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‘Beyond Conspiracy’: Someone got away with murder

By Nestor Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 04:14:00 08/21/2008

Filed Under: Entertainment (general), Cinema, Heroism, Anniversaries, Assassination, People power

In 1983, Ninoy Aquino affirmed his resolute claim, ?The Filipino is worth dying for,? by giving up his life for his countrymen. In time, they responded in similarly heroic kind, ?Ninoy, hindi ka nag-iisa??and, led by his widow, Cory, achieved the political apotheosis needed for Ninoy?s assassination to be transformed into martyrdom.

But, 25 years later, can the now liberated Filipino also resolutely aver, ?Ninoy, hindi ka namin nakakalimutan?? The youth, especially, generally have only a vague notion of what the slain opposition leader stood for, and why he gave up his life.

That?s a pity for Ninoy, but a tragedy for the youth, because it deprives them of the heroic example they need to energize and transform their own lives.

Happily, the Foundation for Worldwide People Power has produced its latest documentary, ?Beyond Conspiracy: 25 Years After the Aquino Assassination,? which we previewed last Monday at the Shangri-La Premiere Theater.

Clueless youth

The hard-hitting and incisive production, written by Ruben Tangco, directed by Butch Nolasco and narrated by Tina Monzon-Palma, was previewed by an SRO crowd?a good indication that it will do similarly well when it?s shown at 10:30 p.m. on Aug. 24 on Channel 2 to the general TV audience. Make sure you watch it.

Even more importantly, get your children and the other young people you know to also view the documentary, because it?ll go a long way in filling in the blanks in their knowledge of and appreciation for the wellsprings and fruits of Ninoy?s sacrifice.

Truth to tell, the production goes into so much detail in recalling the events that presaged Ninoy?s death that it?s more a handy primer for the uninitiated than for the already knowledgeable, who may find its first half rather basic. But, they should stay the course, because the need to inform the relatively clueless youth is the docu?s most important task.

Besides, the program?s second half offers even the initiated an absorbing viewing experience, because it zeroes in on the investigation of Ninoy?s assassination, sifts through the evidence pointing to the assassination?s most likely mastermind(s), and makes the tarmac tragedy come stunningly to life with a reenactment greatly enhanced by the use of computer animation.

Unassailable truth

Eyewitness accounts also imbue the production with the force and clarity of unassailable truth.

The program occasionally gets bogged down in excessive detail, but viewers who keep watching should be rewarded with galvanizing insights that will go a long way in making Ninoy Aquino a more vivifying presence and example in their lives.

After previewing ?Beyond Conspiracy,? we were heartened by its incisive retelling of Ninoy?s heroic story, which should inspire young viewers to be similarly selfless in their thoughts and actions.

In terms of dramatic impact, however, the documentary?s most telling moments were the hitherto ?unseen? tarmac events after media people and their cameras lost sight of Ninoy as he was hustled out of the plane that had brought him back to the Philippines.

The production?s inspired use of computer-generated imagery and dramatized reenactments made this climactic part of the documentary particularly dynamic.

In general, we?re against the use of reenactments in news and public affairs programs, because they tend to be too ?acted,? and thus too melodramatic in effect.

In ?Beyond Conspiracy,? however, the reenactments are focused and carefully controlled, with the actors? participation limited to vivifying the events being recalled, with minimal display of potentially distracting, upstaging and excessive emotion.

In addition, the stark computer images further distanced the emotive aspect of the presentation, constantly reminding viewers that they were watching, not a melodrama, but a reinvestigation of events of grave national significance and impact.

Four eyewitnesses

This tarmac section?s most important contribution was its dramatized revelation that the key moment when Ninoy was shot in the head was seen by four eyewitnesses from different vantage points on the plane and on the tarmac.

This belies the general impression that nobody witnessed that exact moment, hence the possibility that Rolando Galman had done it. The four eyewitnesses? testimony?as clearly visualized in the documentary?prove that Galman was a fall guy, and that one of the arresting officers had in fact pulled the trigger.

Not only is this tarmac scene the special?s most dramatic and revelatory section, but it also enables ?Beyond Conspiracy? to take its reinvestigation to a higher, more critical level, to an extrapolation from all the evidence at hand of the identity of the Aquino assassination?s mastermind(s).

Not in vain

A number of probable suspects and their attendant scenarios are analyzed, and the conclusion the reinvestigation arrives at is a chilling reminder of the continuing tragedy of justice still denied a nation urgently in need of closure.

Twenty-five years after the tragic fact, justice may seem to be more elusive than ever for Ninoy Aquino. But, with committed initiative like ?Beyond Conspiracy? casting a bright light to reveal the truth to new generations of Filipinos, Ninoy?s supreme sacrifice shall not have been in vain.

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