AS THE BAMBOOS SWAY | Heneral Luna and Today’s Buencaminos and Paternos


I didn’t know what I was missing until I finished watching Heneral Luna in Netflix just last week when, already, three years had already gone by since its initial release in the movies in 2015.
To me, it was not only a realistic, though dramatic, fresh historical flashback but a depiction of the Philippine current situation today. If the Heneral (played by John Arcilla) was alive today, I could almost hear him say: We have a bigger enemy than the Chinese, American, and other imperialists – Ourselves.

Unfortunate for the Philippine Revolution of 1898 to be postponed with the murder of Andres Bonifacio, the founder of the Katipunan, and the Heneral by the spineless supposedly president of the Republic of the Philippines, Emilio Aguinaldo (Mon Cafiado). Spineless, not primarily due to narrow provincialism but kowtowing to the likes of opportunists Felipe Buencamino (Noni Buencamino) and Pedro Paterno (Leo Martinez) whose trading interests with the American colonialists were more paramount to the liberation of the nation. Both served in the first Philippine Commission established by the colonialists as being trained to govern the Philippines after the Filipino pacification.

Fast forward. Today, led by President Rodrigo ‘Digong’ Duterte himself, we have his henchmen parading that the partnership with the Chinese imperialists in exploiting the Philippine resources in the Philippine West Seas and beyond is good for the greater majority of the Filipinos. This is apart from the continuing plunder of other foreign interests on our resources like those being mined and agribusiness related which wring havoc on our ecosystems – causing floods, erosion, and deaths apart from the depletion of resources which should be rightfully for Filipinos. If the Heneral was alive today, he would slap them for being traitors for placing their personal political, social, and economic interests above the independence of the Filipinos.

These modern Aguinaldos, Buencaminos, and Paternos also have no qualms in manipulating the laws of the government and media, both mainstream and social, to silence those who harbor ideas akin to the Heneral’s. They have murdered lawyers, workers, peasants, students and others who questioned the validity of their actions. They have imprisoned legal personalities like Vicente Ladlad and Rafael Baylosis when they should not be because they are consultants of the Peace Process and are supposed to be protected as per National Democratic Front and Government of the Philippines earlier agreements.

They harass Senator Antonio Trillanes, ousted Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, and imprisoned Senator Leila Delima for their blunt criticisms on the government processes. Of late, by deploying battalions of soldiers to Samar, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, and the Bicol region to “suppress lawless violence and acts of terror” in these areas, President Duterte had further installed a de facto martial law. After all, Digong himself said that he does not have to declare martial law. He could order anyone shot at anytime if he wants.

All these no qualm manipulations are so depicted in the treacherous ambush shooting and bolo hacking to death of the Heneral applied on those who follow his revolutionary ideas of today.

Fortunately, the revolutionary ideas and spirit of the Heneral remain alive today.
When the Heneral noted that the war with the American colonialist troops could not be won with frontal positional battles, he decided to shift to guerilla warfare beginning at a Cordillera mountains base. Unfortunately, he was hacked to death before he could implement his plan. Aguinaldo may have intended to implement it by running away from the chasing American troops to remote Palanan in Isabela.

However, short of military skills, lacking in the political will to win the revolution, Aguinaldo was captured and eventually commanded all the remaining revolutionary forces to give up the fight – meaning surrendering to the colonialists. Although there were generals like Macario Sakay who persisted, without proper revolutionary guidance, they were eventually captured and executed. Philippine pacification and Filipinization, thus, ensued.

Nonetheless, decades later, formally in December 26, 1968, the reformed Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) decided to pick up the fight started by Andres Bonifacio and carried by the Heneral. With its New Peoples Army (NPA), the Party does not only have bases in the Cordilleras but all over the Islands. Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the Heneral would have been proud of the accomplishments of the CPP – from a miniscule force with miniscule arms when they started to an unquashable force of today.

For those fighting, one can almost hear Isabel (Mylene Dizon), the Heneral’s amore, saying, “Digmaan ang iyong asawa, ako lamang and iyong querida.” This complements the Heneral’s line saying that to truly serve your love ones, you must involve yourself in the revolution. And for those who still believe in the sweet talks of those who push for the status quo, the Heneral says: “Para kayong mga birhen na naniniwala sa pag-ibig ng puta.”

An Artikulo Uno production, Heneral was produced by E.A. Rocha, executive produced by Fernando Ortigas and directed by Jerrold Tarog from a screenplay by Henry Francia, E.A. Rocha and Tayag.#


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