THIS BLESSED HOUSE: Our stories are the stories of the Filipino people too

(Bangsamoro filmmaker Gutierrez “Teng” Mangsakan posted this piece on his Facebook wall on July 5, in what he described as a “reconstruction of my acceptance speech during the World Premieres Film Festival – Philippines awards night” on July 3 at the Cinematheque Centre Manila).

Thank you to the members of the jury and the organizers of World Premieres Film Festival for this award and honor.

Daughters of the Three Tailed Banner, the first part of the two-part moro2mrw, has been a difficult journey. We braved a sea of skepticism, animosity and prejudice towards the Bangsamoro people as a result of the Mamasapano Incident earlier last year. Suddenly we didn’t have a right to live. We didn’t have a right to dream. We didn’t have a right to make films.

But we’re thankful that after our funders turned their backs on us, the administration of Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao came to the rescue. Thank you, Governor, and to countless men and women of ARMM.

When family and friends knew that we didn’t have money to make this film, they heeded our call for help. Like the Emilio Aguinaldo campaign of President Duterte (Note: supporters deposited PhP5 to Duterte’s bank account), our friends sent money so that we may pursue this project. To our crowd funders, thank you so much.

When we were already on location and we didn’t have food or transportation, Liryc dela Cruz, one of our producers, who is standing beside me here, literally had to beg on Facebook, and help came.

When a good friend of mine knew of our predicament, she came home from Dubai and said “Let’s do this film.”

Maraming salamat to my actress and one of the producers of this film, Fe Ging Ging Hyde. The veteran actress Evelyn Vargas also came home to make this. Thank you so much.

Nobody can douse integrity and good intention.

This film was a difficult journey, but it became bearable because of the love and support of the people behind it. To my production members who have been with me from the very start, Coicoi Nacario, Moises Charles Hollite, Joe Bacus, TJ Baud, Josh Nolasco, Ryanne Murcia, Arbi Barbarona, to Monoxide Works, David Ignacio, Rob Jara, Bryan and Jedd Dimaguina; to my talented cast Haidie Sangkad, Sahara Ali, Tita Chona Ongkingco, Bambi Beltran, Mon Confiado, Jea Cinco, Krigi Hager, Jeff Sabayle, Jess Mendoza, Felix Roco, Mayka Lintongan who has been my muse and to those who I fail to mention, maraming salamat.

This honor is for Mindanao cinema – a testament to the richness and diversity of Philippine cinema.

Lastly I dedicate this award to the Bangsamoro people who have endured the neglect, bias and injustice all these years. This only proves that our stories are valid, that our struggles are valid. These stories are rooted on the ground, inspired by the voices of our people and their struggles. Our stories are the stories of the Filipino people too. Our stories also resonate to the rest of the world. If only the world can see us without the blinders, then we can stand with them and among them with equal pride.

So I ask everyone here tonight. Become instruments in the propagation of the Bangsamoro’s quest for social justice, equality and peace.

Let this be a celebration of hope. Let this be a declaration of a new beginning.

Thank you so much.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Gutierrez Mangansakan II is the director of prize-winning films Qiyamah (best feature film, 2013 Young Critics Circle of the Philippines Film Desk), Obscured Histories and Silent Longings of Daguluan’s Children (best film and best director, 14th Cinemanila International Film Festival), and Cartas de la Soledad (NETPAC Prize for Best Asian film, 7th Jogjakarta-NETPAC Asian Film Festival. He edited the groundbreaking anthology of essays by young Moro writers Children of the Ever-changing Moon (Manila: Anvil Publishing, 2007). He has received several local and international artist residencies and fellowships, among them the International Writing Program of the University of Iowa, U.S. in 2008, and the University of the Philippines National Writers Workshop in 2015. He is currently editor of New Durian Cinema, a film journal devoted to the discussion and celebration of the Regional Film New Wave in Southeast Asia.)