE OF AMERICA:
Mr. Obama, you're not in a hut in Kenya or Indonesia or in Chicago's public housing. You're in the White House. Property of the citizens of the United States.
With all due dis-respect, get your @#%*+#% feet off our furniture
In God We Trust.
Saturday, September 26, 2015
It was the 25th of September, 2015. It was Eid’l Adha, a holiday, perfect time to watch Heneral Luna. My sister and I went to TriNoma around 20:30 to watch the last show at 22:55 thinking that since it was the last show, there would not be so many people, especially since it was a Filipino movie. Three more customers and it would have been our turn to buy the tickets when the guard shouted “Sold out na po Heneral Luna! Sold out na po Heneral Luna!” Wow, I was so unexpectedly wrong! I even brought my school ID to get the 50% discount, which I will talk about later as well. I told my sister that we should check out SM North Cinema, which is right across TriNoma. She was hesitant, but since the price of the movie was much lower at SM (P230 vs. P196), I knew that SM would attract the lesser minds, which, presumably, meant less would watch this sort of movie!
Fortunately and unfortunately, I was right. We got to SM North just in time to buy tickets for their 22:30 show. A lot of people were in line to watch a movie, but not Heneral Luna. It was a bittersweet moment for me: sweet because that meant more and better seats to choose from because the cinema we chose offered “free for all seating”, and bitter because it turned out to be a great film that the people missed for some cheap, quick fun, chick flick shit! I am not surprised that I am stuck with the lesser minds. After all, the movie here is cheaper compared to TriNoma where I would have been if not for the selling out of tickets, where the better part of society was, or at least the ones who possessed a little more breeding. More on this in a while! I don’t mind the occasional profanity if it would help prove a point, nor will I waste time with making my statements “politically correct”. So, if you are one of those sensitive liberals who do not like people judging others, then stop reading because it is about to get ugly!
I became a part of history as I was seated in Cinema 4, X15 to be exact. The start of the film was great. A heated argument wasted no time in showing Heneral Luna’s character. There were moments that were supposed to be serious, but somehow the audience found them funny. Apparently, that can only happen when the audience does not take the film seriously, mistaking it for another one of those cheap local films relying on cheap slapstick humor to try and please the audience for a good thirty seconds. It was forgivable for a few moments, but the repeated laughter at scenes that were not meant to be funny showed me how doomed I am to be stuck in a cinema with these fools! If you were part of that audience that laughed, I am not saying that you should not laugh if you really feel like laughing. That would be the equivalent of not being true to yourself. However, if you were one of those people who did not find those scenes funny, then perhaps there is hope for your wisdom. Of course, an exception would be the scenes where it was obviously meant for comical relief. By all means, laugh your heart out as I did! Just to be clear, I am not belittling all people who shop at SM; that would be utterly ridiculously and serve no purpose. To be clear, I am referring to those annoying people at the cinema at the time I was watching the film. My favorite part was when Heneral Luna said something like “Kapag pamilya, kayang ipaglaban hanggang sa kamatayan, ngunit kapag prinsipyo, hindi! Sakit yan ng mga Pilipino!” I love how from boisterous laughing the crowd suddenly shut up, as if they were hit with a rock. Guilty, anyone?
The next sequence, which was a battle between the white American forces and Heneral Luna’s army, showcased his skill and bravery in war tactics as well as leadership. It also showed scenes where some of his soldiers abandoned their post out of fear. The crowd in the cinema laughs! Do they think they are any better? A similar situation occurred in World War 2 in Russia. Stalingrad ordered “not one step back!” which meant that any soldier who abandons the battlefield will be shot by a commissar. Of course, that was possible because there were more soldiers than guns, but then again if you are nothing but a common Filipino wasting his days watching Aldub, cheap local series, or noon time shows trying to exploit people to generate revenue, then I would not be surprised if you are not familiar with this part of history, and that is coming from someone like me who admits to not being smart. Going back, this boosted the Russian soldiers’ morale. Fear is contagious, you see. If one soldier abandons his post, there is a high tendency that others would follow. Too bad Heneral Luna cannot just shoot those who abandoned their post simply because he could not afford to He was legally protected with Artikulo Uno, in which if he commanded a soldier to stay and the soldier did not, then Heneral Luna could have killed that soldier. Instead, he was forced to rely on his wit and what little knowledge and interest in Politics he had.
What annoyed me most were the two girls seated behind me to the right, occupying Y14 and Y13. Not only was their laughter inappropriate, it was also loud and annoying. Obviously, these two were as lightheaded as the rest of the Filipino youth engaged in multiple forms of ignorance and kalandian. Instead of being shocked at the plot, they are startled by shallow details such as a soldier getting shot and they will say “ay nabaril!” Wow, you think? Somewhat in the middle of the movie, they lost track of the story completely. “Sino ulit yung naka-blue?” “Si Mabini nakaupo lang buong magdamag, hahaha.” Such ridiculous observations make me wonder how they deal with life outside the cinema. Good God, please do not let them breed!
The businessmen in the movie, who Heneral Luna despised because of their lack of courage and patriotism, possess the common attitude of a rags-to-riches type of Filipinos who forgot to take their nationalism and morality with them. Their exchange of words were perfect. Of course, like most Filipinos who are family-oriented, they justified their betrayal for the mercy of the West by saying “paano natin mapapakain ang pamilya natin?” Heneral Luna mentioned earlier that our being family-oriented, which until now is prevalent, is a sickness. This can be seen in the news when criminals are arrested. They justify their actions as “para may pangkain lang po sa pito kong anak”. When you see local TV series run around the plot of the protagonist working to help the family, it just goes to show that Filipinos are not passionate in their work most of the time. They simply do it for the money to feed their family. How cheap!
There was never a dull moment for me. Everything was as realistic and dynamic as it could have been. If I were to give it a rating from one to ten, I would give it a nine. The “one” I left out is for a little bit of room for improvement. While I do not mind the occasional comical relief, movies look more high-budget when its plot is completely dark, somewhat like the American TV series 24 and Homeland, which contain virtually no comical relief. While I did benefit from the 50% discount and am very grateful as an individual, I discourage that type of cheap ploy for the next movie of the trilogy. It is obviously a desperate move, especially when you have your audiences begging others to watch the movie so that it would earn and stay in the cinemas so that people like Jerrold Tarog would not be discouraged from making great films like Heneral Luna. It is a move done with good intentions, but nonetheless cheap!
Like a good diet and workout program, doing it in one day will not make you fit the next, same as ruining it in one day will not make you fat the next. The same goes for the movie. One good movie will not lift the current image of Filipino films. It will take a lot more great films than that as well as time. Likewise, a film industry with a good reputation will take more than one rotten movie to ruin the image of the whole industry. Consistency is key here! Of all the cheap films that Filipinos produce that gross highly, it is only expected that every once in a while, there would be enough money to fund a movie produced by someone as passionate as Jerrold Tarog and John Arcilla, not by cheap producers who live with the motto “okay na yan” and “basta ang importante kumita”. We also cannot blame the audience. Much to the disappointment of seemingly patriotic historians who, God bless their souls, seem to worship films like this, no, it is not our “patriotic duty” to watch films like this. We will watch it only when we want to, and it is not our responsibility to force ourselves to want to watch this, but the responsibility of film producers. So, instead of limiting the audience to what movies they “should” be watching, focus on controlling the quality of movies that producers make. Make sure that whoever holds the camera, the script, and the funding, be someone like Jerrold Tarog, and not some wannabe producer with an “okay na yan” mentality, because seriously, that is all it takes to ruin the whole film.
An interesting note for me is that prior to the film, I was working on a book called “Crossfire”, which depicts the situation of the Philippines in the midst of a cold war between China and US in a fictional setting in 2018, and one of the main characters there, President Emilio Baltazar, possess a similar aggressive nature as Heneral Luna. For those who have seen parts of my book, you may have noticed that as well.
The closest comparison of the film is with 2012’s El Presidente, a biopic film of Pres. Emilio Aguinaldo. But that does not even come close! Everything wrong with El Presidente is gone by the time Heneral Luna appeared. I have always hated how some scenes in El Presidente that were patriotic were visualized in an exaggerating way. Whenever something patriotic were to take place in a scene, the music would become nationalistic in a “corny” way, the actors would exaggerate their lines, and the infamous cheap camera slow down trick would be used. I also hated how at the start of the film, there was an unrealistic scene of an old woman giving some sort of “anting-anting” and prophecy. It was cheap how they obviously used a young woman to portray an old woman! Filipinos are poor when it comes to make up, or simply looking for someone genuinely old to portray the role. Once again, “okay na yan” mentality is at play here! I also hate how they use Filipinos to portray Spaniards, as if we would not notice the brown skin. Well anyways, “okay na yan”, right? All of that is gone with Heneral Luna! Each scene was simply picture perfect!
If everyone reading this know me like my friends do, then the readers would know how annoyingly picky and judgmental I am with movies and TV series. That is because I got used to great films like the Bourne trilogy, James Bond movies, Inception, etc., TV series like 24, Homeland, Suits, and House of Cards that I no longer respond to anything below that quality. So, would I recommend Heneral Luna? Hell yes! It is not because I am some “feel na feel” nerdy historian who, because of the lack of physical strength and mental fortitude, cannot show patriotism by joining the military and instead shows it by teaching with such passion and voice, but because I really see it as a good movie, and a waste if people would not see it. Never mind the historical references! Never mind the lead actor or the 50% discount! Never mind the feeling of “patriotic duty”! Watch it for the reason you watch any other movie: simply because it is that good!