The November 2009 massacre of 57 people in Maguindanao is a difficult topic to put on film. The barbarity of the perpetrators is too much to take. The graphic descriptions from news reports are so gruesome it makes the skin crawl. Several victims were beheaded. Some of the women were raped. Corpses and vehicles shared the same vast burial pits, which were creepily prepared days ahead.
Five months later the incident is still big news. Media groups raised a howl over Justice Secretary Alberto Agra’s decision to dismiss murder charges against two prominent members of the Ampatuan clan. You can’t blame the media people because 30 of their colleagues died during the massacre. It is the biggest atrocity committed against journalists in years.
One of the amBisyon 2010 films, Emman de la Cruz’s Laro reenacts the November 2009 massacre using action figures and plastic toy vehicles. It is not a great film. Heck, it’s not even one of the better films from the omnibus. But, if we take into account how the Ampatuan clan members played around with the results of the elections in 2004 and the brazenness in which they dispose of rivals and media people in 2009, then the film makes sense. The arrogant members of the clan are so full of themselves that they believe they can toy and bully anyone who gets in their way.
Jailed suspect Andal Ampatuan Jr. continues to fool around with the media people. There is a certain smugness in him that seem to say ‘I’ll get away with this.’ He was able to hold a press conference wherein he shared his choice of presidential candidate and senatorial candidates. Andal seems to get a kick being in the media spotlight. Maybe what he needs is a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick in the face.
Kiri Dalena’s Requiem for M deals with a widow’s search for justice. The wailing of Myrna Reblando sends shivers. She gets to see the place where the massacre happened. The image of the backhoe brings up memories of the gory fate of her husband and 56 other people.
Dalena utilized backward playing of scenes. As long as justice has not been served, Reblando and other family members will always look back at the incident and fight for their fallen loved ones.
The two short films are good films. However, I’m recommending a feature film that depicts why incidents like Maguindanao massacre occur. Arnel Mardoquio’s excellent Hospital Boat focuses on political warlordism in Mindanao. It examines the uphill battle by peace activists in the southern island. Try to watch this Urian best picture nominee.
A Quiet Passion (Terence Davies, 2016)
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