By Rianne Hill Soriano

A saga of crime and families

Posted on October 05, 2012

Movie Review Give Up Tomorrow Directed by Michael Collins

GIVE UP TOMORROW is a documentary that has all the elements of a fictional drama. It presents cinematic doses of corruption, injustice, and media manipulation to keep its “victim and victimizer story” moving forward.

Unfortunately, it is not fiction but a true story still waiting for real closure.

As many questions on the Philippines’ corruptible justice system abound, so do the questions on the uncertainty of Paco Larrañaga’s fate in his now 15-year-long saga seeking justice. Even the fate of the two Chiong sisters who were said to be kidnapped, raped, and murdered by Larrañaga, along with six other men who were convicted like him, is still a conundrum.

The film highlights the Larrañaga family’s life amidst the media frenzy that took the case into sensational heights -- as if it were a top-rated teleserye with Larrañaga clearly painted as the premier antagonist.

In the eyes of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, this Spanish mestizo from a rich old political clan with ties to the opposition to the then ruling administration, was guilty of the crime against Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong, two girls from a traditionally oppressed Chinese-Malay clan.

In the eyes of Fair Trials International, Amnesty International, and the United Nations Human Rights Commission, Larrañaga is a man wrongly convicted of a heinous crime, based on evidence that he was in school in Manila when the sisters were abducted in Cebu.

This documentary is compelling. Looking at it objectively, I cannot decide which side to believe by simply watching this feature-length offering.

However, it makes a pretty clear case on how the prosecution and media suppressed Larrañaga’s side in the case. The handling of the hearings were downright outrageous, unjust, and unbelievable -- to the point that one would think it could only have taken place in a fictional movie. The documentary shows how tabloid-style media coverage sways the public, particularly people who are too lazy to question and analyze what media really spews. It examines the corruption dominating the trials of those who are weak or even those who are just simply a little less powerful in society. It explores the incompetence that muddles people’s fight for justice.

Regardless of any possible manipulation by the filmmaker, this documentary presented in the perspective of the so-called villain doesn’t change the facts: defense witnesses were prevented from taking the stand in a very ridiculous fashion; the outrageous way in which the key prosecution witness avoided cross-examination; the defense team resigned en masse and were jailed for their; the Larrañaga farm was thoroughly searched without warrant; a judge who frequently slept in court was eventually found dead after a verdict of life instead of the prosecution’s demand for the death penalty.

The film also focuses on the story of a family who never stop believing that the truth will eventually prevail.

Things in the film eventually boil down into very simple ideas. Power consumes and corrupts. The media circus is escapist entertainment.

Diplomatic and legal actions typically involve politics. Political rule is power.

The cycle goes on.
MTRCB Rating -- PG-13