Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Eugene Gambol and Ivan Penetrante, anakbayansd@gmail.com


On the evening of September 18, 2010 over one hundred community members of San Diego gathered at the Centro Cultural de la Raza of San Diego to view the controversial and thought provoking Philippine independent film “Dukot” (desaparecidos/disappeared), directed by Joel C. Lamangan.

Upon entry guests made their way to the seating area and found themselves surrounded by an art piece done by the members of Anakbayan San Diego. Above their heads they found a web of clotheslines with attached photos of murdered and missing Filipino activists during the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo administration. Underneath the clotheslines were three chalk outlines resembling murdered bodies. Attached at the head were photos of those also murdered under the dreaded Oplan Bantay Laya (Operation Freedom Watch), Arroyo’s counterinsurgency program aimed at killing unarmed activists.

It is this gruesome reality of the past decade that the film Dukot portrayed. In the film, Junix (Allen Dizon), Maricel (Iza Calzado), and their families stand in to represent the victims of Human Rights violations during the Arroyo administration. The political thriller is a breath of fresh air, daring to show the ugly realism of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, and government corruption.

Following the film Anakbayan hosted a Q&A with Melissa Roxas, Filipina American human rights activist and survivor of enforced disappearance and torture. Roxas spoke about her experience as victim of human rights violations and also spoke about the geopolitical realities underwriting the film. Roxas stressed to the crowd to make the connection between the political realities of the Philippines that Dukot portrays and the daily lives of Filipino Americans and American citizens here in the U.S. This connection is important since it is taxpayer money of American citizens that funds Oplan Bantay Laya, now extended under the current Philippine President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

The Q&A ended with Roxas encouraging the guests to continue the conversation about social justice issues of Filipinos and all struggles against oppression. The guests enjoyed the film, many commenting on its powerful message. One viewer commented that it was “A good wakeup call”. The Dukot U.S. Tour is not only a “wakeup call”, but it is also an invitation for Filipinos here in the U.S. to deepen the foundations of what it means to be Filipino. There is often an emphasis on Filipino pride and learning Filipino cultural heritage, but what also needs to be included is an awareness of the oppressive political conditions facing Filipinos in the Philippines and across the Diaspora. The Dukot U.S. Tour is a cultural event that is a stepping stone into deeper political awareness of Filipino lives.

The Dukot U.S. Tour could not have come at a more appropriate time. The tour moves into October, which is Filipino American History month. More importantly, today marks the 38th anniversary of Martial Law and Philippine President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III is currently in the U.S handling business. The oppressive environment of the martial law era of Marcos and the undeclared martial law of Arroyo continue to this day. As it stands there have been 13 cases of extrajudicial killings under Noynoy’s administration. This is related to his extension of Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya, which is responsible for 1206 extrajudicial killings and over 200 enforced disappearances of the last administration. The task at hand for Filipinos in the U.S. is to see beyond the symbolic appropriation yellow-shirt-people power and hold the current Aquino administration accountable to the Human Rights violations occurring under his presidency.

For more information about the Dukot U.S. Tour visit http://www.dukot.com

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