Lessons from history

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ON DEC. 2, 1899, Filipino soldiers, led by the 24-year-old General Gregorio “Goyo” del Pilar, gave their lives in a battle to block Americans forces from advancing through Tirad Pass, a mountain gap in Northern Luzon’s Cordillera Mountains.

The much-awaited sequel to the popular historical drama Heneral Luna, Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral continues the filmic chronicles of the revolution against the Americans, this time focusing on the leadership of Gen. Del Pilar, one of the youngest generals of the Philippine Revolution.

Directed by Jerrold Tarog, who also directed Heneral Luna, the film is produced by TBA Studios, Artikilo Uno Productions, and Globe Studios, and stars Paulo Avelino in the titular role.

The film employed a cast of over 2,000 and built an entire recreation of a late-1800s town in Tarlac. The team spent 60 days shooting in the provinces of Tarlac, Bataan, Rizal, Batangas, and Ilocos.

Mr. Tarog worked closely with writer Rody Vera (who also co-wrote Heneral Luna) on the script. “I wrote a very long sequence with all the details. I passed it to Rody [Vera] for him to work on a screenplay to which he added dialogue, then he passed it back to me. I then revised it to fit my style,” Mr. Tarog told BusinessWorld shortly after the film’s press launch in Quezon City’s Novotel hotel last week.

The events included in the film were those that reflected the director’s chosen theme. “[The choice] depends on which serves the theme of the film. It’s more of a mix and match of what is important in the film. It’s not a straight narration of Goyo’s birth to death. It’s more of the last seven months of his life.”

Lead actor Mr. Avelino said that the film will be both entertaining and relatable.

Importante [para] sa atin na malaman ang historya natin, at importante [para] sa atin na paulit-ulit ipaalala sa atin itong mga nangyari sa historya natin para makita natin ang mga pagkakamali natin, at maitama ang pagkakamali na paulit-uulit hanggang sa panahon ngayon ay nagagawa at nagiging pagkakamali pa rin natin (It is important for us to know our history, and it is important for us to continuously remind ourselves of the events in our history to realize our mistakes, and correct those mistakes that we repeatedly commit until today),” Mr. Avelino told the press, noting the film’s tagline: “Tandaan Mo Kung Sino Ka” (Remember Who You Are).

Mr. Tarog said that the sequel as a more introspective film than Heneral Luna. “I always say that Heneral Luna is all fire and anger, and then when it comes to Goyo, it’s introspection,” Mr. Tarog told the press, likening the film to the element of water.

Mas tahimik yung pelikula (The film is quieter) and, in a way, invitation siya sa audience para isipin kung ano yung mga nangyayari sa scene (it is an invitation for the audience to think about the situations in the scene).”

Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral also stars Gwen Zamora as Remedios Nable Jose, Empress Schuck as Felicidad Aguinaldo, Carlo Aquino as Col. Vicente Enriquez, and Rafa Siguion-Reyna as Col. Julian del Pilar.

Reprising their roles in Heneral Luna are Mon Confiado as President Emilio Aguinaldo, Epy Quizon as Apolinario Mabini, Arron Villaflor as Joven Hernando, among several others.

“Stories are one of the most powerful tools of influencing people. So, [you] have a big responsibility if you have something to say. You owe people a lot because [you] have the family of the historical figure, historians, teachers who may agree or disagree [with you],” Mr. Tarog told BusinessWorld in a mixture of English and Filipino.

“I have to consider many things before I tell those stories. As much as possible, I try to have clean intensions, hindi siya pang go-glorify [pero] hindi rin siya paninira (it is not meant to glorify and neither it is meant to tear them down) but it’s a straightforward examination of history.”

“I hope the engagement of the audience, not just with the film but with history, in general, grows deeper. Kasi ’yun naman ’yung isa sa mga importante, hindi lang ’yung pag-usapan yung pelikula, kung hindi pag-usapan din kung saan tayo nanggaling (Because that is one of the things that is important, not just that they will talk about the film, but to also discuss where we come from),” Mr. Tarog said.

Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral will open in cinemas nationwide on Sept. 5. For tickets, visit www.gmovies.ph/movies/goyo-ang-batang-heneral/details. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman