Down with the Eagle: A ‘Goyo’ film review

4.60 over 5 stars.

What happens when people blindly follow their idol?

Ask Goyo, and see where it led him.

Three long years after the unimaginable success of Heneral Luna, here comes another epic from Artikulo Uno Productions with Globe Studios – Goyo. Although the historical film is of the same genre as its predecessor, their tones are very much contrasting. Many people have come to compare the two, but I dare not to. For Goyo is a magnificent film in its own right.

Set one day after the demise of the diss-loving general, Goyo tells the heroism of its namesake – Gregorio del Pilar. Paulo Avelino was undeniably perfect for this role. His youthfulness matches that of the boy general’s. And of course, he can surely win the hearts of all the dalaga he comes across with in just the wink of his eye, very much like del Pilar who is a known womanizer (sounds like Rizal, eh?). His acting is equally commendable – his storm-brewing-inside-the-calm-exterior persona is well executed. Bravo!

The story spans the five months of peace before the famed Battle of Tirad Pass. At the beginning, Goyo is introduced as a general so young of his age that many admire him and speak of him as the agila, while many are secretly despising him for being Aguinaldo’s puppet.

Well, the audience actually gets to see how the young lad obeys his President’s orders without question. The film opens with his team’s capture of Manuel Bernal, a Luna loyalist. As he brings him to excruciating torture, Bernal taunts him by barking at him, and telling him he is just an aso.

At first, Goyo seems unfazed by Bernal’s words. But as we go on with the story, we witness Goyo having a number of delusional breakdowns. Indeed, the mockery, coupled with post-war trauma from his triumph at the Battle of Kakarong de Sili, is getting under his skin. Somehow, he is beginning to doubt himself.

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What does the dog say? Screencap from trailer. Copyright TBA and Globe Studios.

Fortunately, Julio (Rafa Suiguion-Reyna), his big bro, is there to save the day. In one of his episodes, Julio asks him who he is, to which our protagonist responds, “Agila!” Vicente Enriquez (Carlo Aquino) also joins the rescue team by acting as Goyo’s brother-from-another-mother. The two are Goyo’s best buds, and together they form a formidable trio. But F4 would not be complete without its fourth member – Joven Hernando (Arron Villaflor).

Joven is one of the fictional elements added by the filmmakers to make the narrative suitable for the big screen. He is the apprentice of his uncle, who later on becomes Goyo’s photographer. In the film, Joven is the one voice who is asking the real and most important questions. In the midst of the masses’ admiration of the young general, Joven tells the audience of the things that are boggling his mind – his questions on what it really takes to become a hero. Indeed, he may just be the voice of the current generation of the youth. Or perhaps, the ideal that the youth should take hold of.

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Someone answer him, please. Screencap from trailer. Copyright TBA and Globe Studios.

Anyway, one more character who somehow finds it hard to really believe in Goyo is Remedios Nable Jose, the Dagupeña who stole Goyo’s not-so-innocent heart. Anyway, can I just say that Gwen Zamora is such a spectacle in the film? She is beyond gorgeous and impeccable! However, what really matters is how Remedios is probably the only girl who is not easily enamored of Goyo. Well, she even utters the classic question – “Sinabi mo na ba iyan sa ibang mga babae mo?”

But what really is important is how Remedios is having difficulty in loving Goyo not really because he has a reputation of a heartbreaker, but because she somehow doubts Goyo being a hero that everyone is looking up to. Somehow, she cannot see the hero inside the boy general.

Hence, when Goyo tells her that he wants to marry her, she asks him if he can wait. She does not give him her answer until Goyo departs with Aguinaldo and a platoon of soldiers to the north as the Americans advance from the nation’s capital. Instead, she asks her sister Dolores to deliver her message to him, written on paper, wrapped in Dolores’ handkerchief. However, with the war looming, Goyo does not open and read the letter until it is too late.

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The only girl who is not marupok. Screencap from trailer. Copyright TBA and Globe Studios.

As Goyo and his team reaches the iconic Tirad Pass, we get to see all the young general’s faults. We see his recklessness, and his soaring ego. We see how he chooses to flirt with Aguinaldo’s sister, Felicidad, instead of addressing the thunderous sounds of nearby gunshots. We see how the glorified martyr is stripped of the merits that we have continuously conferred him in ages.

Yes, Goyo is far from a movie that recounts the victorious exploits of del Pilar, rather it shows us another angle to the story – that angle that our Araling Panlipunan books dared not to tell us. Somehow, it made me question why we are considering del Pilar as an esteemed hero when in fact, he almost did nothing right.

We see how Goyo’s immaturities ultimately led to the doom of the Filipino nation. But most strikingly, we see how his blind love towards Aguinaldo became the stepping stone towards the country’s fall to Uncle Sam’s captive embrace. We see what happens when we become fanatical about someone who is perched high on top of a pedestal – when we choose to neglect his shortcomings, magnifying instead his very limited good deeds.

Film Score Board_Goyo
Story: 4.50/5 stars | Sights: 4.50/5 stars | Sounds: 4.42/5 stars | Starrers: 5.0/5 stars | Screencap from trailer. Copyright TBA and Globe Studios.

Goyo is truly one for the books. It is undeniably a Filipino cinematic work of art. The ensemble cast led by Avelino did a marvelous job in portraying their respective roles, the sets and cinematography are beyond compare, and the scoring wonderfully complements each daring moment of the film. Oh, ang Glaiza de Castro‘s sorrowful rendition of Bato sa Buhangin sincerely tugs at one’s heartstrings. Most paramount though is Goyo’s story. Though not as loud as Heneral Luna’s, it is likewise full of substance.

Indeed, Goyo is a very timely masterpiece. Somehow, it is history trying to teach the Philippines of today a valuable lesson. That is, in Goyo’s words, we are not heroes, but soldiers – soldiers who are full of love for the country.

But what does it take to be a soldier whose hearts gush forth with patriotism? What does love for country truly mean?

That, my friend, is for you to answer, and Goyo can probably help you out in your search for the truth.

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This blog post’s featured image is a screencap from the trailer. Copyright TBA and Globe Studios.

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