During his execution by garrote, Father Jose Burgos, as he was being strangled with an iron collar around his neck, raised his tied hands in great pressure, showing resistance (still) to injustice, oppression and ruthlessness until his last breath. It was a gripping scene.
Fathers Gomez, Burgos and Zamora (Gomburza), though defiant of the colonizing Spanish government, were innocent of orchestrating the Cavite mutiny of 1872, of which they were accused and found guilty (by fabrication). “Even Christ was innocent,” mocked his executioner, while Father Burgos sat in a garrote chair. Cruel.
Now I know why Gomburza garnered the most awards, including the second best picture in the 2023 Metro Manila Film Festival. To me what makes the movie great and what sets it apart from the others is that it will bore you in the first half, but it will make you cry in the end and revolt inside, realizing that our contemporary times are no different.
At first I wondered why the majority of the scenes had to be dark or taken during night time. It was only upon watching the movie (last night) — until the end that I got to know why. And it was for the same reason perhaps that Jose Rizal dedicated his novel, “El Filibusterismo,” to the three martyred friars. Best Actor Cedric Juan was so natural (near perfect in acting) in his portrayal of Father Burgos.
Gomburza is a movie with depth (and style). Watching it is like dissecting a poetry, with depths of meaning you will never know until you finish watching it. Its boring segments, I realized in the end, are part and parcel of the movie plot’s profundity and directorial job’s brilliance.
There were several themes that I saw in the movie from which the viewers can learn and be challenged to be better human beings and better Filipinos — e.g., betrayal, brutality, dictatorship, deception, selfishness, injustice, dirty politics, religious hypocrisy, cowardice, heroism, sacrifice, gallantry, selflessness, martyrdom, patriotism, fortitude, forgiveness, compassion, love of country, piety, hope, faith in God.
Our chief enemy today are no longer the Spaniards, but the covetous, rapacious, bully Chinese, and ourselves (the crooks among us).
Father Burgos cannot be more correct and direct when he said, “Despite the darkness, nobody can snuff out the embers of light.” He laid his hands on the soldier executioner who kneeled down before him seconds before his execution, and said, “I forgive you.”
The clap of the people before they left the theater was well deserved. I didn’t join the clapping, though, because I was already clapping and applauding inside (teary-eyed) ahead of them.
Viva Los Filipinos!
P.S. Except for the needless P.I. cursing in some scenes, I could have rated the movie 11.