Truth be told, I watched Les Miserables not for its Hollywood trappings, but in memory of the heroism of the great Andres Bonifacio and the Katipuneros of 1896. Victor Hugo’s novel from which the musical, and subsequently the film, was based from was among the books that inspired Bonifacio to launch the Philippine revolution.
I didn’t sob as the blonde in front of me did neither did I feel sorry for the tragedy of Eponine’s unrequited love. I was focused more on the poverty of the times, and how social injustice can turn innocence into scum. I cringe at how women were punished more for indecency while men were condoned. I saw how children were unlikely victims of the abhorrent crimes, legal and social injustices. While reading the original french novel, Bonifacio probably drew similarities between the 18th century France and the 19th century Philippines that strenghtened (or inspired) his conviction to lay his life for the cause of the country.
After the movie, the song of the young rebels continues on in my head. I can just imagine the song coming out of Bonifacio’s mouth.
Do you hear the people sing? Singing a song of angry men? It is the music of a people Who will not be slaves again! When the beating of your heart Echoes the beating of the drums There is a life about to start When tomorrow comes!
Will you join in our crusade? Who will be strong and stand with me? Beyond the barricade Is there a world you long to see?
Then join in the fight That will give you the right to be free!
On top of joining the movie audience’s collective sorrow for the death of the rebels, I felt pangs of guilt knowing that if I lived during Bonifacio’s time or had lived anytime when a revolution is raging, I would have been like those characters in the movie who chose to keep their doors shut behind any radical movement.
I’m an immigrant who chose to leave its country in turmoil, what would you expect?