1898, Our Last Men in the Philippines

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1898, Our Last Men in the Philippines
1898, Our Last Men in the Philippines.jpg
Film poster
Directed bySalvador Calvo
Produced byEnrique Cerezo
Pedro Costa
Miguel Angel Gómez
Written byAlejandro Hernández
StarringLuis Tosar
Javier Gutiérrez
Álvaro Cervantes
Music byRoque Baños
CinematographyAlex Catalán
Edited byJaime Colis
13 TV
CIPI Cinematografica S.A.
Instituto de la Cinematografía y de las Artes Audiovisuales
Televisión Española
Distributed byFilm Factory Entertainment
Sony Pictures España
Release date
  • 2 December 2016 (2016-12-02)
Running time
129 minutes
Box office$2 million[1][2]

1898, Our Last Men in the Philippines (Spanish: 1898, Los últimos de Filipinas) is a 2016 Spanish historical drama film directed by Salvador Calvo.[3] The film depicts the Siege of Baler from 1898 to 1899, where 54 Spanish soldiers defended themselves in the San Luis Obispo de Tolosa church against Philippine revolutionaries. It was shortlisted as one of the three films to be selected as the potential Spanish submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards.[4] However, it was not selected, with Summer 1993 being selected as the Spanish entry.[5]


During the Philippine Revolution in October 1897, Tagalog rebels allied with the Katipunan attack a Spanish garrison in Baler, Aurora, and massacre 37 out of the 50 soldiers stationed there. Three months later, the 2nd Expeditionary Battalion led by Capt. Enrique de las Morenas y Fossí and Lt. Martín Cerezo is sent from Manila to retake the village. Despite being informed by Brother Carmelo of the San Luís Obispo de Tolosa church that the rebels have left, Cerezo takes no chances and orders his men to proceed with caution. Upon their arrival, they meet Sgt. Jimeno Costa, a survivor of the massacre, and Teresa, a villager who claims to have no qualms with the Spanish Empire. As the battalion consists of new recruits, they are warned by de las Morenas that the humidity, diseases, typhoons, and wildlife are the rebels' closest allies. Among the cadets is Carlos, an artist from Fuenlabrada de los Montes hoping to study at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando after the war. He confides with Brother Carmelo, who shares opium with him to relieve their pain.

One day, a wounded messenger delivers news that the Americans have declared war on Spain and have destroyed the Spanish fleet in Cavite. As Manila is under siege, supplies to the battalion have been cut off. Capt. de las Morenas has his infantry of 50 men fortify the church against a possible attack. On 30 June 1898, Tagalog rebels attack the battalion, forcing them to retreat into the church. The next morning, Calixto Villacorta, speaking for Commander Teodoro Novicio Luna of the Filipino forces, offers a one-day truce for each side to bury their own. As both sides gather their dead, Spanish cadet Juan defects to the rebels.

By 10 October, several cadets fall victim to beriberi due to contamination in the food rations from Manila. As Juan attempts to convince the battalion that they are fighting for a lost cause, de las Morenas succumbs to beriberi that night, leaving Cerezo in charge of the men. Teresa and the village women bring oranges and the latest newspapers to the church as a peace offering, leading to an argument between Cerezo and Costa over the fate of the battalion. On 31 December, Brother Carmelo dies of beriberi. Days later, upon hearing Teresa singing in the village, Cerezo shoots her, prompting the Tagalog forces to shell the church with artillery. Cerezo leads Costa and some cadets to sabotage the rebels' cannon, but an erratic Carlos goes further by stealing the village's food and burning the surrounding houses before retreating back to the church. The next day, Carlos is locked in the basement after Brother Carmelo's opium pipe is found and he is experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

On 18 May 1899, after Carlos emerges from his rehabilitation, Lt. Col. Cristóbal Aguilar y Castañeda, on behalf of General Rios, arrives at the church to deliver newspapers and orders for the battalion to lay down their arms. Cerezo, however, is still not convinced that Spain has lost its colonies to the U.S., believing that the documents he received are false. Carlos offers to travel back to Manila to verify the news they were receiving, but he is captured by Tagalog forces and brought to Luna, who tells him that Spain had sold the Philippines to the Americans for $20 million, leading to the Philippine–American War. He returns to the church to tell Cerezo what he has learned, but Cerezo still refuses to stand down. That night, Carlos, José, and Carvajal attempt to flee the church, but are caught by Costa, who chops off Carlos' right arm while Cerezo has the other two cadets executed. As his men lay wounded from another gun battle, Cerezo realizes the truth when he reads a personnel transfer article on a newspaper indicating that his friend Francisco Díaz was posted to Málaga.

On 2 June, Cerezo has Carlos wave the white flag at the church tower, marking the end of the siege. He then hands over his formal surrender to Luna, who agrees not to take the battalion prisoner and to leave their fate to the American forces. Carlos is given a letter of exemplary conduct by Cerezo, but he threatens to tell Spain what his superior did to his battalion. Disillusioned by the ordeal he faced, he throws away his art book before he and the surviving members of the battalion leave the church.

The Siege of Baler lasted for 337 days, with 17 Spanish casualties and over 700 Filipino deaths. It also marked the end of the Spanish Empire. Of the survivors of the 2nd Expeditionary Battalion, only Cerezo received the Laureate Cross.


  • Luis Tosar as Lieutenant Martín Cerezo
  • Javier Gutiérrez as Sergeant Jimeno Costa
  • Álvaro Cervantes as Carlos
  • Karra Elejalde as Brother Carmelo
  • Carlos Hipólito as Doctor Vigil
  • Ricardo Gómez as José
  • Patrick Criado as Juan
  • Eduard Fernández as Captain Enrique de las Morenas y Fossí
  • Miguel Herrán as Carvajal
  • Emilio Palacios as Moisés
  • Alexandra Masangkay as Teresa
  • Pedro Casablanc as Lieutenant Colonel Cristóbal Aguilar y Castañeda
  • Raymond Bagatsing as Commander Teodoro Novicio Luna


1898, Our Last Men in the Philippines was shot in the Canary Islands and Equatorial Guinea as stand-ins for the Philippines.[6]

Critical reception[edit]

Jonathan Holland of The Hollywood Reporter called the film "Spectacular and striking, but none too subtle."[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "1898:Los ultimos de Filipinas". Box Office Mojo. IMDb.com, Inc. 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  2. ^ "1898:Los ultimos de Filipinas". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  3. ^ Holland, Jonathan (12 December 2016). "'1898, Our Last Men in the Philippines' ('1898, Los Ultimos de Filipinas'): Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  4. ^ "Películas españolas finalistas para luchar por el Óscar 2018: "Verano 1993", "Abracadabra" Y "1898. Los últimos de Filipinas"". El Blog de Cine Español (in Spanish). 17 August 2017. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  5. ^ Keslassy, Elsa (7 September 2017). "Spain Sends Carla Simon's feature debut 'Summer 1993' to Foreign-Language Oscar Race". Variety. Penske Business Media, LLC. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
  6. ^ a b Holland, Jonathan (12 December 2016). "1898, Our Last Men in the Philippines Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 26 October 2017.

External links[edit]