Inez Ponce de Leon - Artist, Writer, Scholar, Educator

Inez's Diary: Heneral Luna, 24 Hours Later

It's been over 24 hours since I watched Heneral Luna. The movie has just sunk in; I've started crying.

I heard sniffles at the theater yesterday, as Antonio Luna's assassination turned gruesome, as the people who surrounded him ruminated on what they had lost (while denying any wrongdoing), and while the credits rolled - while the theater burst into applause. I sat, thought, and clapped with everyone else. After two hours of laughter, and amazement, and anger, and frustration at our so-called leaders of the Republic - I was left thinking.

Now , as I remember how Luna castigated the disorderly and disobedient, and as I remember how he paid for his passion with his life - I weep. I weep because all that he fought for is still worth fighting for - and, today, we still face everything that he fought against.

Luna fought against regionalism, nepotism, selfishness in government - where every man was in it for himself, where every man was in power for the sake of raising his station above everyone else's. And here we are, facing the same demons every day, in politicians who claim to listen to our woes - only to turn their backs on us when they have our votes. We face the same opponents in those who use their government position to advance the interests of their business, their families, their provinces - all as the rest of the country sinks into traffic and dirt and hunger and pain.

But my tears fall not only for those who abuse their power. My tears fall in frustration for those who, in their everyday lives, look out for their own interests... Those who have the gall to speak out against a corrupt government, but who have no qualms about hurting others to get ahead.

The people who don't line up for the train, and then scream at you when you ask them (and ever so nicely) to please fall in line instead of inventing their own floating queue.

The people who toss their trash every which way, and then scream at you when you ask them (and ever so nicely) to please pick up their trash and throw it in a right and proper trash bin.

The people who elbow you in the ribs because they want to get just a few meters ahead of you on the sidewalk. The people who eat on the train, leave their mess, and scream when reprimanded. The people who leave every place they occupy uglier and dirtier than before, expecting people to pick up after them.

And the person who beat a father of three to death all because of a scratch on his car.

We are often taught not to correct people, to let things slide, because we can get killed. But how can our country ever be great when we allow people to keep abusing their power? What use is "Pinoy Pride" for Filipinos whom we think excel on our behalf when we can't even carry out a task as simple as cleaning up after ourselves?

So I weep - and because everything that frustrated Heneral Luna over a century ago still persists today. I weep because I feel the frustration every single day when I get screamed at, all for following the rules and trying to keep things in order - all while people look on, dazed, unwilling to stand up for what is right.

We can complain all we want about our government - but if we cannot live our daily lives with discipline, then we will get the leaders that we deserve.

Watch it. Heneral Luna might make you cry - or it can help you see beyond the tears, stand up, dust yourself off, and keep fighting to make this country better.