Lino Brocka wrote and directed this tale, set during the revolt against the Spanish colonialists at the turn of the century, and filmed it with a stylish, operatic flavor. The story centers on the ambiguous figure of a charismatic, aristocratic woman who leads a guerrilla group into battle. Although the style is one of broad strokes, Brocka weaves fascinating historical detail into the film. He notes the intricate relationships between language, the Church, and the Spanish occupation: recognizing the power of language as a tool for learning and revolt, the colonialists denied the Filipinos the Spanish language; meanwhile, the Church succeeded where the colonial government failed in converting the local population, turning some of them against the guerrilla rebels. British critic Tony Rayns notes the film's likeness to "the Filipino zarzuela tradition, a form of 'protest theatre' with strong musical elements born in the anti-colonial struggles.... Brocka rises to the operatic challenge of the material with full-blooded romantic compositions and a lyrical camera style."