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'GomBurZa' and the significance of revisiting history

November 19 ------ Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) official entry "Gomburza" hopes to reawaken the Filipinos' burning passion for for national justice, equality, truth, and independence in telling the story of three martyr Catholic priest, Fr. Mariano Gomez, Fr. Jose Burgos, and Fr. Jacinto Zamora.

But why is it important to do? In the movie's grand media conference, award-winning filmmaker and "Gomburza" director Pepe Diokno explained it best, "This story is immensely important not only for its historical value but also for its relevance to Filipinos today." "In our textbooks, there isn't much about Gomburza, but at the National Museum, you'll find a prominent Gomburza painting right at the entrance. They were the catalysts of our national consciousness. We're incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to share this story."

Father Emmanuel Nono Alfonso, (executive director of Jesuit Communications and also executive producer of Gomburza, agreed, adding, "For us, it's important to tell that our church, through the lives of three priests, became instrumental in the formation of our nation. This film also serves as a social critique. It happened more than a century ago, but in a way, it could also be happening in today's time." Produced by JesCom Films, the producer of the award-winning film "Ignacio De Loyola" (2016), and MQuest Ventures of MediaQuest, in cooperation with CMB Film Services, the newest feature film features Dante Rivero, Cedrick Juan, and Enchong Dee playing the titular roles, respectively. The story revolves around the time when Padre Pedro Peláez (played by Piolo Pascual) began and led the secularization movement. Through this movement, the priests inspired the educated middle class as well as the liberal intellectuals and students, including the brother of Jose Rizal, Paciano Mercado (portrayed by Elijah Canlas). The advocacy for the Filipinization of the Church continued despite the execution of Gomes, Burgos, and Zamora as their death never silenced the enlightened.

The GomBurZa execution in 1872 was the inspiration of Jose Rizal in writing his novel 'El Filibusterismo,' and also sparked the Philippine Revolution that was led by Andres Bonifacio and the Katipunan. National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquín even said, "If there is a date we can designate as the beginning of a nationalist consciousness, it is February 17, 1872." Asked why they agreed to do the historical film, both Rivero and Dee said they wanted to work on a project that tells a true-to-life narrative. "I have a conscious effort to stay long in this industry and create films that I can revisit, learning and feeling something new each time," Dee, involved in consecutive film projects, stated. "I love that I became a part of GomBurZa and that they approached me. I didn't hesitate because I genuinely want to create true-to-life stories. I trust that they won't let any scene stray from reality," shared Rivero, a veteran actor last seen in the 2018 Cinemalaya film "Kung Paano Hinihintay Ang Dapithapon."

Meanwhile, Juan, the final lead actor to be cast, shared his journey of praying and striving for the role. "I really prayed and worked hard to get the role. I had a conversation with dirk Pepe who related how they've been trying to fill the role for the longest time. So when the opportunity came, I did my best. That's why it also feels good to play the role of Father Burgos." This historical drama, aside from three lead actors, brings together a powerhouse cast with outstanding actors and actresses who will make their mark in their special roles: Pascual, Canlas, Khalil Ramos, Ketchup Eusebio, Epy Quizon, Jaime Fabregas, Tommy Alejandrino, Neil Sese, Arnold Reyes, Nanding Josef, Paolo O'Hara, Sue Prado, Carlitos Siguion-Reyna, Sheenly Gener, Elora Españo, and more. The film is also the second collaboration of Diokno with multi-awarded cinematographer Carlo Canlas Mendoza. Biopics such as 'Heneral Luna,' 'Goyo,' and 'Quezon's Game' have artfully etched their stories into the cultural consciousness of their viewers which inspired a profound sense of patriotism and nationalism. This 2023, "Gomburza" aims to give the three martyred priests the proper admiration and recognition they rightfully deserve.



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