‘GomBurZa’ Ending Explained & Film Summary: What Happened To Father Burgos?


Pepe Diokno’s GomBurZa is a sensitive retelling of the execution of three priests during the Filipino rebellion at the time of Spanish occupation. The film, set in the 1800s, focuses on Burgos, a young and well-educated priest who hopes for equality amongst the Spanish friars and secular priests. It’s a very crisp and detailed film that sticks to the subject matter without any extra dramatization. The film begins with a little story from the past about a self-anointed Indio priest named Hermano Pule. Pule combined Filipino ways, such as using amulets, with Christianity to create a sect of his own. Pule and 500 of his followers were massacred as an example for those who would want to follow in his footsteps. He was named an anti-Spaniard.

Spoiler Alert

How Did Padre Pedro Pelaez Die? 

This story of Pule is narrated by Father Pedro, who is narrating it to his favorite pupil and another fellow priest, because a new law by the Spanish takes away native priests’ rights to parish assignments simply because of race. At this time a rebellion is already in the works in Mexico thanks to a priest of Spanish blood born in Mexico. Though these seculars (the Filipino-born priests) are part Spanish, they’re born in the Philippines and are hence not considered Spanish. Pedro isn’t quite sure about his rebellion. All he wants is the same rights for secular priests as the Spanish friars. Unfortunately, this is seen as anti-Spain. Pedro’s argument is simple and effective; the people believe in the secular priests because they are more akin to them. Burgos is a great student, and he believes in everything Pelaez stands for. Pelaez hopes to see Burgos become a priest and get his law degree as well, but as word about his rebellion spreads and he’s outcast by the Spanish, there’s an earthquake that kills him. 

A devastated Burgos cannot stand the thought of his memory being misrepresented with all the negative commentary about a rebellion, so he decides to write a Filipino manifesto for the newspaper. This section of the film is titled “The Language of Liberalism,” as there’s a new leader in town, and he’s apparently supposed to be kinder to the people. Everyone is overjoyed with the news, and Burgos hopes to make a good impression on the man. On the other hand, he’s also a great teacher for the youth. They admire him and listen to every word he says with great passion. I suppose he’s like an influential leader for the young. However, things go a little bit further when his best students end up starting a group called The Liberal Youth. They want to take advantage of the new governor’s liberal ways and try to get rid of the laws that put the friars in positions of power in the country. In the meantime, we are introduced to Jacinto Zamora, a priest in a different province than Burgos with his own rebellious streak—gambling. He even gambles with a friar and shows his friends a note, which will be his inevitable downfall later on. 

What Shifts With De La Torre? 

Though De La Torre is a liberal and “just” leader who abolishes a lot of unjust Spanish laws in the country, he’s soon to be removed from his position, and the people keep talking about a “change in the wind.” The Spanish soldiers arrested one of Burgos’ students, Buencamino, who was the leader of the youth group. De La Torre permits him to continue his studies but warns Burgos that he must stop exciting the youth against the friars because, at the end of the day, they’re Spanish and so is he. Burgos should not be spreading the anti-Spain agenda. On the other hand, Zamora doesn’t believe that Burgos would start a rebellion, but he’s warned to stay away from the man. 

Soon, the governor is changed, and Burgos’ secularization message is seen as a threat to the colonizers. Rafael Izquierdo, the new governor, isn’t impressed by Burgos’ activities. This is when things get a little bit messy. Izquierdo made things worse for the Filipino soldiers, so when a group of elite men decided to start a mutiny against the Spanish, the soldiers were willing to join hands. The mutiny fails because there’s a mole in the group who informs the governor of the plan. 

Why Do The Three Priests Get Caught? 

It is basically a conspiracy against the secular priests to show the Filipinos who is really in charge. Gomes is arrested at home with hidden ammunition and guns. Burgos is visiting Zamora to meet an elderly priest when the soldiers arrive and capture both the younger priests after a search of the house. The elite men who actually planned the mutiny pretty much get away with the whole thing scot-free, except for one Zaldua. The three priests are subject to a court-martial with an unfair trial. The note that Zamora had written to his friends said the words “get your guns ready,” which is why he got caught, though that was in reference to money. The pressure of the trial breaks Zamora, and he becomes a madman in prison. Zaldua is forced to falsely accuse Burgos of being the leading rebel in the mutiny. Ultimately, the four men are given the punishment of death by garotte, a strangling mechanism in a public execution. The Archbishop does not allow the governor to execute the priests without their cassocks because he believes they are innocent. After all, priests would not instigate violence, plus they’re all people of the church; it doesn’t matter their race. 

During GomBurZa‘s ending, it is time for the execution, and Burgos’ student Paciano secretly brings his young brother Pepe to mourn his favorite professor. Zaldua claims he’s being wrongfully executed because he was given false hope and is considered a traitor by the people. Zamora is completely lifeless, like a vegetable, by this point. He doesn’t protest or say a word before his execution. Gomes calls the execution a wish of the Lord, and before his time comes, he tells his friend Burgos that it’s all for a reason. Burgos gives a speech about their innocence and then grants the executioner a pardon for his sins. He’s told by one of the soldiers that even Jesus was innocent before he is strangled to death. However, he manages to raise his hands to the sky, tied together to form a cross. Paciano hugs his brother and tells him to never forget this injustice. The crowd grieves their religious leaders. In the end, it is revealed that this story was told from a grown-up Pepe’s point of view. On the other hand, the Katipunan (KKK) got ready to fight for the independence of the Filipinos from the Spanish. The execution of the three priests did not go in vain, as it became a beacon for the Filipinos to rise against the Spanish and work towards their independence. This is a film that strives to represent the truth in a very clear light in the most straightforward manner. It’s effective and makes you want to know more about the history of the Philippines. 

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Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
When not tending to her fashion small business, Ruchika or Ru spends the rest of her time enjoying some cinema and TV all by herself. She's got a penchant for all things Korean and lives in drama world for the most part.

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