A Capsule of Interweaving Perceptions

August 1, 2008

Bayaning Third World (2000)

Director: Mike de Leon
Running time: 93 minutes

Synopsis and Evaluation

We are a nation fascinated with Jose Rizal — not just his heroism but also his being a womanizer, his classic hair style and many more. We devour two of his greatest literary works in secondary schools. We celebrate his birth and execution dates. We have countless movies relating to Rizal and his works. We even name our streets (Rizal Avenue, Rizal Province), corporations (RCBC), schools (Rizal High School) and products after him. There’s even a religion devoted to Rizal and his works. Even the most well-known place in Laguna is Calamba (Rizal’s hometown), not Santa Cruz which is its capital.

Despite being subjected to countless scrutinizes by various historians, how well do we know Rizal? Is it really important to know him adequately since he’s our nation’s symbol to our fight against four centuries of foreign colonialism?

Bayaning Third World, directed by Mike de Leon, is a mockumentary on making a film about Rizal. Lots of questions were thrown around and dissected in this feature film that concern Rizal. Have Rizal really written and signed a retraction letter signifying his intention to turn back from his beliefs and re-join the Catholic Church? Did he marry Josephine Bracken? Did he retract so that he can marry Josephine Bracken? (There was no civil wedding back then.)

These were “discussed” in the film by interviewing various people connected to Rizal for their points of view. Throughout the film, the filmmakers (Ricky Davao and Cris Villanueva) asked lots of questions, examined evidences, analyzed various information they have gotten from their “interviews” and still didn’t reach a conclusion about the questions they want to clarify right from the start. The more they dug deeper, the more questions left unanswered popped up. It’s one big loop that mocks the futility of digging deep down Rizal’s personal life, his inner feelings and motivations.

Cris Villanueva always asks if it’s still relevant to discuss these issues a century after Rizal’s death. Maybe it is still relevant so that we can have a hero who will not be anymore subjected to doubts by many scholars — a “flawless” hero so to speak to maintain Rizal’s legacy to our country.

But what is a hero really? Is there a perfect or flawless hero? Will there ever be an unblemished hero?

A long time already went by since Rizal’s death. A lot of things have already happened since 1896. Maybe knowing the complete story is not that important anymore. Rizal is an image of Filipino intelligence and an inspiration to the youth of today and tomorrow. Many look up to him. If the truth would tarnish everything that was built and preserved, maybe it’s not worth pursuing anymore. So what if he retracted his statements and beliefs? We are already influenced by Rizal in many ways… positively I believe. His greatness would not be diminished by a mere renunciation since damage was already inflicted to the colonizers by his works and statements. Nothing will ever change today.

On the technical aspect, this film is superior with its use of black and white (perfect for the period of time covered by the film), mock commercials and re-creations and parodies of historic events (e.g. execution of Rizal where he run away from his executors). One interesting bit of information; the actors did not know they are filming a comedy. This was done to preserve the authenticity of their acting since not knowing that they’re filming a comedy, the actors would not force themselves trying to be funny. This strategy worked excellently for this film as spontaneity and zest were preserved throughout the film.

The Final Word

The final segment of the film dubbed as “Kanya-Kanyang Rizal” conveyed that we know Rizal in lots of different ways. Depending on who we ask, a different “version” of Rizal will always be told. It’s like history in general, where even in the presence of various pieces of evidences there would always be some room for a historian’s opinion to enter his discussion. What would history become without discussions and debates? A mere collection of information regarding and records of the past. It’s an endless cycle, almost futile, but not entirely useless since it encourages us to think within our own minds.



  1. Good stuff, demented. But check out my vote for Greatest Rizal Film Ever

    Comment by Noel Vera — August 1, 2008 @ 7:28 pm

  2. rizal is just sugar-coated. i hope there’s more who will unvail and reveal the real him, his true motives. em not anti or pro, but based from the boofs and reading materials that i have read, there is still an inadequacy from him.

    Comment by audris — September 25, 2008 @ 9:05 am

  3. .. it made me ask the same questions.. and i hope there would be a lot more revelations about him.. i heared that the face printed in “piso” was not his real face – im l ooking forward to know the answers and that would help me be good in my Rizal and Literature classes.. ☺

    Comment by Daren Cornejo — January 28, 2009 @ 3:46 am

  4. ganda ng pelikula..kaso nga lng..may kulang….parang “bitin”..hindi ipinikita kng may totoong bang kng may anak c rizal kay ms. bracken.? may sabi2x kac na “hindi namatay ang anak nla ni ms. bracken.but aCCRDING TO THE BOOK namatay..but other books BUHAY?? SINO ba ang tama..???

    Comment by JESSiloilo — July 19, 2009 @ 6:43 am

  5. ang gulo ng buhay ng ating NATIONAL HERO????

    Comment by JESSiloilo — July 19, 2009 @ 6:44 am

  6. bakit bayaning 3rd world yung title? ano explanation?

    Comment by Ann Mendoza — September 13, 2009 @ 12:57 am

    • bayaning 3rd world kasi 3rd world country tayo ^_^

      Comment by alyssa — April 15, 2010 @ 7:49 am

    • As you can see, Philippines is a third world country and we are colonized for so many years by the Spaniards and Americans.. Because of this, in my opinion, we really do not know what nationalism is. Because in the film, there are still many questions left unanswered. Why do we still have so many doubts about our national hero, despite his great efforts.. if we really know what nationalism really means…

      Comment by Ilia — April 16, 2012 @ 2:06 am

  7. ayon sa bayaning 3rd world

    Comment by ULOL — November 9, 2009 @ 4:33 am

  8. eto lng ba un?? ta3

    Comment by tga -lipa — November 18, 2009 @ 8:15 pm

  9. !!the film made me ask more question and mor confusing!!

    but its interesting !!!

    Comment by jang sarong — December 8, 2009 @ 7:49 pm

  10. !!the film is unique

    Comment by jang sarong — December 8, 2009 @ 7:51 pm

  11. hay,jose rizal…ndi xa nag-iisip..mdami k nga babae ndi m nman na anakan..useless..ndi kmlat ang lhi nio..

    Comment by dominic — January 21, 2010 @ 5:03 pm

  12. im also wondering why bayaning third world is the title of the movie.. why its just jose rizal since he is the main cast here… any one?

    Comment by jem — January 27, 2010 @ 12:43 am

  13. if only we can wake Rizal from his Grave and ask him, if only those pernons who was linked with rizals life can answer our questions then it must be easy for us to know the life of Rizal. as of now there are so many questions that’s been raised by people but none of them has a clearer answer. the controversies that makes Rizal’s life a brilliant piece to study.

    Comment by karen — March 16, 2010 @ 8:59 pm

  14. maAngas tong film. my prof told us to watch this, ayos to. idol ko yung writer. :>

    Comment by Valentine Fuerte — September 26, 2011 @ 5:12 pm

  15. what is the relationship of a dog during his execution? what does it symbolize?

    Comment by irene — February 17, 2012 @ 9:01 am

  16. Haven’t heard of this ’til yesterday. I just watched it and i must say, good job De Leon and Del Mundo for that slight exposition. The retraction thing really made me laugh. But Filipinos need to know more from that, if only you continued it or did a sequel about knowing the reason why we have Rizal as our National Hero.

    The film won six of 13 awards at the Gawad Urian in 2000 and you stopped from that? Or you guys didn’t know that Rizal was just an American-sponsored-hero?
    Our country needs to know that the Americans insisted him to be our national hero because they were afraid that if it was Bonifacio, the Filipinos would also revolt the same way as he did. Rizal was too coward he even rejected offers about revolution, saying it’s not the right time.

    I just hope someone does a movie where the depravity of the US of A are exposed, and if that movie’s a hit and wins awards, then God bless america! Haha…

    Comment by Dong Castle — March 15, 2012 @ 2:08 am

  17. third world meaning mahirap na bansa

    Comment by vina — March 18, 2012 @ 10:10 pm

  18. Despite being subjected to countless scrutinizes by various historians, how well do we know Rizal? Is it really important to know him adequately since he’s our nation’s symbol to our fight against four centuries of foreign colonialism?

    Rizal and Forever Rizal ♥

    Comment by Pacquiao-Bradley — May 22, 2012 @ 7:02 am

  19. that is very hurt movie, india copy this movie..
    Education Information

    Comment by fawad — November 17, 2012 @ 12:20 pm

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