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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Aug 22, 2016

New 'Hermano Puli' Movie Corrects History On What Is The Real Reason Why Puli Rebelled Against The Spaniards

'HERMANO PULI' was first filmed in 1979 by FV Alfon starring Tommy Abuel in the title role, with Boots Anson Roa and Alicia Alonzo. Director Gil Portes now comes up with a new version, written by Eric Ramos. The film was previewed for the press and we got to talk to Eric whose script makes a correction about what history books used to say about Apolonio de la Cruz or Hermano Puli.

The previous belief is that Puli led a revolt against the Spaniards in the mid-1800s because he was not allowed to be an Indio priest, so he put up the Cofradia de San Jose. But the movie shows that such cofradias or confraternities were really encouraged by the church at that time to help spread the faith and there were many such cofradias in the Tagalog region then, just like the charismatic movements that sprung more recently.

Puli, who grew up to be very religious, put up his own cofradia when he was only 18 years old. It was only when he went to Manila later and applied to some orders that he was ruthlessly rejected to be a member of the clergy. The Spanish authorities became alarmed when his cofradia became so big and spread to other provinces, so he was accused of being a heretic and later executed.

“Puli was only 27 when he was killed by the Spaniards and our movie wants to show that you can be a hero even at such an early age,” says Direk Gil. “We want to emphasize youthful heroism in our film.”

Eric Ramos talked to expert historians as consultants in writing his screenplay. “This is historical drama, so we want to be truthful,” he says. “Kailangan, maging tapat ka sa kasaysayan. I think nagawa naman naming maging tapat sa malinaw na pagpapaliwanag sa naging takbo ng buhay ni Hermano Puli para maipakita yung kabayanihang ginawa niya.”

The “Hermano Puli” team is now making a round of various campuses to help promote the movie which was previewed to historians, most of whom raved about the movie. History teacher Ann Gabuat of Miriam College says: “The movie succeeds in its attempt to underscore the unbreakable Filipino spirit in the midst of injustice and suffering. The movie’s strength lies in the characterization of Hermano Puli, an inspiring yet unsung hero of Southern Tagalog. The film succeeds in defining heroism and religious freedom and more importantly, in moving its audience to celebrate the bold and steadfast faith of the Filipino.”

And this is what Dr. Federico Macaranas of the Asian Institute of Management says: “The film should be seen by our youth. It has a powerful message of faith vs. cult, youthful passion vs. single mindedness, and tragic vs. heroic destiny.”

Dr. Merriam Cesar, history professor of University of Makati adds: “I will personally promote this film to my students so they will learn more about our unsung heroes.”

Direk Gil says the film on Puli has been in his mind since 1995. “Ang problema, walang gustong mag-produce kasi nga historical kaya expensive gawin. So nalagay ito sa freezer until we met Rex Tiri of T-Rex Productions, owner of Limbaga 77 restaurant who fell in love with the story.”

“Noong una, hesitant ako kasi mabigat yung project and can be financially draining,” says Rex. “But unang basa ko pa lang ng script, talagang nagustuhan ko na and I want its objective na mas makilala ng mga tao kung sino ba si Hermano Puli, so I gave my full trust to Direk Gil and we’re now very proud of our finished film. We’re hoping the viewers will appreciate and support it too when we open in theaters nationwide on September 21.”