Frustration, anger, disgust, despair—these, director Mike de Leon told ANCX.ph, were what brought him to produce the video entitled Kangkungan, the link to which found its way to a lot of email inboxes this morning at 3:13 AM. The link to the video is now also up on the Facebook page dedicated to de Leon’s last film, Citizen Jake.
“It was just frustration, anger, disgust, despair,” wrote de Leon in an email this morning, replying to our question regarding what drove him to make the short film. “We seem to be a country beyond redemption.”
The film, five minutes and five seconds long, is the director’s summing up of the Philippine scenario in the last three years, starting from Rodrigo Duterte’s presidential campaign to his rise to power. “Sa ngalan ng digma laban sa droga, naghasik siya ng lagim sa bayan natin,” says the voice of actor Teroy Guzman, while footage of street deaths presumably connected to drug busts are interspersed with footage of kids partying in clubs.
The video also contains clips of President Duterte’s famous quotes including: “Hanapin ninyo sila. Patayin ninyo. Period,” as Raffy Lerma’s famous photograph, “Pieta,” appears on the screen. “He jailed his opponents, pardoned a plunderer, and returned her to power,” read part of the subtitles, while the image of former Philippine president and current House Speaker Gloria Arroyo flashed on the screen.
Watch the full video here
Like in the video, de Leon minces no words in his email. “This regime is worse than the previous dictatorship,” says the director known for his temper, his cinematic genius, and being vocal with regards his frustrations with government and the local film industry. “Marcos wanted to create a dynasty that would rule the country forever, or at least indefinitely. But Duterte seems to be inviting chaos and a frightening power struggle. Was he like Adolf Hitler when the war was going against him and he wanted Germany devastated, leaving nothing to the enemy—a scorched earth policy? Can you imagine the power grabbing in case [Duterte] is incapacitated or even dies? The Marcoses, Arroyos, the Dutertes, maybe more [are] waiting in the wings. We are on the road to becoming a real banana republic.”
Kangkungan, also known as A Portrait of the Dictator as Filipino, premiered Saturday night at the UP Cine Adarna, opening and closing what is touted to be the last public screening of Citizen Jake, de Leon’s full length feature which also expressed De Leon's sentiments over the possibility of the return of Marcos rule in the country.
Similarly, Kangkungan accuses President Duterte of what the short film calls an unforgivable crime— “Ang suportahan ang pagbabalik sa kapangyarihan ng walang konsyensyang Pamilya Marcos." Or to peruse the subtitles, “the sociopathic Marcos family.”
The Cine Adarna crowd Saturday night was a gathering of students, professionals and activists. The audience applauded the short video both times it was shown. While most quietly watched, some would snicker every time Mocha Uson would appear on screen with a dildo.
The video ends with a call to the Filipino people to cast their votes in the coming senatorial elections like it is a matter of life and death, the senate believed to be the last bastion who can go against the current President: “ang huling baluwarteng sasalungat sa taong itong hindi titigil hanggang makamit niya ang absolute power.” Addressing his fellowmen, with special mention of the youth, the voice of Teroy, in effect the voice of Mike, encourages its viewers to vote as if their future, and their life, depended on it.