More Baler Movie Links

from by Rito Asilo:

Alas, noble intentions don’t a great film make. Meily’s latest production isn’t the seamless movie it’s touted to be—though the filmmaker’s valiant effort to tell the Baler siege’s unique story deserves moviegoers’ support.

After all, the public needs to realize there’s more to the annual “family-oriented” film festival than loud and livid rib-ticklers and freaky monsters that continually get resurrected in various shapes and sizes year after year—after year.

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from clickthecity – Epic Fail by Philbert Ortiz Dy

Baler is a tremendous disappointment for me. It’s almost inconceivable that a cast like that combined with director Mark Meily and a proper budget could produce such a subpar picture, but there you go. In the end, the money couldn’t make this horrible script any better, giving us a picture that looks good, but just sounds and feels terrible. The ambition is admirable, but the final product is decidedly less so.

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Lifestyle journalist Josh Aviñante emailed me his review of the movie. He is also a historian and offers his comments regarding the often debated “miscasting” issue in the movie:

I must say that we are certainly getting closer to the true picture of the Philippine Revolution. There was a time when a Filipino soldier had to be barefoot, poorly clothed and very Indio looking. According to our history books, it’s the other way around. Officers of the Philippine Republican Army were composed mostly of graduates of Ateneo, UST, Letran and other schools reserved for the affluent in Philippine society. A considerable number of Filipino officers were Creoles such as Col. Sityar, Col. Leyba or Major Manuel Quezon. As such, I find it unnecessary to tan our mestizo actors just to make them look “Filipino” or Indio. Andres Bonifacio himself was a Spanish Mestizo. This justifies the choice of Joel Torre and Leo Martinez as commanding officers of the Philippine Republican Army that attacked Baler. It is equally alright to choose another Mestizo in the person of Philip Salvador to play as one of the leaders of the revolution.

When it comes to Anne Curtis, is it necessary to have a dark beauty for a Filipina character? The Philippines has the highest concentration of Eurasians in Asia due in part to Hispanization. Also, we must remember that the movie is set during Spanish colonial rule when there were far more Mestizas than today. It is alright to choose a Mestiza to play the character of a Filipina!

During the Philippine Revolution, the Spanish Army was filled with Filipinos while the Philippine Republican Army had many former Spanish soldiers in them. Colonel Sityar, the head of the Academia Militar of Aguinaldo’s army was a former officer of the Spanish Army. Same with Major Segovia although he turncoated to the American side and aided in the capture of Emilio Aguinaldo. The Philippine Revolution was more like a civil war between the Reactionaries (government) and Liberals (revolutionaries) rather than a war between skin colors. As such, the setting of the movie is close to reality with Filipinos serving in the Spanish Army in the person of Celso (Jericho Rosales) and Lope (Mark Bautista).

What I am skeptic about is the choice of Mestizos to play the role of Spaniards. For us Filipinos they may seem white but to the international movie audience, are they Caucasian-looking enough? I could barely distinguish between the Spanish and Filipino soldiers at the beginning of the movie. The only Caucasian-looking Spanish soldier was one blonde guy and for a real westerner, that guy isn’t even blonde but brunette!

Over all, I think the movie was a success. Rating it from 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest, I give it a 9.


Senator Edgardo J. Angara today said that Baler, being a quality Filipino film which is rated A by the Cinema Evaluation Board and is endorsed by the Department of Education (DepEd) and National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), is set to make waves in ’08 Metro Manila Film Festival.

“The quality and depth of this film is being recognized by various institutions, which are all pitching in to inform the public that Baler is worth watching and supporting. Baler is rated A by the Cinema Evaluation Board and is being endorsed by DepEd and NCCA,” said Angara who is the favorite son of Baler.

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from Screensucked blog:

As a film fan, I can say that Baler is already the best movie in the film festival– the craftsmanship is definitely there. There were nice shots of the Baler town in its rural glory and the acting of Jericho Rosales and Anne Curtis is commendable. Even the supporting cast of Philip Salvador, Carlo Aquino, Rio Locsin, Nikki Bacolod and Mark Bautista had strong performances in the film.

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from Penstalker:

Although there were a number of glitches in the film, I still could say that I enjoyed it for its historical value and its narrative.

A lot of genre films are missing in Philippine Cinema. Period films are a great means to make more people aware of our history and what was going on in our country at a certain time in history. Yet, the challenges are very very big! The budget is big too.

Given its limited budget and lack of Spanish (or at least Spanish-looking) actors, I daresay that Baler is a good movie in its own right.

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from the blackshama’s blog:

No te olvideras is the the whole message of historical -romances- in- war movies like Mark Meily’s Baler (VIVA films). It seems that every decade there is a big budgeted Pinoy Spanish era movie. Ten years ago we had Marilou Diaz-Abaya’s Rizal (GMA Films). So those who saw it then can’t help but compare Baler with Rizal. But that is where the comparison ends. Rizal is a hagiography with certain liberties taken while Baler is a love story with extreme liberties taken. Now one wag who happens to be gay once said on ANC TV when asked which is the most notable film of the last 30 years “Rizal is the most beautiful ugly movie made!” (Bernal’s Himala was the best movie ever) I’m sure this movie critic cum wag will say the same thing if not worse!

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About kidlat

Joseph T. Gonzales, aka Kidlat is the creator of Batangbaler, the website and online community of all the scattered Balereños and Aurorans on Earth. He is based in Baler.

8 thoughts on “More Baler Movie Links”

  1. nakita ko sa isang site:

    Review from BusinessWorld newspaper
    Jan 5, 2009

    Neither here nor there


    IF YOU HAPPEN TO SEE all the seven other entries to the recently concluded Metro Manila Film Festival, you will realize that the movie Baler was declared winner in the Best Picture category by default. Why stand in the way of a movie bankrolled by the combined political clout of an administration senator and the government-run gambling agency?

    Try to judge Baler against all the pre-opening day hype of its drumbeaters and you will end up sorely disappointed. Somewhere in the middle of the movie (while you are still awake), you will realize that Baler is not as great as it is reported to be.

    Directed by Mark Meily, the same director behind noteworthy movies like Crying Ladies and La Visa Loca, Baler is a story of star-crossed lovers Feliza Reyes (Anne Curtis) and Celso Ressureccion (Jericho Rosales) who are separated by the revolution against Spain.

    She is a daughter of a Filipino rebel commander. He is a Spanish mestizo soldier from Pampanga. Their Romeo-and-Juliet romance is set against the backdrop of the siege between Philippine and Spanish forces in 1898.

    The Siege of Baler, as it came to be known in history books, is said to be the last stand of the Spanish forces before Filipinos won its independence. For almost a year, 57 Spanish soldiers (including Celso in the film) took refuge in the church of San Luis de Tolosa in Baler amid the onslaught of the Filipino rebels. Despite being outnumbered, the Spaniards held on, believing that reports that Spain lost in the Spanish-American War were false, meant to trick them into surrendering. By the time the Spaniards gave up and came out of the church, 338 days passed. Only 33 soldiers — including Filipino-Spanish mestizos — survived the ordeal.

    To enjoy the film, the audience must get over the obvious miscasting (Ms. Curtis is too fair to be a purebred Filipina, and Mr. Rosales is too brown to be convincing as a Spanish mestizo). While the two look beautiful, they do not look beautiful together — the lack of on-screen chemistry makes it difficult for audiences to sympathize with the lovers who are facing a lot of obstacles in their daunting quest to be together. That spells trouble since much of what Baler is about is their bittersweet love story.

    Mr. Rosales delivers a fairly solid performance, while those who wonder why Ms. Curtis won the Best Actress award over acting heavyweights like Dawn Zulueta will have to wait until the penultimate scene of the movie. She redeems her average acting in the entire film by displaying a surprisingly poignant performance at the movie’s climax.

    Veteran performer Philip Salvador deserves his Best Supporting Actor win for his role as Feliza’s vengeful father Daniel. While Mr. Salvador seems to always be angry in all his scenes, he displays outstanding dramatic form in the scene when he welcomes back his estranged son (Carlo Aquino) who ran away to support the Spanish troops.

    Director Meily used his extensive experience as a TV commercial director to come up with postcard-like images on screen. His exposition of the story, however, is far from perfect.

    Despite the breathtaking cinematography, and the above-average performance of the cast, Baler is a disappointment because of its faulty storytelling. At the same time, the movie’s production design is visually inconsistent with the era when the story happened. Ms. Curtis is allowed to appear with her brown highlights and French manicure. The interior shots in the church all appear fabricated, obviously shot in makeshift sound stages. The Spanish soldiers, despite staying in the church in dire conditions for several months, still have very clean nails.

    With all the money that reportedly went to making Baler, it is just sad that the movie came across as half-baked.Baler may have all the right ingredients to guarantee a great movie — a big budget, an accomplished director, a great ensemble of actors — but somehow, the end product was just bland. — Jeffrey O. Valisno

  2. sa wakas napanuud ku na din kahapon. kaunti lang ang tao, siguro dahil 2 weeks ng pinapalabas. mahirap ikumpara sa mga pelikulang kasama sa MMFF dahil de ku naman napanuud. de naman aku inantuk kumbaga peru sang ayon ako sa mga reviews nila ^^. nanuud aku dahil taga baler aku. si mac mac lang at ang kanyang linya ang naalala ku, “lumabas kayo mga suput!”

  3. harharhar!!!!!!
    ay anu pa baga ang pwedeng i-expect diyan sa palabas na iyan!!!!
    nakaladkad ang pangalang baler sa di tama.
    dibersyon at isang propaganda ginamit ang pelikula sa pulitikang interes harhar!!!!

  4. aydi may kalaban na pala yung dating….


    METROCOM iniiii…niiii….niiii..niiii !!!

    mas makapikon yung yung suput anu?

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