Heneral Luna is a must-watch film for every Filipino. For one, it is far from a boring re-enactment of textbook history. It is not 101% historically accurate, it did not need to. What it greatly succeeded at was telling the story of General Antonio Luna’s struggles when he led the Philippine Revolutionary Army against the American colonizers who came to our shores and disrupted the growth of our fledgling Philippine republic.
General Luna’s struggle was on two fronts: against the American invaders which given the lack of arms, trained men and resources was already a very tall order, and the second, which what made the first even harder, was his struggle against his own countrymen.
His rival Pedro A. Paterno who supported the American occupation had the ears of President Emilio Aguinaldo. Then out on the field, other Filipino commanders refused to recognize and obey his orders, sticking to their regional ties and giving more problems for General Luna than the Americans did.
Numerous times throughout the film, this has been emphasized by General Luna, that the greatest enemies we Filipinos faced, is ourselves. And that is why the Revolution was defeated and despite being taught how to run a civil, democratic and constitutional government, our progress has been painfully slow and that millions of our countrymen remain locked in poverty to this very day.
In the words of Apolinario Mabini, who had personally witnessed what General Luna and the Philippine Revolution at large had had gone through, history teaches us the following:
“To sum it up, the Revolution failed because it was badly led; because its leader won his post by reprehensible rather than meritorious acts; because instead of supporting the men most useful to the people, he made them useless out of jealousy… He judged the worth of men not by their ability, character and patriotism but rather by their degree of friendship and kinship with him; and anxious to secure the readiness of his favorites to sacrifice themselves for him, he was tolerant even of their transgressions.”
So when the audience applauded at the end of the movie, I cannot help but smile and be jittery, hoping that the important lessons discussed in the film has awakened their sense of history, patriotism and being a Filipino.