Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo

Bonifacio-PosterHailed as the Best Picture in this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival, Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo bravely showed the world the true-to-life story of our other national hero, Andres Bonifacio. It didn’t pull the stops on anything, regardless if the reputation of other supposed heroic figures are tainted by the revelation (once again) of the seeming truth.

Kudos to Enzo Williams, the director of this epic movie. His name might be new to my ears but his work proved that he is a pro. His camerawork plays with the characters and the setting to a great effect. I am not surprised that he was credited as a supporting editor in the film because it seemed like you’d see his fingerprint with every scene. Meanwhile, the cinematography done by Carlo Mendoza was also very commendable. Scenes of major or minor importance are very pleasing to the eyes. It was that great. Moreover, it was for very good reasons that this movie raked on the MMFF awards on various sound categories (sound engineer and musical score). The score complimented every scene and enhanced the film’s heavy moments to an effect that goes straight to the audience’s heart.

It is a wonder why Robin Padilla lost to Derek Ramsay on the Best Actor category. Surprisingly, Padilla toned down his acting here to portray Bonifacio. His signature Robin Padilla voice was still there (of course), but he used this to his advantage by embodying the hero with his manly voice along with his actions. On the other hand, Vina Morales reminded everyone that aside from being a singer, she still is an actress. But she’s not just an actress here in the movie; she’s a very good one. She impressed with her consistent showing of how Gregoria de Jesus, Bonifacio’s wife, could have been like partaking in the revolution while doing her duties and roles as wife. She stands out the most during the final scenes. She definitely broke many hearts here that’s why it’s also a wonder why she didn’t win in the Best Actress category. Meanwhile, the whole supporting cast proved to be good.

Early on, the audience would feel that Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo is a heavy movie. It reminded me of Supremo, a film shown two years ago that detailed how Bonifacio founded the revolution and died in the deadly soldiers of Emilio Aguinaldo. Supremo had such a heavy atmosphere, albeit showing a bloody but patriotic mood, which the audience right then might have really felt. But don’t be fooled about Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo being not consistently heavy. Like Supremo, it is also very serious, just with touches of light moments to alleviate the heaviness. The idea of showing the present (what the students of today are asking about Bonifacio) in between scenes of the past (the Philippine Revolution more than a century ago) is great. If not properly taken care of, the switching of these scenes from past to present and vice versa might have not worked and have ultimately failed. But because it was well taken care of, the transitions were smooth and really effective.

I like how the movie ended, especially the parting words of Bonifacio to the audience: “Inalay ko ang buhay ko para sa ating kalayaan. Ikaw, anong maiibibigay mo para sa bayan?” This movie is a timely reminder to everyone to never forget our history: what we were, what came and what we became to be. Such a statement boldly challenges the audience to not just experience the freedom that we have now but continue the fight for the real freedom: freedom from injustices, freedom from greed, and freedom from corruption brought about by power. The movie passes on to the audience the fire that Bonifacio, our iconic Filipino figure, is showing and living in the film. Any Filipino who would not be affected during and after watching the film might be very biased against Bonifacio, have grown apathetic to everything or are just brewing to be a traitor of the country. Haha, just kidding. That might be an exaggeration but I just wanted to emphasize that the film mirrors the past to what’s happening right now. We might be free from the colonizers, but are we free from our own bigotry? Do we really love our country or are we just in love with the idea of loving our country? Some of us might just love ourselves more than anything, and our country might just be our least priority. Ask yourself to know the answers.

This movie derails the reputation of what was generally touted as a hero by being the so-called first president of the first republic. And this is for a good reason. If you were to study the Philippine history, Emilio Aguinaldo really is the reason why Andres Bonifacio was killed. If he were not hungry for power, Andres Bonifacio would have been alive to witness our freedom from the Spaniards. But, as they say, let bygones be bygones. We all just have to move on and… do a little bit more. We have to set the records straight about our national figures and give praise to those whose praise is due, and not just to those who are hungry for it. Do you think it’s time to set a discussion re: the movie’s claim that Andres Bonifacio is the real first president and not Aguinaldo? Maybe.

Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo‘s movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 4.5 out of 5

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10,000 Hours

10,000 Hours movie posterI had high hopes for this film before watching it because it bested the other Metro Manila Film Festival entries in the Best Picture category and won almost all the major awards including Best Actor for Robin Padilla, Best Supporting Actor for Pen Medina and Best Director for Joyce Bernal during the MMFF Awards.

The film started out good. Robin Padilla as Senator Gabriel Alcaraz (a character that is loosely based on Sen. Panfilo Lacson) made the audience feel right away that he is showing something new in this movie. His subdued, restrained performance meant he’s really serious about his character. Moreover, the scenes during the first arc of the story (the escape of Sen. Alcaraz) are impressive. During those initial scenes, the movie’s editing kept the pace of the story good, its camerawork captured what needed to be captured and its musical score really heightened the suspense. It is a letdown then that the story became dragging in the middle part (when the story focused on the implications of Sen. Alcaraz and his whereabouts). I am not undermining the character’s experiences during this time but the once suspenseful action thriller became heavy drama in a glance. Some of the dramatic scenes are appropriate, but some are just so exhausting to watch. But what’s more exhausting is waiting for any real action during this middle part. It became really frustrating that no grand musical score or some side stories or beautiful cinematography could ever patch up for it. It made me want to call the film 100,000 Hours instead. Anyway, once the movie began its final story arc, it somehow went back to how it was in the beginning. But it couldn’t resolve the gravity of dullness it just had.

Anyway, I won’t take away too much of what the movie has brought fine. Joyce Bernal is a good director, and who would have thought she could make a good and decent suspense/action film? Meanwwhile, the movie’s cinematographer is able to capture its two settings well: the liveliness of Manila and the beauty and feel of Amsterdam, albeit limited in scope of the area. The musical score has already been mentioned but I’ll say again how great it was. Moreover, the movie’s got a good cast. Aside from Robin Padilla, veterans Pen Medina (as an old friend of Sen. Alcaraz) and Mylene Dizon (as Sen. Alcaraz’s wife) and novices Cholo Barretto (as the senator’s son) and Bela Padilla (as a newscaster) pulled off remarkable performances.

I just wished the movie is not as dragging as it is. The writing could have been improved as well. But overall, 10,000 Hours is good.

10,000 Hoursmovie rating by the pondering movie fan: 4 out of 5