History in a Hurry

22 Aug 2010 (Sun) at 4:31 pm 16 comments

GMA-7 Lupang Hinirang: Marian Rivera

The Marian Revolution, led by Marian Rivera.

The Philippine National Anthem (Lupang Hinirang)
Director: Paul Ticzon
Cast: Aljur Abrenica, Marvin Agustin, Victor Aliwalas, Alvin Aragon, Bea Binene, Iza Calzado, Bodie Cruz, Dingdong Dantes, Gabby and Geoff Eigenmann, Mark Anthony Fernandez, Carlo Gonzalez, Carl Guevarra, Richard Gutierrez, Dion Ignacio, Paolo Paraiso, Enzo Pineda, Rhian Ramos, Marian Rivera, Arthur Solinap, Mike Tan, JC Tiuseco, Dennis Trillo, TJ Trinidad

How can you fit the history of the Philippines in two and a half minutes? GMA-7 takes on this challenge with its new “Lupang Hinirang” video, produced in collaboration with SM Cinemas.

The video is a tour de force of production design and cinematography, with meticulously designed sets and costumes. The network made the most of its pool of talents, and each actor played their bit part well. (After watching it on HD though, I changed my mind.) The production team, they say, closely consulted the National Historical Commission, though there were still some glaring mistakes (see bottom). Nevertheless, the clear goal was historical accuracy.  This was no easy feat.

Overall, the video boasts of grandeur. The spectacular visuals paired with the booming audio and soaring chorale makes for one edifying experience. “It strengthens one’s nationalism when viewed,” said Paul Ticzon, the video’s director, in a press release.

GMA-7 Lupang Hinirang: Marcela Agoncillo et al.

GMA-7 crafts a historical perspective.

In Favor of “History”

Indeed, the historical treatment is an interesting one. In contrast to ABS-CBN’s popular National Anthem video, which banks on star power, drama and stereotypical representations enacting the visual rhetoric of “unity,” rival network GMA-7 decided to go for the more obvious and traditional road: the recounting of (textbook?) history. “Our version has an educational component,” said associate creative director Dong Tan. “It reminds Filipinos to relearn history in a very cinematic way.” What it lacks in conceptual innovation, it makes up for in production value.

A striking and very timely contrast to the ABS-CBN treatment is seen in the video’s EDSA 1 segment, where Marian Rivera plays a nun. While ABS-CBN is wont to immediately connect EDSA 1 with the Aquinos (with Noynoy Aquino’s ascent to power, ABS-CBN’s bias for the new president became evident in its treatment of news; in fact, one of the heads of Aquino’s newly-formed communications group is former ABS-CBN talent Ricky Carandang), the GMA-7 video takes a decidedly different angle, instead assigning the lead role to an ordinary citizen in the form of a nun. This is glaring, since the montage is largely personality-based, mostly focusing on famous individual “heroes” per era. This moment is a specifically commendable treatment, for instead of concentrating on the Aquino family, it returns the agency of People Power back to the people.

GMA-7 Lupang Hinirang: Mark Anthony Fernandez

Mark Anthony Fernandez leads the subversive Katipuneros.


Going beyond ABS-CBN’s close affinity to EDSA 1, the GMA-7 video reminds us that way before 1986, there is a very long history of struggle, a largely anti-imperialist one. Strangely, though, the video makes a giant leap from EDSA 1 to the present. “History,” it seems, ended with EDSA 1. Apparently, nothing significant happened from 1987 to the present—no coup d’etats, no struggles against Charter Change, no anti-Estrada and anti-Arroyo movements, no Ampatuan massacre, no nothing.

Perhaps it is safer to remember as “history” those events which happened way back in the past. The last two decades may be too controversial to begin and end each broadcasting day with. After all, it is easier to canonize Bonifacio’s generally acknowledged anti-colonial movement more than a century past than the more recent broad campaign to oust Arroyo. If it’s not older than twenty years, it’s not history.

Speaking of glaring absences, there is almost no trace of the Left in the video. The GMA-7 video features the underground Katipunan but not its contemporary counterpart the New People’s Army, the Commonwealth Republic but not the Hukbalahap, EDSA 1 but not the First Quarter Storm, and as mentioned, nothing after 1986. This is odd, because following the historical thread of anti-imperialist resistance movements (which the video does) would inevitably lead to the formation of the Leftist movement in the Philippines. Again, historical exclusion in favor of skirting controversy?

GMA-7 Lupang Hinirang: SM Mall of Asia

The globalized mass media? (I'm not just referring to Jessica Soho.)

The End of History

As with any recounting of history, the most crucial part is the present, the current site of struggle. This is where the GMA-7 video really gets interesting. The anthem stops at EDSA 1, after which we see a host of Kapuso stars clad in white. First, we see them in a nondescript studio location, but the video ends, with dramatic scoring, outside the SM Mall of Asia.

Francis Fukuyama famously declared liberal democracy under capitalism as “the end of history,” the highest stage of human development. The GMA-7 video unwittingly reinforces this idea that history ends with capitalism, that this is the best our race can do.

After centuries of struggle, Philippine history ends with a mall. Not just any mall, but one of the top five largest ones in the world, the bastion of capitalist enterprise, free-market ideology, labor contractualization and neoliberalist expansionism we fondly call SM Mall of Asia.

“This will hopefully show and remind the younger generation what our heroes went through in history for our freedom,” said director Mark Reyes, who pitched the historical treatment to the network. What does this video say, then, about the struggle for freedom? Is it something we just read about in history books, the perfect storyline for movies—and now, national anthem music videos? What role do citizens, especially those from the younger generation, play in the struggle? Sure, perhaps you might be moved and feel Filipino pride after the first few times you see the national anthem video in SM Cinemas before you watch the latest Hollywood flick. But what comes next? Does one feel inspired to engage in present issues?

No. Because with the exclusion of the last twenty years, GMA-7’s “Lupang Hinirang” video commits historical amnesia. It hesitates to be embroiled in current events, events which inevitably become history. After all the cinematic grandeur, it is this counterproductive, even passive attitude towards history and history-making which is impressed upon viewers.

History is composed not just of cinematic moments, but of daily ordinary engagements. History is not a spectator sport. GMA-7 presents us with a “historically accurate” national anthem video where the present is symbolized by a shopping mall. For the more discerning mind, that should be a clear indication that the struggle for freedom isn’t over. #

GMA-7 Lupang Hinirang: Aljur Abrenica

Si Lapu-Lapu (Aljur Abrenica) lang ang nagji-gym sa Mactan.

GMA-7 Lupang Hinirang: Aljur Abrenica

Kung ito lang din naman ang bantay, mapapaluhod talaga ang kalaban.

GMA-7 Lupang Hinirang: Dingdong Dantes

Magaling mangabayo si Dingdong.

GMA-7 Lupang Hinirang: Marvin Agustin

Adios patria adorada de Agustin.

GMA-7 Lupang Hinirang: Marvin Agustin

Best in madrama transition...

GMA-7 Lupang Hinirang: Marvin Agustin

... and best in wig.

GMA-7 Lupang Hinirang: Dennis Trillo

Nagladlad na si Dennis...

GMA-7 Lupang Hinirang: Dennis Trillo

...ng buhok. Runner-up sa best in wig, pero tunay na buhok ata to. Astig hairdo natin, General!

GMA-7 Lupang Hinirang: TJ Trinidad

Nice shot, TJ. :-)

Gryffindor si Richard Gutierrez. (Nah, he's Manuel Quezon daw. But he looks too young for the part.)

GMA-7 Lupang Hinirang: Iza Calzado et al.

Sewing the first Philippine flag. Goof 1: Lorenza Agoncillo (right) was still a little kid, not a teen, when she helped sew the flag. Goof 2: The flag was sewn in Hong Kong, so correct me if I'm wrong, bakit mukhang nasa bahay-na-bato sila sa Pinas?

GMA-7 Lupang Hinirang: Iza Calzado et al.

Goof 3: Inconsistent sun. The sun in the video (left) and the sun in the actual first Philippine flag (right).


Entry filed under: Edgar Allan Paule, Filipino films, Music videos, Short films. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Rigged Picture The Philippines: Not Just “Bus and Miss Universe”

16 Comments Add your own

  • 1. cathy  |  23 Aug 2010 (Mon) at 2:15 am

    Finally, a depiction of history that somehow beams some spotlight on our other heroes. I haven’t seen this video yet. Thanks for the feature.

  • 2. krguda  |  23 Aug 2010 (Mon) at 11:17 am

    Napakalaking problema nito na ipinakita ang kasaysayan na para bang serye ng pamumuno ng mga bayani at presidente. Iyun ang kasaysayan sa pananaw ng GMA-7. Hindi kolektibong pagkilos para mabago ang lipunan, na siya namang mas accurate na pormulasyon ng naganap na mga pagbabago sa loob ng mahigit isang siglo.

    Kataka-taka rin ang kawalan ng anumang imaheng tumutukoy sa panahong mula Commonwealth hanggang Martial Law, wala. Tama ang sinabi mo: nasaan ang rebelyong Huk? Nasaan ang First Quarter Storm? Kahit ang Batas Militar at ang pampulitikal panunupil?

    Saka, ganun, ang bayani ng EDSA ay mga madre? (At si Marian Rivera pa — Marimar herself — ang epitomya ng madreng bayani ng EDSA?)

    At, naku, tinapos pa sa Mall of Asia. Galing. Ang katapusan ng kasaysayan natin ay walang humpay na pagpunta sa mall at pagliliwaliw.

    Congrats, GMA-7!

  • 3. Fidel  |  23 Aug 2010 (Mon) at 11:43 am

    “This is glaring, since the montage is largely personality-based, mostly focusing on famous “heroes” per era. This is a specifically commendable treatment, for instead of concentrating on the Aquino family, it returns the agency of People Power back to the people.”

    I love how you guys took note of this.

  • 4. Edgar Allan Paule  |  23 Aug 2010 (Mon) at 11:49 am

    @cathy: youtube link at the bottom. I think it was the other way around: they used heroes to spotlight the artistas.

    @kenneth: well-said!

    @fidel: thanks. On second thought, the agency is returned maybe not really to “the people,” but more like “the Church”?

  • 5. cathy  |  23 Aug 2010 (Mon) at 5:57 pm

    Point well taken, but making use of the magnet – the “lure” – of these artistas to inspire a spark of historical interest is nothing to scoff at. Besides, you just can’t fit more than a century of colorful, blood-drenched history to fit into a 2 minute, 32 second “tribute”. I can remember similar efforts from way back – of “Lupang Hinirang” clips – with less known/unknown actors. The effect isn’t the same. For once, fame as vacuous as it seems, is put to better use.

    It’s a great reminder that we do have more heroes who devoted their lives for their country, and that National Heroes Day is worth commemorating, as much as the Edsa Revolution.

  • 6. om  |  23 Aug 2010 (Mon) at 6:20 pm

    tama si kenneth!

    at tama rin ang ilang punto niyo.

    reaffirmation lang ito ng mga stereotypes at misconceptions natin sa kasaysayan (na tinuturo pa rin at hindi iwinawasto sa mga paaralan).

    mayroon din isa pang goof sa video:
    yung eksena ng pagbitay kina gomburza, mukhang magkaka-edad lamang ang tatlong pari. pero ang totoo, matandang malayo si padre gomez dahil 70+ yrs old na sya nun.

  • 7. tanglad  |  25 Aug 2010 (Wed) at 5:09 am

    The video also reiterates how Philippine history begins with recognition by the West (via colonialism). Nothing happens before that. Tapos, nakikita lamang ang kababaihan sa supportive, stereotypical, non-violent roles (mananahi, madre). No women took up arms against colonizers.

  • 8. Lupang Hinirang  |  25 Aug 2010 (Wed) at 1:34 pm

    […] cinematic slice of history comes to you courtesy of Viewer Discretion, via an insightful review of GMA7′s latest version of the National […]

  • 9. Edgar Allan Paule  |  25 Aug 2010 (Wed) at 7:04 pm

    @tanglad: Very good observations! Thank you for pointing that out!

  • 10. tanglad  |  28 Aug 2010 (Sat) at 6:58 am

    ps: I meant to say that was a very insightful post. Am really enjoying this blog. happy weekend.

  • 11. Luisita: Makikialam Tayo « Kapirasong Kritika  |  02 Sep 2010 (Thu) at 1:39 pm

    […] dinanas ng mga kababayan natin sa teritoryo ng mga ito?” May bago na namang nakakatuwang entri si Edgar Allan Paule, tungkol naman sa dalawang-minutong video ng pambansang awit ng Kapuso. Ang ganda ng Camiguin, lalo […]

  • 12. wes  |  06 Sep 2010 (Mon) at 11:09 am

    another beef would be the inaccurate description of the gomburza execution, they were not executed all at the same time, their were executed with the oldest first to be garroted, and if i remeber correctly, burgos did not go solemnly and serenely as was depicted in the video, he was wailing like a child and refusing to be executed, zamora was in a dazed because he suffered mental breakdown on the night before the execution.

    a minor technical goof would be the rifle of the phil scouts during the WWII scene, the bolt was not moving while he was firing the gun….

  • 13. Edward  |  18 Oct 2010 (Mon) at 9:26 pm

    I like how you noted that in capitalism, there’s no longer acknowledged struggles recorded as history. The NPA and other form of struggles are stripped of meaning. This totally destroyed the purpose of history and the struggles of the katipuneros. Everything is fine with the construction of a mall. What a veiled symbolism of the historic victory of capitalism over the people!

  • 14. pritongkanin  |  19 May 2011 (Thu) at 11:22 am

    Globalized Media, I’m not just referring to Jessica Soho – hahaha ang tindi talaga

  • 15. eufems  |  05 Jan 2012 (Thu) at 11:13 pm

    I’d simply say don’t be excessively demanding. It’s a two-minute video, not a full-length movie. while, yes, we have a problem with the ages of the Gomburza and Quezon’s excessive youthfulness, kudos to GMA for trying and trying successfully. but it could be improved (please, the battle of tirad pass wasn’t just del pilar riding on a horse; it’s our own version of 300; bitin)

  • 16. cornelio batute  |  07 Feb 2014 (Fri) at 12:17 pm

    Aguinaldo did not wave the flag. He was not even in the area. It was Ambrosio Rianzares who read the declaration of independence (in late afternoon not mid-day). Too romanticized, did not even include Artemio Ricarte.

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