‘Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral’ review: Deconstruction of a glorified hero

Jerrold Tarog’s ‘Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral‘ works better as an ensemble piece than a character study. Still, its a marvelous technical achievement.

The 2015 sleeper hit Heneral Luna stupefied us with an image of a burning Philippine flag and General Antonio Luna’s impassioned voice, “Bayan o sarili? Pumili ka!” It’s a rhetoric posed to the modern Filipino: will his sacrifice to fight for our nation’s freedom be in vain? The Philippine-American war is just a distant memory from the past but this film calls to arms in making a positive impact for our country today. It’s truly a life-changing event in the local cinema.

Heneral Luna can take pride on this achievement as a stand-alone biopic film but Goyo has the daunting pressure to outperform its predecessor – to present another biopic of a more known and beloved hero, and act as a connective tissue to a planned trilogy. It stays true to its roots as Luna’s ghost looms over, his name and his ideals are referred to, especially when the film illustrates the Filipinos’ tendency to worship idols and personalities.

But Goyo is not exactly a torchbearer to Heneral Luna’s fiery nationalism and resilience. The first film ignites a spark and from there, we expect a full-blown fire. Instead, this sequel throws a curveball to viewer expectations and dampens the fire with doubt. It’s a step back to challenge one’s existing ideals.

Gwen Zamora and Paolo Avelino in ‘Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral.’ Photo via TBA Studios.

Goyo picks up days after Luna’s (John Arcilla) gruesome assassination in the hands of his fellow countrymen. It’s an act of treason coyly implied to be orchestrated by President Emilio Aguinaldo (Mon Confiado). With the fighting ceased, Aguinaldo and his constituents in uncolonized Philippine regions are experiencing prolonged months of false peace, clearly unsuspecting of the Americans’ next move.

Meanwhile, one of Aguinaldo’s favorite generals, Gregorio “Goyo” Del Pilar (Paulo Avelino) has his head stuck in the clouds. He spends his time relishing his fast promotion by enjoying fiestas thrown in his honor, fooling around with his friends and chasing the affections of a beautiful maiden Remedios (Gwen Zamora). Goyo rips the textbook glorification right away and presents the titular hero as a flawed being – a PTSD-stricken soldier who doubts his leadership and principles, a reckless young lad who is torn between love and duty.

Goyo is being pulled to different directions. His brother Julian (Rafa Siguion-Reyna) feeds his ego, “Tandaan mo kung sino ka. Ikaw ang agila. Bayaning Bulakenyo. Dugong Magiting.” But what do those titles really mean to him? It’s only until he interrogates Luna’s supporter, Manuel Bernal (Art Acuña) that he realizes that he might not be a protagonist in most people’s story after all, but a henchman to Aguinaldo instead. Bernal taunts him, “Ang kaibahan natin, ikaw, naniniwala sa idolo. Kaming mga namatay at papatayin, naniniwala sa prinsipyo. Hindi ka sundalo, Goyo, isa kang aso.” Apart from this existential crisis, he is also troubled by ominous visions of his death, making him more hesitant in embracing a doomed, heroic path.

The film is driven by internal turmoil rather than the first film’s brash, strongman rule. Hence, Goyo pales in comparison with Luna, a character whose vulgar attitude alone can be a source of humor in itself. Still, this film has its distinct tone and plenty of philosophical truths to chew on, making it worthy of a second viewing. Where Heneral Luna says, “Ang taong may damdamin ay hindi alipin,” Goyo counters it with a different philosophy: “Tayo’y alipin ng sarili nating mga damdamin.”

Alvin Anson and Epy Quizon in ‘Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral.’ Photo via TBA Studios.

History can’t be contained in a single narrative so director Jerrold Tarog chooses to present this sequel as an ensemble piece – it’s actually more satisfying if viewed under such lenses. Apart from Goyo, the POV constantly shifts among the supporting cast. In General Jose Alejandrino (Alvin Anson), we take a peek on the status of the Philippine Republic’s diplomatic negotiations with the Americans. In Joven Hernando (Arron Villaflor), the viewer’s frustration of the socio-political climate is put into light. As the fictional character in the franchise, he is mostly used as a plot device to efficiently narrate the situation of Goyo and his troops. The character still lacks pay off but hopefully he will come full circle in the next chapter.

The film also thrives in its small moments like when Remedios and Goyo’s ex-lover, Felicidad (Empress Schuck) throw shades at each other during a mango picking contest. On a different note, even the short film Angelito (which can be watched for free online), gives us a perspective of a small player caught in the crossfire, how life is cheap in the service of a greater cause.

It is Apolinario Mabini (Epy Quizon) who forms the narrative’s spine. Known as the ‘brain of revolution,’ he’s the all-seeing eye that delivers the juiciest tirades against Aguinaldo’s administration and the Filipino leadership in general. (Here I am, lowkey wishing that a spin-off film will be dedicated to him as well.) What is lacking is Aguinaldo’s sentiments, as his actions are mostly told in someone else’s perspective so he’s presented as a one-dimensional villain who values unwavering loyalty over true leadership. I’m hoping his rationale will be explained in the next film.

Mon Confiado and Paolo Avelino in ‘Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral.’ Photo via TBA Studios.

As an epic historical war film, Goyo juggles with many characters and their respective threads that it’s marvelous how Tarog keeps them intact within his singular vision. Seamless editing, poignant musical scoring, poetic screenplay (co-written with Rody Vera) and meticulous direction – it’s a masterclass at work. His horror background even comes into play during Goyo’s nightmarish dream sequences. Apart from Tarog’s valiant efforts, the actors’ performances are all good and reliable, the crew’s splendid production design has perfect attention to detail and Pong Ignacio’s breathtaking cinematography deftly plays with light and shadow. This film clearly has the style to match up its substance.

It all culminates in the battle of Tirad Pass. There’s no typical Hollywood stamp to it. The sequence takes time in plotting its tactics and the gunfire is kept at a reasonable amount. As it takes an anticlimactic turn in the end, viewers are served with a disappointing revelation – what was regarded as one of the monumental fights in history falls short due to inexperienced soldiers and disorganized ruling.

The Battle of Tirad Pass in ‘Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral.’ Photo via TBA Studios.

I have to admit that there’s an initial dissatisfaction after my first viewing because I came into the film wanting to be roused like how the first film did. Goyo might disappoint because its short on giving its flawed hero a redemption. His emotional journey is mainly reliant on his relationship with Remedios, and despite spending a significant time in it, the resulting love connection never went beyond physical attraction. For a coming-of-age story, this will have more impact if his relationship with a parental/model figure like Aguinaldo is fleshed out even more.

Goyo plummets to hopelessness, exposing everything that went wrong in the revolution. Mabini caps it off with a powerful monologue on the immaturity of Filipinos, a musing that transcends to the present situation where leaders are driven by their self-interests and majority of the people are content at being complacent.

Where Heneral Luna takes away our freedom, Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral strips away what’s left with our dignity and we are once again left to pick up the pieces. This sequel puts the franchise into a clearer direction. With the first two films both in the dark phase of history, I’m thrilled for the redemption that’s about to come.


4 out of 5 stars


Directed by Jerrold Tarog, screenplay by Jerrold Tarog and Rody Vera
Cast: Paulo Avelino, Mon Confiado, Epy Quizon, Benjamin Alves, Leo Martinez, Alvin Anson, Art Acuña, Carlo Aquino, Rafael Siguion-Reyna, Christopher Aronson, RK Bagatsing, Perla Bautista, Nonie Buencamino, Roeder Camañag, Carlo Cruz, Jason Dewey, Miguel Faustmann, Bret Jackson, Ethan Salvador, Ronnie Lazaro, Jojit Lorenzo, Lorenz Martinez, Karl Medina, Che Ramos, E. A. Rocha, Tomas Santos, Empress Schuck, Robert Seña, Stephanie Sol, Markki Stroem, Arron Villaflor, and Gwen Zamora.
Run time: 200 minutes

SM Cinema celebrates 100 years of Philippine Cinema with ‘Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral’

In time with the Centennial Anniversary of Philippine Cinema, SM Cinema proudly presents the Philippines’ biggest cinematic epic to date, “Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral”.

The second installment to the TBA Studios’ historical trilogy, “Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral” follows the events happened after “Heneral Luna” focusing to the life of one of the youngest Filipino generals during the Philippine-American War, General Gregorio del Pilar. The final installment of the historial saga will be the film about former Philippine president Manuel L. Quezon.

Regarded as one of the most trusted and loyal generals of President Emilio Aguinaldo, Gen. Gregorio del Pilar will have to face not only the Americans during the revolution but also the consequences of his decisions and actions being henchman of President Emilio Aguinaldo.

The historical epic is a salutation to the fallen heroes of the Philippine revolution and a dedication to the 100th year celebration of Philippine Cinema.

Directed by the award-winning director Jerrold Tarog, the film feature actors Paulo Avelino as Gen. Gregorio del Pilar, Carlo Aquino as Col. Vicente Enriquez, Mon Confiado as President Emilio Aguinaldo, Epy Quizon as Apolinario Mabini, Arron Villaflor as Joven Hernando, Gwen Zamora as Remedios Nable Jose, Empress Schuck as Felicidad Aguinaldo, Che Ramos-Cosio as Hilaria Aguinaldo, Art Acuna as Maj. Manuel Bernal, Rafa Siguion-Reyna as Col. Julian del Pilar and Benjamin Alvez as Lt. Manuel Quezon.

Catch Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral in SM Cinema branches nationwide starting September 5, 2018. Book your tickets through the website, http://www.smcinema.com or download the SM Cinema mobile app. You may also follow /SMCinema on Facebook and @SM_Cinema on Instagram for updates!

WATCH: Final trailer for ‘Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral’ released

TBA Studios has just released the final trailer for the much-anticipated historical biopic film, Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral.

A sequel to the critically acclaimed “Heneral Luna,” Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral is also directed by Jerrold Tarog. It is based on the life of the young Gen. Gregorio del Pilar with Paulo Avelino playing the role of the young general.

The film also stars Gwen Zamora, Carlo Aquino, Arron Villaflor, Rafa Siguion-Reyna, Empress Schuck, Mon Confiado, and Epy Quizon.

Distributed by TBA Studios, and produced by Artikulo Uno Productions and Globe Studios, Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral opens September 5, 2018 in Philippine cinemas.

WATCH: Paulo Avelino stars in new trailer for ‘Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral’

Mark your calendars! ‘Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral’ is finally coming to theaters on September 5, 2018!

The highly anticipated follow up to the box office hit ‘Heneral Luna’ has announced its official playdate alongside the release of a new teaser video and teaser poster.

 

In the new teaser, the audience is given a chance to get to know Gregorio del Pilar through the eyes of different characters, including some popular characters from ‘Heneral Luna’ such as Apolinario Mabini and Pres. Emilio Aguinaldo with Epy Quizon and Mon Confiado reprising their roles. New faces are also introduced like Remedios Nable Jose played by Gwen Zamora, one of the known sweethearts of Gen. del Pilar.

‘Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral’ stars Paulo Avelino as the Hero of Tirad Pass and one of the youngest generals during Philippine American War.

It also stars Carlo Aquino, Arron Villaflor, Alvin Anson, and Empress Schuck among many others.

The film is directed by Jerrold Tarog and produced by TBA Studios, Artikulo Uno Productions, and Globe Studios.

 

TBA Studios announces exciting lineup of upcoming movies

From TBA Studios, the independent film company that brought highly-acclaimed movies such as ‘Heneral Luna,’ ‘Sunday Beauty Queen,’ and ‘Bliss,’ comes an exciting lineup of upcoming movies as formally announced on its grand launch Wednesday, July 26, at the Marquee Tent of EDSA Shangri-La Manila.

TBA Studios executive producers E.A. Rocha and Fernando Ortigas opened the event with major announcements on the company’s most recent partnership deals.

The group has entered into a strategic partnership with the country’s leading telecommunications company, Globe Telecom. TBA Studios and Globe Studios are co-producing several projects including ‘Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral,’ the much awaited follow-up to Jerrold Tarog’s blockbuster hit ‘Heneral Luna.’ Globe is also going to provide marketing support for ‘Birdshot,’ an official entry to the forthcoming Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino, to ensure that the critically acclaimed film will reach more audience when it opens on August 16.

Other exciting film projects unveiled by TBA Studios include Carlo Obispo’s ‘1-2-3,’ a gripping family drama, which opened last year’s Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival and ‘Women of the Weeping River’ which took home top prizes in the recently concluded 40th Gawad Urian Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director for Mindanaoan filmmaker Sheron Dayoc. Another highly anticipated project is the chilling crime thriller ‘Smaller and Smaller Circles’ directed by Raya Martin, based on the best selling novel of F.H. Batacan.

TBA Studios also confirmed that the film adaptation of the popular graphic novel ‘The Mythology Class’ is already in development. The official announcement was made b its creator Arnold Arre and director Tarog, who would helm the project.

Cast members and directors of TBA Studios’ upcoming and past movie projects attended the festivities. Also present were the different government agency partners as well as corporate sponsors, who helped TBA Studios along the way.

Projects In Development

The Mythology Class

Director: Jerrold Tarog | Genre: Fantasy

A young girl who holds a passionate love for Filipino myths, finds herself face to face with mythological creatures. Together with her new found friends, she embarks on a journey to fight supernatural creatures who are wreaking havoc in the human world. Based on a graphic novel by Arnold Arre.

Quezon VS. Aguinaldo [Working Title Only]

Director: Jerrold Tarog | Genre: Historical Epic

The third and final installment of Jerrold Tarog’s historical trilogy.

An American Crucifixion

Director: E.A. Rocha | Genre: Thriller Drama

An American carpetbagger in the early days of Philippine Republic is involved in smuggling, racketeering and making enemies within the Philippine and U.S. governments not to mention the Chinese Mafia. When a terrible thing happens to his family, he offers himself to be crucified on Good Friday as an act of redemption.

The Color Of Fire

Director: TBD | Genre: World War II Love Story Drama

Manila 1940. A young American naval officer is engaged to the daughter of a powerful Filipino-Spanish family during the golden age of Philippine Commonwealth under the United States. With the arrival of World War II, the lovers are separated-he joins the guerillas and she becomes head of the family during the Japanese occupation of Manila, where utter horror and massive destruction reign.

Golden

Director: JP Habac | Genre: Comedy
Writers: Doy Del Mundo and Ida Del Mundo

Poignant and funny, this is the music-filled tale of three male seniors in a Home for the Aged who come out of retirement to perform as drag queens, just so they can pay for the Home after the death of their landlord.

‘Goyo’ prequel short to screen with ‘I’m Drunk, I Love You’

Filipino moviegoers are in for a treat.  This coming February 15, fans and followers of the blockbuster biopic “Heneral Luna” are going to see a short film spinoff that serves as a bridge to the upcoming feature “Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral,” the second installment of Jerrold Tarog’s historical trilogy. The short film entitled “Angelito” is being theatrically released exclusively with the offbeat romantic-comedy “I’m Drunk, I Love You.”

“Angelito” is a 20-minute movie that tells the story of Antonio Luna’s aides-de-camp Jose and Manuel Bernal right after Luna’s assassination. According to director Jerrold Tarog, this is a fictional tale loosely inspired by real events.

Alex Medina and Art Acuña, who play Jose and Manuel Bernal respectively, reprise their roles. Aside from the Bernal brothers, some central characters from “Heneral Luna” also make a comeback in this mini-sequel. But fans should keep an eye on the new faces that they would see again in the full-length Gregorio del Pilar biopic.

Producers TBA (Tuko Film Productions, Buchi Boy Entertainment, Artikulo Uno Productions) are looking forward to finally sharing this project with audiences everywhere.

“We can not thank the public enough for making ‘Heneral Luna’ one of the biggest films in Philippine cinema. This is just one of the many ways we can show how proud and thankful we are to everyone who embraced this film,” says E.A. Rocha, TBA’s chief executive.

He also added: “Filipinos deserve to see good, quality movies! Come February 15, for a single ticket price, they’re going to see not just one, but two beautiful, memorable films—‘I’m Drunk, I Love You.’ and ‘Angelito’.”

“I’m Drunk, I Love You.”, directed by JP Habac and produced by TBA, is top billed by Maja Salvador and Paulo Avelino.

Avelino will return as Gregorio del Pilar in “Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral”, which goes into production this year.