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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Historian Xiao Chua weighs in on MMFF’s ‘GomBurZa’

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This year’s Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) list of entries features the historical epic film, GomBurZa, which retells the lives and deaths of martyred Filipino priests Fathers Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora.

Ahead of its showing date, the film generated significant discussion including renowned Filipino historian Xiao Chua. Known for his meticulous research and nuanced perspective on Philippine history, he offered his insights on the film.

During the film’s premiere night, Manila Standard Entertainment approached Xiao as he fanboyed one of the lead stars, Cedric Juan, asking for an autograph.

When asked about his sentiments on the inclusion of the historic film at the Christmas film festival, he shared, “It’s really great because people will support this. Especially when they hear that it’s good, children will learn something. Unfortunately, we’re only PG13, but it’s okay.”

The historian also commended the film’s attempt to bring to light a significant chapter in Philippine history, particularly for younger generations less familiar with the narrative.

“They are one of the reasons why we were formed as a nation. So, we go back to the story of how we were formed, and when we’re able to know that, we get to know ourselves, how we struggled, and what our struggles are. And with that, hopefully, we’ll make our lives meaningful today,” he added.

However, he expressed reservations about the film emphasizing that there might be discrepancies between the film’s portrayal and documented historical accounts.

“We see it as entertaining and we need that. We also discussed that it’s also an art, so there are variations, it’s not a perfect history. So, that’s okay, it’s part of our conversation,” continued Xiao.

Furthermore, in a Facebook post by Xiao, he criticized the film’s portrayal of certain historical figures. He cited the depiction of Cedrick’s portrayal of Burgos.

Gomburza did not disappoint! Paul Cedrick Juan’s portrayal of Burgos is stellar and the rest of the cast walang tapon, even those that have only a few seconds to appear are too important to be left out because they form part of the jigsaw puzzle that makes the story relevant to today,” wrote Xiao.

He also lauded the director of the MMFF entry, Pepe Diokno, son of human rights lawyer, Chel Diokno.

“In the end, aside from being a film that makes us realize that it was a bumpy road it was before we were able to call ourselves Filipinos, it is really about human rights. And it is only fitting that Pepe Diokno, grandson of the Father of Human Rights Advocacy in the Philippines, the first Pepe Diokno, directed this film ably and contributes to remind us that this Nation is built on cherished human rights by those who were deprived of it,” he stated.

Gomburza is epic.   A once in a few years film, watching it is being part of history itself,” the historian ended.

On the other hand, Pepe pointed out the importance of knowing the film saying, “As they say, ‘if we don’t know where we came from, we don’t know where we’re going.’ So, it’s important to look back at our history.”

In his speech, the filmmaker revealed that even he was curious about the significance of the three priests in getting back our freedom.

“Maybe some of you are wondering, what’s all this hullabaloo about three unassuming priests who never fought on the battlefield? Why did Jose Rizal and the Katipunan find so much inspiration in the three priests—the GomBurZa?” Pepe said.

“I also wondered why, but [by] making this film, we all began to understand why. GomBurZa is a story of a little fire that’s spread in times of darkness. It’s a story not of individual heroism, but all the collective. It’s a story not only of battle but of sacrifice,” he continued.

He also acknowledged the efforts and involvement of the cast in the creation of the film.

“I want to acknowledge that this film was made by an entire battalion of very talented, hardworking people who worked so hard to shoot this film in 17 shooting days. But I think what you will see [on] the screen is really a labor of love,” added Pepe.

“And when times were so tough and when things were very challenging, we all went back to our core, which is the ‘alab sa ating puso’, which is a story that we feel needed to be told. Not just because it’s our history, but also because it’s relevant until today,” he stated.

The Gomburza director ended his speech by expressing his optimism that may the film move and inspire the people who will get to watch it.

Starring Dante Rivero, Cedric Juan, and Enchong Dee, Gomburza is now showing in cinemas nationwide.

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