Thursday, September 24, 2015

On Luna and critical thinking about history

The Clairvoyant and I watched the movie about Antonio Luna last weekend. We were very curious about it when it first featured on cinemas and could only read about the commentaries and reactions to the film. It is basically about Gen. Luna, a man who was a part of the propaganda movement in Spain among with Jose Rizal, Marcelo H. Del Pilar, Graciano Lopez Jaena and his brother Juan Luna (to name the more prominent members of the movement). He returned to the Philippines at a time when Spain was in the process of being defeated by revolutionists with the aid of a small American force. With the agreement between Spain and the US ceding the archipelago for the then huge amount of 20 million US dollars, the revolutionists who declared independence in Cavite in 1898, soon found themselves at war with the US. Luna became a general of the fledgling Philippine armed forces and was tasked to lead forces to resist American expansion from Manila towards Central and Northern Luzon. To cut the story short (please watch the movie or get yourself a good history book), Luna was assassinated in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, ironically, by his own countrymen.

I am sure the many scenes from the movie will continue to generate a lot of discussions about the actions of many of our so-called heroes including the tragic case of Emilio Aguinaldo, who has been unlucky to live long enough to be involved in a number of controversies even after his failed First Republic. There are many who have questioned his leadership and even his qualities as a person given his alleged implications or involvements in the deaths of Andres Bonifacio and Antonio Luna. More will continue to question Aguinaldo as a hero despite his legitimate contributions in the revolution and the war for independence.

I think the most important contribution of the film is its invitation for everyone who watched it to think critically about our history. Many of us tend to take our history for granted; accepting whatever are written in text books or what our teachers lectured in school. There is a saying that history is written by the victors and often those who are able to survive or live longer than the others involved in it. Much has been written about the Philippine Revolution and the Philippine-American War that followed what is claimed as our independence from Spain. However, it is important that we understand the circumstances and the contexts underlying the actions of personalities at the time. What were their motivations? What and whose interests did they serve? Were there collusions or collaborations? Were certain persons misled or fooled, and were people dumb enough to have fallen for ruses or intrigues? Like many events involving personalities, perhaps only time can tell whether certain people will be absolved or redeemed based on careful analysis and an evidence-based process to ascertain heroism or villainy.


No comments: