Fifteen years ago, sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong, daughters of a wealthy Filipino-Chinese trucking magnate, were kidnapped near a trendy mall in Cebu. Supposedly Marijoy’s body had been found in a ravine, having been raped and killed. Jacqueline’s body had never been found. This kidnapping-rape-murder case was an all-consuming media circus in the late 1990’s in the Philippines. Arrested and charged with the crime were seven young men, including 19-year old Francisco “Paco” Juan Larranaga, a young student attending culinary school in Metro Manila. Paco, his family and friends all claim that he must be innocent, after all, there were multiple eyewitness accounts of friends who swore that Paco was with them in Manila at the time the crime was allegedly committed. GIVE UP TOMORROW is Paco’s slogan, his mantra in his quest to prove his innocence still fifteen years after the horrific incident.
This documentary film is a piercing case study of political and judicial corruption involving some of the most politically prominent and powerful families in the Philippines. Despite credible evidence pointing to Paco’s innocence, and numerous inconsistencies during the trial and subsequent appeals, he was nevertheless convicted of the crime and sentenced to death by lethal injection. Viewers will sympathize with Paco’s family, who desperately try every legal avenue for appeal to overturn Paco’s conviction amid the constant melodrama and media circus surrounding his case. Amnesty International, the government of Spain, Fair Trials International and the United Nations have all advocated for Paco’s innocence and release. He continues to be jailed to this day. Director Michael Collins and Philippine-born producer Marty Syjuco have crafted a riveting tale on a young man’s struggle to maintain his innocence.
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.
Synopsis written by: Vera deVera