Monday, October 01, 2012

Give Up Tomorrow (Michael Collins, 2011)

For many of us who've closely monitored the Chiong sisters' rape-slay case in the 1990s, this documentary will shock and infuriate you. In just a matter of 95 minutes, the total running time of the doc, I've changed my stand that Francisco Juan Paco Larrañaga was guilty. All those years, I was led to believe that he participated in the murders of Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong. I was wrong. Maybe you'll get to the same conclusion that Paco is innocent after viewing the must-see documentary by Michael Collins and Marty Syjuco.

Media played a big part in brainwashing my mind. It kept repeating lies such as Paco being an admirer of one of the sisters, and that he was one of those who threw a corpse down a cliff in Cebu in July 1997. The articles were accompanied with nonflattering pictures of the teenager and his 6 other co-accused. The documentary showed a newspaper clipping with a photo of Paco, which eerily recalls a close-up shot of a doomed chubby soldier in the film Full Metal Jacket. Paco was heavily demonized in words and pictures by the press back then.

It had been 16 years since he was arrested and incarcerated, but Paco remains adamant of his innocence. There are dozens of witnesses willing to testify that he was in Manila on the day of the abduction. Constant acknowledgement of the truth keeps the young man in good spirits. He will not give up unlike the aforementioned young soldier who blasted his brains out.

“If you wanna give up, give up tomorrow. Today, do what you can to survive.” 

Paco's survival mantra is fantastic advice to anyone facing adversities. But then, aren't most of the impoverished Filipinos already practicing that tactic of living one day at a time? 

Another important lesson from the documentary is to take with a grain of salt every news stories and sensational headlines. With the coming national elections next year, we need to be more critical of stories coming out from news media groups and the grapevine.

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