Movies & TV

Jake Will be Mike De Leon's Most Evolved Citizen

Atom Araullo's character reminds us of two other young men on fire in the director's body of work.
IMAGE Citizen Jake
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After 16 years of pseudo-hibernation, director Mike de Leon surprised everyone when he announced in late 2016 that he would be making another movie.

Movie fans were even more surprised when De Leon revealed that the movie, Citizen Jake, would star real life newsman Atom Araullo as Jake Herrera, a journalist.

After all, the reclusive director had even rejected a Gawad Urian lifetime achievement award in 2014. His friend and veteran production designer Cesar Hernando had said, "I think he isn’t really interested in that award."

That said, De Leon's fans were ecstatic that he changed his mind about directing a movie again.

Although it's hard to weigh in on a movie we haven't seen yet, one thing is clear: Jake is a (relatively) young man on fire. The trailer already makes that clear.

That said, Jake is most likely the most evolved among the other young men on fire in De Leon's body of work. Two movies featuring the young men who seem to be Jake's prototypes come to mind.

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Kung Mangarap Ka't Magising (1977) stars Christopher de Leon as Joey de Guia, a young man caught in an existential crisis.  For one, he can't seem to make up his mind about what college course to take. He loves music but his domineering father wants him to be a doctor and order him to take up Biology (which he does). He ends up being mostly lost and comes off as someone who will just go with the flow. The movie is often classified as a "love story" because it highlights Joey's infatuation with a slightly older married woman named Anna Abello (Hilda Koronel). However, it's really a movie about a young man caught in a flux.

Just like Joey, Sid Lucero (Mark Gil) in Batch '81 (1982) starts out as an indecisive college student who is forced to take up Zoology by his mother who thinks it's a good pre-med course. But while the test of Joey's emotional mettle came via his entanglement with a married woman, Sid falls in love with a fraternity. Then, unlike Joey who leans toward walking his own path, Sid gets coopted into the Establishment.

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Ultimately, the only difference between the two is that Sid fully commits to his chosen path—never mind if it's the wrong one.

Jake, on the other hand, is already well past the coming-of-age phase. However, he still experiences the same struggle between in upholding his individual conviction amid the dictates of the Establishment. In one of the scenes in the Citizen Jake trailer, Jake's brother presumably insults him for not having the requisite petit bourgeois trappings. The domineering brother tells Jake, "So, ano ka ngayon? Teacher ka lang! Ang bobo mo talaga (So, what are you now? You're just a teacher! You are so dumb)." Jake fires back, "Eh, ikaw? Congressman lang! Mas bobo 'yun (And you? Just a congressman! That's even dumber)."

 

 

If only for that scene alone, we conclude that Jake is a version of Joey with some of Sid's grit. Thankfully, it seems that Jake's heart (and balls) are in the right place.

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Where Joey is too involved in his own personal conflicts, Jake is more socially aware. Where Sid is prone to institutionalized violence, Jake fights like a lean mean intellectual guerrilla. At least, this is what we get from the trailer alone.

There's a lot riding on Citizen Jake, as De Leon has stated that it's probably the last movie he'll make. From what we see, this is one cinematic offspring that will live up to the director's ahead-of-his-time brilliance.

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Anri Ichimura
Staff Writer, Esquire Philippines
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F. Valencia
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