MANILA -- The movie premiere showing the true-to-life story of the late Justice Secretary Jose Abad Santos, who chose to be executed by firing squad rather than betray his country by collaborating with the Japanese, was held at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Theater Saturday night.
It was the first time in the country's history that a gala premiere and book launching were jointly held.
Former President Fidel V. Ramos was special guest.
The film entitled Honor - the Legacy of Jose Abad Santos was based on a book of the same title written by Desiree Ann Cua Benipayo, who made a thorough research here and abroad about the life and sacrifices of Abad Santos.
While the name Jose Abad Santos is known far and wide in Philippine history honoring him in many public institutions like schools, libraries, streets, buildings, and his picture printed in the PHP1,000 bill, but only a few knew about his heroism during the war.
Little is also known that Jose Abad Santos, aside from being the justice secretary during the war, was named by President Manuel L. Quezon as secretary of agriculture, finance and commerce and acting president in concurrent capacity.
However, there were no books written about Jose Abad Santos, who defied his Japanese captors to collaborate with them by just calling over the radio for the Filipino guerrillas to surrender.
He said he preferred to die than betray his countrymen, particularly the Filipino guerrillas.
When President Quezon escaped from Corregidor aboard American gunboats before the fall of Bataan, he asked Abad Santos to join him in the United States, but Abad Santos said he preferred to stay in the Philippines.
He was told by Quezon to elude the Japanese by hiding in the Visayas which he did.
However, Abad Santos and his son were captured by Japanese troops in Cebu in April 1942.
The Japanese interrogated Abad Santos, but remained defiant to the end. This angered the Japanese.
On May 1, 1942, Jose Abad Santos was shot by musketry.
Before he was killed, he was asked if he preferred to have his eyes blindfolded, but Jose Abad Santos calmly said he would face his executioners squarely and was glad to die for his country because not all have that rare opportunity to sacrifice his life for the sake of freedom and democracy for the Filipino people.
He embraced his son goodbye and told him to take care of his mother, who was in Manila when he was shot by firing squad.
He could've chosen the easy way out - collaborate with the Japanese and live out the rest of his life in opulence, but instead, he refused to pledge the oath of allegiance to the Japanese empire.
Santos was a man of honor whose incorruptible spirit never faltered until his last breath.
As justice secretary he never used his position to enrich himself and was a true protector of the innocent.
The film Honor is about the life and legacy of Jose Abad Santos as one of the greatest Filipino heroes of World War II.
The movie was made by the Philippine World War II Memorial Foundation (PhiWar), a non-stock, non-profit organization which aims to educate the Filipino people on the nation's World War II history and produced by Lucky Guillermo and Maj. Guillermo LogroAo.
PhiWar has commissioned the production of the movie to Spyron-AV Manila which has been producing award-winning documentary films on World War II since 2002.
The 54-minute documentary film is directed by 25-year old Bani LogroAo, an advocate of WWII history, whose film-making won him several awards around the world.
Actor Ricardo Cepeda plays the role of Jose Abad Santos.
Supporting cast includes Marina Benipayo, Dan Sheneill, Alex Medina, Ethan Jacob Benipayo, Angeli Dione Gomez, Daniel Abad Santos, Arpee Bautista and Yoshihito Tsukasa, among others.
The film's narrator is Lorenzo Mara.
The production staff includes Bani LogroAo, Mario Abad Santos Benipayo, Desiree Ann Cua Benipayo, Lucky Guillermo, and Maj. Guillermo LogroAo, among others. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency