The lives of heroes have always been a rich source of material for film. From Jose Rizal to Andres Bonifacio to Emilio Aguinaldo, their colorful exploits, bravery and raw courage can spawn countless stories that grow more exciting with each re-telling.
This year, the country marks the 250th death anniversary of heroine Gabriela Silang. Although history books
Gabriela (Tin Patrimonio) with Diego Silang (Carlo Aquino)
more often refer to her as the wife of Ilocano insurgent leader Diego Silang, Gabriela—whose name inspired the creation of a modern-day women’s rights group—proved herself her husband’s equal when she became the first Filipino woman to lead a revolutionary movement.
In commemoration of this important historical event, OnCAM Productions brings to the screen Gabriela, an independently produced film based on the life story of the acknowledged Joan of Arc of the Philippines.
Directed by Carlo A. Maceda from a script by Frank G. Rivera, the movie is produced by Sonia Roco and stars Christine Patrimonio in the title role, with Carlo Aquino playing her husband Diego Silang.
Set in 1763, Gabriela follows the struggle of Diego and Gabriela Silang as they lead their fellow Ilocanos in defying the Spanish authorities. The Spanish friars force the locals to pay excessive taxes and to trade their goods unfairly. Diego and Gabriela see this and encourage the Ilocanos to hide their goods. Diego later enters into an alliance with British forces, but the Treaty of Paris cedes the Philippines back to Spain, leaving the Ilocanos alone to fight the Spaniards. Gabriela and Diego stand strong and capture Ilocos with one major battle. The Bishop threatens to excommunicate them. Diego is later betrayed by his friends who side with the Bishop, a turn of events that leads to Diego’s untimely death.
Gabriela steps into her husband’s role and vows to avenge him. She leads his men in a series of battles that cripple the Spanish army, however, she is eventually captured and hanged. Gabriela bravely resists the easy way out, refusing a pardon and declaring that her last breath would be for her Motherland.
The cast also includes Ricky Davao, child stars BJ Forbes and Justin Pinon, Rob Sy, Jeffrey Santos, Iris Lapid, Arthur Solinap, Lars Svanberg, Nene Tamayo, Yen Abuid Paderanga, Rex Roco, Archie Adamos, Bon Vibar, Johnron Tanada, Cris Michelena and Eric Perez.
The goal of the film is to educate the youth about the struggles and lives of our Filipino heroes. “We hope that through films like these, we can better impart the message of heroism and inspire the youth to be better and good leaders in the future,” says director Carlo Maceda.
The casts of Gabriela Johnron Tanada, Ricky Davao, Carlo Maceda, Tin, Carlo, and BJ Flores
Producer Sonia Roco, wife of the late Senator Raul Roco, wishes not only to inspire people and make them love the country but encourage them to do as Gabriela did—not necessarily give up their life, but to always go the extra mile and do noble things for love of country.
Sonia says Gabriela will hopefully be the first of many projects that will tackle the history and lives of our heroes. “It’s an advocacy I share with Carlo, who’s also an educator,” says Sonia who used to be involved in producing movies when her husband was still alive. Among the movies she was part of were such classics as Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang, Insiang, and Tatlo, Dalawa Isa, working with directors like Lino Brocka and Mario O’Hara.
“We hope to create a library of movies like these and inspire a whole generation of young people into following the example set by these heroes, whose love for the country is unparalleled.”