MOVIE REVIEW El Presidente: Emilio Aguinaldo by Dino Crescini

I viewed this much-talked about movie in the home theatre of my youngest son who did know much about Philippine History. (He studied high school in Australia.)

From the start of the film, I anticipated knowing more about the husband of Honorata Crescini, wife of  Ladislao Diwa, one of the original founders of the Katipunan.

ER Estregan declaring Philippine Independence in the historic Aguinaldo Mansion in Kawit, Cavite as he played the title role.

From my point of view, the movie can be described using only one word: mediocre.

The film was based on Aguinaldo’s memoirs, “El Presidente.” It details his life as a 17-year old cabeza de barangay in Binakayan, Cavite, through his time as a key figure in the Philippine Revolution against the Spanish colonizers, the Filipino-American war, the Second World War until  his death in 1962.

Having been born during WWII, I was unaware that Filipinos during Aguinaldo’s era spoke good Spanish, as depicted in the film. By the time I grew up in my hometown Cavite City, the language evolved into the Chavacano dialect — distorted Spanish mixed with Tagalog.

The production was supposed to be a documentary but there was no commentary. The story portrayed that Spaniards were stupid, the Americans evil, and Aguinaldo good.”

The movie confirmed what I remember from my studies in history that Aguinaldo ordered the assassination of Andres Bonifacio, a role played by veteran actor Cesar Montano. Bonifacio was teary-eyed after he was not elected as president during the Tejeros Convention in 1897.

Among the members of the supporting cast was Christopher de Leon as Gen. Antonio Luna and Christine Reyes as Hilaria Aguinaldo. Sadly I couldn’t remember who played the cameo role of Gen. Gregorio del Pilar, known hero of the battle of Tirad Pass.

My family was not at all amused by the poor make-up of Alicia Mayer who was portrayed as a ghost.

Aguinaldo must be turning in his grave if he were to see this poor portrayal of himself as “El Presidente,” and so would the rest of the Filipino revolution heroes who appeared in the film that was marketed as a historical epic.

The movie was directed by Mark Meily who also produced and directed “Baler.”

Being a close relative of Honorata Crescini-Diwa, the wife of Ladislao Diwa, I couldn’t help but notice that there was no mention of Diwa as one of the original founders of the Katipunan. Diwa’s grandchildren, many of whom are still alive, live in San Mateo and Hercules counties, California. They  will probably cringe when they see this mockery of Philippine History.

Honorata Crescini-Diwa and Ladislao Diwa. Photo was provided by their daughter Miss Cecilia Diwa who was School Principal of Caridad Elementary School, later named Ladislao Diwa Elementary School. Another grandson, Benjamin Diwa continues to occupy their ancestral home in Cavite City where a marker of Ladislao Diwa serves as a corner stone.