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Bagong Buwan, also known as New Moon, is a 2001 Filipino film directed by Marilou Diaz-Abaya starring Filipino actors Cesar Montano, Amy Austria and Jericho Rosales. This movie is about the Muslim rebellion in Mindanao, Philippines and its effect on civilians. It is a look at the war in Mindanao between the Philippine government (during President Joseph Estrada’s short stint) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), primarily through the eyes of the Bangsamoro (or Moros as they are more popularly known).
Ahmad (Cesar Montano) belongs to the Bangsamoro people. While many of his kind are bent on fighting, thinking that Mindanao is only for the Muslims, Ahmad prefers to live a simple and peaceful life. He works as a doctor in Manila while his wife, Fatima (Amy Austria), and his only son, Ibrahim, stay in Mindanao with his mother, Farida (Caridad Sanchez). Ahmad is shocked and devastated when Fatima breaks the confounding news. Ibrahim was killed by a stray bullet when vigilantes indiscriminately fire at their village. Ahmad goes back to where he came from — Mindanao.
Ibrahim’s death did not cause Ahmad to stop striving to live a peaceful life, much to the consternation of his brother, Musa (Noni Buencamino). His brother takes an exactly opposite stand. Musa believes in waging a war against all the Kaafir (unbelievers) who may impede the Moro’s goal of independence. He even trains his young son, Rashid (Carlo Aquino) to a Muslim warrior’s life.
Ahmad wishes to bring his family to Manila in order to escape the conflict in Mindanao but convinces no one, even his mother. Farida is apparently used to a life of constantly running away from crossfire. His wife, Fatima, wishes to stay where the memory of his son remains. Ahmad is now challenged to continue his life’s vocation as a healer in his war-torn homeland. One day, the MILF headed by Musa, together with Rashid, bombed a police station near a public marketplace. Francis (Jiro Manio), a young Catholic boy, is separated from his parents during the confusion and follows Rashid. Rashid grudgingly takes Francis with him and introduces him to his co-villagers. Francis goes wherever Ahmad and his people go. Francis and Rashid, at their very young age, are the personification of the rival Christian and Muslim who find themselves prejudiced against each other because of ignorance.
Ahmad’s group flees the war by evacuating their village and looking from one place or another for a safe haven in the hope of avoiding crossfire and finding a safe place to live in. Ahmad, in his new role as the leader, discovers the pain and suffering that innocent people have gone, and still, go through just because they find themselves in the middle of a war… a war which they did not instigate.
Ahmad learns more about his own people. He learns about how the government takes them for granted. He learns about how the Moro, as a people, strive to fight for their rights and liberty. Ahmad also learns that in his veins still runs the blood of a Muslim and offers the ultimate sacrifice.
In the end, one realizes that nobody really wins in a war. A just peace is better than a just war.
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