Lifelong Learning| experiencing history: HERMANO PULI

I’ve been thinking all day how I can transcribe my recordings during the educators forum with regards to the movie Ang Hapis at Himagsik ni Hermano Pulithe latest film by Director Gil Portes with Aljur Abrenica on the title role.  And honestly, I could not begin. I am quite worried not to give justice to such a beautiful story with my writing. I have my fears, yet here I am, trying hard to compose whatever it is that I can contribute for the promotion of the movie that began showing in theaters on September 21.


Let me relate to you the words of Ralph Eya, the Education Director of DAKILA. “Heroism begins in the mind,” he said. “The fact na nagtanong ka lang, nagsimula na ang heroism, at natatapos sa aksyon. Sa pagtaya ng industriya, sana, tumaya rin ang audience. Kung walang support from the audience, wala ring mangyayari. Ang ganitong cinema, hindi form of entertainment lang… sana magpatuloy kahit sa conversation everyday. Sana, i-practice ang saysay ng kasaysayan natin. Ipagpatuloy ang lahing dakila.”


Eric Ramos mentioned that this is already the third movie about Apolinario dela Cruz, or Hermano Puli. In 1979 there was one where Tommy Abuel was the lead actor, and another indie film last year. This is the third and the biggest, so far.

In 1995 while filming a movie in Lucban, Quezon, an old man handed the story of Hermano Puli to Gil Portes. The filmmaker loved it and made it his mission to have it filmed; and after 21 years, it had been realized. They consulted Prof. Rhina Boncocan of UPLB since the life of Hermano Puli was her masteral thesis. According to UP Prof. Alvin Campomanes, this film is 80% to 90% historical. It is a movie, not a documentary.



“Hindi lang sya taga-Quezon. Kailangang malaman ng buong mundo, siya lang ang lumaban para sa religious freedom.” -Gil Portes


Who is Hermano Puli? Find out and see how actors gave justice to their respective roles. If you want producers to make more of this kind of a movie, support the film. And later, if you want to know more about his life, read the book of my friend and cousin-in-law, Ryan Palad. He has a comprehensive study about Apolinario dela Cruz, the hero and martyr from Tayabas (now Quezon). The hero that lived two decades ahead of Jose Rizal and fought for what is right for the Filipinos in his time, for all time!


I still have not written anything about the movie. I still cannot begin writing about it. Maybe because I want you to experience history by watching it now. Maybe because you need to see it first so you can find out why the heroism that happened in the 1800s is so contemporary. Or maybe because… I simply cannot write.


Ma’Rosa, Seeing What Might Otherwise Be Overlooked

A Brillante Mendoza film written by Troy Espiritu, the movie that gave Jaclyn Jose a Cannes Best Actress started and ended on two things: candies and fish balls. Parallel to her family’s journey, the movie started on a grocery store and ended on a street food cart.

Jaclyn Jose played the role of Ma’Rosa, a strong woman who decides for herself and finds a way to getting more than she deserves. She may be judged as sinister being a small-time drug pusher yet there are shades of goodness in her heart. She was considerate when due to narrowness of the interior street, the old taxi driver refused to drop her and her son in front of their house while it was raining hard. She loved her husband enough to accept and tolerate his being a drug user (and seller), and was planning to celebrate her husband’s birthday had they not been arrested for possession of illegal drugs. Most of all she loved her children to the extent of selling crystal meth “ice” to send them to school and for family survival. Well, describing the character does not mean being agreeable to the action.

However, such “goodness” also became her downfall when the boy, a neighbor who begged her for drugs and whom she gave it for free, turned traitor and tipped her and her husband Nestor (portrayed by Julio Diaz) to the police in exchange of the release of the boy’s brother who was first arrested: a fact learned by their eldest Jackson (portrayed by Felix Roco) who almost beat the tipster to death. ( Palit-ulo is the term used when an arrested “suspect” provides information to the police for the capture of somebody else in exchange of his release).

Sari-sari or convenience store sells variety of goods needed in the household and in the movie Ma’Rosa, it included drugs in the form of Methamphetamine or  shabu hidden inside a shoe box along with other goods for sale, and in one instance in the movie, sold hidden in a cigarette case. Setting is the crowded neighborhood where there are all sorts of poor people drinking and gambling.

The movie shows the mechanics of the drug trade from the big-time pusher distributed by the supplier, repacked by the seller, to the buyer who is either listed on a notebook or a representative who can assure the seller that he is a ‘legitimate’ representative who has proof on his mobile phone and knows the password; to the police who may also turn ninja (a jargon) by reselling drugs they confiscated, distributed through their dealers; and the cycle goes on.

They were at home when Rosa and Nestor were captured. Children seemed not to know about the underground business of their parents. The couple were asked by the police to pay the sum of Php200k to be freed and since they could not raise the amount, they needed to tell the police from whom they get drugs in order for them be freed. Again, a palit-ulo. They were able to turn over Jomar (played by Kristofer King), their supplier, whose wife was also unable to pay the whole amount asked by the police. When Jomar sent a text message and called his higher up “Major,” a mobile phone in the police station rang, implying that the boss was a high-ranking police officer. Jomar received a good beating because of what happened. The wife who was forced to give money to the police for the release of her husband also seemed to know the network his husband has gotten into. The police had a feast on their jackpot, easy money and a large amount of crystal meth for possible reselling, yet it was never enough and they wanted more. It seems okay to the “law enforcers”  for drug trade to proliferate as long as they get the lion’s share. Everything, even the conspiracy among the police and a few civilian helpers seemed but a natural, everyday occurrence.

The group of policemen who interrogate the drug suspects were in a room at the backdoor. No blotter, no record is needed in their operations. It looks like an open secret as the policemen in the main office just continue with their job. They didn’t seem surprised when one of the policemen said he will lead Rosa and Nestor’s children to their parents as their names were not found on police record and neither were they among those inside jail cells. The kind of policemen they were was implied by how they did not regard their shirt uniform highly as they simply lent it to err… threw it for Nestor to wear as the couple had to change since they were wet with rain. Bad weather was symbolic of what was about to happen next. Even the backdoor symbolizes the underground activity of these erring policemen, and the money from drugs hidden under the well-ironed police uniform.

Three of four children nearly raised the amount needed by their parents in so short a time. Their youngest was a child. Jackson bargained their television and was looking for a buyer of their videoke machine, older daughter Raquel played by Jaclyn Jose’s real life daughter Andi Eigenmann, sought help from relatives, even if Rosa warned her not to seek help from her sister-in-law Tilde played by Maria Isabel Lopez; and younger son Erwin (Jomari Angeles) went out with an older man to get a sum to contribute largely to what his siblings had earned. It was also implied that that was not the first time that Erwin went out with the older man played by Alan Paule. The children raised Php46k.

Twice in the movie when Rosa was arrested and riding a police mobile going to the police station and when she was allowed to go out to search for Php4k more to complete the Php50k needed, she closely observed two families who were working together for a meager earning, in contrast to the life that they had, selling drugs to escape poverty. Instant, just like the noodles she was buying at the grocery when the story began.

Rosa was buying instant noodles and other items needed in her store. She did not accept the candy in exchange for the centavos the cashier didn’t have but upon learning that she could not insist on having coins, she grabbed more than what was supposed to amount to her change. In the end, all that she had and even more— the amount ‘worked for’ by her children had to be given to the police as bribe in exchange of freedom. With little time to search for the completion of the amount being asked, even crying had to be postponed until the problem is solved. So when finally she got hold of the much needed money, she was able to buy fish balls on the street. It was the most delicious and expensive celebration she had for her husband’s birthday. She munched it slowly and literally with feelings, as tears moistened her eyes, while imagining the mockery of and humiliation from the people in the neighborhood and the policemen who got all that was supposed to be her family’s. They lost all they already had: little things like television, cellular phone, pride against her sister-in-law, and the older man with whom his younger son “sold” his body.

A moviegoer who takes pleasure on mansions and stories of the rich and famous would be disappointed to see this movie which tackles real-life drama on poverty and corruption. Nothing is sugarcoated, fantasy has no place in it, only a realization of the drama called life. Timely, as there are five police generals named by the Philippine President to be allegedly involved in drugs.

A lesson not to be overlooked is the love the family has for each member. Love that does not judge, love that is big enough to pull them together in the face of adversity.


Speaking of love, Arella Family (on Facebook) thanks filmmaker and director Brillante Mendoza for dedicating the film in loving memory of Rose Arella, my uncle’s wife, my aunt. She portrayed the role of Cecille/ Rose, secretary in the barangay hall where the TV was sold and the videoke was being negotiated.

She passed away September of last year when she was just beginning to see the realization of her childhood dream of becoming an actress. A successful and retired MARO (Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer), she went home to her Creator without seeing this film on silver screen. Aunt Rosario Requiron-Arella must be watching over and happy in God’s loving arms as she had been to Cannes through this film that has marked its place in the history of Philippine cinema.

An avid supporter of my projects and programs, she must be happy that I am writing this now. Hello from the other side, Tita Rosy.


Check out schedules. The movie Ma’Rosa is now showing. (July 2016)







Kay tamis ng ngiti

Aakalaing lantay

Tila walang kasing-bait

At pangarap ay sa bayan.

Pinagtiwalaan ng mamamayan

Ilang taon ding namayagpag

Akbay, yapos, kamay,

Animo’y matalik na kaibigan.

Kumusta ang budhi, busilak bang tunay?

Halalan nanaman

Muling maluluklok sa Tanggapan

Magdiriwang at hindi hahatulan

Pagka’t walang katibayan.



Today, you must be embarking on a journey to organize everything in your life, as I  have mentioned in my blog “New Year Or Not, Make That Change.” Go ahead and arrange everything, both the tangibles and the intangibles, in order for you to move freely towards the road to success. Here is a list of things to be done, but you can disregard the number and have your own order.

  1. Eat healthy and be physically fit everyday. That includes drinking lots of fluids even if you are in good shape.
  2. Breathe fresh air. Help yourself.
  3. List down the tasks that need to be done. Make it visible and keep track of your to-dos. Have it all done on your target date or time. Remember the reason why you have that list: such that it would be accomplished.
  4. Have your pen and paper, or your gadgets ready to list down every good idea that pops up in your head. Those thoughts can be gems which can be of help to others in need. Share it whenever you have the chance to do so.
  5. Know your purpose for doing things, even if it’s for leisure or relaxation; even if it’s as big as changing the world. Keep that purpose in mind to understand the meaning of whatever you are doing.
  6. Set aside some time to do nothing. You need to take a break once in a while by not doing anything. Welcome that perfect moment when you are like an empty jar allowing anything to fill you up, or like an empty battery that needs to be recharged.
  7. Make use of social media to get in touch with family, friends, and acquaintances. Get to know some strangers. Social networking sites are like libraries where you learn many things from. There’s an enormous knowledge that can be culled by means of those electronic gadgets and the cyber world.
  8. Don’t always depend on rules. Be creative. Make your own design, even in everyday living.
  9. Discover your talent if you are not yet aware of it. Try doing things for the first time. Try to do things that no one has ever done. Try to do things that others have done but have your own way of doing it. Do these without being hard on yourself. You have to enjoy the process. Try, and do not limit yourself to what ifs.
  10. Don’t be afraid to try new things or accept new ideas. Open all channels to improvement.
  11. Fix yourself, even if you are not broken. Always be aware of how you present yourself to others, even among neighbors. While it is true that your life is your own business, you cannot deny the fact that society can be cruel to those who look vulnerable. Carry yourself well, show some confidence. And yes, don’t forget good hygiene.
  12. When there’s a problem, find solutions as much as you can, as fast as you can. If you cannot find one after all the trying, when you have done everything that human power can do, take it easy and trust in God. Don’t be a slave of anxiety. That’s the secret to life— long life!
  13. When you have worked hard, reward yourself with little pleasures that you have been dreaming about. It doesn’t have to be a mansion or a luxurious car. Maybe you have long wanted to eat somewhere, or have that beautiful slippers. It can be something cheap that you really wanted to have but haven’t got the chance to own one. When you finally get it,the feeling would be priceless.
  14. Maximize the use of your senses at all times, much can be learnt this way. Keeping away from danger is a jackpot.
  15. Never nurture ill feelings towards other people. Get to the root of it and resolve at once.
  16. Be generous with good manners and right conduct. Guard your character. Study ethics and take it by heart.
  17. Don’t aspire to be perfect. You will never be. No one will ever be.
  18. Keep your important belongings in a safe place where you can easily take it in case of emergency like fire, flood, and other difficult situations.
  19. Learn to love, to care, to give, to help. Understand the importance of living with other people. Consider the feelings of others.
  20. Don’t fail to celebrate happiness. Remember that life is not a bed of roses but of all kinds of beautiful and fragrant flowers.


New Year is always a perfect time for improvements, but is not exclusively so. 

Once again, it’s that first day of the year: 0101 or New Year’s Day. After indulging into the household’s menu of the day, I am back to my writing desk to scribble a few lines that would make my hobby a little worthwhile not only for me but for my readers who probably need inspiration to make a brand new start. 

ORGANIZING, that would be the first keyword if we want to change for the better. It is a word that applies to a wide range of subjects in our lives. Making the bed, organizing the home to the most minute detail, keeping a schedule of to-dos, to-buys, to visits, et cetera. Now that the year has just started, have you organized your calendar of events to remind you of the tasks to be done? 

When you organize, you also have to THROW AWAY everything unnecessary. Not merely things but even relationships that have been holding you back from achieving your dreams to improve your life and the lives of those you truly love. 

There are people who cannot keep up with new year’s resolutions. To them I say, any day or any time can be a clean slate, as long as you are determined to make a change. There is no particular time or season to take off for a new beginning. 

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