Glimpse: Remembering the “Supremo”

AndresThe Philippines, in its rich and diverse culture, has produced a wide variety of heroes. There is the warrior-chief from Mactan, Lapu-Lapu; the three martyr priests, collectively called Gomburza; and of course, the nationalistic writer, Jose Rizal. Each of these heroes exemplified nationalism and love for country; however, none may have epitomized patriotism more than the man who started the Philippine revolution, Andres Bonifacio.  The supreme leader of the Katipunan, who waged a revolution and died for his country, is now remembered on the day of his birth, the 30th of November, celebrated throughout the country as Bonifacio Day.

Bonifacio, born in Tondo, Manila, is widely known for being the leader of the Katipunan, a society of Filipinos who sought independence against the Spanish regime. Unlike other Filipinos at the time who simply wished for reforms from the Spanish government, Bonifacio and the Katipuneros seeked total freedom – through war and revolution. Dubbed as “Supremo” by his comrades, Bonifacio led campaigns against the Spaniards throughout the country before meeting his tragic end in the mountains of Marogondon. Accused of conspiring against the revolution, his death was ordered by the new leader of the rebellion, General Emilio Aguinaldo; the execution is still one of the most controversial events in Philippine history.

Throughout his life, Bonifacio exemplified nationalism; and today, he is hailed as one of the Philippines’ greatest heroes. It is no wonder that several filmmakers and producers have made multiple attempts to adapt his life and story onto the silver screen. Indeed, the controversy and drama that surrounded the Supremo’s life, battles, and death, have become the stuff of movies and TV shows. Adapting the revolutionary’s story for newer generations to follow is just one of the ways that Filipinos can continue to honor and give tribute to the fallen hero.

One of the more recent adaptations of Bonifacio’s life comes in the form of the film, Supremo. Produced by and starring Alfred Vargas, Supremo tells the tale of Bonifacio’s various battles across the Philippines, up until his death at the hands of his executioners. The movie suffered from a few serious flaws: it was overly long and had problems with its pacing, and the movie at times seemed monotonous and repetitive. Furthermore, the special effects used in the action sequences were not entirely convincing and, at times, comical. However, despite these flaws, the movie still managed to deliver Bonifacio’s story in dramatic fashion. His life and ties with other important figures in Philippine history such as Emilio Jacinto and Macario Sakay, helped make the film more interesting for viewers. Finally, the overall presentation of the film delivered the proper atmosphere and mood for depicting the Supremo’s battles.

Another adaptation that has recently been getting attention is GMA’s “Katipunan”. An eight-episode television series that seeks to present the entire history of the titular society, the currently on-going series stars Sid Lucero as the Supremo. The series aims to portray Bonifacio, not just as the fearless revolutionary who led the country in its uprising, but also as a caring husband and brother to his family. Light is shed on his personal life as well as the Supremo’s softer side. The series is still on-going, however, so it is too early to tell whether the series’ action-packed second half can deliver.

There are several other adaptations of Bonifacio’s life. Other films, such as “Ang Paglilitis ni Andres Bonifacio,” have been released. This specific movie was directed by Maria O’ Hara and entered into the annual Cinemalaya festival back in 2010. However, the Supremo’s life has not just been limited to TV and movie screens; theatre adaptations have been staged before, an example of which took place to kick of the University of the East’s 67th Anniversary celebration.

There is no doubt that in his life and after his death, Andres Bonifacio symbolizes the Philippine spirit of independence. The many adaptations of his dramatic life are just some of the ways to honor the Supremo, whom the country remembers for his courage and nationalism. There is no doubt that, through his love of country and desire for freedom, Bonifacio remains one of the foremost national heroes in our country today.

Wilhelm Tan

By Wilhelm Tan

23 replies on “Glimpse: Remembering the “Supremo””


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