Heneral Luna and Liwanag

I am probably not the only one who cried watching Heneral Luna, pained by the reality that the predicament of our present time is deeply-rooted in our history as a nation, as Filipinos. Some of the wars that our country has been through have been necessary for our national consciousness to grow. And the stories about our heroes have been necessary to awaken that consciousness and ignite the flame of love for our country deep within. The story of Heneral Luna is one.


I’d like to think that it was intuition, not plain brilliance, that was driving Luna’s resolve that the then newly-established Philippine Government must never sleep with the Americans. “Para kayong birhen na naniniwala sa pag-ibig ng puta,” he said. It was something deeply connected to a future he believed we deserved and were capable of making happen—a true independence.

I prefer not to re-tell the story as I think that every Filipino should go, watch the movie. Every Sibika at Kultura class from Elementary to High School must connect the revolutions and the life of our heroes to our current predicaments. Our educational system must instill in the minds and hearts of every Filipino student the nationalism that was alive in men like Luna. Similarly, if every mall had a real role in nation-building, it must help raise awareness, and campaign to draw more people to watch films like Luna instead of immediately closing its doors because turnout is low on the first few days of screening. Looking at the bright side of things, it mobilized the youth to call, if not demand, for putting back Heneral Luna in theaters. It was a triumph. The movie will be in both SM and Ayala cinemas in Cebu until September 22.

The movie is very timely. Four days from now, Liwanag World Festival, is going to happen in Cebu City. Liwanag, which means light in the Filipino language, draws its name from the Philippine Revolution, where in the process, our heroes understood the role of self-transformation in creating a new nation. We have been told that during the Philippine Revolution, Andres Bonifacio confronted Aguinaldo and the rest of the men of Katipunan with the question: what do we want—is it Ningning or Liwanag? Ningning is a flicker, or a glitter—something that is flashy but quickly dies—while Liwanag is a deep glow from within that burns in our hearts and drives us to pursue our envisioned future.

But we are our own enemies, said Luna—an even greater enemy than our American invaders. Pilipino sa Pilipino. Tayo-tayo ang naglalaban.

The murder of Luna isn’t only painful because a real patriot and hero was murdered. It is painful because it symbolizes the murder of our only hope, of our own dream, of our country. And this is manifested in the many different facets of our society today.

The conflicts from within the Cabinet of President Emilio Aguinaldo, as depicted in the movie, extending to the army, is an archetype of the conflicts that we continue to face—from exclusive systems, short-sighted views of development, especially economic, social divide, selfish politics, turfing, regionalistic mentality, and at the same time colonial mentality, and a constrictive view of our individual and collective roles in nation-building. They carry with them questions that we would like to sit upon and grow out of at Liwanag.

Sapagkat hindi pa tapos ang rebolusyon.

*Photo courtesy of http://henerallunathemovie.com


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