Enchong Dee, Cedrick Juan on MMFF film ‘GomBurZa’:

Enchong Dee, Cedrick Juan say MMFF film ‘GomBurZa’ reminds Filipinos to ‘never be apolitical’

/ 10:30 PM December 20, 2023

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(From left) Cedrick Juan, Enchong Dee. Images: Courtesy of Jesuit Communications and MQuest Ventures.

(From left) Cedrick Juan, Enchong Dee. Images: Courtesy of Jesuit Communications and MQuest Ventures.

One hundred fifty-one years after the three martyred priests GomBurZa were executed, Cedrick Juan and Enchong Dee hope their Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) entry will challenge Filipinos to seek justice and to never be “apolitical.”

Juan and Dee, who were accompanied by their co-stars Ketchup Eusebio and Carlos Siguion-Reyna and director Pepe Diokno during an advanced screening, said “GomBurZa” is a film that teaches their countrymen to “never [be] apolitical” through the story of the priests Mariano Gomes, Jose Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora.

“Isa sa pinakamaitutulong ng artists talaga ay ‘yung integrity. Never dapat maging apolitical ang artists kasi everything is about politics talaga (What artists can really do to help is to practice integrity. Artists should never be political because everything is about politics),” Juan said, in response to INQUIRER.net’s question on the role of an artist when it comes to keeping the public informed about history.


“In terms of politics, bawal kang maging ganito. Pero alam mo na sobrang halaga niya sa history nating lahat. Blessing [kung saan kami ngayon], kasi maraming gustong gumawa at mag-impart ng ganitong klaseng influence sa mga tao,” he continued.


(In terms of politics, you can’t be like this. But you know that it’s very important to be aware of our history. It’s a blessing to be in this position because many want to create something like this, and impart this kind of influence to people.)

Dee likened his position to GomBurZa since they stood as the “first line of defense” in helping their countrymen fight for their independence — which inspired him to treat his status as a “responsibility.”

“I’d like to believe that the first line of defense were the priests. They have a position in society during that time. That’s why they were able to represent us as second-class citizens,” he said. “I think there’s always a responsibility among people who have influence, and people who are somehow a little bit on that pedestal when it comes to our society.”

The actor further added, “Kung mahirap ka, wala kang boses (If you’re poor, you don’t have a voice). We have the responsibility. Especially us, with a little bit of influence, a little bit of popularity, a little bit of power. It is what it is, so we have to be empathetic with our countrymen).”

Juan also noted that teaching of history can be improved by paying more attention to imagery and emotions, apart from providing “factual text.”


“We rely on books kasi factual siya, base siya sa research. Kami [naman], as artists, feel ko ang pinakamaitutulong namin in terms of education ay kung paano itawid ang nararamdaman ng isang tao habang binabasa nila ang ganitong klaseng pyesa. And I consider that description, same ang emotion lalo na towards the end.”

(We rely on books because it’s factual, and it’s based on research. But for us as artists, what we can contribute in terms of education is how we can translate their emotions to readers while they read their stories. I consider the description similar to the emotions, especially towards the end.)

The cast of MMFF 2023 film "GomBurZa." Image: Hannah Mallorca/INQUIRER.net

The cast of MMFF 2023 film “GomBurZa” during an advanced screening. Image: Hannah Mallorca/INQUIRER.net

‘Personal’ film

For his part, Dee considers “GomBurZa” as a “personal” film which he qualifies as his gift to the country as a Filipino. “It was somehow very personal. [GomBurZa’s story] is something that I include in my prayers nowadays.”

“‘Yung Filipinos na pinagdaanan ang ganito, ang masakit is nanggagaling siya sa kapwa Pilipino. It is now part of my prayers. I hope the Philippines will continue to have justice,” he continued. “I think [GomBurZa’s story] is still happening to this day. Imagine, 151 years after, that’s when we realize that, how we wish we sought justice during those times.”

Meanwhile, the film’s director said the MMFF film is a “beautiful” medium to educate people about the country’s history, especially when it comes to “building emotions.”

“Iba kasi ang pagbasa ng tatlong martyr na pari at ‘yung nakikita at napapanood ang napagdaanan nila. Nararamdaman ang napagdaanan nila, at nararamdaman ang injustice na kinaharap nila. I hope ang ipinarating sa film is ‘yung puso and kaya sinasabi namin na buhayin ang alab sa mga puso,” Diokno said.

(It’s different to read the story of the three martyr priests, compared to seeing and watching what they went through. We feel their struggles. And we feel the injustices they went through. I hope the film will deliver a heartfelt message to light up the flame in our hearts.)

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(From left) Enchong Dee, Dante Rivero, Cedrick Juan. Image: Courtesy of Jesuit Communications and MQuest Ventures.

(From left) Enchong Dee, Dante Rivero, Cedrick Juan. Image: Courtesy of Jesuit Communications and MQuest Ventures.

In “GomBurZa,” Juan stars as Jose Burgos, while Dee portrays Jacinto Zamora. Seasoned actor Dante Rivero, on the other hand, takes on the role of Mariano Gomez.

The MMFF entry, which premieres on Dec. 25, also stars Elijah Canlas, Ketchup Eusebio, Carlos Siguion-Reyna, Khalil Ramos, and Piolo Pascual in a special role.

TAGS: 2023 MMFF, Cedrick Juan, Enchong Dee, Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF)

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