“At the age of 22, Remedios Gomez became the commander of a squadron of 200 men. Her younger brother Oscar became the Vice Commander. She was known for putting on a dress, doing her nails, and applying red lipstick right before each battle. She was an admired and infamous commander of the Hukbalahap – one of the most successful resistance armies in Asia during World War II. Later in life, she lobbied for military pensions for war veterans, and in 2014, she died at the age of 95.“– Based on the book, “Kumander Liwayway”
Women empowerment? Yes, Beauty Queen is the epitome of female empowerment while touching genuine camaraderie.
BY MYRA AQUINO
SHORT FEATURE COMPETITION
SYNOPSIS: Set in Pampanga in 1940, Remedios Gomez is a classic woman through and through, and she has the town’s beauty pageant crown to prove it. But when the Empire of Japan invades the Philippines, plunging the country into unmitigated chaos and violence, her quiet provincial life is completely overturned. After her father is tortured and killed by the Japanese for his refusal to obey them, Remedios runs to the mountains with her brother Oscar to join the Hukbalahap resistance and find renewed purpose in the war. Once she arrives in the thick jungle encampment, however, she discovers that not only does being a woman limit her options in the resistance, but her suppressed grief over her father’s death continues to persist. She must grapple with both obstacles as she tries to find the strength to be who she needs to be for her country, while still unapologetically being herself.
Thoughts on Beauty Queen
If you want to know more about Remedios Gomez-Paraiso, also known as Commander Liwayway, the red lipstick-wearing warrior, Beauty Queen, gives you a glimpse. But I suggest setting that aside for a while and enjoy Myra Aquino’s film.
Beauty Queen is the director Aquino’s thesis project and an ode to her Filipino heritage. It shows the struggles Remedios has endured since her father’s death and a very different life from the one she is accustomed to. Yet, she overcame the obstacles and found what she can do.
Carina Febie Agustin’s performance as she transitions from a Beauty Queen to a red lipstick-wearing warrior was a sight to behold. It was emotional and uplifting at the same time. People could learn a lot from Commander Liwayway.
So take this movie as an inspiration and sign to rise. Make your voice heard.
BY MYRA AQUINO
SHORT FEATURE COMPETITION 10/10
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