Bayaning Third World (Third World Hero, 2000) is Mike De Leon’s long-awaited film on Jose Rizal. It took over three years to complete, beginning way back in 1996 with the announcement by GMA Films of a massive, P70 million epic starring boy-toy Aga Muhlach as Rizal. Then Muhlach left, reportedly because De Leon was taking so long; eventually De Leon himself abandoned the production, to announce that he was making his own, independently produced film. No less than three other Rizal films were initiated and finished while De Leon’s picture maturated: Tikoy Aguiluz’s Rizal sa Dapitan (Rizal in Dapitan, 1997); Marilou Diaz Abaya’s Jose Rizal (1998—ironically, the same production GMA Films intended De Leon to direct, rumored to have an even bigger—P120 million—budget); and Mario O’Hara’s Sisa. De Leon’s picture was invited—sight unseen, mind you—to the Director’s Fortnight at Cannes International Film Festival (which it failed to attend). There were long periods when no one knew what was happening—the project was shrouded in a secrecy as tight and mysterious, it seemed, as Kubrick’s own latest (and last) work, Eyes Wide Shut (1999).