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“Bayaning Pepe” by Carlos Morales Essay

Directed by Carlos Morales and written by the same person in collaboration with Marlon Mente, this film is co-produced by the writer-director with Susan Ilustre and filmed in part in BPAI.

Film summary:

The movie begins in 1891 with Jose Rizal, played by Cesar Montano, as an established author and linguist who speaks more than 20 languages. He vows to write about the sufferings of the Filipino people under the tyranny of Spanish rule, and about their abuse by corrupt priests. Rizal’s writings galvanize the Filipino people but earn the scorn of the Spanish government, which vows to crush the rebellion of the Filipinos. The Spanish military capture and torture Jose’s brother Paciano, played by Pen Medina, to determine Jose’s role in the rebellion. During a flashback, Jose says Paciano greatly influenced him by exposing him to the injustice going on in the Philippines. Paciano is released after his interrogation and returns to Manila, where the family plans to go on the run. An order is given to arrest Jose Rizal on sight.

The movie cuts back to Jose’s childhood, when he was called “Pepe”. When he is a child, his mother is falsely arrested for attempted murder and jailed for two years. He gets attention from educators early on for his intelligence and writing prowess. As a young man, he criticizes a college professor for stating that Spaniards are superior to Filipinos. Filipino students start fighting Spanish students after Jose starts raising the issue of Filipino independence. Cutting back to 1896, Jose is captured and put on trial, and his books are banned. The film then cuts back and forth between Jose’s rise as a revolutionary and his fall from grace during his trial. As a student, Rizal spent significant time in Madrid but then became disgusted with Spain’s occupation of Filipino land and Spanish treatment of Filipino citizens.

The mayor of Madrid is arrested and discredited for having a Rizal book. A violent revolt breaks out in 1896, which Jose does not support because he sees it as mass suicide. Going back to the trial, enormous pressure is put upon Jose’s defense attorneys, with critics branding them as traitors for defending the rebel. It is revealed in a flashback that Jose had fathered a child that had died soon after birth, adding to his inner turmoil as he buried his only son. In the trial, his books are examined and criticized for their pro-Filipino stance against Spanish imperialists.

He is found guilty of staging a rebellion through his speaking and writing, and he’s condemned to death by firing squad. He sneaks a poem to his family before his execution, and he yells “It is done!” A full-blown rebellion is soon under way. Two years later, in 1898, the Filipino flag is lifted triumphantly as the citizens celebrate their independence.

Historical facts:

José Protasio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda was born, the seventh child of Francisco Mercado Rizal and Teodora Alonso, on June 19, 1861. His parents belonged to the middle class and lived on the tenant land ownedby the friars in Calamba,Laguna. In his early childhood, Rizal was under the tutorship of his mother who taught him the three R’s. He mastered the alphabet at the age of three. After two years of tutoring, he could read the Spanish version of the Vulgate bible. When he was eight years old, he wrote a play in Tagalog and this was presented at a Calamba fiesta. Even at an early age, he showed artistic talent in painting and sculpture. Whenever there was an oratorical tilt, Pepe Rizal was there winning medals as usual. He wrote a playlet in Spanish called “Junto al Pasig”, which was presented in school.

On the spiritual side of school activities, Rizal was also a high-point man. He was Prefect of the Sodality of Our Lady with Fr. Pablo Pastells, S.J. as the Director. Jose “Pepe” Rizal’s formal schooling started when, at the age of eleven, he was admitted into the Ateneo Municipal which was then under the supervision of the Spanish Jesuits. The curriculum of the five-year secondary course (leading to the degree of Bachiller en Artes or AB), included subjects such as Christian doctrine, Sacred history, Latin, Spanish, Greek, French, English, Algebra, Trigonometry, Geometry, Universal history, Spanish history, Latin literature, rhetoric and poetics, Social ethics, Psychology, Logic and other branches of Philosophy.

Reflection:

Jose Rizal is an important person in the history of the Philippines and an icon that we can find in every history books in our country. We know him as the guy who dated a lot of women, he was short and not that physically attractive as others but he was more than that. Behind that minute physique of his, is a man that was full of courage and bravery. That same man was the one who wrote two of the most important literary works that somewhat defines us as a nation Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. He believes that education is the key to a brighter future. Rizal was just a normal person, just like a man that you can see at the streets everyday. He falls in love, values his family and behaves like an ordinary individual. What makes him exceptional is that he stands by what he think is right and he doesn’t just talk the talk but he walks the walk.

The film enlightens us regarding the life story of our national hero, Jose Rizal. It uncovers his life from his childhood until his execution at the hands of the Spanish colonizers, who occupied Philippines for 333 years. We are also thrown into the world of Rizal’s novels, thus we get a look of how he viewed the Filipino society under the Spanish regime. The movie gives us an idea about how Jose Rizal, which is just an ordinary citizen like us, helped our country acquire independence.

It showed us how hard it was for them to gain the freedom that we are enjoying right now. That behind every free man at the moment is equivalent to a man that was maltreated by the Spaniards before. It was a very heroic thing to do, sacrificing your own life and not having the assurance if all your sacrifices will be worth it in the end. Based on the ending of the film, I can say that Rizal did it out of big love for his family and countrymen and that he did not regret giving up things which was important to him in order to help our country.


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