Fifteen years ago, two girls went missing and set off a series of events that led to what would later be called “Cebu’s trial of the century.”
While waiting for their father to pick them up, sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong disappeared at a mall in Cebu. Accused of their rape and murder was Paco Larrañaga, a culinary arts student whose whereabouts that day had been confirmed by dozens of witnesses and photographic evidence. He was in Manila, 300 miles away from Cebu, and couldn’t have been anywhere near the victims.
There was a deafening clamor for immediate justice, not just in Cebu but throughout the country. So in a dramatic turn of events, the judge favored the plea of the Chiong sisters’ family and convicted Paco and six others for life imprisonment, a verdict which was eventually raised to death penalty due to pressure from the public and widespread media attention.
The trial became a game of chess where many players were involved and people kept moving their pieces. In the end, Paco was checkmated—he was imprisoned in Bilibid for years, his fate celebrated by many as it was seen as a triumph. He was not given a chance to speak or defend himself.
More than a decade since, filmmakers Marty Syjuco and Michael Collins give him a voice. They revisit old wounds and step into the many thorns of the Philippine justice system in their critically acclaimed documentary, Give Up Tomorrow. In addition to building a strong case for Paco’s innocence, the film exposes the messy scheme of events that surrounded the trial, revealing the interconnected complexities that permeate Philippine politics and culture.
Disclosing a collection of interviews with forensic experts, political analysts, and major players in Paco’s case, not to mention controversial pieces of evidence that were left uncovered for a long time, Give Up Tomorrow brings to light the lack of due process and the elaborate frame-up done through a shameless display of political favors.
The documentary begs the terrifying question: What if the so-called Cebu’s trial of the century was actually a mistrial?
Due to the film’s controversial subject, Syjuco and Collins had some trouble finding local venues for a commercial screening. In fact, no cineplex dared to screen it in Cebu, even for a premiere night. So the filmmakers, together with a small group of undaunted people, worked hard to bring it to Cebu, where it all started. Finally, after touring the world’s film festivals and reaping laurels left and right, Give Up Tomorrow came home to Cebu and had its very first screening there on September 26, 2012 , at the Marcelo B. Fernan Press Center.
In Metro Manila, some theater managers fortunately realized how important it is for many Filipinos to see this eye-opening documentary. Give Up Tomorrow will be screened exclusively at Robinsons Galleria and Robinsons Ermita and SM Cebu from October 3 to 9, and at Trinoma, Greenbelt 3, and Alabang Town Center from October 5 to 7.
LONDON IN FULL BLOOM: An Exclusive Look at the recent Chelsea Flower Show
The Chelsea Flower Show in London, one of the most prestigious horticultural events in the world, returned in full glory in May 2023, captivating visitors with its stunning displays and landscape designs. Held annually on the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London, this year’s show proved to be a true feast for the senses, showcasing an array of breathtaking gardens, vibrant floral arrangements, and innovative landscaping. The 3-day event showcased 36 outdoor gardens, including four balcony gardens for small spaces. Inside the giant pavilion, blooms compete with each other, exotic flowers, roses, and many more.
The 2023 Chelsea Flower Show embraced a Nature’s Harmony theme, with a strong focus on sustainability and mental health. The show’s organizers emphasized the importance of sustainable gardening practices and biodiversity conservation, inspiring attendees to create beautiful outdoor spaces while preserving and protecting the environment.
What’s Cebu got to do with the Chelsea Flower Show in London? One person. James Doran Webb (https://www.jamesdoranwebb.co.uk), an Englishman working with driftwood, has been displaying his artworks for several years. James collects cast-off driftwood and shapes them into beautiful animal shapes that find places in some of the most iconic gardens. Leaping horses, owls, reindeer, and the occasional dragon, James Webb’s creations are avidly collected by landscapers to add accent to gardens in all sizes, using cast-off wood, fitting perfectly with the sustainable element—something Mr. Webb has done quite well for the last decade.
The Philippine International Flower Festival will be held at the PICC in Manila from January 14 to 18, 2024. Watch out for more info from our website!