‘Oras de Peligro’ | Inquirer Opinion
Human Face

‘Oras de Peligro’

The end as beginning. This is how Joel Lamangan’s “Oras de Peligro” (Bagong Siklab Productions) could be for those who were not there or were yet unborn when people power that drove millions to the streets toppled the Marcos dictatorship in February 1986. The end as the beginning of understanding and facing up to truths that cannot be disputed. The end of a dark era where a historical scrollback can begin, from where we derive strength to move forward in the interest of the motherland.


The movie is also for denialists, revisionists, and distortionists of history, and those who might need a tap on their brain area where memory resides.

“Oras” ends with these words writ large on screen as both reminder and warning: “Ang mga ito ay tunay na pangyayari. Huwag pagtakpan and katotohanan. Igalang ang kasaysayan (These are true events. Do not hide/deny the truth. Respect history).” I watched the movie at Fishermall in Quezon City on the first day of screening.


Oras de peligro translates in English as “hours of danger” (oras from the Spanish word horas), a common Filipino expression that warns and urges one to be strong and on guard, the time to fight or to flee.

The movie is a timely reminder of that event 37 years ago, sometimes dubbed as “the Filipinos’ one brief shining moment.” Indeed, it was a first of its kind in the entire planet and a spectacle to behold. Epic, surreal, cinematic. But to the ordinary, hardworking Filipinos, in the fringes of society, whose immediate concerns were how to make it through the day and to find justice, it was also an epiphany of sorts as the movie would show.

A whole stretch of Epifanio de los Santos (or Edsa) Avenue, named after a hero, was the main staging place where the people power uprising took place. (But not to forget similar and simultaneous uprisings in other places in the country.) Real historical footage of the events from Feb. 22 to 25, 1986, provide the backdrop against which the life of one family, their friends, and neighbors unfolds and builds up to a crescendo, as if in cadence with the Edsa uprising. Death, oppression, and lies bedevil a low-income urban neighborhood with Beatriz (Cherry Pie Picache) in a tearful role who succeeds to extract the viewer’s own.

The characters in the movie have counterparts in real life that suddenly came alive in this journalist’s memory (Ask me!). They are a microcosm of a wounded society, with sectors represented. “Oras” is not all weeping and gnashing of teeth. Kindness shines through in the darkest hours.

Mae Paner as Ma’am Jessa, the activist matrona with a big heart, is a bit too caricatured, but I let her be. Nanding Josef as Ka Elyong, head of a rural farming cooperative, is a credible face of grief at the wake of his son Dario (Allen Dizon), jeepney driver and husband of Beatriz (So handsome in the coffin). The striking workers at the picket line, the students, the sex predator, the police, the doctor, the neighbors. Good cop, bad cop. Rich and poor. Urban and rural. Their interwoven lives provide the warp and woof of a society in the grip of an iron hand the characters might not directly see in the beginning. The role of media—print, TV, radio—is evident.

The national event interspersed with ordinary lives must have been a difficult one, but “Oras” director Lamangan, scriptwriters Boni Ilagan and Eric Ramos, and editors pulled it off quite well, I must say. (Lamangan and Ilagan were political detainees, tortured during the Marcos dictatorship.) For how to tell a true national story in parallel with a composite story about grassroots lives, each character a personification of so many lives we know about?

“Oras” struck me personally because I knew the danger that is meant by the movie title, not once but many times as a journalist. I was present in Camp Aguinaldo on the night of Feb. 22, 1986, when a faction in the military led by Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Fidel Ramos and Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile announced their breakaway from the Marcos government (O, ha, with Enrile admitting that the ambush meant to kill him was staged. The “ambush” presaged the imposition of martial law in 1972). I, along with other journalists, was there when, the next day, the putschists marched to cross Edsa to hole up in Camp Crame. The footage was shown in the movie. As we walked the distance, I was imagining how it would be if a helicopter would fire shots on us. One of my own oras de peligro.


I will not tell you how “Oras” ends. Go watch, remember, and proclaim the truth.


Send feedback to cerespd@gmail.com

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: 1986 Edsa People Power Revolt, dictator, freedom, marcos
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.
Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Fearless views on the news

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

© Copyright 1997-2023 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.