by: Giannel Marcos
Art & Illustration by: Lisa Marie Dela Rosa
Conceptualized by: Pam Esclanda & Kat Doloricon
Independence is something we Filipinos constantly seek may it be politically or not. The word is engraved in our history, culture, society, and individual lives, for it has driven many people through time to dare go against the current or drown in suffering.
The following movies explore these different waves of independence from the Spanish colonization to the Japanese colonization. Read on and watch at least one movie that might capture your interest.
Tirad Pass: The Story of Gregorio Del Pilar (1997)
We’ve heard about Paulo Avelino’s upcoming portrayal of Gregorio Del Pilar in the big screen but before the gorgeous actor was the handsome Romnick Sarmenta who set the bar high in giving the character justice.
In this film directed by Carlo J. Caparas, one will witness the story of the young general’s bravery and his being part of the infamous Battle of Tirad Pass that led to his tragic death. Prep yourself up for the upcoming Goyo : Ang Batang Heneral by watching this great classic. No better time for that than Independence Day itself!
There are many Filipino heroes in our history who do not seem to be as recognized by people as those of the likes of Andres Bonifacio and Jose Rizal. Macario Sakay is one of them, founder of Tagalog Republic.
Directed by Raymond Red, this film tells the story of Macario Sakay’s ceaseless efforts to fight the foreign invaders even until the end of the Philippine-American war that ended up with the hero being hanged to death. With Julio Diaz’s sincere portrayal of the hero, the film is guaranteed to walk you through the story of the long-haired patriot, with an aching heart in the end.
Ganito Kami Noon….Paano Kayo Ngayon? (1976)
Directed by Eddie Romero, and digitally restored in 2013 by ABS- CBN Film Archives with Central Digital Lab, this romantic musical film set in the time of Spanish colonization and the coming of the American colonizers surprisingly turns a simple story of fortune of an uneducated probinsyano into his very own leap to find what it means to be a Flipino.
Catch a young and charming Christopher De Leon in a deep Southern Luzon accent chasing the timelessly beautiful Gloria Diaz in this film that may seem simple and laidback but is actually set to make you feel some way you never thought you’d feel as a Filipino in the end.
This is not just your usual Philippine-American war film that simply shows one side of the history. It is directed by an American director, John Sayles, co-produced by Joel Torre, and graced by Filipino actors who are icons like Joel Torre himself, John Arcilla, Rio Locsin, and many more.
The fictional story gives one something to think about in terms of the value of loyalty in such difficult times. It also provides a passionate view into the lives of the barrio people under the American leadership. Perfect for the holiday, the movie questions freedom in both sides of the history.
Oro, Plata, Mata (1982)
Directed by the legendary Peque Gallaga, and digitally restored in 2013 by AB- CBN Film Archives with Central Digital Lab, this film walks us into the lives of the members of the upperclass before the Japanese occupation begun all the way to when it completely turned their lives upside down according to the structure given by the film’s title itself—gold, silver, and death.
Despite being a war-themed movie that doesn’t really focus on the battlefield, it is still equally as thrilling to watch how the lives of aristocrats back in the day were, given the circumstances that unfolded—from the struggle to adjust to a simpler life, the frustration of the characters of the young Cherie Gil and Joel Torre to explore their sexuality and their identities as teens, down to self-destruction caused by the awful events during wartime.
Aishite Imasu 1941: Mahal Kita (2004)
If you are into romantic drama set in the Japanese invasion era, you’ll definitely love this one. Directed by Joel Lamangan, the movie shows how different loves during the wartime were affected—from love for the family, for country, for oneself, for a significant other, and even for the leader of the invaders. Intrigued? Watch this movie and find out how the loves during this time survived in the midst of the fight for independence.
Markova: Comfort Gay (2000)
This movie is based on the real-life events of Walter Dempster Jr. (Walterina Markova), a Filipino gay man who was one of the comfort gays back in the Japanese era. in the directon of Gil Portes, the movie tells the painful story of Markova in a deeply heartbeaking yet still humorous manner as the character is played by the legend, Dolphy.
Expect to feel emotional watching the movie as it will definitely take you on a trip of search for different types of independence—gender discrimination, traumatic past, and the cruelty of the Japanese soldiers back in the day—which to at least one you might be able to relate to.
Independence is indeed a broad subject as these films prove. On this day, let us commemorate the battles fought for us by our ancestors and live our current lives grateful of that legacy, willing to make use of it to enrichen not only our nation but our individual lives as well. Happy Independence Day!
Speaking of which, go check out the inspiration behind our special Philippine Independence shirt release HERE.