“Filipinas, farewell! Long live the Republic and may our independence be born in the future!”
Those were Macario Sakay’s last words before he was executed by hanging on September 13, 1907 for treason. His real crime was patriotism, breaking rank with the leaders who sold out the Philippine Revolution to the United States and waging a guerrilla resistance against the American colonial government. They called he and his soldiers “banditos,” a label which has stuck in the minds of many Filipinos generations later (that is, if they even remember his name). His existence in Philippine history negates the official narrative that the Philippine-American war ended in 1902. True patriots continued to invoke his name as a symbol of the unfinished revolution. It would take nearly 90 years after his death before director Raymond Red’s “Sakay” (1993), one of the most accessible and well-crafted bio-pics ever made in the Philippines.
Julio Diaz plays the stoic revolutionary heartthrob who stubbornly refuses to quit even after being jailed and watching the leaders of the Katipunan capitulate to the Americans. So he and his crew take to the hills and form a new revolutionary government, refusing to sell out and sacrificing family, romance and haircuts to finish what the Filipino people started against Spain. If any of this at all sounds like Steven Soderbergh’s Che, it’s no accident. Their stories are similar, and I’d bet Soderbergh came across this film before filming his. Sakay is more conventional, not deviating much from the action-drama template. For a film about a unfairly maligned person belatedly being reintroduced to public as a hero, the concessions are excusable, perhaps even necessary. Throughout the film, Sakay engages in conversation, sometimes heated debate, with Filipinos across the political spectrum. Red never casts Sakay as unquestionably right, but rather as the embodiment of a question himself: is this fight worth fighting for?
1.46GB | 1h 45mn | 704×384 | avi
Language:Filipino, Tagalog, English