To begin with, El Presidente, official entry to the 38th Metro Manila Film Festival – also awarded 2nd Best Picture, is a good film that touches the turbulent periods in Philippine history. Every scene is carefully directed, no dragging moments, fast-paced, minimal suspense, and a take to replicate what really had happened during those period years. El Presidente vividly recaptured Philippine Revolution on the big screen inspired by the memoirs of Emilio Aguinaldo and was well directed by Mark Meiley giving importance from the littlest details (make-up, soundtrack) to the most noticeable aspects (cinematography, special effects, acting) on the big screen. All the actors did well their jobs – from Baron Geisler’s role as the bad-ass Spanish general (that perfectly fits to his off-screen controversial character) and John Regala as the frantic friar; Cesar Montano and Christopher de Leon’s role as Andres Bonifacio and Gen. Antonio Luna, respectively; and the rest of the supporting casts that made the film worth interesting to watch. We just couldn’t set our mind to Bayani Agbayani‘s serious role that every time he appears on screen it is as if we still regard him as a good comedian, nevertheless, Bayani passed his role. One thing though, we’re quite intrigue on E.R. Ejercito‘s dazed-look, like facing a blank wall take on Emilio Aguinaldo’s face. Was the former country’s president always look like that? Never mind that, E.R. also did very well in reviving ‘Miyong‘ on screen.
That should be our comments on El Presidente. It’s good and we can recommend it to everybody. But…
Memoirs written by Emilio Aguinaldo
The movie was inspired by the memoirs written by Emilio Aguinaldo. So what do we expect to see on that film? The film portrays Emilio as a brave and heroic person in the history of our country. Nearly hitting it right but there were accounts in the film that if you will go by the books, will put shades of questions on what really transpired in our history. Was the loss of Andres Bonifacio in the election in a friar estate house in Tejeros on 22 March 1897 due to a clean and honest voting? What happened to Gregoria de Jesus, Bonifacio’s wife, before they were captured and brought to a “kangaroo court” by jury entirely composed of Aguinaldo’s men? What’s the real score and motive to Gen. Antonio Luna’s death?
Perhaps these and more questions were answered and clarified by Aguinaldo himself, in aid to vindicate himself from the controversies that haunts the leader from Cavite all through his life. Was this a show to explain his side and proclaim innocence to the death of two great men of our history?
The movie’s great but it failed to show the true accounts during the Philippines’ revolution against Spain, and the subsequent Philippine-American War or War of Philippine Independence that resisted American occupation.
The word ‘traitor‘ was said a number of times in the film. But upon seeing it, will the younger generation knew who (are) the real traitor in our Philippine Revolution? Will the younger generation fully understand history without doubt after watching the film?
“Hindi hilaw ang mangarap na maging malaya” (Time is not raw to dream for freedom) – this is one line that we really liked in the film that was mustered by Aguinaldo of his eagerness for the independence of the Philippines from Spanish colonial rule.
We liked the film, it’s a good movie. It could have been the Best Picture of the festival, but it will just remain as it is. Open and read your history books, kids. It is then and there that you will only understand what the Philippine Revolution and Philippine Independence is really all about.
Ratings: ★★★★ out of 5 stars.
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MMFF 2012 El Presidente Awards:
Youth Choice Award
Best Sound: Albert Michael Idioma
Best Musical Score: Jessie Lasaten
Best Theme Song: apl.de.ap and Jamir Garcia of Slapshock
Best Make-up: Warren Munar and Co.
Best Supporting Actor: Cesar Montano
2nd Best Picture
On high note, we also like the insertion of depicting a (old and young) woman who gave him his prophecy as ‘Inang Bayan‘.
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