Film ‘Gomburza’ on racial bias in Philippines stirs sentiments - GulfToday

Film ‘Gomburza’ on racial bias in Philippines stirs sentiments

Filipinos emerge from a cinema in Al Ghurair Centre in Dubai after watching the film ‘Gomburza’ on Wednesday evening. Kamal Kassim / Gulf Today

Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter

A film on Filipinos subjected to religious persecution in the past has made its maiden presence in the UAE.

This is “Gomburza,” the most-awarded – at six of 11 – in the Metro Manila Film Festival 2023. Not only it is a deep dive into the Historia De Los Fillipinos – Narrative of the Filipinos – during the 300 years of Spanish colonisation for which Espana ruled with might using the armour of Roman Catholicism, it is, as well, the mirroring of man’s heart-borne ordeals for the sole purpose of self-perpetuation because of the magnetising effect of power, fame and fortune, fuelled by avarice.

Spanning 55 years (1841 to 1896) of that three-century fiefdom of present-day Philippines, the nearly two-hour photoplay made more melancholic with the sepia-effect of cinematography, “Gomburza” revolves around racism and the consequent justice and freedom.

It is about how the Spanish Government which at that time had recently lost its other colony Mexico, misused again its supremacy – to the point of even becoming the puppeteer behind the Roman Catholic religious orders against their secular counterparts, many of whom were also of Spanish lineage - the only difference was that they were born and raised in Las Islas Filipinas and closely interacted with the Indios, the derogatory label for the natives, treated as cuidadanos de segunda clase (second class citizens).

Three of the secular priests who had clearly traced their being descendants of Spaniards were Padre Mariano de los Angeles Gomes (Sta. Cruz, Manila, 1799), Padre Jose Apolonio Garcia Burgos (Vigan, Ilocos Sur, 1837), and Padre Jacinto del Rosario Zamora (Pandacan, Manila, 1835); deceitfully implicated in the 1872 Cavite Mutiny, the instigators and financiers of which were the Spanish mestizo gentry, wanting liberty.

Premiered on Wednesday evening in Dubai, it is currently shown in seven other theatres across Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah. Fascinating to hear how the characters interchangeably spoke in Latin, Spanish and poetic Tagalog.

On Thursday, Ambassador to the UAE Alfonso Ferdinand Ver told Gulf Today: “With the movie ‘Gomburza’ being shown across the UAE, Filipinos and our foreign friends get a chance to get acquainted with three persons that inspired Dr. Jose Rizal, our national hero, to lead our people towards freedom and nationhood. This is important for the younger generation, those born of parents working in the UAE, or who have arrived in this country at a young age. There is a need for them to gain an interest and a deeper understanding of our history and culture, because our sense of identity as a people derives from it. I encourage everyone to learn more of our country’s history so we can fully appreciate the efforts of our heroes and the sacrifices they made so that our country, the Philippines, can emerge as a free and independent nation.”

From the premier night, JCParinas Blog and Siklab Pinoy content creator Jeffrey Parinas saw how devilish injustice is “which exists to this day.” He expressed hope that the superbly-knitted “Gomburza” entices senior high school students in Philippine schools across the globe to comprehensively read the required “El Filibusterismo,” Rizal’s sequel to the anti-Spain novel “Noli Me Tangere,” another mandatory reading.

Dubai resident Bea Avila was impressed by the work of director Jose Lorenzo “Pepe” Diokno III and the delivery by the entire cast led by Dante Rivero (Padre Mariano), Cedrick Juan (Padre Jose), and Enchong Dee (Padre Jacinto): “Well-researched. Definitely a time tunnel.”

Architect Ryan Banks was pleasantly surprised that actor Piolo Pascual essayed the character of Padre Pedro Pelaez, another Spanish-descent secular priest and Padre Jose’s mentor: “Rarely do we have Filipino films inspired by historical events. The greatest strengths of the movie are its historical accuracy in the context of the characters, the emotional impact on the viewers. I heard a lot of viewers, angry and sobbing.  The acting is so superb. Highly recommended. It ignites patriotism. We should all be grateful to all our heroes.”

Viva Films-Middle East Theatrical Distribution manager Sheila Jean Pellano said “Gomburza” was brought to the UAE not only for its well-acclaimed merits but because its messages of “courage, fight for justice and freedom are universal that transcends geographical boundaries.”



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