By MANNY LOSTE
But the political storm would not be limited to the streets and campuses of the capital region even during those first few months of the year 1970. Soon, the calls and slogans of the protest movement would be echoed and reverberated in other regions of the country and sweep along its wake thousands of young people – activists who would introduce new values, language and attitudes in the country’s political landscape and discourse.
Those young people represented by the main characters of the film have their counterparts in real life thus adding a strong sense of realism to the film’s narrative. The Sigwa survivors grew up to become adults 40 years or so, many of them carrying the telltale marks of those tumultours years of their young lives.
While the main narrative revolves around Dolly, the Fil-American who as a young activist left a child behind when she decided to return to the United States after her release from captivity early on, there is time for the viewer to understand the “twists and turns” through which the lives of the other activists went through.
Take the case of Oliver who in his youth and probably under tremendous pressure betrayed the whereabouts of his comrades leading to their eventual arrest and detention. In the later timeline of the film, he is now an eloquent spokesman of the administration- a far cry from his role as a young activist. He has also completely justified his complete turnabout with a cache of arguments usually parlayed by those who have given up on their youthful commitment.
Indeed, such cases exist in real life. One of the spokespersons of the previous administration was one named Gary Olivar who used to be one of the more prolific propagandists of the FQS.
At the other end of the spectrum would be the example shown by Cita, portrayed in her adult years by Zsa Zsa Padilla who remained firm and steadfast in her convictions, and joining the armed struggle later on. She will mock Oliver during the wake of a beloved professor and slapped him for his earlier betrayal. They will meet again in the closing scenes of the film where she confronts Oliver, but now armed with a rifle as leader of a guerilla band after having, in an earlier scene, cut down a bike-riding tandem out to get her.
In between these two ends of the spectrum would be other children of Sigwa, the likes of Azon and Rading, who have added on years but have lost much of the vigour and enthusiasm of their younger years as activists.
Azon suffered terribly after being gang-raped by her captors and spent the rest of her apolitical life looking after the kids placed under her care, including Dolly’s child, something which she denied earlier in a talk with Dolly.
Rading who still joins rallies lives in a squatters’ area near a garbage dump and has now become an alcoholic. We are made to wonder what experiences did he go through that left him an alcoholic wreck. His wife has left him and he has a son whom we come to know later is a member of a workers’ union.
Before the film ends, we find Dolly leaving again for the US of A, her mission of finding and seeing her daughter having been accomplished. At her deathbed Azon acknowledged the true maternity of Karina after having denied it earlier.
The lives and experiences of the activists of the FQS are much more rich and complex than what the film tried to portray. In trying to imitate life, the film cannot but fall short. Still it provides a rich and vivid glimpse of a historic past, a past which continues to live to this day.
In the words of the historian Renato Constantino, it is a continuing past, not only because many activists of the Sigwa continues to live to this day in varying, if sometimes conflicting roles like the characters of Oliver and Cita. More importantly, the causes and issues they dedicated their lives to in their youthful years continue to be valid to this day with succeeding generations of activists taking up the banners of the struggle first seen being waved in the first quarter storm of 1970. # nordis.net