Heneral Luna (2015)

(reflections about the movie)

Gen. Antonio Luna as portrayed in this movie was hilariously hot-tempered, pigheaded, aggressive, and brave. And as most people have already noticed, it is very remarkable how he was portrayed as a human, having faults despite being a hero because that makes him relatable and it also makes us sympathize with him more. It makes us realize that we do not have to be saintly to be a hero – we just have to be aware and principled enough to act out of love for our motherland. I also find it interesting when flawed characters become the protagonists because I think we’ve already had enough of having always the “good” people be the bida in everything. I remembered my favorite fictional character, Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind. She’s very selfish and hot-tempered, pretty much like General Luna – but even though she was so imperfect, we can still sympathize with her because she is a human after all. I like them both because they stayed true to themselves even though they had enemies, and did not feel the need to put on a fa├žade of being “virtuous” just to make people like them.

The most memorable scene for me was the train scene, wherein the train was needed by the Filipino soldiers during the Filipino-American war but the officials who were abusive of their power encouraged their relatives to take the train and stroll around the country. Their faces were so relaxed, and I personally think that they look mangmang, because of my own bias and irritation as I understood how Luna felt at that time. The Filipino soldiers, or at least General Luna himself, were in a state of desperation because the American forces were already possessing the country bit by bit. And yet those Filipinos still had time to stare into space while sitting in the train. The movie really made me realize that the problem was with the Filipinos and not with the colonizers. Because they were, in fact, just doing their job in getting their own colonies. We could have fought for our independence if we wanted to – but most Filipinos were blind and there were not enough truly patriotic leaders that could have led their countrymen to act against the colonizers. And even though I pity Aguinaldo for his long life and long list of haters especially in our generation, I can now understand why he was such an asshole. As it was portrayed in the movie, his quiet demeanor just added to his annoying qualities. The Philippines was actually well-equipped with remarkable heroes, and things could have been different if it were not for historical antagonists like him.

Of course, Aguinaldo wasn’t the only infuriating character there. Luna, because of his fiery personality, gained many enemies who were either offended by or envious of him. What really made my blood boil was the fact that the generals were arguing with each other and plotting stuff against each other in the midst of the war. The country at that time was at risk of being colonized by yet another global superpower. And yet they were wasting valuable time being in conflict with each other! That is when I realized that the problem really is within our own country. I think being utak talangka, or having crab mentality, is already culturally ingrained within us. Any reasonable person would say that national issues, especially when our own country is threatened by another country, are more important than personal issues. General Luna, near the time of his assassination, was at the peak of his glorious years. He was so good that his enemies had to see his downfall, even at the expense of betraying our own motherland. When this kind of reality was exposed to me by the movie, I cannot help but get outraged in spite of its funny parts. Our history really has something to say about the present-day Filipinos, and where we are right now globally. 


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