One of the great things done by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is ordering the renovation of the Malacañan Museum. The ornate museum contains memorabilia of all 14 presidents of the Philippines and showcases art pieces by National Artists such as Guillermo Tolentino and Fernando Amorsolo.
I joined a walking tour of the museum last month. The first few minutes bolstered my preconceived notions of uber-strict members of the Presidential Security Guard (PSG) unit. Owing to my proletarian countenance, I was accosted by a PSG member at the Mendiola gate. He asked me what are my plans in the Malacañan Palace complex. They let me through and I asked another PSG member for instructions on reaching a certain street. I was surprised when he told me to hop onboard his motorcycle and proceeded to take me to my destination. That bit of kindness completely changed my views of PSG people. Mababait naman pala sila. Hindi pala sila mga robot.
Jon Red’s excellent short film is memorable for showing a PSG member in a different light. Lucas is not just any character; he is one of the guys I’ve seen at the Malacañan Palace compound. These are the guys who are tasked with a thankless job. But, despite that, they still care for their fellow Filipinos and country.
The film begins with Lucas telling the story of a child snatcher coddled by a guardian cop. He remarks that the cop should be held accountable for the bad behavior of the child. He adds that people in power and authority doesn’t need to be the best and the brightest. The only requirement is they should not turn a blind eye on evil things.
The beautiful camerawork by Larry Manda captures the mouth-watering breakfast of Lucas. The food is a far cry from the simple fare he eats in his childhood days. ‘That is part of progress,’ says his companion Chef Punsal. Everybody changes for the better. The definition of progress gets a bit of a tweaking from Lucas when applied to the country’s economic growth. The country is indeed moving forward…but towards a pit.
The best political swipe in the film is at the end when the identity of Lucas’ boss is laid bare. Chef Punsal reminds him to take care of their boss. In a nicely executed scene, Nonie Buencamino brings out the conflicting emotions felt by Lucas with regards his job. Lucas insouciantly says ‘Kailangang bantayan.’ The glazy eyes, hunched shoulders, and bowed head reflect resignation from the PSG member.
Kailangang bantayan. Those two words are perfect advice to Filipinos trooping to voting precincts next week. We need to be alert and thwart any evil schemes of politicians. In 2004, scores of people kept vigil at the precinct levels. All their hardships and sacrifices were obliterated because of a mere illicit telephone call by the President.
Let’s do our bit in ensuring a clean and transparent automated election. I’m still hopeful that a clean and honest May 10, 2010 election will be one of the best legacies of the Arroyo administration.
The television screenings of amBisyon 2010 were abruptly halted because of censorship. The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board earlier gave X ratings to two short films. Television episodes containing these X-rated films were subsequently deemed unfit for public viewing.