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El Presidente (English: The President; Filipino: Ang Pangulo) is a 2012 biopic film based on the life of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, the first president of the Philippine Republic. The film stars Laguna Gov. Jeorge Estregan in the title role, with Cesar Montano, Christopher de Leon, Nora Aunor, and Cristine Reyes in supporting roles.
It is produced by Scenema Concept International. It is one of the official entries for the 2012 Metro Manila Film Festival and was released in theaters nationwide on December 25, 2012. The film was produced by Scenema Concept International, CMB Films and Viva Films, together in cooperation with the San Miguel Group of Companies, Petron, Boys Scouts of the Philippines, Las Casas Filipinas de Azucar and the Film Development Council of the Philippines. It was premiered on December 18, 2012, at the SMX Convention Center at the SM Mall of Asia.
The story is told in flashbacks as Emilio Aguinaldo thanks the US government for giving him the opportunity to attend the full restoration of Philippine independence on July 4, 1946.
The film begins with his capture by Philippine and US forces under Frederick Funston’s command in 1901, then flashes back to 1886, when an old woman gives Aguinaldo and his childhood friend Candido Tirona cryptic prophecies. Ten years later, Aguinaldo is inducted into the Katipunan and later assumes leadership of its Cavite chapter while becoming mayor of Cavite El Viejo. When the trouble breaks out in Manila in late August 1896, Aguinaldo tries to assure the Spanish provincial government of non-interference and covertly marshals his forces despite a lack of weapons. Learning that the Spanish mostly put their forces in Manila, Aguinaldo finally mobilizes his troops and take the command of the Katipunan forces in Cavite.
As the rebels gain ground in Cavite and several provinces, its Magdalo and Magdiwang factions convene to elect a provisional government. Andres Bonifacio oversees the Tejeros Convention, which elects Aguinaldo as president, Mariano Trias as vice-president, and himself as interior minister. He storms out of the convention when Daniel Tirona objects to his election. Aguinaldo’s brother Crispulo informs him of his accession and convinces him to leave his troops just as he was seeking to defend against the Spaniards at Pasong Santol. The rebels are defeated and Crispulo was killed. Meanwhile, an embittered Bonifacio establishes his own revolutionary government and is later arrested. Aguinaldo is concerned about Bonifacio’s actions and wanted him exiled, but the War Council advises his execution.
Several months later, Aguinaldo leaves Cavite with most of his forces intact and makes it to Biac-na-Bato in Bulacan, where he signs the Pact of Biak-na-Bato and heads for Hong Kong. There he meets with US officials who approach him with offers of support and recognition of a new Philippine Republic amidst the Spanish-American War. Aguinaldo returns to the Philippines and formally declares independence from Spain. As the Malolos Congress convenes, Felipe Agoncillo tries to represent the new nation at the Treaty of Paris negotiations, but gets stonewalled at every turn even as US forces gradually arrive in the Philippines. The Philippine-American War breaks out in February 1899 and Antonio Luna is appointed commander of all the Filipino forces. He is assassinated three months later and the Filipino troops are gradually routed by the Americans. As a result, Aguinaldo’s forces travel all over northern Luzon to escape the Americans. General Gregorio del Pilar volunteers to lead some troops in holding them off at Tirad Pass and buy Aguinaldo time to get away. His loyal courier is later captured by the Americans while getting some medicine for his son. Now aware of Aguinaldo’s hideout, Funston plans his capture.
Having been made to accept the American occupation over the Philippines, Aguinaldo lives a quiet life, which is marred by Hilaria’s passing in 1921. He meets and marries Felipe Agoncillo’s niece Maria in 1930. Over the next few decades, the couple witness Philippine history unfold once more as he is defeated in the 1935 presidential elections, Japanese occupation and the restoration of full independence. In 1962, an elderly Aguinaldo and his wife comfort each other over President Diosdado Macapagal’s decree to restore the actual date of the Philippine declaration of independence. In his final hours, the same woman who gave him his prophecy appears to him one more time.