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Kin says upcoming Malvar film lacks clan approval

It bills itself as “the biggest ever film produced in the history of Philippine cinema.” But according to a descendant of Filipino revolutionary Gen. Miguel Malvar, the upcoming Malvar film starring boxer and senator Manny Pacquiao doesn’t have the approval of the entire Malvar clan.

In a Facebook post on Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, film producer and director Gabriel Malvar, who is a great-grandchild of the late Batangueno revolutionary, said, “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. This caught us by surprise.”

“The Malvar clan is huge. Lolo Miguel and lola Ulay had eleven children. Pablo, my grandfather, is the youngest child. The different lines of direct descendants were not informed nor consulted. This should not be difficult to do as the prominent representatives of each line can easily call or message each other,” he added.

‘Disservice to Malvar’

Malvar said that had he been consulted, he would have preferred someone not involved in politics or in public service to portray him, citing the fact that after his great-grandfather declined to accept any political position offered to him after he surrendered to Maj. Gen. Franklin Bell in April 1902.

“I do not think he would have preferred to have his name associated with anyone in politics. I would like his name and legacy totally apart from the political milieu,” Malvar said.

In the Facebook post, Malvar also pointed out that viewers will not be able to see and appreciate his great-grandfather if Sen. Pacquiao portrays him.

“Senator Pacquiao’s personality will dominate. That is not a knock on the senator. It is the truth. He is too big to be contained in any role for that matter. His essence will eventually prevail. And it would be disrespectful and a disservice to my great-grandfather if even in the movie about his life, he is not the center of the attention and is merely an afterthought with all the distractions,” Malvar said.

“To have a film about my lolo Miguel would be ideal. But a film, although desirable, if not executed well and taints his legacy, would do more harm than good. I prefer not to have a film at all,” he added.

Sen. Manny Pacquiao during the press conference for the General Malvar biopic. Photo from the General Malvar Film Facebook page.
Film producer responds

In response to Malvar’s statements, lawyer Jose Malvar Villegas Jr., grandson of Gen. Malvar and head of JMV Film Production, one of the producers of the General Malvar film, said that the overwhelming acceptance and acclamation of the choice of Sen. Pacquiao to play the major role in the film is proof that the public accepts Pacquiao as a consummate actor.

“The critics who want to twist the choice of Sen. Pacquiao as a political ploy do not do justice to the ability of Sen. Pacquiao as an actor and smacks figment of imaginations of the politicians who are even using close relatives of Gen. Malvar to sow intrigues to serve the interest of some political sectors opposed to the government and act as apologists for the foreign colonial regimes that occupied the Philippines for 400 years,” Villegas said in a statement released in the General Malvar film’s Facebook page.

Veteran action film director Jose “Kaka” Balagtas will direct the film based on writer Ed Samson’s screenplay, with Sen. Pacquiao in attendance during the press conference early this month.

Aside from JMV Film Production, Dreamwings Production Inc. will serve as co-producer for the film.

“We are calling on whomsoever are the critics of the choice of Sen. Pacquiao as Gen. Malvar that instead of their bickerings brought about by their political agendas, to unite for the sake of correcting our history and exposing the abuses of our former colonial masters that have plundered the Philippines for many centuries, and which we can now expose to the world,” Villegas added.

He also threatened that bashers who will make derogatory remarks against those involved in the General Malvar film will be subject to charges for violating the Anti-Cybercrime Law.

Who is General Malvar?

Born in Santo Tomas, Batangas on Sept. 27, 1865, Malvar led the start of the 1896 Philippine Revolution in his home province. He later allied with the forces of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo in Cavite and joined him in his retreat to the mountains of San Miguel, Bulacan where Aguinaldo established the Biak-na-Bato Republic. He was one of the few Filipinos who opposed the Pact of Biak-na-Bato but nevertheless abided by it.

During the Filipino-American War, Aguinaldo appointed Malvar as commanding general of the revolutionary forces in Southern Luzon. After Aguinaldo’s capture by the Americans on March 23, 1901, Malvar continued to fight the Americans by resorting to guerrilla warfare in the mountains of Batangas. He surrendered to the Americans only on April 16, 1902 due to the growing lack of ammunition and food.

Further reading: Miguel Malvar was born: Sept. 27, 1865

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