Aguinaldo - Ang Agila ng Cagayan (The Eagle of Cagayan)
Lito Lapid as Aguinaldo
Aiko Melendez as a NPA guerilla
Tagalog (with English subtitles)
3 stars (out of 5)
This movie is based on a true story. It follows the life of Colonel Rodolfo Aguinaldo, governor of the province
of Cagayan. Lito Lapid stars as Aguinaldo and Aiko Melendez stars as a NPA (New People's Army) guerrilla.
Well, this movie has plenty of action of the form familiar to fans of Ramon "Bong"
Revilla. There is plenty of machine gun fire, hand-to-hand combat, etc., etc. But it also has historical
information interspersed which is what made the film interesting to me.
The movie begins in the 1970's with Lieutenant Aguinaldo being stationed in Cagayan province (northeast corner of
Luzon). He and his men are fighting the NPA. Aiko Melendez plays a low level NPA soldier.
The NPA decide to dispose of Aguinaldo and so they stage an assassination attempt.
Three motorcycle riders carrying machine guns open up on Agi (Aguinaldo's nickname).
Of course the assassination attempt is bungled and Agi escapes while managing to kill all three.
This could have been the making of a great story concerning the vendetta that both the NPA and Agi have for
each other. Instead, the director takes a turn and introduces the goons of the corrupt governor of the
It turns out that Agi has been harassing illegal logging operations which are sponsored by the
So the governor's top goon, Lucas (played by Jess Lapid Jr.) decides to destroy
Aguinaldo in a clever way. Lucas attacks and kills several of Agi's men and makes them think that the NPA did it.
He also stages an ambush of the NPA and makes them think that Agi did it.
This causes Agi to launch a raid on an NPA camp. This is probably the most foolish part of the whole movie.
The raid involves an attack by sea using scuba gear. The battle sequence is straight out of a James Bond movie with men in
scuba gear killing each other with spear guns. When I saw Agi take his M-16 out while underwater, I turned to my wife and said, "There's no way that thing will fire now".
Well, guess what? Agi comes to the surface, grabs onto the rope ladder of a helicopter, gets lifted into the air, and begins to fire at
the NPA rebels on shore. The helicopter is equipped with rockets which cause the NPA rebels to explode and go flying in various directions. I guess the Filipino army is more advanced
than the U.S. Navy SEAL's. They have machine guns that still work after they've been underwater for a half hour.
Well, despite such shlocky scenes the movie still holds your attention. The director fast forwards ten years to the
late 1980's in the post Marcos era. Agi is now a colonel in the army and is reassigned to Cagayan.
The new Aquino administration wants to make peace with the NPA, and so Agi contacts the local NPA rebels and arranges a truce.
There is a scene where Agi talks to Aiko Melendez and delivers a scathing denunciation of Communism. So Aiko and her group decide to go along with the truce.
But, Agi's old nemesis Lucas has other plans. He arrives at the pre-arranged meeting place and stages a slaughter of
the NPA rebels. Agi's guys arrive just in the nick of time to save the NPA.
Of course, it must come down to a hand-to-hand fight between Agi and his nemesis Lucas.
Lucas decides to have a knife fight but Agi has other ideas. In perhaps the
best scene of the movie Agi pulls out his knife with one hand, and challenges Lucas to come on.
Lucas charges him with his knife while at the same time, with the other hand Agi takes
out his gun and shoots Lucas dead. When asked by his men why he didn't use his knife Agi responds, "What do I look like, a
So the movie moves on to what I suppose is the more historically accurate part.
Agi is forced to resign from the military due to his involvement in the coup plot against the
Aquino administration. He decides to run for governor of Cagayan province and wins, defeating his slimy, corrupt
predecessor. The masses love him and he does everything in his power to help them.
Yeah, sort of like the Arroyo administration. LOL.
Anyway, he is implicated in another coup attempt and the federal government suspends him from the governorship.
He is charged with rebellion with several murder charges tacked on for good measure. Agi rounds up his former buddies in the
military and decides to retreat to the town of Tuguegarao. Meanwhile the federal government has given orders to arrest
him. They send an airplane out to strafe the column of Agi's supporters but it fails.
Agi and his troops make it into the town and hole up in the main hotel. Marines are deployed to
arrest him and a battle ensues. The movie is unclear on the details but Agi and a small band of followers escape to the
hills to wage a guerrilla campaign against the government.
The movie ends with the narrator telling us that the Supreme Court threw out the charges against Aguinaldo in 1992.
He ran again as governor of Cagayan and won. Of course, the director wisely left out the fact that it was the Aquino
administration who was persecuting Agi and his followers. I can imagine that it wouldn't be politically correct to portray
Cory Aquino, the "living Saint of the Philippines", as the bad guy.
Despite many shlocky and unbelievable scenes, the movie left me wondering what the real history of these events is.
I had never heard of Aguinaldo before, but now I want to learn more. I suppose that is the most that we can expect from any
movie. I found the movie to be very accessible to English speakers due to the subtitles.
If you can get through the many battle scenes, especially at the beginning, I think you
will find the movie worthwhile. So my rating is 3 stars.
P.S. This movie is available at Regal Films (http://www.regalfilms.com) as part of their Video Blowout
Sale. If you buy 4 or more videos then the cost is just $6 each.