Pluma: Rizal, Ang Dakilang Manunulat

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Pluma: Rizal, Ang Dakilang Manunulat (Rizal, The Great Writer) is a special documentary-drama made as a part of the commemoration of Dr. Jose Rizal’s 150th birth anniversary. The documentary focused on the evolution of Rizal’s writings and when and on what account these writings were made. It was aired June 19, 2011 on GMA News TV.


Plot Summary

The docudrama consists of a reenactment scene of the facets of Rizal’s life, along with extensive interviews needed to establish Rizal’s image as a writer. It is divided into six parts.

The first part started with the birth of Rizal up to his early education. While there was no definite measurement of being a genius during his time, Rizal was noticeably gifted. He showed exceptional talents in painting, molding, sculpting and writing. But it was writing which served him well. At an early age, he wrote the Memorias de un estudyante Manila, which is about the memoirs of his childhood. At 8 years old, he wrote the famous Sa Aking mga Kabata. It was said that his father, Francisco Mercado, owned almost 1000 books during that time, and that he made Rizal read books like El Amigo de los Niños. This influenced Rizal’s passion for writing.

The second part was about his higher education. It was during this time when he wrote A La Juventud Filipina which was deemed as his first recognition to the Filipino youth. His other work was El Consejo de los Dioses, won an award in Manila. In 1882, Rizal left for Madrid, after the then-Governor General Jose Maria dela Torre granted him a scholarship. In Madrid, Rizal wrote Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa, his first propaganda sent and published in a Tagalog newspaper in Manila.

The third part focused on his life in Europe wherein he started writing Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. It also stated the challenges met by Rizal before publishing Noli Me Tangere. Through the help of his friends, he successfully published 2000 copies of the said novel before going back to the Philippines.

The fourth part told a rather personal and lighter aspect of Rizal’s story by documenting about the women of Rizal’s life, the letters of some of these women for Rizal, as well as Rizal’s letters for some of these women.

The fifth part highlighted Rizal’s life after publishing Noli Me Tangere. Because of the controversial novel which brought ire to the Spanish friars, Paciano asked Rizal to go back to Europe. It is also during this period when he wrote Sobre la Indolencia de los Filipinos under the pseudonym Laong Laan. It was published in La Solidaridad in 1890.

Rizal seemed to have never stopped writing. Four years after publishing Noli Me Tangere, he continued writing his second novel, El Filibusterismo. The fifth part ended with the beginning of Rizal’s exile in Dapitan.

The last part focused on the last days of Rizal, primarily those he spent in Dapitan. In Dapitan, he showed his fellowmen what he could do had he been given a chance to be a public servant. He contributed in the town’s need for health assistance and education. It goes on until he was he was sentenced to death in 1896. Mi Ultimo Adios, the poem he wrote on the eve of his execution, became an inspiration to many Filipinos.

Historical highlights

  • The imprisonment of Teodora Alonso in 1872 - Alonso was accused of poisoning her sister-in-law and was then detained. This objective reality inspired Rizal to write the story of Sisa and all the other “manangs” of Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. This incident also has a strong influence in his patriotism.
  • The execution of GOMBURZAPaciano Rizal was one of the sacristans of Jose Burgos and he was there when the martyrs were executed in Bagumbayan. Paciano told Rizal about what he saw, and this opened Rizal’s eyes to the reality of the society where they live. His novel El Filibusterismo was also dedicated in memory of GOMBURZA.
  • The controversial speech in 1884 - During the celebration of the achievement of Juan Luna’s Spoliarium and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo’s Las Virgenes Cristianas Expuestas al Populacho, Rizal made a speech intended to pay honor to his fellow ilustrados. He said during his speech: "Genius has no country, genius burst forth everywhere, is like light and air – the patrimony of all; cosmopolitan as space, as life as God.” This speech was commended by the liberals living in Spain, while it threatened the power of the friars and Spaniards living in the Philippines.

The Experts

The experts who were intervieweed in this docudrama were Micheal Charleston “Xiao” Chua (Vice-President of Philippine Historical Association), Dr. Jimmuel Naval (University of the Philippines History Department), Rev. Fr. Jose Arcilla (Ateneo de Manila Archives). Gemma Cruz Araneta (Rizal’s great granddaughter) was also interviewed.



  • Cris Sto. Domingo - Executive Producer/Writer
  • Franne Cheska Ramos - Production Design
  • Aisel Caringal - Photography Director
  • Victoria Melissa Oyuico, Czarina May Magtangob – Researchers
  • Howie Severino - Narrator
  • JP Habac - Set Director
  • Katte Sabate - Screenplay
  • Candice Lima - Production Administrator
  • Josue Penilla, Rico Salvari, Mark Soliman, Fredie Abril, Anna Isabelle Matutina, Jv Chui - Editors

Awards and Nominations

Recently, Pluma: Rizal, Ang Dakilang Manunulat was nominated in the highly prestigious 2012 New York Festivals (NYF), under History and Society category.

External Links



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