Heneral Luna: things that it made me think about

1) From the start, let me say that this is by no means a movie review. You will find many others out there, most of which are glowing and all heaping praises on it.

With that being said, on one hand, I would agree that the movie Heneral Luna is worth seeing at least once. It represents something out of the ordinary for Philippine Cinema, if you know what I mean.

On the other hand, I couldn’t really relate to all the praise it was getting. I don’t believe the film is bad; it’s just that, to quote a review I saw on the Internet, I felt the movie had a “kitchen sink” feel to it. It was trying to do and be too many things at one time. Perhaps, as an example, the timing of the comic relief didn’t work for me; I was left wondering saan kaya gusto nila patungoin (what direction do they want to take with it?), or “where did that come from?”.

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Nevertheless, I maintain that Heneral Luna is still worth the price of admission because it did relatively well either or both of the things that a good movie should: stir one’s emotions or make one think. It did the latter.


2) Compared to the likes of Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, et al., Antonio Luna is for most Filipinos a relatively obscure figure. Yet the role he played in the fight for independence cannot be ignored.

3) History, however, seems a tough subject to tackle in a film, in the sense that keeping it interesting is a big challenge. For most of us, we relegate it to a subject in school that we have to pass. We could even say that history is something a lot of us are either stuck in, or are only trying too hard to forget. We cannot deny, however, that history is only too vital, because those who don’t learn from it are doomed to repeat it.

4) Perhaps through calculated timing, or through the sheer natural flow of events, the themes depicted in the movie resonate with more moviegoers. More and more Filipinos are becoming disillusioned and dissatisfied with the way things are in this country. The politicking, the provincialism and pettiness of Filipinos were depicted as existing even as far back as those times, the start of the 20th century.

5) The question foremost on my mind is this: Why do we need a film to tell us what we should already know?

Let me borrow and paraphrase a line from the film: “Filipinos have a bigger enemy than the Americans, and it would be themselves.”. As an example, your average Filipino would find such a line utterly profound, or deep. But for a realist, it’s Tuesday.

6) At this point, I do wonder: despite all the praises being heaped on the movie in social media, why have the cinemas showing it been decreased? Is there something that the movie houses or big business knows that the viewing public does not? Is there something in it that they don’t want the viewing public to see? Or are they merely being controlling and presumptuous with what they think will sell?

7) Whatever the final box office figures for Heneral Luna will be, let’s just say that from the start it would have been a really tough sell to an audience that prefers its Enteng Kabisote or AlDub or On the Wings of Love to serious, relatively more thought-provoking stuff. Nevertheless, the support it has gotten does indicate that there is a market for such films out there. There are people who want better quality and more diverse media on both the media makers’ side and the viewers’ side. The challenge, as always, has been to convince the public that certain filmmakers’ vision and stuff is worth it, and to get more of them to support it.

8) If you’ve already watched the film, and you come out of it hating Emilio Aguinaldo more, or admiring Antonio Luna for what he is, I think that is only one part of a bigger picture. It may even be missing the bigger point. The point is, our history is replete with lessons about ourselves; lessons, that apparently, we have yet to apply, lessons that we deny or ignore. The deeper ills that were supposedly present in our society back then are the same ones that we are still facing now. The times have changed; the dysfunction has not.

We’ve got to focus on ideas and ideals; focusing on personalities and events accomplishes very little.

9) Change is something Filipinos need drastically. Both in real life and on the reel. I can only say, in conclusion, that it is a fitting thing to think about for the Heneral Luna movie.

34 Replies to “Heneral Luna: things that it made me think about”

  1. It was a good movie for what it is.

    And it is sad that most moviegoers go with sappy movies than these. Then again, only people who enjoy reading or knowing abouy history may actually enjoy it.

    As it’s, we’re mostly a country of non-readers and more of #aldubbers

    1. We’re only intellectual enough to be able to operate gadgets that take #pabebe selfies. Any loftier pursuit would cause #nosebleed.

  2. Majority of the viewers inside Cinema 6 of Gateway Cinema clapped on the end credits, I did not mixed bag of emotions perhaps either way the movie is worth the price of admission (well aside from the extra 1 peso city tax for which I say PUNYETA!). Still every Filipino should watch this not the the karnenorte MMFF Basura Film Festival.

  3. this movie is really thought-provoking. I’m not the deep-thinking type of person, but it made me back track on the things I learned in our history classes. I don’t remember Antonio Luna depicted this way, I never learned in school that Aguinaldo was a traitor and most importantly, I never learned in school the significance of Antonio Luna in our fight for independence. How many years did we spend in elem and high school? 10 years and yet in less than 2 hours I think I learned way much than my 10 years in school.

  4. Don’t forget to support films like this. Buy a movie ticket, your royalties will help provide incentives for movies such as this. Remember, piracy is stealing.

  5. What a realist already knows here, most don’t. I believe that those messages are repeated so that people will be more convinced to think about where the ills of the past and the present are leading them to.

  6. Here is my ramble on Filipino history..humor me , because I am all over the page with this …and it comes from living here this last year and having traveled and stayed at various times in the Philippines the last 11 years .

    Movies, motion pictures , flicks, whatever you want to call them, show history as the director, producer, writer or who ever want to show it or perceive it . D.W. Griffith made the South and the Ku Klux Klan look like the repressed good guys during the civil war in America in his silent movie “Birth of a Nation” ..

    History is always at least a field with two sides divided by a fence : sometimes more fences and sides. How you perceive it depends on what side of the fence you are standing on. Filipino history is filled with good and bad, heroes and antagonists.
    Emilio Aguinaldo, Andres Bonifacio, and Antonio Luna all had their fences and may have crossed them from time to time. Had they united they may have very well changed the Philippines for the better. They did not. Two ended up dead, one ended up alive but possibly with blood on his hands .

    There still is so much petty bickering and back biting ( or as we refer to it in the US, Back stabbing) in the Filipino culture, so much crab mentality. I see it even in the most remote villages and barangays: even back then politics and ego’s got in the way of bettering Filipino society. But Filipino’s don’t have the patent on this type of attitude. There is plenty of it in American culture. For some reason, a lot of people feel the need to drag someone down , even during there happiest moments in life. Basically, people are assholes… they can be selfish, juvenile, worse than small children fighting over a meaningless toy. I think that is why so many people like me choose to only associate with like people, and keep others at a distance. I am not rich by American standards but I am at the most happy point of my life in my 50 plus years . Try as many may, they can’t bring me down, because money, wealth , status , material objects don’t impress me or make me happy.
    Possibly Poverty makes some people act that way , makes them feel the need to prove their worth by flaunting money, wealth, cars, bling, whatever you want to call it , but to me , it brings them down to an even lower level than the person in the streets of Manila collecting recycle so he can feed his children. That person doesn’t care , his only worry is taking care of his family the only way he knows how.

    I recently brought myself to tears again near the Manila Zoo on a side street by Harrison Mall. We had just left the Metropolitan Art Museum and we were walking down the small street separated by a stinking sewer smelling waterway. There was a small lean-too along the water side and there was a 30-something woman with the most beautiful , curly haired girl between 2 to 3 years old . I walked over with my baby boy and spoke to her . Without going into details , she was one of thousands from the Provinces who come to the city for whatever reason and end up stuck there living a filthy horrible existence. I gave her some money and said make sure your daughter gets some good food today: I couldn’t look back as I walked away because I had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.
    It made me further realize how lucky I am , and how fucked up we are( and by we I mean the world collectively )… It made me wonder if the Philippines will ever change or evolve, because no child should have to live next to a sewer filled drainage when all around her there are Government buildings , new construction and people driving cars I can’t even afford as an American .

    I don’t think Quezon literally meant he would rather see the Philippines run like hell by the Filipino’s , but it sure seems like it is. I’m not preaching or pointing fingers. We seem to have more conflict and problems internally right now in America than anytime since the civil rights movement. Ultimately, America may implode …I hope not …. and I hope that the Philippines can improve .
    I’m kind of off on a tangent right now , but it all is related . 3.5 Million Filipino’s are now in America. Everyday there are hundreds lined up at the US Embassy with hopes of going to America. Yet last week a few are protesting American Military presence in the Philippines . China is Breathing down the back of the Philippines . Seems like a few are biting the hand that feed them so to speak. There are 36,000 American Dead in the American Cemetery that died defending the Philippines and taking it back from the Japanese…Yet , I wonder , would the Philippines be better off today if Japan had won ? Would Japan have evolved into the Nation it has today and brought the Philippines along for the ride ? Interesting question. National pride aside , I am quite sure the Philippines would be a better place today had it remained an American Colony …Doesn’t really matter …. things are as they are . I’ll keep coming back, I may even end up living here more and more …. I love my Filipino family and my wife to be and my baby boy ..and this is my second go around . My first was one of those lucky ones who came to America and turned out to be the one who has to prove prove their worth by flaunting money, wealth, cars, and bling.
    She came to America and became the ugly American, and I went to the Philippines and found my inner Filipino… the good Filipino who realizes the value of family, friendship and love.

  7. A very rare jewel of a film. I really like the objective portrayal of the characters here. Heneral Luna just demonstrates how history should be taught.

    As the director claims, there are no definite kontrabidas. Every men had their own motivations, whether personal or not. It doesn’t exactly paint anyone as good or bad, unlike most films that is tainted with concept of black and white morality. It let’s the people decide who did the wrong moves.

    I hope we will see more of this kind of movies. We really lacked those.

      1. Another cringe-worthy thing is that people from other country are asking what ALDUB is because it is trending worldwide made possible by Filipino fanatics. And what do they find? It’s just a local noon-time show segment that Pinoys go crazy about.

        There’s trouble with climate change (El Niño phenomenon happening now until years to come) and millions of Syrian refugees, LUMAD killings, South China sea conflict, PH f*cking election, etc and what these star struck ignoramuses want the world to notice is the stupid ALDUB phenomenon!

  8. mrericx,

    It has been said “Mababaw lang ang kaligayahan ng mga Pinoy.” (It doesn’t make much to satisfy Filipino); however, the people who came up with that saying forgot to add, “Mababaw rin ang pagiisip ng mga Pinoy.” (Filipinos are also shallow-thinkers and narrow-minded).


    1. true but we need more on education rather than entertainment, kaya nga kung bakit nahuhuli na tayo sa mga ilang kapitbahay natin sa Asya katulad sa Singapore, China, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, etc. And speaking of Singapore, they have a movie that is now showing in their country’s cinemas about the event of their country’s independence way back 50 years ago and the title of that film is 1965 and it made a huge box office success in Singapore. At kung sakaling ipapalabas dito ang pelikula na yan, baka kailangan ito sa atin maslalo na sa mga pulitiko natin kung paano natin baguhin ang bulok na systema sa pagiging pinakamatagumpay na bansa sa Asya katulad sa Singapore. Both Heneral Luna & 1965 are well informative films, imho.

  9. People can watch AlDub or whatever they want but make sure to support films like Heneral Luna as well. There was a feeling of pride while watching the film. The funny moments on the first half of the film made it a more enjoyable watching experience.

    P.S. the timing of the comic relief did work for me!

  10. If you want to go for though provoking films since MMFF is coming I suggest you watch movies from the likes of Kieslowski, Bresson, Kurosawa, Almodovar, Inarritu, etc….

    Wag lang yung mga tipo nina Deramas, Garcia-Molina, yung mga commercialist directors ba.

  11. i love the film!!! however, i would have wanted that the Battle at Guagua was made grander and given more elaboration to make it appear more realistic like there was really a war going on…for me, that scene really looked comical…again, that’s just my opinion

    sadly, most cinemas are more into profit that is why they show more of the “cheezy” movies starred by “cheezy” loveteams coz they know that it’s going to be an instant box-office….fandoms would have block screening etc. No hard-selling needed to be done to convince people to watch those films.

  12. Filipinos have been oppressed for more than 300 years by Spaniards.that alone, can we imagine what type of culture and knowledge and wisdom we have back then. I dont agree and believe that we Filipinos are pirates and merchants alone. Philippine culture is so diverse and colorful that only few survived..

    Before Christianity, We are Muslims, Pagans, paying respect to nature.

    That being said, shows how lost we are, therefore needs continious reminder for most of us dont know who we are, where we come from, which leads to not knowing where to go other than chasing the dream of success and happiness in its most illusory form

  13. It’s sad to know that most Filipinos didn’t know about the real History of the Philippines. Much worse to know that most of us didn’t even dare to care. I was one of those kids who never liked Philippine history but I guess deep down inside of me I knew that those we read in our so-called “history books” were just as shallow as the authors who wrote them. I want to blame a lot of people for hiding the truth but it doesn’t really matter now, does it? What’s done has been done. History is doomed to repeat itself and we see it in our modern life. To say that it is modern is a joke, though, truthfully speaking. We have always been a backward country. Whether it be caused by Spain or not, it never occurred to the people that even our fellow countrymen, to which I am very disgusted to say the words “fellow” and “countrymen” together here, can and will betray us given that they know they will benefit themselves. PuIt’s sad to know that most Filipinos didn’t know about the real History of the Philippines. But it is much even worse to know that most of us didn’t even dare to care. I was one of those kids who never liked studying about the Philippine history, but I guess deep down inside of me I knew that those we read in our so-called “history books” were just as shallow as the authors who wrote them. I want to blame a lot of people for hiding the truth but it doesn’t really matter now, does it?
    What’s done has been done.
    History is doomed to repeat itself and we see it in our modern life. To say that it is modern is a joke, though, truthfully speaking. We have always been a backward country. Whether it be caused by Spain or not, it never occurred to the people that even our fellow countrymen, to which I am very disgusted to say the words “fellow” and “countrymen” together here, can and will betray us at any given time provided that they know it will benefit them.
    Putting their own selves before their country, how dare them.
    But before you can judge them and before I end this rant I would want you to think what made them do it. I would want you to put yourselves in their shoes and think about it. If you were Aguinaldo, what would you do? If you were Heneral Luna would you do the same? If you think you have it all figured out then I ask yourself this final question, what have you ever done for our Motherland, the Philippines?
    tting their own selves before their country, how dare they. But before you can judge them and before I end this rant I would also want to ask you, what have you ever done to our Motherland?

  14. IsPangPinoy,

    We Filipinos have no sense of country because we still think and live our lives like our feudal, tribal ancestors, who will kill and destroy each other at the drop of a hat. Our feudal nature are further complicated by our heigtened sense of aristocracy, that we have adopted from our former colonial masters and benefactors. These feudal and aristocratic nature of our people is what compels us Filipinos to continue to FOCK our country and each other UP.


  15. I am a U.S. Citizen. My wife and I founded a relief organization in General Santos City. She is a Filipina. We, therefore, have a vested interest in the Philippines and a desire to see it remain to be a free country.

    The Movie and Other Current Events….

    The following is from an email, recently sent to a friend. It ties into the movie.

    “We will be going to watch a Filipino movie in *******, tonight. It’s called, ‘Heneral Luna’. Of course, it will have english subtitles. It’s a big hit in the Philippines.

    Something is a’foot. Behind the scenes, those in the know, know there may be no other option but war, as it relates to the Philippines and China. The Philippines better not count on protection from the United States. Obama, appears to be incapable of making intelligent decisions. Kerry…the spokesman; is most likely viewed by other countries as a buffoon.

    Without any real proof, I say, after so many U.S. senior officers have been released, while keeping the boot lickers…we may not have the leadership to enter into such a fray.

    1. A movie about an inspirational leader from the past, Heneral (General) Luna, who fought against the U.S. Millions of Filipino’s have seen this new movie.

    2. The Philippine Information Agency, (propaganda arm of the P.I. Gov.), and the Dept. of Foreign Affairs, is visiting colleges, talking to students about the current Chinese incursion into their maritime territory.

    “GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Nov 5 (PIA)– Some 400 students of Mindanao State University (MSU) Gensan were enlightened about the West Philippine Sea (WPS) issue through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) massive information advocacy campaign.”

    ……..”He then cited China’s “aggressive” actions as shown in its unlawful reclamation activities, incidents of encroachment within the Philippines economic zone, blockading and driving fishermen away with water cannons, among others just to assert and enforce its nine-dash line in WPS.”

    ……..”Urging students to help defend what legitimately belongs to the Philippines, Libunao reminded them also to be calm about the issue for this is not the “sum total of the country’s relationship with China.”

    3. ……Read at: The Council on Foreign Affairs; ,,,,,, “Beijing’s intention to exert greater control over the South China Sea appears undiminished. In 2012, China forcibly seized control of the previously unoccupied Scarborough Reef during a standoff with Philippine maritime vessels, despite agreeing to a mutual withdrawal brokered by Washington. China has seemingly been emboldened by this easy, cost-free conquest: it has since begun construction of artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago that will enable it to extend the range of the Chinese navy, air force, coast guard, and fishing fleets in just a few years. Once sufficient capabilities are in place for round-the-clock maritime and air presence over the South China Sea, Beijing is likely to declare an air defense identification zone (ADIZ), similar to the ADIZ it declared over the East China Sea in November 2013. The scale and pace of China’s dredging activity has alarmed rival claimants Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan.”

    Found at: http://www.cfr.org/asia-and-pacific/conflict-south-china-sea/p36377

    4. From 11 days ago, October 27, 2015. For US, Pacific showdown with China a long time coming

    The message, like all other times… Send your kids to war, while the big wig pigs put their passports to good use.”

    As it stands, you may not have to ‘send’ your kids to war. It will come to them. They will become the new cannon fodder. Those in the government and business sector who would suggest sharing the oil & gas reserves with China, … they will be the new traitors.

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