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Friday, August 30, 2013

The Saviour (Ang Tagapagligtas) at The 13th Gwangju International Film Festival

On September 1, 2013, the Indie Film- Ang Tagapagligtas is this year's entry to the 13th Gwangju Film Festival in Seoul, South Korea. The story is about a man who is known as Kristong Hari in his neighborhood and who walks on foot every year during the procession of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo. 

Faith and Armageddon
text and photos by Boy Villasanta

My new documentary film, “Ang Tagapagligtas (The Savior)” tells of a megalomaniac impersonator of Christ the King, the seventy four-year old Lauro Gonzales who conveniently left his comfort zone three decades ago to fulfill his promise of saving the world from decay and destruction as he was, according to him, possessed by the Black Nazarene of Quiapo Church in the city of Manila.

            Gonzales was a former Sampaguita Pictures’ bit player in movies of popular stars Pancho Magalona, Rita Gomez, Lolita Rodriguez etc.

            I closely followed the adventures of Lauro in 2010 when I was looking for a less expensive docu material after a town mate told me a long-haired and in flashy vestment old man known in the neighbourhood as Kristong Hari was living nearby their village in Tandang Sora I quickly moved around and found out his squalor community in Alcantara Compound.

            There was no turning back since then so I would stay more often at Gonzales’ motley group of men and women followers mostly clad in white gown worn especially during Fridays, the feast of the Black Nazarene, when they would march on foot as pilgrimage to Quiapo. 

Lauro said he wasn’t the mortal self but a spirit created in flesh to represent many religious icons as Virgin Mary, Holy Trinity, Mother of Perpetual Help, Lady of Mercy, God the Father etc. 

            He and his disciplines were adamant in saying the end of the world, the final battle between good and evil, the Armageddon was already near they called on all peoples to pray and repent their sins.

            Spirit Government, they insisted, should be the one to prevail to make this world and this nation, in particular, regain its glory and splendour their requests from national leaders, past and present—from Ferdinand Marcos to Cory Aquino to Fidel Ramos to Joseph Estrada to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III—made them more political than just a mystical organization however loosely.

            Gonzales revealed he was a wealthy businessman in his heyday making big deals with government until he chose to settle in a life simple but complex in its devout attachment to a godlier pursuit.

            Living apart from his children who are scattered in many places far and wide—one of them, a convert to his faith, married and a veggie vendor in Santa Rosa, Laguna market—Lauro is now older and more often sickly with no assurance of health benefits assuming he has cured all types of illnesses in his communal sphere.     

            “They should listen to us, otherwise, more calamities will wreck havoc in the entire country,” said the “apocalyptic” Gonzales.
            Is he a boon or a buffoon?


The question can be answered when “Ang Tagapagligtas (The Savior)” is shown as an official entry to the 13th Gwangju International Film Festival in South Korea on August 29 to September 2, 2013 at Megabox, Gwangju.


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