Friday, November 18, 2011

Occidental Mindoro Kingpins

One of the many things I really missed in Tagalog movies are those stories where the real life gangsters are glorified, I mean, portrayed. The most prominent thug in our nation’s history was Nicasio “Asiong” Salonga. In 1961, Joseph “Erap” Estrada portrayed the notorious gang leader from Tondo. Estrada zoomed to stardom appearing in a long list of so-called Philippine Gangster movies extending to most part of the 60s portraying infamous and notorious underworld characters. It was directed by Pablo Santiago and co-starred by Guia Gomez, later became mother of JV Ejercito. The flick was remade twice starring Rudy Fernandez in 1978 and another by George Estregan, Jr. in 1990. To read news clippings and see pictures of that tough guy, you may click Video 48.

And for the upcoming 2011 Metro Manila Film Festival, a third remake of said movie is one of the official entries to the festival, produced by Viva Films. The film "Manila Kingpin : The Untold Story of Asiong Salonga" is directed by Tikoy Aguiloz starring Laguna Governor ER Ejercito (formerly known as George Estregan, Jr. and also starred the second remake), nephew of the actor-turned president. It was entirely filmed in black and white. "Black and white, because it's a remake of the old film, so I want it to look like the old film," Aguiloz explained. Its full trailer can be watched here.

The modern gangsters in our midst are no longer armed with Thompson submachine guns and Grease Guns (AKA the M3 American .45-caliber submachine gun and called as such owing to its visual similarity to the mechanic's tool.) but with gossips and intrigues. The usually dark slum areas are no longer their realm but air conditioned radio booths. Many of them made us a community of snoops. These gangsters are gossipers and gossipers are robbers of somebody’s good name and an institution's good reputation. They could also be double-crossers or butterflies flying from one flower to another, testing which has the abundant nectar. Like gangsters, gossipers have also common traits: talkative, pseudo-secretive, negative, intrusive, deceitful, vicious, superficial and self-righteous. But why are we gossiping? To sow unkind motivation and to be socially accepted and to lick our patron’s ashes (I had a spelling problem nowadays!). They usually make a mountain out of a mole hill by adding some dirt. Gossipers are gangsters feeding more wood to the fire without realizing that without wood a fire goes out and without gossip a quarrel dies down (Prov. 26:20).

Gov. ER Ejercito stressed out that his movie does not entirely depict violence but rather, give more importance on its moral lesson which is, “A person who lives by a gun dies by a gun”. A person who lives by gossips ad intrigues dies by gossips and intrigues, if I may paraphrase figuratively. We have many kingpins, indeed, but we have only one King and His Feast Day is on Sunday. He is the originator of the quote cited by the actor. He said, “Those who live by the sword die by the sword” (Matt. 26:52).

The Solemnity of Christ the King signifies the end of the present liturgical year but its beauty lies in the fact that it is immediately succeeded by another fresh new year in Advent. This feast day is regarding Christ’s glory and power but we must honor Christ the King that He is in others and within us especially the downtrodden like those victims of oppressive systems and structures and one-sided treaties and agreements. The kingpins in our midst boastfully claimed that they are on the side of the “righteous” and “winners”, their boastful and ill-mannered principals. The End of Days is the focal point of next Sunday’s readings where the strong will be destroyed and be shepherded rightfully.

Like gangsters in the movies, the earthly kingpins (and queens) in our midst are slaves of their own affiliations, status and achievements…

(Photo : Video 48)

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