Movie: El Presidente

"El Presidente"

The story of Emilio Aguinaldo, the first Philippine Republic’s President from his initiation in to the Katipunan by Bonifacio himself,victorious battles and eventually his rise to presidency. The film deals also his about his controversial relationship with Andres Bonifacio and his eventual execution.

This film was a complete waste of time and money. Seriously.

I’m not saying I’m all knowing when it comes to Philippine history. I’m not. Being a reader, I might have read more than the regular Filipino, but I am in no way claiming that I’m an expert. But even I know when something is bull. Like El Presidente.

If actor/producer Jeorge Estragan wanted to play the hero people can look up to in a historical film, he should’ve chosen a different hero to make a biopic of. Emilio Aguinaldo is not the cleanest hero, nor is he an innocent leader; pretending otherwise is not just a punch to the gut of our history and public records, but an insult to the numerous teachers who have been teaching Philippine history.

Watching El Presidente, I imagine there was a permanent look of horror affixed on my face throughout the screening. Everything felt wrong. There were instances where my mom (a big Nora Aunor fan who wanted to watch the film for Nora) kept shushing me just so I wouldn’t argue with the film out loud.

I don’t even think they thought this film through. The film felt like a collection of clips put together with the hopes that the viewers are familiar enough (but not too much) with the history of the Philippines that they’d piece things together. There was no narrative flow as things were allowed to happen chronologically, and characters popped in and out with the barest of introductions or explanations.

I humored my mom’s request to watch this film because so many people praised Asiong Salonga from last year’s film festival. I hoped that El Presidente would be half as good (or at least, as entertaining) as Estregan’s entry from last year. This being a Mark Meilly film, I admit that my hopes rose a little.

But El Presidente is pure crap. The only good thing I can say about it is that the cinematography is amazing. The rest? Acting, costumes, props–this movie might have cost a lot to make, but it sure doesn’t look like it.

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