The title of the film is “A Thousand Tears” directed by Francis O. Villacorta (“Miserere” and “Pedro Calungsod: Batang Martir”) for the Wings Alpha Entertainment Production which features the intertwined personal and national stories of Josefa Llanes Escoda, General Vicente Lim and Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos. Familiar names and images? Yes. The three Filipinos are the human faces printed in the banknote of the one thousand peso bill in the Philippine currency.
Escoda, Lim and Abad Santos were essential patriots during the Japanese occupation. Aside of course from being the founder of Girl Scout of the Philippines (GSP), Josefa was a freedom fighter against the Japanese war atrocities. Lim was already in the military service during the Pacific War and he was in the thick of things in fighting the imperial conquest of Japan in the country. Abad Santos, on the other hand, was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court during the time which had ticklish legal issues during the imposition of a foreign government at the time the Americans were ready to grant independence to the colony already thrice conquered by foreign powers.
These are real life personages in truthful depiction of their heroism against the neo-colonizers in the early 1940s that need precise historical data.
Does Francis able to gather and translate veracious historical accounts not only about the backdrop of the Philippine landscape during the chaotic times but the authentic characters of the three main players of the narrative?
“I have devoted ample time to the research on the subject. I consulted credible persons and authorities who are very knowledgeable about the historical realities of the time,” said Villacorta at the modest press conference held at the UP Bahay Alumni in UP Diliman just in time for the celebration of Bataan Day last week.
One of the major sources of Francis’ materials was Dr. Benito Legarda, a maven in the Japanese time in the country.
“Every detail was verified from Dr. Legarda whom I am indebted my whole life about the story of Escoda, Lim and Abad Santos in relation to the Japanese occupation of the Philippines,” added Francis.
Last year, it was categorically announced that award-winning actress Cherie Gil would play Escoda but something unavoidable cropped she had to be replaced.
“It’s good Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo was free to do the part. She is also tailor-made to give life to Escoda. She was fantastic in the progress of shooting the film,” smiled Villacorta who I had the privilege to work with in “Star News” of “TV Patrol,” ABS-CBN’s primetime news show in late 1980s. At that time, Francis was doing mostly the lifestyle and cultural beats of the news program billed as a tabloid on air.
Isko Moreno plays Chief Justice Abad Santos while Richard Quan portrays General Lim.
The title alone gives an intriguing insight on the whole exercise. “It is a symbolic title because wars are terrors and horrors that induce tears to the victims,” exclaimed Villacorta.
It has a powerful cast but is the film a real recreation of the intricacies of World War II and the colorful lives of Escoda, Lim and Abad Santos?
Let’s see if Francis can contribute and offer an exceptional foray into the history of the Japanese war however just a fraction of it.