‘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

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.


Celebrate Independence Day with free screenings of ‘Heneral Luna,’ ‘Bonifacio’ at Cinema ’76

In celebration of the 119th Philippine Independence Day, indie hub Cinema ’76 will hold free screenings of “Heneral Luna” and “Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo” on June 12. These historical films showcase the patriotic life of Filipino heroes General Antonio Luna and Andres Bonifacio respectively.

June 12 (Monday)

  • 12:00 PM — Heneral Luna
  • 2:00 PM — Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo

There will also be a back-to-back benefit screenings of “Ang Araw sa Likod Mo” for HERO Foundations, Inc. on the same day (6:00 PM and 8:00 PM). These screenings will be attended by actors Ping Medina, Bong Cabrera, Mike Liwag and Ian Ignacio, together with HERO Foundation scholars and some veterans. After each screening, Director Dominic Nuesa will conduct a spontaneous question-and-answer segment to entertain questions from the audience.

Tickets are priced at 150 pesos each unless otherwise indicated. Seats are on a first-come, first-served basis.

Located at 160 Luna Mencias St. Brgy. Addition Hills, San Juan del Monte, Cinema ’76 is a micro-cinema dedicated to bringing the latest Filipino independent films as well as English and foreign-language films to its discriminating movie audience. Its setup is akin to a home theater with couches and throw pillows. While food and drinks are not allowed on the couches, they can be consumed by the bars at the back area of the cinema.

For more information, visit their Facebook page or contact them at (02) 3981939.

‘Patintero,’ ‘Heneral Luna’ Deluxe DVD launch invade ToyCon 2016

The cast of the films “Patintero: Ang Alamat ni Meng Patalo” and “Heneral Luna” treated legions of pop culture fans with a special Independence Day presentation at the recently concluded ToyCon 2016 + Pop Life FanXperience. John Arcilla and Mon Confiado of “Heneral Luna” were greeted with loud cheers from the crowd as they officially launched the new “Heneral Luna” deluxe edition DVD last June 12. More importantly, the two leads gave a very timely and rousing message of patriotism to everyone in attendance. Amidst the popular international comic book superheroes, both actors noted and thanked everyone for the overwhelming support and interest for local national heroes in an event such as ToyCon.

Meanwhile, the adorable kids of “Patintero: Ang Alamat ni Meng Patalo” led by Nafa Hilario Cruz (Meng), William Buenavente (Shifty), Isabel “Lenlen” Farial (Nicay) and Claude Mikael Adrales (Z Boy) and director Mihk Vergara introduced the movie and gave an exclusive first-look at the film’s new trailer. “Patintero” was one of the films featured in last year’s QCinema Film Festival. It won the Audience Choice Award and Gender Senstivity Award. The wholesome and heartwarming coming-of-age family film about a ragtag group of neighborhood patalo will have its theatrical release this September.

The films’ producers, TBA (Tuko Films, Buchi Boy Entertainment, and Artikulo Uno Productions), had an impressive booth set-up during the three-day event. The booth, designed with a thematic look-and-feel from the film Patintero, drew in kids and kids at heart with its special coloring book station. Premium items such as stickers, postcards, fans, and a limited edition Patintero coloring book were given away to participants.

The booth also offered cinephiles a chance to sign up at Cinetropa.com. Cinetropa, the first exclusively Filipino-movie streaming site, offers a wide selection of Filipino independent films in HD for film enthusiasts from around the globe to enjoy. As a special treat for ToyCon, those who signed up during the event got a chance to win a free single movie screening at Cinema ’76, the metro’s coolest micro-cinema.

“Heneral Luna” fans trooped the “Heneral Luna” sari-sari store for the film’s official merchandise. Among the store’s bestseller was the film’s deluxe DVD. The special dual disc edition contains never-before-seen cast auditions, behind-the-scenes footage, and commentaries from the director and producers. Fans of the film patiently braved the long lines at the TBA booth last Sunday for a chance to have their copies signed by John Arcilla and Mon Confiado.

The deluxe edition DVD of “Heneral Luna” is now being sold in all leading record stores and bookstores nationwide.   

GUIDE: Cinema ’76 Film Society screenings in April 2016

San Juan, Manila — Cinema ’76 Film Society is the latest addition to Metro Manila’s ever-growing list of cinemas. Located at 160 Luna Mencias Brgy. Addition Hills, San Juan City, Cinema ’76 is a micro-cinema dedicated to bringing the latest Filipino independent films as well as English and foreign-language films to its discriminating movie audience. (See link on the address for directions and landmarks.)

April 2 – 7 : Francis Xavier Pasion Tribute

This coming April, Cinema ’76 screens some of the best works from some of the country’s top artists and filmmakers. Currently ongoing is a tribute to the late film and television director Francis Xavier Pasion. Pasion made a mark in the film industry through his award-winning Cinemalaya films “Sampaguita”, “Jay”, and “Bwaya”. These films will run in Cinema ’76 until April 7.

April 8 – 15 : The Films of Rudy Fernandez

From April 8 to 15, Cinema ’76 will host a retrospective on the life and works of Rudy Fernandez. Kicking off this retrospective is the documentary “The Last Pinoy Action King.” The film, co-directed by Australian filmmaker Andrew Leavold, chronicles the life and times of Fernandez, one the country’s most beloved film heroes. Fans of Fernandez can catch his other iconic works such as “Bitayin si Baby Ama,” “Tatak ng Yakuza”, “Sandakot na Bala,” “Baun Gang,” and “Bingbong Crisologo.”

Araw ng Kagitingan : Free Screening of “Heneral Luna”

As a special treat to movie fans and in celebration of Araw ng Kagitingan, Cinema ’76 will hold a free screening of “Heneral Luna” on Saturday, April 9. Moviegoers can have a chance to meet-and-greet the producers and cast members of the film, who will be present during the event. This would also be the perfect opportunity for “Heneral Luna” fans to buy the last remaining copies of the film’s best-selling DVD.

April 15 – 21 : Elwood Perez Films

Acclaimed director Elwood Perez take center stage as Cinema ’76 screens two of his recent masterpieces “Otso” and “Esoterika: Maynila” from April 15 to 21.

APRIL 22 – 29 : Cesar Hernando Films

From April 22 to 29, you can catch Cesar Hernando’s erotic pyscho-thriller “Gayuma” starring Benjamin Alves, one of the selections from last year’s QCinema Film Festival, and his acclaimed short films “Maalinsangan Ang Gabi” and “Kagat Ng Dilim” starring Piolo Pascual and Yul Servo.

April 29 – May 5 : Raymond Red Films

Rounding up the Cinema ‘76’s line-up for the month are works from award-winning director Raymond Red. His critically acclaimed films “Himpapawid” and “Kamera Obscura” will be screened from April 29 to May 5 along with his newly, digitally-restored short film “Anino,” a winner of the Cannes Palme d’Or—the highest prize awarded at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.

For the complete movie schedule guide, contact (02) 398-1939 or visit www.facebook.com/cinema76fs.

‘Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo’ screens producers’ cut in cinemas

Historical films, which were once considered unexciting, have now crossed over to mainstream pop culture thanks to the unprecedented success of the movie Heneral Luna. The film has sparked a yearning and curiosity among Filipino filmgoers for movies with a similarly rich historical and cultural value. Among the films that have gained renewed attention is the 2014 epic Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo.

Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo earned the Best Picture plum at last year’s Metro Manila Film Festival (as well as this year’s Star Awards and FAMAS) and is considered to be the unofficial kick-off to the historical wave that Heneral Luna started. The film even featured a mid-credit teaser of Heneral Luna during its cinema run.

With the same producers behind both films, movie fans will now have a chance to relive the revolution and see Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo once again with the limited theatrical release of the movie’s Producers’ and International Cut.

Bigger, better, and more action-packed, this particular version contains never-before-seen footage and new content delivered by its lead star Robin Padilla. Featuring English subtitles, the local release for the film will also coincide with a US premiere in New York this coming November 30 in time for the celebration of the birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio. Earlier this year, the producers’ cut of Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo was honored with a standing ovation during its European premiere in Barcelona.

Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo Producers’ Cut is produced by Fernando Ortigas for Tuko Films Productions and Eduardo Rocha for Buchi Boy Films.

Distributed by Solar Entertainment, the international version and producers’ cut of Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo opens on Wednesday, November 25, 2015 in cinemas in SM Megamall, SM North EDSA, SM Manila, SM Fairview, and SM Sta. Mesa.