Film Review : Ang Hapis at Himagsik ni Hermano Puli


Hermano Puli is now set to conquer the big screen. Director Gil Portes managed to bring this almost forgotten hero back into life through this epic historical movie.

Hermano Puli will be portrayed by Mr Aljur Abrenica which he considered as one of his most challenging roles to date. Interestingly, the movie was supposed to be part of the upcoming 41st Metro Manila Film Festival but they had to withdraw the entry due to the lack of funds. After all the efforts and struggles the production team went thru, they finally found someone to produce them (T-Rex Production) and now, they are all set to hit the big screen but the question here is that, will they be able to give justice to it? Will they be good enough to follow the success of the highly acclaimed Heneral Luna which basically falls into the same category?

Who is Hermano Puli?

The film will take us back in time. It was all set in 19th Century decades before heroes like Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio or even Heneral Luna came into action. This is the time when Filipinos are not yet aware of their freedom and their sense of nationalism are not yet awaken. Apolinario Dela Cruz (Aljur Abrenica) or better known as Hermano Puli was a preacher from Tayabas Quezon.  Hermano Puli had a strong desire to become a priest but during his time, the churches are not allowing “indios” to be part of their orders. Despite of the frustrations, Apolinario Dela Cruz was able to build and led a Cofradia dedicated to San Jose where he became known as Brother Pule (Hermano Puli). The organization grew and expanded all throughout Quezon and nearby provinces such as Batangas and Laguna. In his mission to bring his confraternity in a larger scale, Hermano Puli traveled all the way to Manila. None of the orders accepted his willingness to become a priest and so he just decided to accept the offer by the San Juad De Dios Hospital as one of their hospitaliers. He was later promoted as a donado (lay brother).
Hermano Puli will be portrayed by Mr Aljur Abrenica
The Government of Quezon found the expansion of their organization alarming and thought that they are not forming an organization but more of a revolution. We are not giving much information about the movie here so you better watch the film on your own risk but right after the Government took action to stop their organization is also the time when Hermano Puli became fully aware of the situation where he and his fellow brothers were in. This is the moment where he decided to fight on what he believes in.

Is Hermano Puli A Forgotten Hero?  A Saint?

Jose Rizal and Bonifacio are two of the greatest heroes in our history. They both left a huge impact to Filipinos that ignited their sense of nationalism which eventually led to our national freedom.  Hermano Puli may not be as popular as the other heroes we have mentioned and his contribution in history may not be that huge as well but is he good enough to be a hero? As a National Hero, I don’t think so since he didn’t do anything to ignite people’s sense of nationalism during his time but as a Hero who fight for his Religious Freedom and equality, definitely a Yes! Hermano Puli taught us that there should always be an equal treatment regardless of your status in the society and don’t you think it is still being relevant today? Much like the tragic fate of this hero, we are all victims of this corrupted government but much like Hermano Puli and the members of his brotherhood, we should all learn to fight for our own freedom!

As far as being saint is concerned, well Hermano Puli and his contributions as a leader of his Cofradia De San Jose is not really enough material to consider him into sainthood.  You might find that “Hindi Kami mga Erehe” line quite memorable from this film but it actually makes a perfect sense. Hermano Puli was condemned Heretic not just because they are all Indios in their confraternity and they do not accept anyone with Spanish blood on their group but also because of their schismatic views (which includes the use of amulets and anting-anting) as part of their rituals. This is the reason why despite of the help of the Manors (they even raised it to Malacañang) they were still rejected to be recognized.

Justice?

Ang Hapis at Himagsik ni Hermano Puli is not a perfect film (and I don’t think there is such thing).  The fact that the film showed a historically accurate plot based on some of the historians that I have spoke with makes Hermano Puli somehow commendable. The  character Hermana Lina (portrayed by Louise Delos Reyes) is seemingly not part of Hermano Puli’s real history but definitely an interesting addition. Her “Kasama ako sa kapwa” lines (frustratingly begging for Puli to adore her) is truly a catchy one! Another strongest point of the movie is how they impressively showcased the beauty of Quezon.  Despite of its historically accurate plot and impressive cinematography, the downside of the movie is the actor’s delivery. I personally think that they failed to give enough justice to their respective characters. I appreciate Vin Abrenica’s portrayal though.

Ang Hapis at Himagsik ni Hermano Puli is not as polished as other biopic films like Heneral Luna, or El Presidente or even Felix Manalo but hey, I don’t think there is a competition involved here and after all, it is not everyday that we get to see a history-related film like this which aims to introduced such forgotten heroes to younger generations and to help the millenials appreciate and finally recognize their wonderful contributions in our rich history.

The film is now showing on selected cinemas  starring Aljur Abrenica, Louise Delos Reyes, Enzo Pineda, Menggie Cubarrubias,  Ross Pesigan, Acrchie Adamos,  Markki Stroem, Simon Ibarra, Vin Abrenica, Allen Abrenica, Sue Prado, Kiko Matos, Stella Canete,  Diva Montelaba,  Abel Estanislao, Alvin Fortuna and more. It is directed by Gil Portes; Screenplay by Enrique Ramos and Brought by T-Rex Production.

Star Powerhouse Originals

Review and photos by : Milton Coyne
Edited by : Axl Guinto

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