"The Emilio Aguinaldo biopic of the country’s first president, and one that revisits the first Philippine Republic, is clearly of quality. In fact it has been graded ‘A’ by the Cinema Evaluation Board (CEB) and is endorsed by Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (Ched), and the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP)."
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Mark Meily's film El Presidente would have viewers believe that Andres Bonifacio, Supremo of the Katipunan, was a traitor who was plotting against the revolutionary government. Naturally the film would take Aguinaldo's side, being a biopic whose primary source, cited in the credits, is Aguinaldo's memoirs. Writer-director Meily’s avowed intention is to clear up the misconceptions surrounding this controversial figure. I do not doubt Meily's sincerity, but I have a problem with his history. Like our grade school textbooks, El Presidente oversimplifies the facts....Angela Stuart Santiago has this to say:
...endorsed by DepEd and CHED? ano ba yan! DepEd and CHEd should be the last to endorse hagiographic material such as this that exalts emilio aguinaldo at the expense of andres bonifacio and others like antonio luna. this is blatant historical revisionism, mostly based, not surprisingly, on aguinaldo’s memoirs — and we know how self-serving memoirs can be.
If anything, DepEd and CHED should be warning the public that there is much much more to the 1898 revolution than the depicted cinematic heroics of aguinaldo.And Alvin Capino of Manila Standard Today places the film within the context of the coming presidential elections in 2016:
Reactions to the Manila Film Festival movie “El Presidente” shows how controversial President Aguinaldo was. Some people resented how the Supremo of the Katipunan, Andres Bonifacio, was treated in the movie. Debates on how Bonifacio was treated unfairly and brutally by Aguinaldo’s men have been revived.
Aguinaldo, inevitably, will become an issue in case of an Abaya candidacy. The issue that the Filipino people rebuffed Aguinaldo when he ran against Pres. Manuel Quezon for the presidency of the Philippine Commonwealth is expected to be revived. In that election, Quezon obtained 695,332 or 67.99 percent of the votes versus the 179,349 or 17.54 percent vote of Aguinaldo the former president.
His presidential rivals are expected to revive the issue of his great grandfather as a Japanese collaborator. This is unfair but that is a political reality.
An entry in Wikipedia online reads: “During the Japanese occupation, Aguinaldo cooperated with the Japanese, making speeches, issuing articles and infamous addresses in support of the Japanese – including a radio appeal to Gen. Douglas MacArthur to surrender…After the American retook the Philippines, Aguinaldo was arrested along with several others accused of collaboration with the Japanese and jailed for some months in Bilibid prison.”
Talking about political reality, is a clash between Roxas and Abaya inevitable? It could happen and it could happen soon.In a recent post in this blog, "Andres Bonifacio, Life, Works and Ideals - Lessons for Philippine Basic Education", I wrote:
My father and I have had plenty of conversations regarding Philippine history. His stories were quite different from what I was being taught in primary and secondary schools. It seemed I was receiving a "sanitized" version of the past from school. My father's stories were much more intriguing. In college, I therefore decided to explore further these stories. In the midst of all these conflicting lessons in history was a man named Andres Bonifacio. My father easily identified with Bonifacio because like him, Bonifacio's parents died while he was still young. Bonifacio was then forced to stop schooling to take care of his siblings. My father made a living by selling necklaces made from jasmine. Andres Bonifacio sold canes and paper fans...
...I must add that Bonifacio's life, works and ideals should be included in Philippine basic education curriculum. Not every Filipino would have a well-informed father as the one I had.
But DepEd sadly has a different opinion....