Give Up Tomorrow

Give Up Tomorrow at Cinemalaya 2012. Visit for info.

Two women go missing. A massive search is organized. One body is found, barely recognizable, tortured, and gang raped. The police have no apparent leads. Pressure mounts for the police to find the criminals. In a swift, stunning move, they swoop in and arrest 7 young men for the crimes. A couple of them come from prominent name families.  All of them deny the accusations. One of the accused, claims he was nowhere near the place when the crimes took place. The police detain them anyway.

After 6 months, no sufficient evidence is found to link these boys to the crime. People start to worry that nothing will happen to the case or that their is a cover up.
The most powerful figure in the land makes his presence felt.
Suddenly,  a witness surfaces. He says he was part of the group that  committed the crime. He implicates all 7 men. All of them deny even knowing this witness.

With his testimony, and no other evidence,  the trial begins. The defense casts doubts on the corpse that was found. Was it one of the girls? An expert is brought in, but the kangaroo court judge dismisses it, and the defense takes a huge blow. The defense lawyers quit and public attorneys replace them. The trial proceeds with the prosecution throwing paid witness upon paid witness to the accused.
When it was the defense’s turn, their witnesses were mocked, and accused of lying.
The verdict was a foregone conclusion.
Eventually the death sentence is issued on all the accused.
Sounds like the plot of a movie or tv mini series right ? Or maybe something John Grisham would have written. The sad part is that THIS is a true story.

Last Sunday Michael Collins and Marty Syjuco presented their documentary film , “Give Up Tomorrow,” at the 2012 Cinemalaya at the CCP Little Theater. The two men have put together a riveting tale on a young man’s struggle to maintain his innocence. This was the Asian premiere of this film.

Give Up Tomorrow, exposes shocking corruption within the judicial system of the Philippines and one of the most sensational trials in the country’s history.

Fifteen years ago, sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong, were kidnapped in Cebu.Supposedly Marijoy’s body had been found, raped and killed. Arrested and charged with the crime were seven young men, including 19-year old Francisco “Paco” Juan Larranaga, a young student attending a culinary school in Metro Manila. At the time the crime was allegedly being committed Paco was with his friends in Manila. Multiple eyewitness accounts of friends and teachers, swear that Paco was with them in Manila. They even had pictures.

The film follows the (mis)trial of the century, the media circus, and demoralizing events that followed.

Give Up Tomorrow,  is Paco’s slogan,telling his fellow inmates, “Don’t waste time, don’t give up on the present, but give up tomorrow.”

Give Up Tomorrow, has received worldwide critical acclaim, as winner of the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival’s Audience Award and Special Jury Prize for Best New Director. In addition, the film won the Audience award at the Sheffield Doc/Fest, the Human Rights Award at Docs Barcelona, and the Activism Award at Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival.

You will feel sad, angry, shocked. You will be riveted to your seat.

This is not just a movie, this is the truth.

And the truth hurts.

During the open forum, one last person stood up to seemingly ask the last question of the night. There were murmurs, whispers from the audience. It was Hubert Webb.

Webb,was imprisoned for 15 years at the New Bilibid Prisons,along with five others for the 1995 “Vizconde massacre,” where a mother and her two daughters were killed. In 2010, the Supreme Court acquitted Webb and his co-accused. After spending 15 years in jail, and with eerily similar settings (a star witness, prominent family member accused, accused was nowhere near crime, witnesses discredited)Webb seemed to be in the best position to share his thoughts on the movie.

“I met Paco in Muntinlupa,” Webb said. He expressed gratitude for what the film makers were doing: “The best defense is letting the world know what really happened.”

Applause accompanied Webb as he made his way back to his seat and was hugged by Mimi, the sister of Paco.

Give Up Tomorrow will have it’s last showing on Sunday 3;30pm at the CCP Little Theater.

Michael Collins and Marty Syjuco addressing the crowd at the reception for their film

Here is the film’s trailer.

Multi-awarded film Give Up Tomorrow at Cinemalaya 2012. Visit for info.