I first heard of Give Up Tomorrow from Cecile’s blog. Then Rone watched it too then alerted me of another screening, but I couldn’t make it. Finally, a friend in PR invited me and The Painter for the screening last Monday night at Power Plant, attended by supporters, journalists and some political figures. I was really excited and looking forward to finally seeing this movie that documents Paco Larrañaga’s story. He is one of the seven men who were suspected and subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment for abduction, rape and murder of two young women in Cebu. It was a case that was sensationally covered by the media over a decade ago.
Why should I care about this movie? Why should all of us care, for that matter? Well, in my case, it’s because of a young man that came to visit our house a few times. He was my brother’s classmate and friend. My brother spoke of him frequently and always in humor and friendly affection. This young man was Paco. My brother was one of the witnesses who were ready to testify to the fact that Paco was in Quezon City, with him and their other classmates at the time the crime was going on in Cebu. This is why I care.
This film may be a documentary on the ongoing fight of the Larrañaga family for justice to be served, but more importantly, it will open your eyes to the cracks and flaws of our justice system, and the unknown number of wrongfully convicted people in our prisons today. I think it is a film that every Filipino should watch. Atty. Sandy Coronel said it very well last night: finding scapegoats for a crime does not solve anything, but only adds victims. I empathize with a mother’s loss of two daughters, but wrongfully convicting people for the crime is not the solution. “Amnesty International, the government of Spain, Fair Trials International, and the United Nations are unequivocal in the belief that for more than a decade, Paco has been paying with his freedom for a crime he did not commit. ” (GUT Press Kit)
I was in tears for most of the movie. As a sister, a mother, a human being, it hit me right at the core. When the lights came on, I was a bundle of emotions: sorrow, anger, indignation, and hope were all swirling in me and I can’t stop thinking of Paco and “Give Up Tomorrow” up till now. Most people judged him because of his less-than-stellar reputation in Cebu. But I don’t think reputation is enough basis for suspicion, arrest and conviction. If this can happen to this person who has all the resources and support, what more the normal person (i.e. you and me) or the less fortunate who have no resources at all?
I approached Mrs. Larrañaga after the movie and Q&A and told her I was the sister of one of the witnesses. She was so warm and asked about my brother, and again I was touched by her grace, her resilience and strength inspite of everything that has happened. I’ll never forget the moment.
Metro Manila screenings:
- October 3-9, Robinson’s Galleria and Ermita
- October 3-9, SM North Edsa, SM Megamall, SM Manila, SM Mall of Asia, SM Southmall and SM Cebu
- October 5-7, Greenbelt 3, Trinoma, Alabang Town Center
Also, visit the Innocence Project on Facebook (www.facebook.com/InnocenceProjectPhilippines/info), an NGO that makes justice accessible to wrongfully convicted persons.
You can sign a petition addressed to the Spanish government to free Paco here: http://freepaconow.com/sign-petition/