El Presidente

by Joseph Dayrit
Dec 6, 2012

“Ang daming research material para dito,” confesses writer-director Mark Meily about his preparations for El Presidente, a biopic on the late General Emilio Aguinaldo.

He adds that besides pouring over countless history books, he met with the Cavite Historical Society and even Cesar Virata, Aguinaldo’s grandnephew.

Of course, any discussion on the country’s first President will lead to mentions about his supposed rivalry with fellow national hero Andres Bonifacio.

It would be remembered that during the Spanish colonial period of our nation’s history, Philippine revolutionary forces in Cavite were split into two factions: the Aguinaldo-led Magdalo and the Bonifacio-led Magdiwang.

Direk Mark says: “The film is here not to be pro-Aguinaldo or pro-Bonifacio. Ang sa ’min lang is to put Aguinaldo where he belongs in history. Admittedly, pro-Bonifacio ako noon. Pero as I was doing the research and writing the script, ang daming revelations. Just the same, we’re giving honor naman to Bonifacio.”

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It is also interesting to note that Direk Mark was only the second choice to helm the film. Originally, Tikoy Aguiluz was directing both El Presidente and MMFF 2011’s Best Picture winner, Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story. But last year, Direk Tikoy withdrew his participation from both projects after a falling out between him and production company Scenema Concept, which was caused by the edit of the latter movie.

“I’m sure wala namang problema kay Direk Tikoy kung ako na ang direktor,” Direk Mark opines. “I don’t think din naman na after his issue with Asiong Salonga, e, gusto niya pa ring gawin ang El Presidente. It’s a professional decision.”

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