Prejudice & Pride Workshop Series: On Entertainment



Pinoy filmmakers should work more with Muslim consultants and experts to avoid biased stories. That’s one of the recommendations stemming from the results of the fourth and last roundtable of the Predudice and Pride Workshop Series. The project aims to shape awareness on discrimination against Muslims in different sectors and plans to come up with a TV feature and a publication on the crucial issues. The project is guided by the idea, that the Christian mainstream should know more about Muslim traditions and culture as well as the recent concerns of Filipino Muslims in the whole country. It is expected to contribute to a better understanding between Christians and Muslims in the Philippines.

The Prejudice and Pride Workshop Series organized by the Pagbabago@Pilipinas Foundation Inc., with the support of Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID) and KAS, The Asia Foundation, and the United States Institute of Peace held its workshop on the theme on “entertainment” last March 19, 2007 at the Richmonde Hotel. The Pride and Prejudice: On Entertainment Workshop had special focus on the discrimination and biases against Muslims. In a presentation by Dr. Paz Diaz of the University of the Philippines, she intimates that though there is a sincere effort by filmmakers to depict Muslims and the Muslim culture fairly and truthfully in Philippine movies, a research spearheaded by the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication says that many Filipino films with Muslim protagonists misrepresent the group’s traditions and culture. In general thus, there is a marked bias against Muslims when depicted in Filipino Films.

In the seven films reviewed for the research (Zamboanga, 1936; Badjao, 1957; Perlas ng Silangan, 1969; Muslim Magnum.357, 1986; Mistah: Mga Mandirigma, 1994; The Sarah Balabagan Story, 1997; and Bagong Buwan, 2000), the common themes of patriotism, human rights, peace, poverty, and family relations are evident. Muslims are depicted as brave, and proud of their own ethnicity. More often, even though violence and high temperament are often associated with them, it is usually justified as a means to defend their pride, love, beliefs, and their land.

The series of workshops focuses on themes against discrimination in the Philippines centering on various issues which include, as in this instance, the cases of discrimination on entertainment media specifically the cinema. The objectives of these workshops include the surfacing of how education creates, maintains, or even supports discrimination; understanding the sources of prejudice; the formulation of proposed reforms in education to counter such discrimination and the creation of legislative agenda to foster general understanding and tolerance.

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Klaus Preschle