GOYO: A take on history, in the lens of today
Following the 2015 critically-acclaimed film Heneral Luna, Director Jerrold Tarog reimagines the short life of another Filipino martyr, the youngest general of the Philippine Revolution, General Gregorio del Pilar in Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral. Jerrold’s film came through with an intricate attention to detail, a historical narrative with elements that viewers should anticipate, and visual prowess providing a unique vantage point of the picturesque history of the Philippines.
“War, war never changes.”
The Philippine history-based narrative continues from Heneral Luna, the latter film that places the spotlight on General Antonio Luna’s brute, foul-mouthed, and authoritativeness as a military general. Goyo, on the other hand, beams the light on del Pilar’s brazen loyalty to the Emilio Aguinaldo, charm to women, and resolve to lead his troops against the American forces.
As romance and humor are just cinematic flavors that suit any audience, so does the film take advantage of providing heart-fluttering romance scenes and wit-induced chuckles. This is apparent in a particular scene wherein del Pilar’s “flames” have a heated argument between a fruit, then proceeding to throw shade at each other, as one of the moments that strayed away from the seriousness of the film and brought back the wit audiences saw in Heneral Luna.
Leading actor Paulo Avelino showcased his finesse as a renowned actor by delivering a strikingly relenting performance of the short-lived general. Epy Quizon continues to daze the crowd with his depiction of Apolinario Mabini’s brilliance, defining what made the “Sublime Paralytic” to be part of the Philippine history’s books. Supporting actors such as Aaron Villaflor, Carlo Aquino, and other great performers also lent their craft to deliver a portrayal of their characters with attention to details that viewers ought to notice and appreciate throughout the entire film.
Moreover, the film’s visual and auditory appeal accurately relives Philippines in the era of nostalgia and grace. On the flip side however, the cinematography adorned with meticulously-picked colors superbly adjuncts the scenes in play—especially del Pilar’s PTSD-esque flashback scenes in the film. A shortcoming of the film is the blatant shrugging off of the backstory of the young general, and his incredible background in warfare. The film instead focused on the narrative’s dependence on the general’s allure and appeal to women through his looks and stature. Another flaw is that some of the lines told by the film’s characters came out somewhat bland, resulting in little to no quotable quotes that stuck with the audience. When compared with Heneral Luna, Goyo’s pace was slower and lacked wittier moments that would have otherwise made the film more engaging.
Slight spoiler warning.
A prime example of character development turned (slight) plot twist is Emilio Aguinaldo’s yielding to the Americans at the end of the film, opposing his duty to stand his ground together with his countrymen to guide the Philippine Revolution. A true parallelism on the current political climate where leaders are supposed to serve and protect their constituents but instead, submitted to the forces of foreign invaders.
Just like any Marvel superhero film, audiences ought to stay past the ending credits for a resolution in a minor “cliffhanger” of the film, and a peek into the proceeding film. It’s also worth noting that the third and final film in the trilogy is the biopic of Manuel L. Quezon, the second President of the Philippines.
Beyond the film however, an article from Esquire Philippines mentions several books of Teodoro Kalaw, Apolinario Mabini, Katherine Mayo and other renowned Filipino writers contributing in building the narrative of the film. These books can also be read before or after watching Goyo to gain additional insight on the film.
By itself, Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral is a promising representation of Philippine patriotism in the form of retelling another story of a young patriot not unlike ourselves. But with the Heneral Luna still being superior in pacing and much-needed humor, Goyo still proves to be a solid watch for everyone to support the local film scene—and recapturing history frame by frame.
Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral is now showing in cinemas nationwide.