‘Dukot’: Courageous Movie Tackles Worsening Rights Abuses in Philippines

Dukot‘s fearlessness emanates from its depiction of the truth about the worsening human-rights situation in the Philippines today. As Bonifacio Ilagan, the scriptwriter, put it: “It minces no words in pointing out the real perpetrators” of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings.


MANILA – Dukot (Desaparecidos) is no doubt the most courageous full-length Filipino film ever produced in decades.

The collaboration of Palanca awardee Bonifacio Ilagan and multi-awarded director Joel Lamangan resulted in a powerful film that continues the tradition of Lino Brocka and Mike de Leon — that is tackling socially relevant subjects and politically charged themes.

More than a love story, Dukot provides a human face to the statistics of human-rights violations in the Philippines. Allen Dizon and Iza Calzado play the role of two young activists who were abducted by state security forces. What happens to them during their captivity is a combination of real-life stories told by the fortunate few who managed to escape from or were freed by their torturers.

Gina Alajar, Robert Arevalo and Raquel Villavicencio were able capture the agony of parents waiting and searching for their missing loved ones. In their characters, one could get a glimpse of what Edita Burgos, Evangeline Hernandez, Erlinda Cadapan, Concepcion Empeño and many more mothers and fathers and relatives of victims of enforced disappearances, or the desaparecidos, went through.

(Dukot is a Filipino word that means to reach in to take or pluck something out of something, say a pocket. The word also has come to mean abduction.)

Also among the cast are Snooky Serna, Emilio Garcia, Felix Roco, Jim Pebangco, Mon Confiado, Rico Barrera, John Apacible, Menggie Cobarrubias, Tony Mabesa and Armaine Pagcu.

Ilagan proudly said that members of the cast have been enlightened by the film. In a special session with the cast, Karapatan’s Ruth Cervantes and Desaparecidos’s Aya Santos, whose father remains missing to this day and whose mother had been imprisoned and falsely charged with common crimes, discussed the human-rights situation in the Philippines. During the production stage, the actors had the chance to interact with families of victims of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings.

Ilagan told Bulatlat that it was Lamangan who asked him to do the film early this year. Lamangan has been invited by various people’s organizations in several activities espousing human rights. He performed one of the poems of former political prisoner Axel Pinpin in the simultaneous event in Manila during the historic Permanent People’s Tribunal Second Session on the Philippines in March 2007. The international tribunal indicted President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo guilty of gross violations of human rights.

After the recent limited screening of the film at the Adarna Videotheque at the University of the Philippines, National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera congratulated Ilagan for the courageous script.

Executive producer Carina D. Pagcu of the film who runs the CDP Events and Entertainment Production said she cried after reading the script. “I got scared, too for its courage and honesty. I talked to my husband. We agreed that this may not earn but we’ll pull it through. We’ll try the international festival circuit and the nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Win or lose, we’re doing a significant movie.”

Dukot‘s fearlessness emanates from its depiction of the truth about the worsening human-rights situation in the country today. As Ilagan put it: “It minces no words in pointing out the real perpetrators” of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings.

Both Ilagan and Lamangan recognize the possibility of the film not being shown in the country. The reasons are obvious, Ilagan said. The country’s censors had given X ratings — thus effectively banning them from public exhibition — on films that tackle not only sex or violence but such issues as extreme poverty and social injustice.

Brocka’s Orapronobis, a similar film dealing with human rights situation under the Aquino regime, was banned by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB).

Still, they are optimistic. “It must be shown here. We want the Filipino people to be able to watch the film in major cinemas here,” Lamangan said. (Bulatlat.com)

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12 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. · Edit

    I am very thankful for having this movie shown in our school. It would be effective to awaken the minds of our fellow filipinos who are unconscious of these things. I therefor say…


  2. i hope that movie will touch the mind and heart of the government so that they will know what happen to our country.

  3. Utmost thanks to the actors, producers, and director of this film for they have brought to light the reality which screams at our faces but we tend to deny because of the violent truth to it. Hopefully this would eliminate apathy and indifference of all Filipinos to the present state of our country.

  4. If this film doesn’t get your pulse racing and doesn’t get your mind bothering, you need to check if your heart is functioning. and if you are human being… it’s hard to accept that this immoral act is happening in our country….

  5. As what I have said, that movie is an "Orapronobis" with a modern twist, and it needs to be represented in Cannes in order to return the Brocka-Bernal style of social realist cinema in the Philippines. Somehow in that movie, it shows how the disappeared people tried much to resist despite the threat and pain given to them.

    But in the end, blood will always be paid with blood, what Philip Salvador finally resorted in Brocka's movie is the same resort wherein Junix's brother did.

  6. I hope this movie will be shown here in the US. This movie will a hit as least expected. This is a powerful and very relevant movie. I hope the marketing is aggressive and creative.

  7. I am a young girl and I think this movie is a good one. It is a movie that makes people know reality and know the truth which the government hides from the Filipino people. Can’t wait for it in major cinemas!

  8. My family and I would like to congratulate the bravery of the producers and all the people behind the film "DUKOT". We are hoping to see it in the big screen. We will support any petition for its public screening, here, in the Philippines. This is a MUST SEE movie for the Filipinos and the world. SULONG!

  9. · Edit

    This movie was so great, i will recomend this movie especially the youth and students about what is the truth about human rights violations in the country.

    I congratulate the staffs who is painstakingly making for this film especially Ms. Iza Calzado for great acting and participate in the movie.

    For us we give A+ and a 5 stars (*****) for this movie…

  10. · Edit

    Concerned Filipinos/as here in Switzerland had been keenly watching the human rights situation in the Philippines and had been very much alarmed on the massive HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS happening in the country. Such movie should contribute to the awakening of the Filipino consciousness and sensitivenss to the lack of justice and the blatant Human Rights Violations!!! We could sponsor the showing of the movie here in the country.

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