DIRECTOR: MARK MEILY
SUMMARY: El Presidente is a three-hour epic chronicling Emilio Aguinaldo’s (Estregan) political rise, his rivalry with Andres Bonifacio (Montano) and his struggle against the Spanish and American colonizers
- Filmmakers are often seduce to depict the entire life of heroes on-screen. Ironically, the problem with cramming everything is that the movie leaves out several details and eventually loses focus. (Just like cramming for college tests.) Information overload should not be the end-result of watching historical biopics but rather critical learning. Personally, his rivalry of Aguinaldo and Bonifacio would’ve been terrific on-screen. Theirs is a tragic tale of parallel lives. One is a rising military tactician and the other a revolutionary who has seen better days. As their paths crossed, our nation’s future reaches its crossroads.
- Speaking of Bonifacio, the Supremo has been unfairly cast as history’s villain. The aging leader who will sacrifice the success of the revolution for his own political gains. At one point, a tempestuous overlord threatening to burn houses of people with nothing to contribute to his cause. Excuse me but historical movies are supposed to make us critically question our past not make it questionable. I understand El Presidente drew inspiration from Aguinaldo’s memoirs, Mga Gunita ng Rebolusyon, but to innacurately portray one man to exonerate another is a disservice to our nation.
- Much has been said with the decision of casting an actor in his late 40s to play the youngest (28) president of the Philippines. Clearly, he is miscast in the role. Fortunately, Estregan chose not to join the exaggerated acting bug most of the actors caught in the entire film. Guilty as charged are Geisler, De Leon and Regala. Geisler, in particular. Every time he’s on-screen, I’m like, “Dude, stop it and relax.” As for Nora Aunor, I cannot help but wonder if she was included in the movie just so she can lend her superstar presence. There’s no question Aunor is a great actress but playing the young blushing bride of Aguinaldo is a stretch even for her.
- Hilarious facial hairs aside, the production is quite commendable. Though I can forgive the less than impressive fight stunts, I would’ve preferred it bloodier and grimier. After all, hundreds of bolo-hacking, freedom-hungry Filipinos will never be a pretty sight. I cannot help it, let us discuss the mustache. Holy hell. Enchong Dee in The Strangers got nothing on these guys. The funniest pairs go to Geisler and Agbayani. As for beards, Roi Vinzons’ wins it by a couple of hair follicles. What’s with big-budgeted local films and horrible facial hairs? Philip Salvador’s ‘stache in Rosario started the trend. Last year, another Estregan entry, Asiong Salonga, also featured some of the funniest fake beards mustaches. I cannot wait for the 39th Metro Manila Film Festival. Scare me more.
- El Presidente boasts a grand production but lacks ambition in depicting the personal and political struggles of one of Philippine history’s least understood power players. Instead of focusing on certain aspects of his long life, the filmmakers decided to showcase his long life. Tragically, other than a lack of focus, gross historical misrepresentations were presented much to the public’s disservice. Historical biopics should help us to critically understand our past not to distort our understanding.