Independence Day reminds us that our country’s freedom was a hard-earned feat and worth celebrating every year. But it’s also a time for us to reflect deeply and critically how far we’ve come from being a colonized state, to being on our own. So in the spirit of the holiday, we list down some of the greatest local movies that will either awaken your patriotism and give homage to our past heroes, or make you ponder about what “independence” really means.
Directed by Lino Brocka and written by Mario O’Hara, this musical starring Armida Siguion-Reyna as Gabriela Silang is set in the 18th century, during the Spaniards’ rule. Gabriela and her husband, Diego, were among the landowners who refused to follow the indulto de comercio (a law giving right to Spanish officials to buy rice and tobacco at the price they prefer). After Diego’s assassination, Gabriela took it upon herself to lead the revolution herself.
From Gabriela, we move on to another celebrated local shero: Gregoria De Jesus, wife of Andres Bonifacio, whose inspiring life story became the subject of this biopic. With Lovi Poe leading the project, esteemed directors Jeffrey Jeturian and Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil were able to effectively adapt to the big screen the Palanca-winning script of Rody Vera.
An ode to early silent films, this 70-minute movie by Raya Martin, described as a “cinematic poem” is ripe with metaphor. Heavily rooted on the cultural and mythical history of the Philippines, it seems keen on challenging our concept of “independence.”
Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon (1976)
This comedy explores what it really means to be a Filipino, told through the eyes of Kulas, a naive young man played by a young Christopher de Leon (Sinepatrol Blog rightfully compares him to Forrest Gump). Through his adventures and misadventures, we see Kulas eventually realize that more than being born in this country, one must have a sense of love and duty for the Philippines to be called a Filipino.
Perfumed Nightmare (1997)
In his debut feature film Perfumed Nightmare, celebrated local artist Kidlat Tahimik directed, wrote, and starred in this critically acclaimed picture which centers on the story of a young Filipino from a rural village who dreams of going to the US to become an astronaut. According to an analysis by the University of Oregon, the semi-autobiographical film “shows the impact of post colonization in a third world on one man’s quest for his identity.”
Heneral Luna (2015)
A contemporary masterpiece, Jerrold Tarog’s Heneral Luna is here because I think it’s one of the greatest historical epics of our time (don’t @ me). I’m pretty sure there’s not one soul who has seen it and didn’t feel at least a slight sense of patriotism. It depicts the story leading to the death of General Antonio Luna amid the Philippine-American war. It also highlights the sad, truth we see even today: Sometimes, our enemies are our fellow Filipinos.
Photo courtesy of @neildaza’s Instagram account
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