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The Dark Side of “Heneral Luna”: 5 Ugly Truths from the Movie

The Dark Side of “Heneral Luna”: 5 Ugly Truths from the Movie

Heneral Luna has been the talk of the town practically the entire month of September. The historical biopic places the spotlight on General Antonio Luna during the Philippine-American War, as well as the issues that he had to confront with during his time.

The film offers great cinematography and a good story line. While the Artikulo Uno team was quick to point out that they took creative license when they made the movie (it is still a fictional work, after all), the film was also rooted on research.

But, as we pointed out in our previous article, Heneral Luna also sheds light on ugly truths that plague us a nation. The issues that General Luna faced still resonate with us today, more than a century after. Here are some of them:

Screencap from Heneral Luna courtesy of Artikulo Uno Productions/Meme from Kristine Briganti
Screencap from Heneral Luna courtesy of Artikulo Uno Productions/Meme from Kristine Briganti

Ugly Truth 1: Divisiveness

This issue is rampant in the movie. There were generals who only took orders from President Aguinaldo himself, there were politicians who seem to be more interested in economic gain more than anything else, there were those who were pro-American invasion and those who weren’t. It was a time when our nation needed to have a united front to face a common enemy, but sadly, we let our differences get the better of us.

The thing is, this issue is still rampant until today–and it’s not confined to politics alone. Check out this post from the official Heneral Luna Facebook page about the recent bashing toward the local movie industry:

“Dear All,

In the last couple of weeks since our film opened, there have been some postings that show support for HENERAL LUNA while bashing our fellow producers/filmmakers in the film industry.
Please know that Artikulo Uno does not support this kind of attitude in any way, shape or form. In addition, we have no control over what anyone on FB posts, using stills from the film or culling photos of our filmmakers. If Heneral Luna were around today, he’d have little to no tolerance for these kinds of nasty FB postings and memes, especially the ones that bring divisiveness amongst us.

Sending our peace, love and thanks to all,
The Heneral Luna Team

Ito ba talaga ang tadhana natin, Paco? Kalaban ang kalaban. Kalaban ang kakampi. Nakakapagod.” –Heneral Luna”


Ugly Truth 2: Selfishness

Hugot line from the movie: “Bayan o sarili, pumili ka!”

The film depicted politicians who prioritized selfish gain more than anything else. Corruption-related incidents are still rampant today, all because there are people who want to provide for themselves and their families at the expense of somebody else (remember Janet Napoles?). But the thing is, being selfish is not just about corruption or getting political leverage. We can be selfish at work when we take the entire credit for achievements or ideas that our not ours alone. We can be selfish when we go around bashing each other online.

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Screencap from Heneral Luna courtesy of Artikulo Uno Productions
Screencap from Heneral Luna courtesy of Artikulo Uno Productions

Ugly Truth 3: Lack of discipline

Luna was famous for his impassioned outbursts when it comes to lack of discipline in the military. Sadly, this disease is still very much present in our society today. Have you tried lining up for the MRT? It’s no surprise to see people try to cut in line and get mad when they’re called out for it. There’s so much more that we need to know about discipline, and the only way to do it is to begin with ourselves.

Ugly Truth 4: We tend to get too carried away with our emotions

Hugot line from the movie: “Anong gagawin ko? Kakagatin ko sila?”

The Heneral was also infamous for his temper, which drew the ire of his comrades and subordinates. Ultimately, it led to his undoing. We Filipinos are a very passionate lot, but sometimes,we let our emotions get the better of us. Just take a look at the streets for road rage incidents. Take a look at bashers online. We can get too emotional when we call for people like Antonio Luna to run our country–when it was portrayed in the film that politics isn’t his cup of tea. This doesn’t mean that being passionate is wrong or that Filipinos are strictly passionate. The movie reminds us that being emotional about certain things is okay in small doses, but letting it control us is an entirely different matter.

Ugly Truth 5: Our views on nationalism

Hugot line from the movie: “Kaya nating magbuwis ng buhay para sa pamilya pero para sa isang prinsipyong makabayan?”

Heneral Luna was the poster boy for nationalism in the movie, as he steadfastly held on to the idea of the Philippines as an independent nation. His portrayal in the film forces us to confront ourselves with our own idea of nationalism. That doesn’t mean we should take up arms and start a bloody revolution, but reflecting on how we value our country can be a sobering encounter. After all, it’s deceptively easy to give up or turn to apathy when we’re surrounded with disheartening issues about our country.

The beauty of Heneral Luna is that it sheds light on these ugly truths, and it forces us to confront ourselves with these hard questions. It’s a joy to hear people discuss these ugly truths out in the open way after the credits have rolled. Now the ball is in our court. How are we going to show our love for our country?

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