Thursday, November 25, 2010

Anak ng Kumander (The Commander’s Son)

Last Sunday, the Kapuso Channel, channel 7 celebrated “Manny Pacquiao Day”. The almost the entire day was dedicated to Hon. Manny Pacquiao, starting from the pre-Party Pilipinas film, until late in the afternoon in the entertainment talkshows.

I am not Pacman’s biggest fan outside the ring, he has way too much negative publicity about his womanizing and gambling ways. I also didn’t appreciate his running for public office, especially under Arroyo’s wings the election before the most recent one.

Eniweis, I patiently watched Anak ng Kumander, the film shown last Sunday, starring Hon. Manny Pacquiao, Ara Mina, and Valerie Concepcion. I saw it out of curiousity, first and foremost. It was a movie about the son of an NPA (New People’s Army) commander, played by Dante Rivero, who also joined the underground movement after his father died.

It was a painful movie to watch. For one, the acting of most actors appear stilted. Imagine the Pambansang Kamao emoting to tears because his father just died. “Paano na tayo, ‘nay?(What are we doing to do now, mother?)” he was saying while shaking his mother’s shoulders when they received the bad news. For another, the story is stereotypical too, from the plot to the characterization. But it did have its redeeming factor that for me provided the unforeseen twist.

The angle about comrades turning against comrades is so in-your-face in this movie. It started when an NPA commander (Rivero) dies in the hands of his fellow comrades who decided to kill him in exchange for the 5 Million peso reward for his head, and continued until Ka Idel’s (Pacman) time, when he is reminded by love interest Ara Mina who plays the reporter rescued by Pacman, that he might also suffer the same fate as his father’s. Ka Idel is so notorious, the reward for his capture is 10 Million pesos!

There were also scenes where the NPAs are shown executing carabao hustlers as punishment for their crime. They were executed publicly, the NPAs showcasing the carabao hustlers to the barrio folk. Although it had the best of intentions at heart, saying that the NPAs are actually friends of the people by virtue of punishing those elements who torment their lives, it reinforces on the otherhand the prevalent notion that NPA justice is swift and may be arbitrary, not going through the rigors of due process.

On the lighter side of things, Valerie Concepcion plays one beautiful Amasona, unlike the Ana Capri version in Dekada ’70 who makes me wrinkle my nose at disgust.

In the end, the son of the commander died a violent death, riddled with bullets from enemy fire. He was encircled by the enemies, both from the government and from the ex-NPA-turned-gangsters who betrayed Ka Idel’s father, and were also the subjects of punitive actions of the NPA. The reporter cum love interest (Ara Mina) started shouting at Ka Idel, trying to convince him to lay down his arms and just surrender.

I waited with bated breath for the conclusion. Ara Mina was shouting at Ka Idel, the government troops surrounding him were poised to take their shots at him. Cut to Ka Idel, looking towards Ara Mina in slo-mo, then a flashback to his father’s memory (actually, just a voice over, if I remember it right). He then hoists and holds the M-60 firmer and fired at his enemies without saying a word. Did he die? Of course! There were around thirty troops who were shooting it out with him!

So, the movie ended on an unfamiliar note. An unconventional hero dies and was praised for it, with an epilogue noting that the legacy of Ka Idel, one that is not popular nor widely accepted, will live on.

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