Commemorating Philippine independence through streaming
With the entire month of June dedicated to the commemoration of the country’s 125th year of independence, we Filipinos are encouraged to celebrate the milestone in our own little way. It can be as simple as putting up a Philippine flag, visiting historical sites and sharing stories about the sacrifices made by national and modern-day heroes in their fight for freedom.
Watching historical movies and television series is another way to revisit history and reflect on our past triumphs and missteps, which, hopefully, could serve as inspiration and guiding lessons in our pursuit of the future our forefathers had envisioned.Luckily, streaming has made it easier for viewers to access such shows. Here are some titles on popular digital platforms:
‘Maria Clara at Ibarra’
Available on Netflix, GMA Network website
Based on the Jose Rizal novels “Noli Me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo,” this modern adaptation follows the exploits of Klay (Barbie Forteza), a graduating college student tasked to write a book review of “Noli” to offset her failing grade in Rizal studies. But as a future nurse, Klay fails to see the importance of the subject to her dreams of seeking greener pastures abroad. However, little does she know that the copy of “Noli” given to her by the professor is a magical portal that will transport her to the world of Crisostomo Ibarra (Dennis Trillo) and Maria Clara (Julie Anne San Jose).And the only way she can return to the real world is by immersing herself and learning from the realities Filipinos lived in during the Spanish colonization.
“It’s a perfect time to binge watch the show. You will learn a lot of lessons—patriotism, the importance of wisdom for a person to help himself and his country grow and develop. You will see the people’s revolution, their quest for the independence they have been yearning for,” Dennis told the Inquirer. “It’s the kind of material that will make you proud when you watch it.”
Available on YouTube / ABS-CBN Entertainment channel
Those in the mood for a bit of nostalgia may want to revisit the educational children’s series “Bayani”—a morning viewing staple for kids and young adults in the 1990s.
Created by ABS-CBN in cooperation with the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (now the Department of Education), the show originally ran from 1995 to 2002. It aims to inspire the essential values of patriotism and love for one’s rich and noble heritage as a Filipino.
The show follows two grade school students, Noli (Angelo Cometa) and Aya/Ana (various actresses), who stumble upon a cave tended to by a mysterious hermit.
As it turns out, the cave is a magical repository of Philippine history. Through a portal, the two protagonists travel back in time to meet some of the country’s heroes, including Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio; arts and literature stalwarts, such as Atang dela Rama and Nicanor Abelardo; as well as young modern-day heroes like Sajid Bulig.
Available on Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube / TBA Studios channel
This 2015 epic war movie directed by Jerrold Tarog stars John Arcilla as the titular character Antonio Luna, a Filipino army general who led the Philippine army during the Philippine-American War until his “legendary temper and pride” ultimately led to his demise.
Described by Variety as a “rousing historical epic,” the film was notable for—among other things—John’s “zesty performance” that “brings full-blooded life to Luna’s reputation for inspiring both undying loyalty and enduring enmity.”
“My aspiration to see this country as one of the most progressive in the region remains. Our country is rich in natural resources … I was aware of this before I played Luna and made it a point to share it with others after the film was shown. My passion for this cause has, in fact, intensified,” John told the Inquirer in a 2016 interview.
The movie was a commercial success, earning about P256 million—from a budget of P80 million—at the box office, thanks to word of mouth. It dominated the 2016 awards season, winning best picture at the Luna and Gawad Urian Awards. It was also chosen as the country’s entry in the best foreign language film category at the 2016 Academy Awards.
‘Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral’
Available on Netflix
This is the second installment in Jerrold Tarog’s planned historical trilogy. Picking up where “Luna” left off, this movie follows the exploits and struggles of the precocious “boy general” Gregorio del Pilar, who died fighting at the Battle of Tirad Pass as the Philippine-American war raged on.
In contrast to the impulsive, bombastic Luna, Goyo is depicted as a more subdued, introspective figure—a young man forced to come of age and grapple with the ideas of mortality and sacrifices amid political turmoil.
Like “Luna,” the film aims not to deify but to humanize the main protagonist. “One of the things that today’s youth can learn from this film is that heroes are humans too,” Paulo told the Inquirer in a 2018 chat about the film, which won the best picture award at the 2019 Luna Awards. “Like us, they also struggled when it came to carrying overwhelming responsibilities. They might be flawed and imperfect, but they did what they had to do for the country.”
“I want to teach children that heroism is very broad,” he added. “It can be represented in so many ways.”
Available on YouTube / Kip Oebanda channel
Based on a true story, this award-winning 2018 independent film by director Kip Oebanda depicts the life of martial law era dissident Cecilia Flores-Oebanda (Glaiza de Castro) or Commander Liway, and how she harnessed the power of storytelling to shield her son, Dakip, from the turmoil of life in a prison camp.
In a 2018 interview with the Inquirer, Glaiza highlighted the importance of history and learning from it. “I wish more of our countrymen would be inspired, in the same way I was moved when I first read the script, when we were shooting the movie,” she said.
For her performance as Liway, she won the best actress award at the 29th Filipino Arts and Cinema International Festival—the oldest Filipino-run film festival in the United States. Glaiza also won the best actress trophy at the 2019 Luna Award, and earned nominations from the Gawad Urian and Famas.
Available on YouTube / GMA Public Affairs channel
First aired in 2013, this eight-part historical miniseries is a comprehensive presentation of the history of Katipunan, from its formation by the revolutionary hero Andres Bonifacio and its discovery by the Spaniards to the Cry of the Pugad Lawin that sparked the uprising and Bonifacio’s tragic death.
Produced by GMA Public Affairs, the show was created by Jaileen Jimeno, written by Ian Victoriano and directed by King Mark Baco. The show tapped Sid Lucero to play Bonifacio, whose life is presented in detail. The show also tackles his marriage to Gregoria de Jesus and the truth behind the intrigues or infighting brewing within the Katipunan.
“It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from,” Sid said in a 2013 television interview. “We have to open our eyes to what needs to be done, so that our past mistakes don’t happen again.” INQ