DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 4 March) – A film on the Bangsamoro by a multi-awarded Moro filmmaker has become yet another casualty of the Mamasapano Tragedy.
The Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), a body created in June 2002 under the Office of the President, has withdrawn funding support for the film, “moro2mrw (Hinabing Kasaysayan ng mga Anak ng Gabon/Woven Narratives of the Children of the Fog)” allegedly because it is “divisive.”
Filmmaker Gutierrez “Teng” Mangansakan II told MindaNews he had a meeting on February 24 with the FDCP regarding the funding request he made for his film. Mangansakan had requested for P600,000 out of his estimated film budget of P1.5 million.
In January, he said, the FDCP granted its “provisional approval” for P250,000 but before February ended, even that meager amount was not made available.
Writing on his Facebook wall, Mangansakan said he defended the film’s objective in a meeting with the FDCP Technical Committee, “that is, to expand the discourse on the Bangsamoro through stories of friendship, imminent leadership, personal desire vis-à-vis familial obligation, migration and women empowerment.”
“Known for subtlety, I assured them that I am not by nature keen on making films with overt political tones and realizing the current volatile political situation, moro2mrw seeks to shed light on our dreams and longings, even our skepticism, so that people will appreciate and understand us better,” he wrote.
Mangansakan said he believes he was able to convince and quell the apprehensions of the committee but in his meeting with FDCP chair Briccio Santos, the filmmaker said Santos invoked the recent spate of violence in Mindanao and “said that the film’s theme might be upsetting, painful and divisive.”
“He advised me to drop the project, and in three months submit to FDCP a new narrative that ‘could heal the country.’ Then FDCP will fully support the project because they acknowledge that ‘you are the most important Muslim filmmaker in the country today with a huge political clout,’ words which I felt was more condescending than sincere,” Mangansakan wrote.
MindaNews sent three e-mailed messages to FDCP chair Santos – on Tuesday night, Wednesday morning and afternoon – asking him why the funding support for moro2mrw was withdrawn but as of 3 p.m. Wednesday, Santos had not replied.
The film’s storyline revolves around “three allegorical stories of people whose lives are intertwined on the eve of the inaugural of the new Bangsamoro government in Mindanao, southern Philippines.”
This is the synopsis of Gutierrez’ film:
“The first story involves Daud, a young reluctant politician, who is elected to the new Bangsamoro Parliament and his best friend, Marco, a journalist. To escape his family’s nagging about his ascendancy to the new government, Daud decides to go on a road trip with Marco. This provides him a glimpse of the profound challenges that he is about to inherit and ultimately why the youth has an important role in shaping the future of the Bangsamoro. During the trip, Marco accidentally finds the front-page story that will help him advance his career.
“The second story delves on the aspirations of two hotel chambermaids, Ruby and Aida, who endures the harsh and lonely life in the city to help their families in the village. Ruby, a Teduray, dreams of leaving the country to marry her German boyfriend in Dubai while Aida, a Maguindanaon victim of an illegal recruiter, tries to conceal this matter from her family by pretending to be working in Kuwait whenever her family calls on her. A tragedy strikes the hotel that will test the resolve of Aida and Ruby’s friendship. As the night falls, the sky is illuminated by fireworks. A sign for both women that the new Bangsamoro offers a promise of a better life for them.
“The third story revolves around a house full of women whose struggle for survival heavily relies on the lovely Tonina after the last male member of the family suddenly dies. As the women go on their mourning ritual, Tonina, secretly pregnant, tries to get rid of her unborn child so as not to fail her family and be married off to a suitable fellow to continue their line. Throughout her predicament, Tonina is assured by her cousin Fatima that with the new Bangsamoro government in place, women shall no longer bear the burden of being second class citizens and shall stand as equal in the celebration of the dawn of a new era.”
Mangansakan said he developed moro2mrw in the last three years “and to be told to abandon it is disrespectful to the vision and creative process of the artist.”
Mangansakan asked: “How can a singular film that speaks of the aspirations of the Bangsamoro be painful and divisive?”
He noted that in more than half a century, “Manila has produced countless films that debased the Bangsamoro, insensitive and ignorant of our history, culture and religion, insulting not only to the Muslims of this country but also to the intelligence of every thinking Filipino.”
“On the contrary, with all the rage and hate, a film on the Bangsamoro can shed light on the lives, struggles and longings of a people who are least understood,” he said.
Mangansakan noted that moro2mrw is “thematically no ordinary film because more than anything it brings to fore the fruit of our long, protracted struggle for self determination, equality and justice” and is even backed by a resolution from the Regional Legislative Assembly (RLA).
“For FDCP to decide with prejudice and rescind its support to the project speaks of their profound paranoia, bigotry and ignorance. An insult to me but also to the men and women of ARMM and the Bangsamoro,” Mangansakan wrote.
RA 9167 ,which created the FDCP in 2002, provides under Section 1 that “pursuant to the constitutional guarantee on freedom of expression, the State shall promote and support the development and growth of the local film industry as a medium for the upliftment of aesthetics, cultural and social values or the better understanding and appreciation of the Filipino identity.”
Its mandate includes formulating and implementing policies and programs to upgrade the craft of filmmaking, encourage the production of films for commercial purposes intended for public entertainment that seek to “enhance the quality of life, examine the human and social condition and contribute to the nobility and dignity of the human spirit.”
Mangansakan has appealed to friends to help him raise money to pursue the film. Shooting is expected to begin next week.
Those who want to help Mangansakan can visit the Facebook page moro2mrw or text 09177620396.