MANILA – Journalist-director Arlyn de la Cruz’s latest film, “Mandirigma,” (Warrior) showed the ill-fated clash between the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) police commandos and Moro rebels – serving as an omen to the real-life incident with the movie’s script written prior the Mamasapano clash.
In the independent film, the Philippine Marines were at war with forces from the Mindanao region. The main villain, Hamda Marawan, was patterned after international terrorist Zulkifi bin Hir alias “Marwan.”
“It represents what happens with the Philippine Marines as they go to the frontlines. Sometimes they are victorious, sometimes they are defeated. Whatever the result of the mission, whether there’s a casualty or not, they still go on with their jobs,” De la Cruz said in an Inquirer.net report.
“He (Marwan) is the most wanted terrorist at that time. I would like to highlight that the problem of terrorism has gone region wide that’s why there should be a character Hamda Marawan,” she added.
Not intending for the film to be an allusion of the clash which took the lives of 44 SAF men, the director asserted that she didn’t know Marwan was already being tracked by the authorities during the time she wrote Mandirigma’s script.
“[The film] is a representation of some stories people might have heard in the previous wherein there were ambushes, beheadings and hostage takings the government soldiers have to face,” she said.
“Kahit ilan malagas sa kanila, kahit gaano kasakit ‘yun sa kanila (no matter how many fall [to their deaths], no matter how deep they were hurt [by their loss], the following day is just another day sacrificing their lives,” she added.
Covering stories on the Philippine Marines and the Armed Forces of the Philippines as a journalist for about 25 years, De la Cruz sought to pay tribute to them through a film.
“I won’t make a film if I haven’t completely understood the story or I haven’t witnessed it from a personal experience. I want to do movies that highlight truths in the society… those which I can prove happened in real life,” she said.
“The soldiers and the rebels… Lahat sila may pinaglalaban (All of them are fighting for a cause)… Lahat sila may pinanggagalingan (All of them have roots)… There is no right or wrong in their perspective,” she added. “This would lead to understanding war without condemning both parties.”
Mandirigma has been chosen as one of the entries in this year’s Metro Manila Film Fest (MMFF) New Wave section which will run from December 17 to 24 at SM Megamall, Glorietta 4 and Robinsons Place Manila.