Concept Paper for a Documentary: “Sitting in Darkness”

Concept Paper for a documentary: “Sitting in Darkness”

On 4 February 1999, we commemorated the centennial of the start of the Filipino – American war. This is a period in our history that is not familiar to many, since the emphasis is usually on the 12 June 1898 Declaration of independence and not thereafter. This documentary hopes to generate awareness of this sad yet brave period in our history.


First person accounts of events will be used as well as a narrator to tie up the continuity of events. This will be interspersed with pictures from the period -some of which have not been published in history textbooks and remain unseen in libraries and archives.

Dramatic reading will be used, light and shadows for some re-enactment and music to capture the atmosphere and mood of the period. After viewing the documentary, we hope that the viewers will be impressed with the bravery of the Filipinos who died fighting for the country, the difficult choices and mistakes made, amidst a changing world of imperialism.

This will be a 60 minute (one hour) long documentary shot and edited in Betacam SP format for broadcast quality. This may be reproduced in the VHS format for educational purposes. Actual footage taken almost a hundred years ago will be used from the American Archives on the Fil- American war.

Outline of the Documentary:

A. The Hongkong Junta

The documentary starts with Aguinaldo and the other leaders in Hongkong, on why they were there and how they got back to Manila. A brief flashback on how the Spaniards came to the Philippines, established a colony and the period of conflict against Spain involving Bonifacio, Rizal, et. al. Promises made by the Americans like Dewey and Pratt and the naivete of Aguinaldo.

B. American Interests

Why America came to the Philippines, its conflict with Spain over Cuba and how initially it was only interested in freeing the Philippines, but its economic interests emerged and developed into the clamor for annexation. The imperialist and anti-imperialist positions as articulated by Henry Cabot Lodge, Kipling, Mark Twain etc. The agreement with the Spaniards for the mock battle, the gradual exclusion of the Filipinos from the agreements. The rising tension after American occupation of Manila and the withdrawal of Filipino Line.

C. Fil-American War

The start of hostilities at San Juan Bridge, comparison of American and Filipino forces (troops, positions, and weaponry). Also a comparison of strategy and initial Filipino defeat and withdrawal until a change of tactics to guerilla warfare. The correlation of the incident with the signing of the Treaty of Paris.

Significant events in the conduct of the war – the killing of Gen. Luna, widespread famine and destruction of villages, Fagan’s defection from U.S. regiment, Balangiga, Luna, up to the last stand and death of the boy General Gregorio del Pilar. Mabini’s capture and continuing struggle for independence through his writing.

D.Aguinaldo’s capture

Events leading to the capture of Aguinaldo – the use of the Macabebes to mislead Aguinaldo into thinking that the Americans were the prisoners, not the leaders of the command. Aguinaldo’s own account of the event. The aftermath, swearing of allegiance to the United States. Continuing struggle of Filipinos in the countryside under the leadership of Gen. Miguel Malvar.

E. Consolidation of American rule

Introduction of the public education and sanitation system, institution of the first Philippine Assembly. The documentary ends with the few Filipinos continuing the struggle for independence like Gen. Macario Sakay in Mount Banahaw.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

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