Part 3 of “The Basi Revolt by Esteban Villanueva”, National Cultural Treasures, in Know Your North

Another first for “The Basi Revolt”!

For the first time, we have a film on the early 19th century Ilocos uprising that has been popularly named as the Basi Revolt, and – its narrative is told utilizing images depicting the historic event that are found in the series of 14 oil paintings that have been attributed to Esteban Villanueva for two centuries now.

Award-winning documentary film-maker Gabriel Malvar masterfully weaves the story of the revolt by putting together images in a sequence that best portrays the circumstances around the uprising at its culmination on the 16th through the 29th of September in 1807, until the execution of rebel leaders thereafter. The meticulously composed imagery is shown, approximating that of a motion picture, with the voice-over effectively communicating the narrative that Director Malvar crafted from his reading of the few and little-known literature on the revolt and of the information conveyed by the scenes and text that come with the artworks.

Background sounds, including vocal reenactment, are moreover creatively employed to enhance the visual experience. Ilocana soprano Rosette Marie Aguinir of Vigan also renders the hauntingly toned Iloko love song “O, Naraniag a Bulan” (“Oh, Bright Moon”), taking the ballad to a level of meaning beyond that of romantic love, to rather capture a people’s fervor for freedom from colonial grip.

Overall, the film, which is titled “Ang Pag-aalsang Basi”, brings to light the potency of the artworks as media for historical interpretation, as well as advances the viewer’s appreciation of what Malvar describes as that “brief shining moment” when our ancestors in the north braved uncertainties and risked their lives to confront the superiorly armed colonial power. These ancestors’ “ultimate expression of sacrifice and selflessness” at that moment, along with many others across the archipelago in over three centuries, served as seeds for the movement that catalyzed into the Philippine Revolution at the end of the 19th century.

Done by Director Malvar with his outfit, The Extra Mile Productions, “Ang Pag-aalsang Basi” is a product of the collaboration between the National Museum of the Philippines and the bus company Victory Liner to make a documentary film on “The Basi Revolt” paintings. The project serves as part of the NMP’s commemoration of the bicentennial of the artworks in 2021, and on the other hand, as one of Victory Liner’s “Know Your North” series of documentary films. Instead of the originally planned one film, Malvar is creating a series of short videos, so inspired as he is about the wealth of potentials for approaching and presenting “The Basi Revolt”. This is well-tuned to the NMP’s goal of promoting understanding of the artworks and encouraging greater public participation in their interpretation.

“Ang Pag-aalsang Basi” is the third film so far completed and released in line with the project, and we can look forward to more features on the 200-year-old paintings and the life that they have taken as your #NationalMuseumPH and partners Victory Liner and Gabriel Malvar remain committed in bringing these art pieces and its history to the consciousness of the wider public.

Collectively declared by the NMP as National Cultural Treasure in 2009, “The Basi Revolt” panels are housed at the Old Carcel Museum of the NMP Ilocos Regional Museum Complex in the World Heritage City of Vigan.



Ilocos Historical and Cultural Foundation;

Provincial Government of Ilocos Sur;

City Government of Vigan;

Soprano Rosette Marie Aguinir;

Corazon Taberna & Family;

Authors of “The Basi Revolt by Esteban Villanueva” (NMP 2020): Director-General Jeremy R. Barns;

Dr. Ana Maria Theresa P. Labrador; Dr. Jenny Ruth M. Cano, Maria Lourdes I. Ingel, Erika C. Robis, and Marites P. Tauro; Robert Balarbar, Ray Esguerra, and Dr. Nicole Tse; Phoebe Gallanosa and Dr. Maricor Soriano;

NMP Ilocos Regional Museum Team


© 2022 National Museum of the Philippines with the Victory Liner, Inc.