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Duterte: The Movie (Or How We'd Like A Film About Digong To Be Made)

A Pinoy action flick throwback for a real-life bad-ass
by Rey de la Cruz Jr. | Jul 11, 2016
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One thing that we definitely miss about local cinema are the action movies. You know what I'm talking about, right? Yung may tumatakbong action star na may hawak hawak na leading lady habang may sumasabog na lumang kotse sa likod dahil wala silang budget magpasabog ng magandang kotse?

Those ones.

Some of them might be riddled with cheesy gung-ho dialogue and formulaic storytelling, but they were fun! And for better or worse, they represented Filipino views on masculinity. Cesar Montano doing an acrobatic move in the middle of a gunfight and then asking the audience "o kaya niyo yun?" Rudy Fernandez acting all tough and serious pero pinipingot ng asawa niya pag nahuling may ibang chicks? Will that ever happen in a Vin Diesel movie? Of course not! Only in the Philippines.

No offense to our current crop of actors but we need
more onscreen tough guys
for a local version of
The Expendables to happen!

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That's why it's high time that we go back to making movies like that! And what better way to do that than to tell the story of person that has captured the imaginations of many Filipinos in recent months. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we're talking about a movie about President Rodrigo "Digong" Duterte.

Whether you voted for the guy or not, there's no escaping the fact that he's now the President of our beloved republic. People might have varying views on him—some adore him, some dislike him, some are downright afraid of him. He's a very polarizing figure that's for sure. But the one thing we can all agree on is that President Rody is one colorful character. And it would be really interesting to see his controversial life and rise to power depicted on the big screen.


So if we were to make a "Duterte: The Movie" how would it play out? Will there be old cars exploding in the background? Of course! What's a Pinoy movie without one! Will there be fistfights inside of restaurants? Aba may pompyang pa! May dialogue ba muna bago magbarilan? Oo, paastigan muna ng speech bago pumutok!

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Listen up, local film studios, because this is how you should make a Duterte movie.

The cast

One of the major things we have to decide on is who will be playing the titular role. It has to be someone authoritative and also someone who seems like he can beat you up if you cross the line. Ironically, despite going against his daughter in the last elections, FPJ would have been perfect to play the role. The King has brought to life NBI agent Epimaco Velasco and former mayor Edward Hagedorn in his movies before. But since FPJ is no longer with us, who can play the part? John Arcilla was able to bring the tough-talking Heneral Luna back to life so he's a candidate. Jose Manalo does a great impression of Digong, but he won't be convincing in an action movie. So who do we have?

Well, since we're making a throwback action movie, Cesar Montano might be our best choice. O easy ka lang ah! Before you react, think about it for a minute. Cesar is from Bohol so he can definitely nail that Visayan accent. In terms of acting chops, Cesar won awards for playing Jose Rizal so you know he's up to the task of playing a real-life character. He and Digong both share the same moreno complexion. He's young enough to play the younger version of Digong and with the help of makeup, they can definitely make him look like the present day version of Du30. (Nanunuod naman kayo ng Your Face Sounds Familiar, di ba?)

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Plus, he's already a Du30 supporter so it might
not be that hard to ask him to play the role

Every action hero needs a leading lady. So who do we get as Digong's love interests? Well, Digong's ex-wife Ms. Elizabeth Zimmerman is a mestiza so if we're casting a younger version of her and basing it on her looks alone, doesn't she remind you of an older version of Jackie Rice? But we might need someone with more experience. So perhaps we can cast Queen Marian Rivera for the role and just add makeup and prosthetics so she looks like the older Elizabeth Zimmerman.

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Queen Marian, the quintessential mestizang Pinay!

For Digong's current partner Honeylet Avencena, we'll go with the actress that has the beauty to go along with her acting, Angelica Panganiban.

Marian and Angelica as your leading
ladies? Idol ka talaga, Cesar!

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In every Pinoy action movie, there's the sidekick that plays the comic relief. Hindi puwedeng puro suntukan at barilan lang e. Our movie will be no different so we'll get Bayani Agbayani as the mayor's bodyguard just so the cinematic version of Digong has someone to banter with.

The storyline

Seated second from left is the man who would
eventually known as "President Digong"

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What's the story going to be about though? The movie can start with Rody Duterte on the eve of the 2016 Presidential Elections. Busy and tired while on the campaign trail, he grants a journalist an interview. The journalist asks him, "Sino po ba si Rodrigo Duterte?"

As he thinks about the answer, we're shown a flashback of his life. We'll see how a young Rody grew up in Southern Leyte before he eventually became Davao's favorite son. The first part will give us an idea on who his parents are and how his experiences influenced the young Duterte to be the "Digong" that we now know today. It will show us how he got his start in public service being a city prosecutor for Davao. This is where he was first exposed to the injustices that plague society and to the fact that sometimes crime can go unpunished. Parang si Matt Murdock/Daredevil lang! Prosecutor by day, crimefighter by night!

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"The Punisher" in his younger days with PNP Chief "Bato"
de la Rosa—n
icknames pa lang pang pelikula na!

For the second act, the movie will show us Duterte's rise to power. How after the People Power Revolution he was appointed officer-in-charge vice mayor, then eventually becoming the six-term mayor of Davao with a stint in congress in-between those terms. It will show how he was able to transform Davao City from being the "murder capital of the Philippines" to being the "most peaceful city in Southeast Asia" according to travel organizations.

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The exciting/controversial part is showing how he was able to do so. Digong has been linked to the vigilante group Davao Death Squad and there are many urban legends surrounding the man's methods in fighting crime. Some of them are scary enough to earn him the moniker, "The Punisher." There are a few stories of him going after criminals that are a stuff of legends. Some are less grave but by no means less legendary. You remember that story about him feeding a cigarette butt to someone who challenged Davao's no smoking ordinance? We certainly do.

The President formerly known as "Mayor Duterte"
on the day of elections

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In the third act, we'll see how Digong was persuaded to run for the presidency and will show how the man acts in front of the media and behind closed doors. Some have said, and this includes Digong himself, that his persona when it comes to interviews is exactly that: just a persona. We then cut to the present as the reporter asks Digong again: Sino si Rodrigo Duterte? But before he opens his mouth, we fade to black. Credits roll. It's up to the audience to say who Duterte is based on what they've just seen. Puwede di ba?!

The dialogue

What's a '90s Pinoy action movie without famous quotes, right? Isang bala ka lang! Marami ka pang kakaining bigas! Saging lang ang may puso! And you don't get any more quotable than President Duterte. Some of his controversial statements have placed him in hot water before so you know a movie about his life will have many memorable lines.

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Here are just a few examples:

1) "Dapat si Mayor ang nauna." When he's in the middle of a gunfight and he's able to the shoot the bad guy first. Anong sinabi ni Stallone diyan?

2) "Kung ilalagay akong presidente ng Diyos, ang unang magdudusa ang Diyos." A bit blasphemous but it's very cinematic. Kahit si Bruce Willis walang ganyan!

Lines that seem to come straight out of an action movie

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3) "Alam mo sa totoo lang, kung walang Pilipino na papatay para sa taong bayan, sa mga farmers, at takot mamatay, walang mangyayari sa bayan na ito..." On his hard-lining stance against crime. Parang si Vito Corleone sa The Godfather!

4) "Kaya kung ayaw ninyong huminto at patuloy parin ang karahasan, ito na ang huli ninyong 'Merry Christmas.'" Wouldn't that send a chill down your spine if the Duterte movie is shown in MMFF?

5) “Two million pesos pag nahuli ninyo nang buhay si _____. Pag napatay ninyo, doble, four million pesos. Pag nadala ninyo ang ulo ni ____ dito sa akin na may dry ice, para hindi mabaho, magdaragdag ako ng isang milyong piso. I don’t need you to bring the body, just bring me the head of ____, tapos tayo.” Alam niyo, buti pa si Mayor na lang magsulat ng sarili niyang lines. It's hard for a writer to come up with lines like these!


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The local film industry has seen somewhat of a revival lately with a string of hit movies coming out. But to be honest, there's only so much romantic comedies we can watch before it gets tiring. Although there's nothing wrong with catching a Jennylyn movie every now and then, you have to admit that the industry needs to add variety to it's current offerings. And with the recent successes of action-packed movies like On the Job and a biopic like Heneral Luna, it seems the Filipino audience is ready for something else, as long it tells a compelling story. And it doesn't get anymore compelling than Rodrigo Duterte.

Although the challenge is to make a movie about a controversial figure like him that will please everyone. His critics might say that we are glorifying extra-judicial killings. His supporters might say, "BIAS! Bakit niyo pinapasama si Mayor?!" (BTW, the proper form is BIASED. #just saying) So you have to find the right balance. Stay true to the story as much as you can and don't exaggerate too much just for the sake of entertainment. And of course you have to have the go-signal of President Duterte himself. You wouldn't want to offend the guy, right? Unless you want to be on the receiving end of one of his quotable quotes.

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To the Brillante Mendozas, Erik Mattis, and Jerold Tarrogs of the world, let's make this movie happen! Let's bring back the local action genre in a big way!

Rey de la Cruz Jr. likes talking about films as much as he likes watching them. He runs, a site that provides Filipino moviegoers with reviews written in a voice that is uniquely Pinoy.

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