It’s too easy to make fun of El Presidente: General Emilio Aguinaldo Story and the First Philippine Republic. This historical movie may not be as bad as Carlo J. Caparas’s Tirad Pass: The Last Stand of General Gregorio del Pilar, but from hereon we shall be leery of any movie title containing a colon.
Jeorge “E.R.” Estregan acquits himself in the role of Aguinaldo, though it helps that he is a sea of calm in a storm of overacting. Baron Geisler’s cartoonish Spanish officer (kilay acting) looks set to seize the bad acting award despite fierce competition from John Regala’s Spanish friar (bangs acting), and from William Martinez’s revolutionary general who seems to be possessed by Enchong Dee’s beard from The Strangers (balbas acting). And then Christopher de Leon’s Antonio Luna rides in to show them how it’s done (bigote acting).
In the spirit of authenticity much of the dialogue is in phonetic Spanish, delivered haltingly and with an eyebrow raised, contravida style. The photography is in a washed-out blue that gives the actors a corpse-like pallor, and slow motion is overused in the big battle scenes. So far, so MMFF—and then we heard the comments from several people in the audience.
“Salbahe pala si Andres Bonifacio.”
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From reader giancarlo:
The question of bonifacio’s treachery is still a controversial and history being something of a blackhole where light does not escape I believe that to portray Bonifacio as a traitor although a little harsh is defensible.
This opinion is based on Nick Joaquin’s a question of heroes.
The facts as presented in that book.
+Bonifacio was a failed military leader whose forces number not even a hundred during his time hiding in Rizal
+Bonifacio’s open insult of Magdalo troops (Increasing the animosity between Magdalo and Magdiwang forces)
+I’d list more if I had the book handy with me but I am at work and should really get back to working.
I have great respect for you and more so to our revolutionary heroes but I’d rather see them as they are and not as historical figures who can do no evil.
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Do not confuse heroes with saints.
The records show that Bonifacio had a foul temper and was a lousy military leader. He did insult the Magdalo troops; in the first place he shouldn’t have horned in on Aguinaldo’s territory (ambisyoso, impertinente, walang modo).
That doesn’t make him a traitor. That makes him a crap politician.
To establish treason you’d have to prove he was plotting to overthrow the revolutionary government or sell out to the Spanish. What is certain is that after the election, both sides spread rumors that the other was out to get them.
What is certain is that elections have always made Pinoys nuts.
Go to primary sources. But not Artemio Ricarte. We’re very fond of him but, umm, he referred to himself in the third person (El Vibora!).
The Nick Joaquin essay referred to is Why Fell the Supremo? Nick Joaquin calls Bonifacio ambitious and arrogant, but “traitor” does not come up. As for his plotting: “In Naic, he was surprised by Aguinaldo himself in the act of plotting with Mariano Noriel and Pio del Pilar, two generals of Aguinaldo’s army.”
Those two generals were taken back into Aguinaldo’s army as if nothing had happened. It was Noriel who signed Bonifacio’s death warrant.
P.S. Bonifacio “The Great Plebeian” was not technically a plebeian. He was upwardly mobile. He spoke some Spanish. Many of the writings attributed to him are probably fake. He had many cedulas under different names, so we’re not sure which one he tore, or exactly when and where.
Also, Apolinario Mabini was paralyzed not from syphilis but from polio. The VD story was black propaganda from the Aguinaldo camp. We could never understand the honorific, “Sublime Paralytic”. Sublime, maybe, paralyzed, certainly, but put the two together and it sounds like he was brilliant at being paralyzed.