Friday, September 18, 2015

The Angst of Watching Heneral Luna

As the credits began rolling on the movie Heneral Luna, moviegoers started clapping their hands. A well-made film, Heneral Luna rightfully deserved applause. But I didn’t feel like joining in. I felt more like crying. I felt like mourning. That was what the film did to me.

The film focused (at least for me) on a flawed but brave and brilliant leader who loved his country more than his own life and on his countrymen who only saw him as an enemy, a hindrance, a rival and maybe even a spoiled child that needed to be appeased temporarily. 

What made it hard for his countrymen to see him in a positive light? As a man who could win the war and save the country? Or maybe I ask the wrong questions. Maybe the question should be, what was more important to Heneral Luna’s colleagues and countrymen? Was it really about fighting for independence and freedom? Or were there “more important” concepts—or realities—than that for them? Is it preservation of the status quo, protection of personal wealth, fulfillment of ambition, or a lack of self-belief that one’s own countrymen can run the country?

From the reviews I’ve read, it is obvious that Heneral Luna’s creators did not need a lot of courage of come up with this movie---for there are no stones cast on them, no self-righteous indignation displayed by viewers or critics alike. In fact, the film has received overwhelming praise and support.

Its widespread support (obviously not from theater owners though), if I may hazard a guess, could be because we are honest enough to admit that the film is right about the ugly side of our nature as Filipinos. But that is the very reason I am sad. Why this easy acceptance? Why the lack of discomfort or unease? Are we resigned to the fact that this ugly nature will always get the better of us and in the macro-level, our history? Can it not spur us into self-introspection and later, personal uncomfortable realizations that may help us to think deeply, and then lead us to DO somethingfor the love of country?

The fact that this film is in danger of being pulled out to give way to foreign and mainstream films feels like we are witnessing Heneral Luna’s murder all over again—by his own countrymen.

No amount of Aldub distraction could get this movie out of my mind! Then again, I guess the angst I got from watching Heneral Luna shouldn’t be dealt with denial or distraction.

I hope that I will be able to do something daily, whether small or big, that will prove Heneral Luna was right to love the motherland.