“You can’t handle the truth!” exclaimed Jack Nicholson, as Colonel Nathan Jessup, in the pivotal court confrontation scene, where Tom Cruise, lieutenant junior grade Daniel Kaffee interrogates in the intense scene in Rob Reiner’s military drama A Few Good Men.
The exclamation of Nicholson pops into my mind as I sit silently, enjoying, engrossed, enchanted with every bit and morsel of the many things and situations on the silver screen as Bagong Siklab Production’s Oras de Peligro, written by Bonifacio Ilagan and Eric Ramos, under the direction of Joel Lamangan.
The biggest merit of the latest Lamangan-directed motion picture is the truth that it courageously presents. On screen are not inventions, neither are they creations of an ever-fertile imagination, since what is flicking before you are archival news footage, well-preserved radio recordings, and vintage newspaper front pages and inside stories, that show and remind the troubled and tumultuous time in the Philippine politics and history.
The archival footage, radio recordings, and news articles are truths that cannot be contained and denied, for it happened during a not-so-distant event that started with the call of President Ferdinand Marcos for a snap election, its magic and mayhem, the whys and wherefores and its dramatic conclusion.
The research and what footage and other historical materials to use in the motion picture is most apparent and the most apparent personalities that were part of the “bloodless revolution” seeing and hearing them on screen, the fight they mounted, and who and what they against, bring shivers to the spine, make your goosebumps appear, and one cannot help but wonder, what has become of us now that four days is just a recollection?
The second strongest merit of the film is the story written by Ilagan and Ramos. Weaved seamlessly into the historical unfolding, the main narrative of the film centers on the life of the Marianas family. Allen Dizon a jeepney driver, is the patriarch. Cherry Pie Picache plays Beatriz, wife, mother, and domestic helper of an affluent woman. Dave Bornea and Therese Malvar, are siblings Jimmy and Nerissa, and the farmer and father of Dizon, Nanding Josef as Ka Elyong.
The emotional roller coaster ride that happens to this representation of the common Filipino family of that time, the complications, troubles, and heartbreak of the Marianas family because of a tragedy, triggers all sorts of feelings, frustrations, and that nagging query of what has become of us now that four days in history has been reduced to elements of a movie?
The strongest merits of the film are the acting prowesses of the cast and Joel Lamangan’s astute and sensitive direction.
To say that Picache is brilliant and brave as Beatriz is an understatement. Her crying scenes affect her. Her helplessness makes you want to lend a Beatriz fast assistance and relief. Her resolve, you only not get, understand.
Short and sweet is the screen time of Dizon but the integrity and emotional truth he gave Dario is beyond compare. And the gravitas and power that Tata Nanding infuses into Ka Elyong is authentic, hard-hitting, and nuanced.
Bornea reveals that he has more to share and not just another pretty face young matinee idol and Malvar, as always, competent, sincere and there are no small roles for this petite yet big actress.
Some of Philippine theater’s finest portray cameos in the film and the most memorable are the legend that is Joe Gruta and Topper Fabregas as Atty. Capistrano.
It cannot be denied that the film is director Lamangan’s love letter to the Filipinos. This is a premiere example of cinematic art presenting the truth.
One feels the care and respect that Lamangan gave the screenplay of sirs Ilagan and Ramos, and all the actors in it, pour their love and emotional truths into their respective characters, that is why the result is a film that makes the heart scream, stirs the soul, and open up the mind with the hope that you are not only ready but can handle the truth.
Oras de Peligro challenges us not to forget, and makes us remember how we all got here, and yes, the clock of peril, continues to tick.