Documentary | The Last of the Philippines. Return to Baler

The logbook of the descendants of the last 33 survivors of the Spanish Empire, where for centuries the Sun never set. Written by Jesús Valbuena, great-grandson of Corporal Gª Quijano and narrated by prominent Phil-Spanish artist Luis Eduardo Aute, this documentary is an endeavor to rescue them from oblivion based on untold testimonies from both sides of this universal war episode. A trip to modern-day Baler and its legendary church, where the last imperial detachment endured the most prolonged and paradoxical siege in world’s modern history.

Fought from June 30, 1898 to June 2, 1899, the siege of Baler set several hundreds of Filipino troops against a 50-man Spanish detachment that was forced to protect itself inside the remote town’s church, with no means of communication with the outside world. Although nearly-half of the Spanish soldiers succumbed to disease, injuries, hunger, psychological warfare and the deeply-rooted temptation to desert and run to enemy trenches as the siege unexpectedly prolonged for 11 months, the Spanish managed to hold their own against countless Filipino attempts to dislodge them.

So impressed was Emilio Aguinaldo at their brave attachment to life that he ordered them to be considered not as prisoners of war but -in a historically-unprecedented gesture of benevolence and recognition of the victor to the vanquished- as friends of the newly-founded Philippine Republic, already at war against the neo-colonial US occupying forces.

While the Siege of Baler still goes largely unmentioned in school books, proof of its relevance lies in the fact that US military academies included this universal episode in their survival manuals for cadets. More recently, the Siege of Baler has served as the basis for the Philippine–Spanish Friendship Day Bill (passed on July 22, 2002) and Republic Act No. 9187 (approved on February 5, 2003), both as means to strengthen the relationship between two nations that share common historical ties and values.

This documentary is the result of over 15 years of research through the analysis of Philippine, Spanish and American bibliographical sources, interviews with historical authorities and -for the first time in film- of the unrevealed testimonies of over 30 direct Philippine and Spanish descendants of this epic conflict.

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