Heneral Luna

Heneral-Luna-PosterDiane and I had to take an undertime from work to catch the 6pm showing of “Heneral Luna” in SM Fairview. It was Friday anyway, and to me, it was very important, and my original plan was movie first before eating because I wanted to concentrate on the movie 100% (no eating while watching movie). But Diane still tried to convince me to at least grab some hotdog sandwich or a pop corn, and then I felt my hungry stomach, so I bought 2 bibingkinitan, a pop corn and a bottled water. Thank God I put some food in my stomach because it made my gut strong to endure what I was about to see in the movie.

“Heneral Luna” is a movie about one of our heroes of Philippine revolution, General Antonio Luna. To tell you honestly, I only have two information that I know about General Antonio Luna. One, I know that he’s one of our forefathers (in line with Emilio Aguinaldo, Andres Bonifacio, etc.) who fought for Philippine independence when we were being colonized by foreign conquerors. Two, he’s the older brother of Juan Luna. Now, after watching “Heneral Luna,” I learned that Juan Luna is older than Antonio. I was wrong in thinking since I was a child that Antonio was older because of his moustache! (Blame that on me for not studying history, or perhaps, not being so interested in history.) See? If I didn’t see this film, I’d die still believing Antonio is older than Juan Luna. This may be a trivial mistake but it is still very important to be correctly informed.

Through this movie, I learned what kind of a “hero” General Antonio Luna was, at least a glimpse of a kind of hero or a great soldier he was. Whenever we say “hero,” it’s like synonymous with the word “saint.” Yes, General Antonio Luna was a brave leader and a soldier, waging war against American colonizers for the love of his country, even willing to die in exchange of freedom for his country. He strongly disliked politicians or cabinet members who’d rather suck up with whoever was ruling, whether it was Spanish or Americans, for selfish reasons, for the sake of “good business,” and he would never hesitate to express his disgust and disappointment and his plan of action to such hypocrisy, chaos, and sucking up of Filipinos who were supposed to be leaders, who were supposed to be defending the country from invaders.  He was ahead of his time that other generals, other politicians thought of him in a negative way—that he’s after President Aguinaldo’s position.

But General Antonio Luna is not a saint. He was hot-tempered. He would humiliate disobeying subordinates without consideration of their dignity. He was sometimes unreasonably strict and described by many as arrogant. He would force Filipinos to join the war and fight against the Americans or else they’d be killed or humiliated for disobeying his order. He was a dictator.

You know, back in school, we were taught how brave and great our forefathers were during the Spanish colonization, during the American colonization who stood their ground and proved it through an all-out war. I was made to believe that the unknown soldiers who fought, who were there experiencing those things are unsung heroes. Through this movie, I was made to realize that some Filipinos were forced to join the war, whether they like it or not, regardless of gender (I learned that it’s not just men but also women were ordered to join the war). And finding themselves in the battlefield, not well-trained for a combat, some Filipino soldiers had to flee, run for their lives, or easily got killed.

Our country was under the Spanish tyrannical rule for 333 years. Some Filipinos like our national hero Jose Rizal spoke Spanish. And when the Philippines was sold by Spain to the United States for $20 Million, did you ever imagine how our Filipinos adjusted with the change of language? Can you imagine General Antonio Luna shifting suddenly from Spanish or French (Luna studied in France) to English, a language he had not mastered yet, so he could talk with an American? So moviegoers laughed at this scene where he got impatient talking to an American who laughed at him for his carabao English that he (Luna) quickly ordered his arrest.

General Antonio Luna was brilliant in fencing, in playing the guitar, in writing (he wrote for La Solidaridad) and I was told that he got higher academic achievements than our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. He was also a doctor by profession and studied military tactics. He was also a poet.

I have read that General Antonio Luna is more remembered for the way he was killed. I didn’t know this until I watched “Heneral Luna.” In the movie, I saw how he was shot countless times and stabbed countless times like an animal being slaughtered by heartless Filipino soldiers (who happened to be Emilio Aguinaldo’s Presidential guards) whom he had reprimanded, accused of insubordination, and humiliated before. I have read that his intestines came out of his abdomen but this was no longer shown by the movie. But the murder scene was enough to make my stomach turn and the anger of those Filipino soldiers who was putting General Antonio Luna to his death was really shocking. And it was remarkable how General Antonio Luna was still standing despite the numerous gunshots and stab wounds and still have the energy to shout “Cowards! Assassins!” to his killers.

According to FilipiKnow, he was frightening even in death: “Ganging up on him, they inflicted more than 40 bullets and stab wounds on the hapless general… Through it all, Luna fought back and tried to aim his revolver at his assailants. In defiance, he continued gritting his teeth and clenching his fist in anger even when he slumped to the ground. Before he finally died, he instinctively turned to his right side. The reflex scared his attackers—who thought that Luna might get up—that those in the front quickly stepped back, causing those behind them to fall down. If anything, the incident shows not just how cowardly his assassins were, but also how fearsome Luna was to the very end.” (This was accurately shown in the movie, too.)

I told you I wasn’t interested in history as a student. After watching “Heneral Luna,” that changed.

I read more about Gen. Luna.

According to FilipiKNow that after hearing his untimely death, Americans paid tribute to the fallen general: “General Frederick Funston, the man who planned the capture of President Emilio Aguinaldo, remarked that he was “the ablest and most aggressive leader of the Filipino Republic.”Another, General James Franklin Bell, said that he “was the only general the Filipino army had.” Perhaps the most fitting statement of all would come from General Hughes: “The Filipinos only had one general, and they have killed him.”

Antonio Luna poses with a microscope at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, France (1890). Photo credit: Arnaldo Dumindin via philippineamericanwar.webs.com

Antonio Luna poses with a microscope at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, France (1890). Photo credit: Arnaldo Dumindin via philippineamericanwar.webs.com

Trivia:

  1. Heneral Luna is an independent film.
  2. For three months—June to August, just before it premiered—Tarog went on a 36-school tour nationwide, giving talks about his film and showing a 12-minute preview to an audience of 1,000 to 3,000 students each time. “They’re very crucial,” Tarog says of the students, who comprised the majority of the audience on the film’s initial run. They were the same students, he adds, who made noise on social media when theaters started pulling out the film on its second week. (Philippine Daily Inquirer)
  3. Described by the Philippine Daily Inquirer as one of the best Filipino films in years. (www.FilipiKnow.net)
  4. “Heneral Luna is a film I recommend highly. It does not have any of the current superstars of Philippine cinema, but it is an engaging narrative, supported by wonderful cinematography and grounded on sound historical research.” (Ambeth Ocampo, historian)
  5. According to Jerrold Tarog, there is a plan to turn Heneral Luna into a trilogy. The sequel will discuss Gregorio del Pilar, another rarely discussed revolutionary figure who appeared already in the story. The part 3 will tackle on Manuel L. Quezon.

“One reason I’d like to complete this historical trilogy is so we can paint a rounder portrait of (Emilio) Aguinaldo. No villains, just humans… Luna, Del Pilar and Quezon are flawed characters.  Andaming kagaguhang ginawa nila sa buhay but they are not evil, only human.” (Jerrold Tarog)

Mon Confiado as President Emillio Aguinaldo and John Arcilla as General Antonio Luna.

Mon Confiado as President Emillio Aguinaldo and John Arcilla as General Antonio Luna.

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