Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo (lit. ‘Bonifacio: The First President’) is a 2014 Philippine historical action drama film centring on the life of Katipunan revolutionary Andres Bonifacio.
The film begins with the execution of GOMBURZA in 1872. The story then flashes forward to the present day where high school students Joaquin (Daniel Padilla), Andrea (Jasmine Curtis-Smith), and Gary (RJ Padilla) visit Museo ng Katipunan.
Flashback: On 03 July 1892, Dr. Jose Rizal (Jericho Rosales) brings together La Liga Filipina, a peaceful reform movement that aims to unite all Filipinos and give them one voice. One of its members is Andres Bonifacio (Robin Padilla), who is currently supporting his siblings, as both their parents died due to illness. Rizal is later arrested after the Spanish authorities uncover the organisation. Bonifacio then decides to form the Katipunan to lead a revolution against the Spanish colonisers.
With the help of his friend Teodoro Plata, he meets Gregoria de Jesús (Vina Morales), who is also known as Bantug. Bonifacio visits the church, meeting Bantug again. She knows that he joined a group of Masons and is not religious. Bonifacio denies the accusations, saying that those are just inventions of the friars. Later that day, while walking on the street, they encounter a friend of Oriang (Pepe Herrera), begging a friar to give his salary in the polo. However, the friar refuses and instead makes derogatory remarks towards the man. Then he is shot by one of the Spanish soldiers.
Bonifacio and Oriang’s relationship develops and they finally marry after bantug’s parents gave their approval. Then while recruiting additional katipuneros, Bonifacio finds out that Teodoro and Nonay Bonifacio are lovers. On the following day, a mayor named Emilio Aguinaldo becomes one of the new recruits of the Katipunan.
In the present, the museum curator decides to guide the students towards the truth about Bonifacio to enlighten them amidst the wrong historical information in their textbooks.
Back in the past, the Katipunan starts publishing the newspaper “Ang Kalayaan” through the printing press of Diario de Manila. They distribute the papers to their fellow countrymen to further expand the organisation. A man named Teodoro Patino goes out of the printing press and tells his wife, a nun, about the revolution. Eventually he tells the gobernadorcillo on what he has discovered. After hearing this, the Spanish authorities raids the press wherein the gobernadorcillo discovers “Ang Kalayaan”. Because of this discovery, they begin to grow wary of anti-government activities.
Afterwards, a man who is one of the people that published the paper is tortured. Upon seeing the man’s dead body, Bonifacio calls all the Katipuneros to gather in Tandang Sora’s home. Tandang Sora gives a sword to Bonifacio for him to use during their fights against the Spaniards. Later on, Bonifacio declares the start of the revolution on 29 April 1897. All men tear their Cedulas and they scream, “Mabuhay ang Katipunan! Mabuhay ang rebolusyon! Mabuhay ang Supremo!”
On the day of the revolution, they cross a river and secretly pull a foot of one of the Spanish soldiers while the other one is shot by Bonifacio. In the entrance of one of the Officials’ houses, Bonifacio throws a torch that is lit up in the trolley loaded with canisters and shoots it, letting them get inside the gate. A fight ensues. Eventually, Bonifacio is able to kill the Gobernador Heneral by stabbing. After the battle, the Katipuneros replace the flag of Spain with the KKK flag.
Aguinaldo’s comrades are concerned that the revolution might die under Bonifacio’s leadership. They advise Aguinaldo to urge Bonifacio to come to Cavite to reunify the factions of the Magdiwang and Magdalo and hold an election for it. Aguinaldo is elected as the president, while Bonifacio is only elected as the interior minister. A Magdalo member, (Daniel Tirona), objects to his election and insults him, angering Bonifacio who then challenges Tirona to a duel. Feeling discriminated, Bonifacio, as Supremo of the Katipunan, voids the election results. The newly formed, Aguinaldo-led revolutionary group is concerned about the unity of Katipunan after failing to persuade Bonifacio to join them. Aguinaldo then orders the capture of Bonifacio, during which Bonifacio is stabbed at the neck and suffers a gunshot wound in his arm. His brother Ciriaco is shot dead, while his other brother Procopio is beaten, and his wife Oriang possibly raped by Colonel Agapito Bonzón. Suffering from his untreated wounds, Bonifacio tells his wife Oriang of his dream of finally achieving his wish of the country’s independence against Spain. Later on, Andres Bonifacio and Procopio Bonifacio are sentenced to death.
Back to the present, the students finally learn the truth about Bonifacio. Joaquin decides to share what he has learned with his classmates: the “true” story of Bonifacio, the First President of the Philippines.
At the end of the film, Bonifacio is shown holding his personal flag aloft while leading his troops in a charge against Spanish forces. His personal flag slowly turns into the present Philippine Flag. In the post-credits scene, Antonio Luna does a cameo appearance (This is an actual part as a preparation for the film entitled Heneral Luna (2015)).
- Main Cast:
- Robin Padilla as Andres Bonifacio.
- Vina Morales as Oriang.
- Eddie Garcia as Museum of Philippine Political History curator.
- Daniel Padilla as Joaquin.
- Jasmine Curtis-Smith as Andrea.
- RJ Padilla as Gary.
- Supporting cast.
- Jericho Rosales as José Rizal.
- Isabel Oli as Espiridiona “Nonay” Bonifacio.
- Joem Bascon as Emilio Jacinto.
- Rommel Padilla as Padre Mariano Gomez.
- Isko Moreno as Padre José Burgos.
- Dennis Marasigan as Padre Jacinto Zamora.
- E.A. Rocha as El Heneral.
- Fernando Ortigas as Glaring Friar.
- Ping Medina as Ladislao Diwa.
- Richard Quan as Teodoro Plata.
- Junjun Quintana as Procopio Bonifacio.
- Cholo Barretto as Ciriaco Bonifacio.
- Miguel Faustmann as Padre Gil.
- Lou Veloso as Tatang.
- Bon Vibar as Governor Blanco.
- Jun Nayra as Emilio Aguinaldo.
- Crispin Pineda as Moises.
- Pepe Herrera as Filipino Worker.
- Mike Gayoso as Lazaro Macapagal.
- Mon Confiado as Col. Agapito Bonzón.
- Erlinda Villalobos as Tandang Sora.
- Bong Cabrera as Teodoro Patiño.
- Additional cast:
- Joshua Lichtenberg as young Andres Bonifacio.
- Hector Zaghi as young Padre Gil.
- Dominic Roque as Bully 1.
- Patrick Sugui as Bully 2.
- Ivan Pierre as Bully 3.
- Jioca Javier as Maxima Bonifacio.
- David Agonia as Troadio Bonifacio.
- Richard Manabat as Deodato Arellano.
- Ernie dela Cruz as Valentin Diaz.
- Francisco Godoy as Jose Dizon.
- Ces Aldaba as Nicolás de Jesús.
- Jeanne Vicars as Baltazara Alvarez Francisco.
- Ruth Alferez as Josefa Rizal.
- Maki Calilung as Trinidad Rizal.
- Rina Navarro as Marina Dizon.
- Rick Sanchez as Pio Valenzuela.
- Myla Angelica Nagal Ajero as Honoria Patiño.
- Juliana Ysla as Sor Teresa.
- Julius Java as Spanish Lieutenant 1.
- Henry Strzalkowski as Spanish Lieutenant 2.
- Jan Urbano as Baldomero Aguinaldo.
- Lawrence Roxas as Daniel Tirona.
- Apollo Abraham as Mariano Alvarez.
- Jack Love Falcis as Artemio Ricarte.
- Alireza Libre as Ariston Villanueva.
- Arkin Villanueva as Edilberto Evangelista.
- Alex Laquindanum as Jose Del rosario.
- Jet Edu as Diego Mojica.
- Marol Eugenio as Feliz Topacio.
Philippians Productions is the studio responsible for the conception of Bonifacio. Enzo Williams, a Los Angeles City College graduate was the director for the film. Williams was aided by cinematographer Carlo Mendoza, production designer Roy Lachica, musical scorer Von de Guzman, and stunt director Sonny Sison who has worked for Hollywood. Producers are Rina Navarro and Eduardo Rocha.
According to Williams, he did six months of research before working on the film. The film was entirely shot using an Arri Alexa camera with anamorphic lenses and a complete Arri Raw post-production workflow, and was edited using processes which are also used in major Hollywood movies such as Gravity and Iron Man 3. Bonifacio is the first film in the Philippines to device the technology.
Robin Padilla, who usually does his own fight choreography entrusted himself to the production staff’s hired choreographer.
Williams supervised the work of the location managers to locate a suitable location for a scene during the shooting of the film. The production staff resorts to a building sets if a suitable location for a certain scene satisfying Williams’ standards can not be found. The fort of El Polvorin, the Aguinaldo Shrine and the house of the La Liga Filipina meetings were among those recreated as sets. Part of the film was shot in Pagsanjan where the production staff erected a big battleground set for a scene. Shootings also took place at the heritage resort of Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan. The production expenses of the film exceeded the original budget. The production budget for the film is ₱100 million excluding expenses for the promotion of the film.
Regarding on the casting of the Gregoria de Jesus, Bonifacio’s wife also known as Oriang, in the film, Williams asked star actor Robin Padilla, who portrayed Bonifacio for his opinion and suggest Vina Morales to portray Oriang. Iza Calzado was originally the one to portray the role of Oriang, but did not due to scheduling conflicts.
The film was initially planned to be released under the title Bonifacio, Gusto Mo Ba Siyang Makilala? (English: Bonifacio, Do you Want to Know Him?).
The film opened on 25 December 2014, but the film did not do well at the box office. Robin Padilla said that the movie only earned ₱10 million against its 100 million budget. The film ended its theatrical run at the 7th place.
The “international version” includes English subtitles, fresh footage and additional content featuring lead star Robin Padilla, who plays Bonifacio first shown in Barcelona, Spain earlier 2015, had its US premiere in New York City, screenings in Los Angeles in December the same year.
The film won the most awards at the 40th Metro Manila Film Festival among the eight entries for the mainstream category of the film festival, receiving nine awards including Best Picture. The awarding ceremony was held at the PICC Plenary Hall on 27 December 2014.
Production & Filming Details
- Narrator(s): Eddie Garcia.
- Director(s): Enzo Williams.
- Producer(s): Fernando Ortigas, Rommel Padilla, Danilo L. Patron, Rina Navarro, and E.A. Rocha.
- Writer(s): Enzo Williams, Carlo Obispo, and Keiko Aquinio.
- Music: Von de Guzman.
- Cinematography: Carlo Mendoza.
- Editor(s): Benjamin Tolentino.
- Production: Philippians Productions, Tuko Film Productions, Buchi Boy Productions, and RCP Productions.
- Distributor(s): Solar Entertainment.
- Release Date: 25 December 2014.
- Running Time: 100 minutes.
- Rating: PG.
- Country: Philippines.
- Language: Filipino.