By Gel Santos Relos
It was a much-awaited film especially after the US Navy SEALs killed Osama Bin Laden, the founder and leader of Al Qaeda-- the jihadist group responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States.
“Act of Valor” is a modern-day action movie about the heroism of the US Navy SEALs, reportedly inspired by true events in history.
With the SEALs on board as advisors, the filmmakers realized that no actors could realistically portray or physically fill the roles they had written and so, the actual SEALs were drafted to star in the film.
But not everybody was happy about the movie. Fil-Am community leaders said that “the film portrayed Filipinos in the worst way possible-- as jihadists, who want to destroy Americans."
Northern California Balitang America Correspondent Henni Espinosa reported on the scenes that infuriated our Fil-Am kababayans. In the movie, a group of 16 Filipino suicide bombers are trained to infiltrate the US border in Mexico, wearing explosive vests to be detonated in major cities in the United States. Now, it’s up to the US Navy SEALs to stop them.
In the newscast, we showed some footage of the movie (supposedly set in the Philippines), where a suicide bomber kills the US Ambassador, his son and dozens of children.
Balitang America also showed another scene where a Navy SEAL spots the terrorists and identifies them as “Filipinos.”
In a shooting encounter with the Navy SEALs, the so-called terrorists even asked for help in Tagalog, saying “Hihingi ako ng tulong!”
Although Filipinos were not the only "kalaban" alluded to in the movie, Fil-Am community leaders were outraged by the inaccuracy of the movie’s portrayal of Filipinos.
They demanded that the producers make a public apology to all Filipinos and correct the scenes from the film that identify Filipinos as terrorists.
NAFFAA-San Francisco Chairman Rudy Asercion started an online petition with the aforementioned demands, saying: “ “Unless the movie is corrected, this will have a tremendous impact on Filipinos.”
US Pinoys for Good Governance President Rodel Rodis wrote a newspaper article saying that this movie will negatively impact, not just Filipinos in America, but even Pinoys who are trying to get visas to enter the United States.
“People thinking that Filipinos are terrorists will now look at us differently. I am sure those trying to get in the country will be subjected to interrogation,” Rodis said in an interview.
“It does not even take into consideration the long-standing relationship between the US and the Philippines,” Philippine American Press Club President Esther Chavez told Henni Espinosa in the Balitang America report.
Fil-Am leaders said that the movie is “racist propaganda.” They are urging President Aquino to ban the film in the Philippines, if the producers don't meet their demands.
Some of our kababayans support this petition, like JR Castro who argued: “Depiction of Filipinos to be American killers in a movie is insulting, whether or not it was intentional.They should clear it!”
But there are those who think Pinoys are overreacting. Jed Reston said: “No! Fiction naman yun. Masyado na atang balat sibuyas ng mga kababayan natin kung ganyan. It was a nice film.”
Jomarc Pernia Pizzarras points out: “It's like telling other countries to demand an apology if their country is being portrayed as the villain. It's just a movie.”
“It's only a movie... Why all the fuss??? Russians don't complain when they are always depicted as bad guys on Bond, Mission Impossible films etc.,” Gem Marie Bandiola reminds us.
Our Balitang America LA Correspondent who covers Hollywood-- Yong Chavez-- said, "I saw Act of Valor. I'm more offended by the fact that it wasn't a good movie and badly-acted."
Others said we should accept the reality that some kababayans are, indeed, part of Muslim extremist groups.
“The Abu Sayyaf kidnapped the Burnhams and murdered others in the group. They were Filipino,” said Gene Gregorio.
What do you think? Should the producers of Act of Valor apologize and correct the said scenes from the movie? Will you support the Fil-Am community leaders’ petition?