Banasi. Calatagan. Luisita. These haciendas have gained media mileage for quite sometime, owing to the owners’ non-recognition of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law. While the lands are supposed to be awarded to the tenants who have farmed the haciendas for a couple of generations, the transfer of ownership remains elusive, like a dream that forever escapes reality. This very case gets a film treatment in Ditsi Carolino’s Lupang Hinarang. Since the agrarian vision’s encounter with reality remains an impossibility for the Sumilao folks and by extension, all the hacienda workers, it might as well be captured onscreen to serve as a reminder to its audience today and in the future that what seems a daily fare populating the tri-media is actually a grave injustice not only to the poor tenants, but also to the Filipino people who have lived in a culture of oppression since colonial times. Never mind if there are not many viewers who will find time to sit down and experience vicariously the bitterness of agrarian defeat; if it gets immortalized in film there is a chance that the tiny band of watchers sometime soon will be so moved as to make the appropriate action due the farming folks. For now, the land stays as the lupang hinarang, barred from the access of the very people who spend all their lives just so the land and the individuals that benefit from it will survive. The agrarian reform law might have transformed the land into a lupang hinirang, but the chosen land in principle is miles away from application. Sure there are complaints flying all over (hence the media coverage of the injustice), but they were ignored until the deadline for land conversion nearly expires and it becomes too late to do damage control. As a result, the beloved land in the national anthem seems more distant than ever to these farmers who generally suffer in silence. The Bible assures that blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. But when?
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