Give Up Tomorrow: A Highly-Recommended Must-Watch Documentary

Let me ask you ...

How would you feel and what would you do if a crime is committed against a member of your family? To what lengths are you willing to go to seek justice for what happened?

Fifteen years ago, two young women went missing in a Cebu mall. The incident started a chain of events that was later dubbed "Cebu's Trial of the Century". Accused of the rape and murder of sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong was Paco Larranaga, a Cebu resident studying in Manila. There were witnesses and photographs to confirm that Paco was 300 miles away from the scene the night the crime happened. He even took his exams in school the next day. And yet, Paco and six other people were arrested even without solid evidence.

During the trial, even before the defense got to present their case, a dramatization of the "actual events" was televised. It was based on the testimony of someone who admitted to the travesty, was allowed to be a state witness in spite of inconsistencies, and pointed Paco and the others as fellow perpetrators. Despite his willingness to testify, Paco was never allowed to take the witness stand to speak for and defend himself.

Months after the arrest, the deafening clamor for justice from the well-connected Chiong family and their supporters led the judge to convict the "Chiong Seven" to two life sentences which was later raised to death penalty due to a lot of pressure from the public and widespread media attention. A few months later, the judge committed suicide.

While watching the documentary yesterday, my husband and I found ourselves shaking our heads in disbelief at the seemingly game of chess being played before our eyes. A lot of players kept moving their pieces until Paco was checkmated. Many celebrated his fate and saw it as a triumph of the justice system. But is it, really?

As a mother, I felt compassion for the victims' mom but that empathy slowly turned into incredulity as the story further unfolded. As Paco's sister said during her interview, how can a mother keep visiting and giving gifts to someone (the state witness) who has admitted to have raped and helped kill her daughters??? I wondered, too.

I also felt really, really disgusted to witness how a lot of government authorities and officials handled their duties related to the case. My God, that wasn't a trial, it was a circus! :(

It has been 14 years since Paco and his fellow accused were incarcerated. They are all still in jail as I write. None of them admitted to the crime and said they have no intention of doing so because, up to this day, they claim to be innocent. I can't imagine the depth of what they and their loved ones have gone, and continue to be going through. Still, I felt heartbroken when the film ended. I don't know any of those people but I could feel their pain and anguish and I pray that true justice would be given to them soon.

Do watch Give Up Tomorrow while it's still having its limited run in theaters only until Oct. 9. It will open your eyes to the complexities of Philippine politics and our justice system. This multi-awarded documentary that is already critically-acclaimed worldwide should be seen by every Filipino who cares about what happens to our country's future. 

I, for one, don't want to see my children grow up in a place where the majority are not sure if there is real justice waiting for those who have been taken advantage of by the system. Thus, I pray that our country's leaders and decision-makers would also make time to see Give Up Tomorrow and decide for themselves if the supposedly "trial of the century" was actually an elaborate frame-up that led to the "mistrial of the century". YOU DECIDE!

"The minute you forget about justice, anywhere in the world, 
that's the beginning of the breakdown of society."

Catch this documentary ASAP at the following venues: 

Robinsons Galleria and Robinsons Ermita from October 3 to 9 
SM Manila, North Edsa, Megamall, Mall of Asia, Southmall, and SM Cebu from October 3 to 9 
Ayala Trinoma, Greenbelt 3, and Alabang Town Center from October 5 to 7 

For more information on this film and to see the many awards it has already garnered, please visit

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