Aguinaldo kin says human stories better for heroes



LAGUNA Gov. Jeorge “ER” Ejercito attended a 2011 festival in Kalinga wearing a Katipunan-era uniform before he completed his film, “El Presidente.” EV ESPIRITU

The movie “El Presidente,” which received multiple awards during the 2012 Manila Film Festival, is also the most debated film online.

But the great grandson of Emilio Aguinaldo, the first president of the Philippine Republic, said the film features what could be the most honest portrayal of heroes as human beings.

Emilio Aguinaldo Suntay III, administrator of the Aguinaldo Museum in Baguio City, said he always wanted to see a movie portray Aguinaldo as a man faced with impossible decisions in times of war.

The movie was featured at Baguio Cinematheque on Feb. 6, the 49th death anniversary of Aguinaldo.

In a speech he delivered during the event, Suntay said: “For too long our society has required our heroes to be perfect, flawless. We have overlooked the fact that they are humans like us, not gods. We at the Aguinaldo Museum have always highlighted [little discussed observations about our heroes]. [Jose] Rizal can be slow to act; [Andres] Bonifacio, temperamental and careless; [Antonio] Luna, ruthless and ambitious; [Gregorio] Del Pilar, a hopeless romantic; Aguinaldo, naive and too deferring.”

“They were nonetheless great men and heroes, in their own right and to their race,” he said.

A heroic Aguinaldo, as portrayed by Laguna Gov. Jeorge “ER” Ejercito who produced the movie, and a rebellious Bonifacio, as played by actor Cesar Montano, had divided critics, history buffs and the heroes’ supporters, Suntay said.

News of a Baguio screening sparked online debates about a supposed rivalry between the two heroes, which led to one account that Bonifacio was executed to prevent the breakup of the Katipunan amid the war with the American forces.

“The rivalry is an overused nonissue that only distracts us from the real glory and relevant issues of our past. The heroes were never rivals. They were patriots who passionately differed [about what needed to be done in the course of the Philippine Revolution],” Suntay said.

He said Ejercito’s movie gave some prominence to the Tejeros Convention of March 1897, where the Aguinaldo-Bonifacio rivalry was supposedly magnified, ending with the election of Aguinaldo as the republic’s first president.

Suntay said the movie relied on narratives and accounts never popularized in textbooks or history books, and showed a Katipunan that needed to keep its ranks intact in wartime.

“It did not even make Bonifacio a villain. Montano [who played the Katipunan’s founder] was portrayed as someone you would care for. You did not hate him in this movie,” he said, addressing misgivings that the actor’s portrayal was a poor depiction of Bonifacio.

People behind the movie consulted former Prime Minister Cesar E.A. Virata, Aguinaldo’s grandson, and Manuel Calairo of the National Historical Commission, Suntay said.

He said the movie highlights many of the “hidden truths” that took place in the country’s history. One of which, he said, was that the humanity of heroes should outlast “the divisive myths that some historians and armchair generals would have us believe.”

“We desperately need to objectively and factually view our heroes as great though fallible and imperfect human beings. This will help us realize the heroes in ourselves,” he said.

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  • noyab

    bonifacio was also a victim of ambush my aguinaldo men

  • Melvin

    Hindi ko itinuturing na kasama sa mga bayani ng lahi si Aguinaldo…

    • spider69

      ginamit pang sangkalan si Cesar Montano na isa ring mahina ang utak. kaya hindi manalo-nalo sa election. dapat burahin sa history si Aguinaldo. tulad ng pag-bura at pag-tanggal sa corona ni Lance Armstrong na nandaya. walang pinag-iba si Aguinaldo kay Marantan sa pag-ambus kila Vic Siman. may proceso kung may kasalanan at dapat litisin.

  • jojo webmail

    in modern times:
    bonifacio =  erap

    aguinaldo = gloria arroyo

    rizal = enrile

  • joboni96

    limutin na bonifacio vs aguinaldo

    concentrate kung papano

    dinenggoy ng imperyalista
    si aguinaldo at 1st philippine republic

  • InSearchOfTruth

    i am related to gregoria de jesus, bonifacio’s wife.  our family have a story about bonifacio’s death that is so different to the philippine historian’s version of what happened at maragondon, cavite

  • Ricgwapo

    History only illustrates the continuing struggle of the Filipino people to have unity in spirit and in truth.  We are a nation of disunited thoughts, aspirations, individualism and still clannish inclination.

    Shall we have to wage war with another country just to keep us united? God forbids.  How is our patriotism and love for our fellow Filipinos as against our love for our own families who most of us know, especially those having influence over the majority, have arrogated their privileges and status in the society.

    Our people suffers because of very bad governance, most notably in the past.  With bad leaders, our people cry, miserably suffer and nowhere to even lift their plights.

    Disunity by the majority only benefit the few, the privileged and the landed in our society.

    Aguinaldo / Bonifacio saga is only a reflection of the current state of our disunity.

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