My Concerns Over Robin Padilla’s Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo (Endres Benefecie: Eng Eneng Penegele)

I will be the first to say that I commend the entire crew involved in its production. It seems that historical films are getting popular and mainstream amongst film goers instead of just romantic comedies over and over, and I am sure this will become a box office success, since most of the public opinion is in favor of Bonifacio, and in fact there is a petition right now to make him the first President of the Philippines spearheaded by Xiao Chua, even though he disdained the term and wanted to create a new national identity through his concept of an imagined community named the “Haring Bayang Katagalugan” which had its own government, a constitution, guerrilla bases, officers and armies led by men with Masonic ties.

However, I have some concerns about the choice of the producers of this film; primarily because some of them are very questionable. Although some of us might say that historical accuracy is not that important, it is important to portray history in general with accuracy and a sense of humanity, making the historical figures as humanly as possible.

Although the film is not yet shown and I have only watched the trailer even though trailers should never be the representation of a film because of its deceptive nature, fundamental flaws have been revealed at the very beginning. Moving on, here are some of my concerns about this film:

1. Why have you chosen Daniel Padilla to be the one of the narrators of the film? Even though the main character and the narrator are relatives, the atmosphere of the film film might be ruined because of that teen pop star. I know that you want your film to be noticed by the majority, especially those teenagers who are fans of Kathniel, and mostly likely Marcelo Santos III, this is still very laughable and would make your producers likely to hang themselves in shame, and even though the film “El Presidente” gave me bouts of laughter from its hilarity and its cheesiness, they didn’t need a teenage boy to narrate the events to be a box office success. On the other hand, at least you have chosen that guy over a group of One Direction rip-offs called the Chicsers.

Ito ang napapala ang mga kabataan na binabase ang kanilang music taste kay Daniel Padilla
Ito ang napapala ng mga kabataan na binabase ang kanilang music taste kay Daniel Padilla

2. Once again, the attire of the Supremo during battles is inherently wrong. This is quite reasonable, since Carlos Botong Francisco portrayed the Supremo with that of the common folk, which became a staple in our highschool history textbooks, but this film is taking itself too seriously that it should not be a simple affair. Sources stated that Bonifacio either wore a khaki uniform which the 2012 film Supremo by Alfred Vargas have portrayed correctly and also a Rayadillo or the standard Spanish uniform correctly portrayed by the miniseries Katipunan starring Sid Lucero. This is pretty important, since there are films and other works which are slowly deconstructing the common myth, but the film would actually reinforce this stereotype.

3. The personality of the Supremo might be the common personality trait handed from generation to generation of textbooks. Historical figures are not robots and idealists, they are human, and this is particularly damaging especially when we portray them as superhumans such as the case of Rizal. He is not hot headed all the time, in fact he had a calm personality and a grasp for strategy. If you based victories in battles alone, then you have a very narrow picture of warfare, he was considered as a genius in strategic thinking because he established countless bases and cells in which his forces would operate and he preferred to engage the Spanish forces in unconventional tactics rather than trench warfare or open field battles.

The reason why Aguinaldo won the Battle of Binakayan was due to the help of the Magdiwang forces who pushed the enemy back from their offensives in Dalahican and the help of Edilberto Evangelista, the man responsible for constructing the trenches in which a Spanish offircer remarked as the defences of the future. Bonifacio, on the other hand lost conventional battles because most of the Spanish forces were concentrated in him, and the colonial troops in Cavite were scattered garrisons of a thousand men. It was ironic that Aguinaldo traveled through the passes of Morong close to the guerrilla bases constructed by Bonfacio, in all retrospect, Aguinaldo served merely as a political rather than a military commander in most of his battles.

It is also very interesting to note that Bonifacio was not an angel, he was a scheming manipulator which led to the arrests of the prominent members of the Filipino elite when he ordered the organisation to write their names as a tool of revenge because of their refusal to join his side, the same suggestion that Rizal also stated during his conversation with Pio Valenzuela in Dapitan. Nick Joaquin and the Magdalo leaders also portrayed him as arrogant and also ambitious, and according to Aguinaldo himself, he acted like a “king”.

There are also speculations that he intended to start the revolution earlier to erase any objections from the factions of the KKK. It also seems to me that all the poses of Robin Padilla as Bonifacio is making me thinking that the expression of his face is very much the same as a constipated person, which is the same as George Estegan Jr’s portrayal of Aguinaldo in El Presidente, and it seems that looking constipated is now a theme, probably because fast food is not invented at that time.

4. Although this will be a small part of the film, the trailer shows the Spanish army using a very old muzzleloading artillery piece and a handful of Mauser Model 1893 rifles chambered for 7x57mm ammunition. Although there are sources in which the Spanish colonial forces did use old artillery pieces such as the ones seen on the trailer since there was photographic evidence that Spain used Whitworth guns dating back from the American Civil War, the backbone of their artillery corps was the Krupp 75-76mm mountain gun which both functioned as a conventional artillery piece and a howitzer. The film Supremo portrayed them accurately, and take note that the majority of the Spanish forces before 1897 were armed with the Remington 1882 rifle chambered in a .43 calibre ammunition, and it was only after the arrival of Polavieja and the first reinforcements from Spain did the Mauser bolt action rifle saw widespread action.

Bonifacio also appears in this trailer to have used a Smith and Wesson revolver, but in reality a majority of the Katipunero and Spanish officers used the Lefaucheux Modele 1858 pinfire revolver chambered for the 12mm calibre, and since the Spanish colonial armories had a lot of ammunition for this firearm, Bonifacio and others took advantage of raiding armories to obtain these rounds, and they even started a small production run as well as making improvised percussion muskets using this calibre. The details of the weapons are quite important because it is necessary to break the stereotypes of our military history. It is also important to note that volunteer militias especially from Negros, Iloilo and Cebu were raised by the Ilustrados against the revolutionaries, and around 45 to 50% of the composition of the Spanish colonial forces were Filipino volunteers.

5. Lastly, it is very important to include some obscure historical events if you are serious in making this film, such as an episode of meeting with the Japanese admiral who was interested on helping Bonifacio’s Katipunan, the meeting with Jose Rizal by Emilio Jacinto disguised as a sailor, the role of Marcelo Del Pilar in the founding of the Katipunan and a short scene about the Kakarong Republic established by the Bulaceno revolutionaries before being overrun by the Spanish forces. It might be also important to hire historical consultants and even connect the events in the Philippines to the political developments in Spain, since the history of Spain in the mid and late 19th century might fill in the gaps and misconceptions on the writing of our history.

And here are some of my concerns, and I know this film is intended to be a blockbuster, I am still doubting if this film will live up to its hype if it wants to be taken seriously by a more informed audience.

Although I commend the producers of historical films and even appreciated historical liberties (I like the 90’s version of the portrayal of Bonifacio being disturbed by supernatural influences), it is pretty important to stop using common stereotypes and write from a fresh and new perspective already did by other historical films which are largely independent in nature.

We are not guilty of this, especially the Hollywood films which portrayed Roman legionnaires equipped with the lorica segmentata in all of Rome’s history even though the pre-Marian armies wore armour similarly to the Greeks and the late Roman army wore lighter armour derived from the barbarians and the auxiliaries. I still wish for the success of this film, and I hope that history should not be viewed as boring, but rather as an interesting form of medium to represent humanity’s hope and its countless tragedies.

P.S: At least this is not as bad and campy as Muslim 357, Ejercito’s film went downhill at this point and I congratulate your decision to not include Kathryn Bernando because Danile Padilla is too much for a guarantee that your film will suck, major, major balls.

My deepest respects,

An angry douchebag who reads Philippine and world history for fun

Joaquin, Nick (1977) A Question of Heroes
Ocampo, Ambeth (2012) Rizal’s Teeth, Bonifacio’s Bones

And now for a few special public service announcements:






And the epitome of our OPM industry, I am proud to present Daniel Padilla, considered as the man who revived countless covers which made the original artists kill themselves in the process:



………….. Well, atleast Be Careful With My Heart has ended, no more excuse for me to remind the people that there was a time when I think that it will go on forever, probably because the producers got bored and might turn this series into a film or even a franchise out of it. Oh wait…………………