JUNE 12 MARKS our day of freedom, where Filipinos regard and celebrate it away from their oppressors and abusers. As we celebrate this momentous occasion, here are some books and movies you should add to your list, after all, art and literature are two mediums that best give knowledge and creatively tell the story—here are five Avante-grade pieces that you’ve probably not heard of before and you should probably add to your list now!
Question of Heroes by Nick Joaquin (book) – 4.5/5
It’s not a question of who is good nor bad, as human beings were bound to have flaws. Hero worship is a concept many Filipinos don’t shy away from. It’s bound to be seen in elections, especially in the politicians we elect. It’s seen in the ways we rever and try to make these heroes some sort of all-knowing god.
Joaquin’s series of essays humanizes and pushes the heroes we’ve learned off the pedestal many textbooks revered. It’s a book that one needs to read, as this critical work provides a perspective unlike any other. This book is basically an ode and a wake-up call to the blind following.
Dekada ’70 (Film and book) – 7.5/10
In a film directed by Chito Roño and a book written by the one and only, Lualhati Bautista, Dekada ‘70 remains a piece of literature that evokes several emotions in its viewers regarding independence and love for the country. Although this film does not necessarily discuss freedom from foreign invaders, the movie and the book still tap into nationalism and service for one country. Dekada ‘70 pushes forward the notion that we, as Filipinos, should rise and be one to achieve true freedom and independence. One may not be free when in the crutches of cruel dictators.
Despite time passing quickly and pushing forward, Roño and Bautista’s work remain timeless, relevant, and paramount. One should always be aware of their history to avoid repeating the same mistakes. Dekada ‘70 serves as a reminder of what had been and what could be if we ignore and commit the same mistakes.
Kangkong 1896 (book) – 3.8/5
Ceres S.C. Alabado writes something completely unique in Kangkong 1896, in this passage to Manhood historical fiction book, he tells of a story of Plorante Acabo—a fictional character—and his journey through the war, the book delves into wanting to find acceptance at first and then finally, realizing something deeper in the process amidst this. Plorante could relatively be compared to us as he makes it through his journey in a war-ridden country.
Alabado wrote this book in the sixties and although the Filipino language here is challenging to read presently, the story’s premise will have you hooked and wishing more books on this genre.
Independencia (Film) – 6.6/10
Raya Martin’s film is unique and unlike any other we’ve seen in modern cinema, the film pays homage to silent films back in the day and tells the story of a family amidst the jungles, escaping the terrible crutches of the Americans during their occupation. The whole film, you’re in awe as well by the portrayal and the harsh reality the Filipinos had to endure during the say—the lengths a number of them have to go through just to pursue peace.
Independencia has garnered an audience even outside the country and is acclaimed by many critics! It was even screened as an official selection at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival and the first Filipino film to be selected for the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival.
Heneral Luna and Goyo (film) – 7.3/10
Jerold Tarog’s film series Heneral Luna and Goyo, respectively, evoke several emotions in the watchers, and these films consistently deliver with their script, cinematography, and actors. These films give you a different take, away from the typical textbooks you’ve read, and push you to the eyes of Joven, a character that symbolizes the watcher.
Although Tarog’s film series is yet to be finished—as he exclaims that there will be one final movie—everyone is continuously and patiently waiting for it. Our fingers are crossed that it will be just as good.
Literature and art through films continue to be the mediums of expression in modernity. It’s a craft we’ve continued to admire and consume. As we continue to advance in society, these two things remind our fellow citizens of our history and the lengths we had to do, to get there. As George Santayana states in The Life of Reason, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”—let art remain and serve as a haunting reminder.