Pinoys are a beautiful people
In the gem of a film which is “Heneral Luna,” there’s a poignant scene in which the bodies of Gen. Antonio Luna and his military aide were shown being dragged like fallen gladiators by their killers, the men of Emilio Aguinaldo. It is a symbolic snapshot of the “Spoliarium,” the most famous painting of the general’s brother, Juan Luna, which is in perpetual exhibit at the National Museum.
But before that, most touching was the segue to Jose Rizal’s execution at Bagumbayan from a scene depicting another painting of Juan Luna, the “Parisian Life,” showing a trio of Filipino patriots led by Rizal admiring the beauty of a woman (some say a prostitute) probably waiting for her date (or customer?) in a café in France.
That many Filipinos are now familiar with “Parisian Life” has everything to do with the brouhaha that accompanied its “rescue” and “repatriation” from foreign hands by the Government Service Insurance System under the previous administration. The GSIS got a lot of flak at the time for purportedly wasting its members’ money in buying “Parisian Life.”
Now, the decision of the director of “Heneral Luna” to include the “Parisian Life” scene in his movie masterpiece is a testament and tribute to how valuable the painting is to us Filipinos, insofar as revisiting and learning from our history is concerned.
Setting aside the defense of the GSIS that paintings are valuable investments, was “Parisian Life” really worth the money used to bring it home to the Philippines?
As an answer, I’m not even touching the argument that the price paid by the GSIS for “Parisian Life” was paltry compared to the billions of pesos that have been squandered and will be squandered by some inept and corrupt government officials. Suffice it to say that our heritage as a people is priceless and worth preserving so the future generations of Filipinos, including those whose parents have already migrated to other countries, would know who we are—warts and all.
We may not be perfect and, hell yeah, may even be dysfunctional, but we nonetheless are beautiful. Yes, you and I!
—JOHN HENRY DODSON,
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