8 Questions You (Probably) Wanted To Ask About ‘Oras de Peligro’
Mar 8, 2023   •   Kel Fabie
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Mar 8, 2023   •   Kel Fabie
It just had to be done. With two movies going at each other’s throats in hopes of winning in the court of public opinion, it’s inevitable that someone had to watch Martyr or Murderer by Daryl Yap and Oras de Peligro by Joel Lamangan.
Thankfully, they didn’t let ER Ejercito make the poster.
And so I ended up watching both. So we could review both films and compare them on the same grounds, let’s ask both movies the same 8 questions in hopes of trying to figure out how both movies stack up when examined side by side.
It’s actually about a poor family who encounters grave injustices during the last days of the Marcos regime at the hands of a corrupt police force, but in reality, this story serves as an allegory for the entire Philippines under the Marcos regime. It’s a pretty solid framing device, because while the Aquinos play a role (of course they do) in the revolution, it makes it clear that they weren’t the only ones there. More on that later.
Can Beatriz and her children find justice for the family patriarch, a humble and principle jeepney driver who was salvaged by corrupt policemen?
The thing is, the resolution of this conflict is exactly how the resolution for EDSA was: it wasn’t resolved. We don’t quite know the fate of all but one of the corrupt cops, and we don’t know what happens to the son after he shot the cop who killed his dad in revenge. As an allegory for EDSA, the non-resolution is perfect, because EDSA clearly did not solve everything, nor was it supposed to. EDSA was only the beginning, and it was on us as a nation to make good on it.
Let me just state that we need Apollo Abraham (the lead corrupt cop) in more movie roles, stat. That being said, the most significant part to me was when one of the soldiers who defected against the Marcoses reached across the aisle and asked for help from the Farmer’s Co-Op. It showed that the left and the right can come together to fight something greater than their opposing ideologies.
Another thing that stood out was the part where it was clear from the onset that unlike Dario, Beatriz was far from an activist and was one of those people who felt that if they kept their head down and didn’t rock the boat, then they had nothing to fear from the government. It puts into perspective all those stories we hear about people who felt “Martial Law was a quiet time,” all the while ignoring the cries for help from anyone who so much as looked at the administration the wrong way and ended up arrested, tortured, or even worse for it.
I have to be honest — most of the scenes involving Mae Paner’s character made me cringe. Her character in the film was essentially a pastiche of all the rich people who protested in EDSA. Admittedly, it was a great way of showing that people from everywhere and all walks of life were longing for change, from the rich and the burgis to the masses to the religious to the youth.
But the whole festive mood of the rich protesters while the masses were clearly suffering was still cringe-worthy — and that may have been the point. Especially if deep down, we might see some of those rich protesters in ourselves.
Oras De Peligro kept history and the narrative apart from each other, which was pretty great. It also puts activists front and center, reminding people that no matter how mad we get, nothing ever changes until people do something about it. While it’s debatable if the actual story involving Beatriz and her family was accurate, any quotes, any footage, any material reflecting history was allowed to speak for itself.
The movie even gave room for some opposing points from people who clearly did not face any problems during the Marcos regime, framing the issue not as a matter of injustice happening to everybody, but one of empathy for those who experienced injustice, even from the unaffected and (hopefully) the ones who actually benefited from the regime. They even preemptively addressed the common dismissal that EDSA was a Manila-only protest by showing Cory in Cebu, calling for civil disobedience.
Best of all, the movie opened with a jeepney strike, which is excellent timing considering what’s going on the week this 8List was written. “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” indeed.
Yes, there was clearly an agenda here, but they didn’t need to stretch the truth to push that agenda.
There were some audible gasps from the few people in the cinema (more or less around the same number as there were in Martyr or Murderer) during some of the climactic scenes, but for the most part, people were quiet.
By zooming in on an unknown poor family instead of famous figures during EDSA (probably the folly that befell Ako Si Ninoy in the first place), the film framed it as the Filipino people fighting a corrupt regime, not just Marcos vs. Aquino. The allegorical approach allowed you to sympathize with the lead characters, and once the obvious transposition of us = family and cops = Marcos regime is made, then it’s hard to disagree with what the movie is trying to say.
Let’s be honest – it’s easier for the average person to see themselves in Cherry Pie Picache living in the slums than it is to see themselves in Cristine Reyes living in a Moroccan palace.
If you were pro-Marcos, would you come out of this movie suddenly anti-Marcos? Probably not, because of course, you would dispute how true the history being cited in the film is the way an anti-Marcos person would while watching Martyr or Murderer’s attempt at historical storytelling.
That being said, in using allegorical storytelling instead of literal representation, it’s not a stretch to find even the most pro-Marcos person feeling for Beatriz and her family , identifying with her, and rooting for her family’s quest to find justice against the corrupt policemen who killed Dario. It is that ability to elicit empathy and for even the most Marcos-leaning person to see where the other side is coming from that really helps this film accomplish what it set out to do, regardless where your political leanings may lie.
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