Philippines in Pop Culture: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, and The Random
Posted on: August 17, 2012 By: Camille Himala
Time and again, we Filipinos have proven our toughness and resilience in the face of life's misfortunes – calamities, disasters, idiocy of some public officials. Despite this strong Filipino spirit, however, we're a pretty sensitive bunch. The smallest mention of anything Filipino elicits kilig, while the tiniest slight at our country, culture, or fellow Filipinos incites rage.
In recognition of our balat-sibuyas (and perhaps emotional instability), here’s a rundown of twelve good, bad, ugly, but mostly, random appearances of the Philippines in pop culture.
Medal of Honor,
The Medal of Honor video game franchise gets a reboot in
Medal of Honor, Warfighter. The game is set in “real world terror threat”
places often glazed over by mainstream media -- and you know what they say, it's
more fun in the Philippines!
Gameplay is mapped out in Tungawan Jungle in Zamboanga, where Tier-1 ops take
on homegrown terrorist group Abu Sayyaf.
Should it be a cause for concern that the Philippines
might be portrayed as a terrorist country? Do we trust that we, as well as Somalia,
and other nations, will be depicted with care? Or is it just a harmless video
game after all? Maybe we shouldn't be talking terrorism in the Philippines on the heels of 2012 Hollywood film, Act of Valor.
Act of Valor
Act of Valor tells the heroic story of the US Navy
Seals' mission to recover a kidnapped CIA agent. Sounds like a typical American
anti-terrorism film? Wrong! Some of the terrorists involved were Filipinos!
Some people immediately labelled it as an “act of anti-Filipino prejudice,”
alleging that we were racially profiled as terrorists, while others simply
argued that just as not all Muslims are terrorists, not all Filipinos are
either. Maybe we should give humans a little more credit.
Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 masterpiece has been
hailed one time or another as one of the finest films of modern times. The epic
war film about the Vietnam War starring Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, and
Martin Sheen, was actually filmed in several areas in Luzon.
Even Philippine weather wanted to make the film shoot unforgettable as one
Typhoon Olga swooped in and wrecked Coppola's movie sets in Iba, Zambales.
Local Ifugaos served as extras in the film, along with a local ritual where a
poor kalabaw was hacked to death by a
machete -- a scene Coppola was lucky to have caught on film.
Francis Ford Coppola directing in Pagsanjan
An Officer and a
Before Richard Gere was picking up prostitutes in Pretty
Woman, he appeared in An Officer and A
Gentleman where he played Zack Mayo, a young man who was living in the
Philippines with his US Navy Officer dad. In the film's opening scene, young
Zack falls victim to petty theft when he gets mugged by some Pinoy toughies
who wanted to "gut that sonuvab*%$^!"
The Filipino medical community was enraged by the US
comedy-drama when in 2007, Teri Hatcher's character Susan Mayer let loose a
racial slur. When her doctor says she might be hitting menopause, she responds
with, "Before we go any further, can I check those diplomas? Cause I want to
make sure they're not from some med school in the Philippines."
Upon violent reactions from Filipinos and Fil-Ams in the medical field, even
from ex-president GMA's Executive Secretary, ABC network issued an apology and recalled
the episode to cut out that line.
Little did loudmouthed Rachel Berry know that this
pint-sized diva has an explosive voice.
Keanu Reeves plays John Constantine, an exorcist who
can communicate with angels and demons. Early in the movie, Constantine tries to rid a possessed girl from a demon when she
says, in Hollywood's go-to demonic voice, "Papatayin natin sila." Woah! The devil speaks Tagalog!
Sasha Baron-Cohen's latest comedy The Dictator didn't spare us Filipinos from straight-up racism and
political incorrectness. Personally, I don't take any offense from liking to
talk, work, and sh*t -- I find it quite accurate, don't you? However, Baron-Cohen could use some tips from Russell Peters on mastering his Asian accents.
Back in 1999, Claire Danes and Kate Beckinsale portrayed
best friends who were caught in a drug bust while on vacation in Thailand.
The movie, Brokedown Palace,
was filmed in several impoverished locations in Manila.
After shooting the movie, Danes told Premiere Magazine that Manila "just f*%$ing smelled of cockroaches. There's no sewage system in Manila,
and people have nothing there. People with, like, no arms, no legs, no eyes, no
teeth. Rats were everywhere." She was also quoted in Vogue describing Manila
as "a ghastly and weird city." Many people reacted violently to her sharp
tongue, including Hollywood A-listers and even then-president Estrada,
who wanted to ban her from setting foot on the Philippines.
And no, we don't mean Survivor Philippines
hosted by Richard Gutierrez. We mean the 25th season of the American
reality show that started it all. It's been a long time coming, but Jeff Probst
and the Survivor team has finally landed on our shores. But they are by no
means the first to set foot on Caramoan to film the reality show. Caramoan is a
favourite for the different franchises of Survivor, including Serbia,
Sweden, and France.
Outwit, outplay, outlast - in any language - is definitely more fun in the Philippines!
As much as you'd like to deny it, Stephanie Meyer's Twilight
is an international bestseller. And somewhere in those pages, she mentions the Danag, a creature taken from Filipino lore. We
don't know how accurately Meyer portrays the danag because most Filipinos
aren't familiar with it themselves. The most we can hope for is that the
vampires this side of the world don't sparkle.
The Bourne Legacy
Even before The Bourne
Legacy was released in cinemas, Filipinos were abuzz when Jeremy Renner and
Rachel Weisz arrived in Manila to film
parts of the movie. I even routed myself through Aurora
Boulevard to catch a glimpse of their shoot.
Unfortunately, all I saw was our everyday tangle of jeepneys, motorcycles, and
buses -- and that's also exactly what went onto the big screen. At the first
mention of Manila, the entire
theatre sniggered with excitement. The gritty portrayal of our city was as true
as they come, sans our security guards speaking with an American twang.
Do you feel the Philippines was wrongly played in some entries in the list? Sound it off below!