#1:“Mas masahol pa sa Amerikano ang sinumang inilalagay ang kanilang sariling interes”
Filipinos, especially the youth, love the so-called ‘alternative’ kinds of activism and taking part in nation-building: ‘clicktivism’ (activism through the Internet), volunteering during weekends, charity, etc. While many have good intentions, it cannot be denied that many do so because they only want to do good as long as they don’t step outside of their comfort zones.
In the Heneral’s time, this has led to many of the main characters making decisions that would harmed the Revolution: Buencamino and Paterno sought to sabotage the war effort against the U.S because the Revolution was bad for their businesses. On the other hand, the Heneral and Isabel broke off their relationship because it interfered with what they saw their priority: their roles as members of the Philippine Revolution.
Filipinos today should recognize that truly contributing to nation-building requires sacrifice. In the words of Luna himself, “Hindi nakakamit ang kalayaan sa pag-aaruga sa kanilang mga mahal sa buhay… kailangan nilang magbayad… Dugo at pawis”
#2: “Isinusuka ko ang digmaan… Pero ang kompromiso?”
Pwede na. Lesser evil. These are words we get to hear a lot, especially now that the national elections are a few months away. Many of us love to compromise, from choosing to submit an essay for school that is just enough to give a passing grade (even if you can do so much better), to voting for a candidate that isn’t the best but is just the least corrupt among those who actually have a chance of winning.
We are afraid of sacrifices so we make compromise: we believe that there is another way to achieve our goals. But look at where that has led us: the leaders of the Revolution compromised with the Americans, and we ended up being a colony. We compromise with our election choices, and we keep ending up with corrupt, self-serving politicians.
#3: “Kung panaginip lamang ang umasa sa pag-unlad, managinip tayo hanggang sa kamatayan”
Because we are afraid of making sacrifices, we tend to dismiss our visions of a better country as ‘impossible’ and a ‘utopia’. Elimination of poverty, enough money for all social services, free education and health services for all, a government that will work for these goals: they are all branded as ‘dreams’.
Our predecessors back in 1898 didn’t want to sacrifice and compromised with the Americans instead. We have been afraid of ‘dreams’ since then, and our nation has remained stuck in mediocrity.
Let’s not compromise and aim for these ‘dreams’. And how do we achieve these? The Heneral himself says: “Kailangan natin ng radikal na pagbabago. Dahil may mas malaki tayong kalaban sa mga Amerikano… ang ating mga sarili”. We need a kind of social change that is not limited to what we are told are the limits. We need a kind of change that does not depend on the traditional ways: elections, legal avenues, polite methods. We need to have the same imagination and daring that our heroes had back in 1896.
#4: “Alam ng mga Amerikano kung bakit natin ipinaglalaban ang kasarinlan… Iba ba tayo sa kanila? Wala ba tayong karapatang mabuhay ng malaya?”
One of the biggest lies perpetuated by our history books concerns the Filipino-American War and the U.S occupation of our country. We were taught that America civilized our nation, and made us better people. HENERAL LUNA shows us the brutality and barbarism of how they ‘civilized’ us (more than half a million Filipinos died, mostly civilians). It also hinted on their real motives for invading us: “It’s always about the bottom line” (profits).
This wrong view of our history affects us until today: we believe that the U.S is our friend, particularly against China. We conveniently turn a blind eye to the fact that the things America did to us a century ago were repeated over and over again until today: Korea, Vietnam, Latin America, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria.
#5: “Negosyo o kalayaan? Bayan o sarili, mamili ka?”
To achieve our dreams, we must be prepared to make sacrifices and shun compromises. We must also recognize that what we thought was our friend is actually our enemy. And finally, we must get rid of the modern day Aguinaldos, Buencaminos, Paternos, and Kawit Brigades. Whatever social movements we become part of, these should not be led by people who let their own personal interests be prioritized over the needs of our people.
*Picture from Interaksyon.com