An activist grandson of General Miguel Malvar said ongoing debates on the upcoming biopic should focus more on the hero’s fight against United States imperialism and less on who was chosen to play the film’s lead role.
Reacting to widespread opposition to the producer’s choice of Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao to play the lead role in the movie “Malvar”, retired University of the Philippines and De La Salle University professor and Marcos martial law torture victim Edberto Malvar Villegas said the film’s depiction of the US’ crimes against the Filipino people that should be the most important consideration in appreciating the film.
“If Pacquiao has other political purpose in agreeing to play the role of Malvar, that pales before the fact that this movie will bring into full light the grievous genocidal crimes of the US against another people,” Edberto said in his Facebook post Monday.
“For, eventually, all past crimes will be revealed before the unflinching gaze of history and the telling of the tragic fate of the Filipino people in general and Kumandante Heneral Malvar in particular during the Fil[ipino]-American war cannot be prevented even by his own relatives,” he explained.
Edberto disagreed with his nephew and the general’s namesake Miguel Malvar who publicly slammed the film project saying, “Apparently, a relative had unilaterally decided that he would enter into an agreement with outside parties to produce the Malvar film without the express consent of the entire clan.”
The younger Malvar’s comment further fueled a flood of negative reactions that generally criticized the producer’s decision to cast Pacquiao to play the hero. Although he has previously acted in several films in the past, those opposed to the project pointed out that the senator is not an actor.
Edberto agreed with his brother, the film’s producer Jose Malvar Villegas, that it is not necessary to solicit the entire clan’s permission for the film to be produced.
“For no one owns the life of the Kumandante-Heneral because history has already claimed him as one of its beloved sons.”
General Malvar is acclaimed in Philippine history to be the last general who fought against the US invasion of the Philippines.
Edberto revealed in his post that the late general suffered even after the Filipino-American War.
US imperialism’s crimes against Filipinos
Edberto, Malvar’s grandson by his youngest daughter Isabel, revealed that the US colonial government in the Philippines tried to bribe Malvar by offering him the governorship of the province of Batangas and the command of the then Philippine Constabulary, precursor of the Philippine National Police whose chief has recently stepped down due to public revelations of corruption.
Edberto said Malvar refused because he hated the invaders, particularly their burning of villages and torture of prisoners.
For this, the American colonial government seized 700 hectares of his property at the foot of Mt. Makiling in Laguna province that eventually became part of the UP’s Los Baños sprawling campus.
The Malvar clan tried to reclaim the property but was denied by the colonial Supreme Court in the 1930s.
Edberto said Malvar’s last words to his children were to never allow the Filipinos to forget the revolutionaries’ fight against the US imperialists.
“Huwag kakalimutan ng sambayanang Pilipino ang pakikipaglaban ng mga unang rebolusyonaryo natin sa mga dayuhan, partikular sa malupit na imperyalismo E.U. na sa pananakop nito sa Pilipinas ay nagkaroon ng 1.5 milyun katao napatay, karamihan mga sibilyan dahil sa pamamaraan ng pangegera ng mga Kano, kahit ng hanggang ngayon,” Malvar reportedly told them.
(Let not the Filipino people forget the first revolutionaries’ struggle against the invaders, especially the cruel US who killed 1.5 million, mostly civilians, because of how they wage war until now.)
After the general’s death, however, the US colonial government tried to bribe his sons with state-side scholarships and largesse.
“Yun[g] namatay ang lolo ko, agad binigyan ng E.U. ang lahat ng mga tiyo ko ng mga schlolarship sa E.U. sa University of Yale, University of Princeton, atbp, at inaapoint ang ilang tiyo ko bilang mga konsul sa embahada ng E.U.. Nang di nila makuha ang isip ng lolo ko maging maka-Kano at huwag magreklamo sa pananakop ng bayang ito, ang pinuntriya ay mga anak niya,” Edberto wrote.
“Kaya, kung may masasabi tayo na maigting edukasyon kolonialismo sa isang angkan, ang nangunguna dito ay angkan Malvar,” he revealed.
(When my grandfather died, the US immediately gave his sons scholarships to Yale, Princeton and others and appointed some of my uncles as consuls in US embassies. When they failed to turn my grandfather and become their stooge, they worked on his sons.
So, if any clan is to be accused of being victims of colonialist brainwashing, the Malvar clan would be among the first.)
The Malvar clan was even given an award as an American Family during the bicentennial of the US revolution, he added.
As a result, majority of Malvar’s descendants, especially those from the male line, were rabidly pro-US, Edberto revealed, adding that descendants from the hero’s daughters are not as rabid as they did not benefit from the bribes.
“Alam ninyo, kapag nagsasalita mismo ako sa mga anibersaryo ng kapanganakan ng lolo ko tuwing Sept. 27 ang ilang kamaganak ko pa ang tumututol kung sinasariwa ko ang pakikipaglaban ng lolo ko sa mga Kano noong panahon ng digmaan Filipino-Amerikano,” he explained.
(You know, when I speak during anniversary commemorations every September 27, some relatives even object to my reminiscing our grandfather’s fight against the Americans.)
“Huwag kayo magtaka kung sa loob mismo ng angkan Malvar may pumupuna sa darating na sine ni Malvar, lalo na yun mga nakatira sa US na mahabang panahon. Grace of the US embassy at yun mga nagtratrabaho sa US establishment,” Edberto said.
(Do not be surprised if within the Malvar clan, there are those who are against the film, especially those who have lived in the US for the longest time. They are benefactors of the US Embassy and those who worked in the US establishment.)
Edberto said it was his brother Jose who approached Pacquiao to help in the production of the film after several unsuccessful attempts to solicit support from businesspersons, including those who have been producing historical biopics, such as the prominent and rich Ortigas clan.
He added that Pacquiao did not bankroll the film but asked his friends to contribute a total of P100 million.
“Sabi ng brod ko patak-patak dumarating ang pera pero aabot sa P100M, ang minimum kapital para magawa ang sine,” he said.
(My brother said the money came in trickles but it has reached P100 million, the minimum capital to produce the film.)
Edberto said that the contributors were local national bourgeoisie who hate the US but do not want to be identified because of partnerships with US businesses.
The huge budget would be spent mostly on filming the trench warfare scenes, Edberto said.
He however revealed that Pacquiao wanted to play the role of Malvar.
Edberto said he edited the movie script. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)