Nationalism is dead in the hearts of the Filipino youth. Or perhaps it never died because it never lived in the first placed. At least that’s what I saw among fellow moviegoers who went for Sigwa, a tribute to the First Quarter Storm during the early years of President Marcos’s declaration of Martial Law. Whatever the film attempts to impart didn’t penetrate the people who watched with me. Rather, I felt that only when times are dire will the youth play a role for the fate of the country.
February 6, 2011, a Sunday, was an ordinary day for me when I watched Sigwa. The main thing that stood out that day was that it was the first time in a couple of years that I was tasked to watch a historical film, surprisingly something I was looking forward to do. Nonetheless I was amazed how long the queue was for the film, having momentarily forgotten that students from every school and course imaginable could have also been required to watch. I had no choice to but fall into line to enter SM Cebu’s Cinema 7. I actually thought the theater would run out of seats for the attendees. Thankfully my fears were unfounded.
When I went inside, the theater was already jam-packed with other students filling the place with so much unnecessary scuffles for seats along with din. I hurriedly looked for a comfortable seat as the screen was small it would be hard to watch it from the sides. It took around ten minutes after the expected time, 12:30 p.m., for the film to start showing; moderators were trying to subdue the noise and commotion, to no avail.
Things did not improve in the middle of the movie. Here and there I noticed people getting bored with it that they were finding means to kill some time, at the cost of annoying other people like me who paid rapt attention at the film. To my right, a teenage girl was animatedly talking to her friends. To my left, I could not help but notice yet another teenage girl sending love messages to her boyfriend. Everywhere else in the theater one could find similar conditions. The only times interest was seemingly observed for the movie was during the sexual and kissing scenes. It was simply disappointing.
I assumed this movie did not wholly affect the minds of the youth, save a few. I did not suppose it was because the direction and script was subpar for my taste and the acting acceptable at best. My criticisms were not the problem. The problem lies within the fact that Martial Law happened during the time of our parents. My generation and those after mine however lived in a time of relative peace, blindly enjoying whatever it satisfies us. Perhaps if history repeats itself with the spending of blood for peace and harmony, then we might fully understand what Sigwa really was trying to portray. I didn’t even know the film was a tribute in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Storm until I researched a bit.
After about two hours, the credits finally started rolling. By then I was anxious to leave, having enjoyed a cultural film yet disgruntled by the crowd I left behind. I wish the time comes the youth embraces nationalism willingly and knowledgeably. As one Josephine Dionisio said, “None of us is born nationalist.”