The Filipino movie "Bagong Buwan" deals with the unrest in Mindanao, a small area in the eastern Philippines. For centuries, Filipino Muslims have fought for religious freedom; during the rule of President Joseph Estrada, the government tried to quell the Muslim populous with one-sided peace treaties and government enforcements. "Bagong Buwan" follows the Muslim community's reaction to these unfair practices while exploring the true cost of war.
At the start of the movie, the audience meets Ahmad, who seems uninterested in the surrounding war and prefers to practice medicine in Manila. His wife Fatima, son Ibrahim and mother Bae Farida live in his hometown of Mindanao. Ahmad's whole world changes when his wife tells him that Christians unduly attacked the town and a random bullet hit and killed their son; Ahmad decides to go home to bury Ibrahim.
When Ahmad gets home, the audience meets his brother, Musa, head of the Muslim rebels. Because of their drastically different beliefs on human nature and war, the two brothers have a discordant relationship. After his son's funeral, Ahmad begins to treat war victims; he helps wounded people regardless of their beliefs about God. His experience with the wounded begins to alter Ahmad's perception, and gives the audience insight into the area's history.
The Town Leader
Ahmad heals most of the injured in in the home of the town leader Datu Ali. Datu understands the cost of war and believes peace treaties are pointless. A group of government soldiers in search of Muslim rebels raids his home; the head soldier, a young man called Ricarte, has compassion for the people and explains that the government wants to resolve the conflict peaceably.
Musa's rebels attack the troops and an all-out battle ensues. Hoping to avoid injury or death, Ahmad, his family and a small group of villagers flee into the surrounding jungle. They decide to leave Mindanao to establish a peaceful, safe community, and Ahmad finds himself in the position of group leader. With the safety of his followers on his shoulders, he begins to face inner turmoil.
The group hikes for days in search of a home, during which time they come across a small massacred village; this discovery serves as a catalyst for Ahmad. When he hears the sound of men laughing nearby, Ahmad gets closer and realizes they are government troops joking about their handiwork. He pulls out a pistol and shoots both men, breaking his doctor's oath. The story ends with one last massive battle during which Ahmad is shot, and his friends take him to an abandoned building. He slowly dies as the film leaves the impression that any kind of peace is better than war.
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