JON Ivan Torreros can’t help but feel the excitement as he and his friend trooped to a cinema in Tacloban City to watch “GomBurZa.”
The multi-awarded movie featured the three Filipino Catholic priests -- Father Mariano Gomez, 72; Father Jose Apolonio Burgos, 35; and Father Jacinto Zamora, 36 -- who were executed by garrote in Bagumbayan (now named Luneta) in Manila on February 17, 1872, on charges of subversion and treason against Spanish colonial authorities.
The three priests allegedly instigated the Cavite Mutiny on January 20, 1872.
“I have known ‘GomBurZa’ since I was in elementary school, but it was only about their death. Now that I am in college, I learned that they’re one of the biggest reasons why the Filipinos made sure of their independence,” said Torreros, a young filmmaker and a communications student from Palo town in Leyte.
“They were the driving force in the awakening of the nationalism of Dr. Jose Rizal,” he added.
Rizal, the country’s national hero, was executed on December 30, 1896, in Bagumbayan.
His death helped ignite the Philippine revolution against the Spanish government, which ruled the country from 1565 to 1898.
“I also saw the reviews from historians who approved this film,” said Torreros in a report from Catholic news site UCA News.
Pablo Virgilio David, the bishop of the Diocese of Kalookan and the president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, urged the Filipinos to watch the film.
“It is a well-researched historical film that will bring you back to the first spark of patriotism that forged the ‘Filipino’ identity that eventually united us Tagalogs, Kapampangans, Ilocanos, Cebuanos, natives, mestizos, criollos and all other inhabitants of these 7,000 plus islands into one nation in the last quarter of the 19th century,” the bishop said.
“It is a gripping retelling of the story of the martyrdom of these three secular priests from the perspective of a young witness—Jose Rizal y Mercado, who was mentored by his brother Paciano, who in turn was mentored by Padre Jose Burgos, and who, in turn, was also mentored by Padre Pedro Pelaez. The adult Rizal would later dedicate his novel El Filibusterismo to the memory of these priests,” he added.
In a statement, Bishop David said that watching the film “will make you appreciate what it truly means to be a Filipino.”
Journalist Howie Severino also wrote that the film “is an epic reminder of our cinematic history.”
“Gomburza is among the most hallowed words in Philippine history, a portmanteau of the names of martyred priests Gomez, Burgos, and Zamora, with Burgos the most famous,” Severino wrote on his Facebook page on January 2, 2024.
He maintained that the film “has vividly reminded us just how dramatic and compelling our actual history is."
Produced by the Jesuit Communications Foundation, the media arm of the Society of Jesus in the country, “GomBurZa” harvested top awards in the 49th Metro Manila Film Festival on December 28, 2023.
The major awards include Best Actor, Best Director, Second Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Sound Design, and the special Gatpuno Antonio Villegas Cultural Award.
Dante Rivero starred as Padre Mariano Gomez, Cedrick Juan as Padre José Burgos, Enchong Dee as Padre Jacinto Zamora, and Piolo Pascual as Padre Pedro Pelaez, the mentor of Father Burgos.
International filmmaker awardee Jose Lorenzo Diokno directed the movie from a screenplay by Rody Vera. (SunStar Philippines)