Nonoy L. Lauzon
Ingenious it may be and without the baggage of having to recreate historical pageantry, Yapan’s populist feature packs a wallop of heavy commentary – the better to enlighten today’s generation on the true state of the nation with a constituency that has remained mired in mass poverty and powerlessness.
Thirty years after people power overthrew the dictatorship that had tyrannized the archipelagic nation, the metropolitan thoroughfare that was the site of the revolt endures to be symbolical in myriad incantations. In the ensemble film written and directed by Alvin B. Yapan plainly titled Edsa, this much is deduced. It managed to be finished in time for Edsa 30 festivities as a memorial to a people’s triumph and saga of liberation. Not that such is the expectation, but the film is not a reenactment of the gathering at Edsa for four days in February 1986 in a collective expression of the popular will to topple an oppressive regime.
What viewers are given instead is a contemporary portrait of a people’s interconnected lives as they navigate the long stretch of the road that would forever have an impact on the history of an entire nation as much as on the personal stories of its individual citizens.
With Edsa the film, Yapan presupposes that it is the ordinary people who drive the engines of history. It may not be the country’s leaders and the mighty politico imbibing enormous affluence and influence that alter the course of the nation but the faceless throng embarking on a united front and propelled to shared action. History from below is much more useful to look into than the actuations of the so-called great and heroic few said to have shaped the country’s destiny.
It is quite a radical position to take especially in the light of dominant precepts in tackling history in film. To regard history from the grassroots appears to offer much allure, hold more promise and engender better prospects for the attainment of progress and empowerment for the general populace.
As Yapan resolved to focus his lens on the seemingly superficial and banal goings-on at today’s Edsa involving the sentiments and struggles of average people, a bigger and far more valid and valuable picture of the national situation emerges. It may just be the proper strategy to tap in order to precisely correct certain misconceptions and false myths surrounding the uprising of three decades back. Now it can be seen that what had once been the Edsa of liberation has persisted to also be the Edsa of despair and disgruntlement, of unfulfilled aspirations, of broken dreams and of a people’s thwarted spirit and, yes, lingering captivity.
(This review was originally posted in glitter.ph.)