Kin of Filipino hero General Malvar apprehensive about Pacquiao’s portrayal

October 14, 2019 - 6:00 PM
Manny Pacquiao is General Malvar
A relative of Filipino hero General Miguel Malvar expressed opposition to an upcoming movie top-billed by champion boxer Manny Pacquiao, a senator. (Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos)

A relative of the late Miguel Malvar, the last general of the First Philippoine Republic, is concerned that the upcoming biopic about the historical figure could do disservice and be disrespectful of the his legacy.

Gabriel Malvar, who introduced himself as the great grandson of the general, said on Facebook on October 13 that not all of the direct descendants of the general were consulted with the project.

This post came after lawyer Jose Malvar Villegas Jr. defended the movie titled “Malvar” starring Sen. Manny Pacquiao from criticisms that it is a political vehicle.

Gabriel feared that Pacquiao’s larger-than-life reputation and popularity might dominate the character of his great grandfather in the eyes of the audience.

“My fear is that he is larger than life and his character cannot be separated from Manny Pacquiao the person. If he plays lolo Miguel, the viewers will not be able to see and appreciate my grandfather. Senator Pacquiao’s personality will dominate,” he said.

My position on the General Miguel Malvar filmI have been receiving messages from friends with links to on-line…

Posted by Gabriel Malvar on Saturday, October 12, 2019


Gabriel recalled that Malvar lived a “simple” life as a trader and farmer and even rejected further involvement in politics after his career as military leader.

Such views were not intended to reproach the lawmaker, Gabriel argued. Rather, Pacquiao’s “essence” as a celebrated boxer could overcome Malvar’s character.

“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,” he said.

Should he had been consulted, Gabriel would have preferred an actor without political ties or to have no movie about him at all.

“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 said.

“I have nothing to do with this film. This does not have my approval,” he added.

At the helm of “Malvar” was veteran filmmaker Jose “Kaka” Balagtas, whose films include “Anak Ng Kumander” (2008) with Valerie Concepcion and “David Balondo ng Tondo” (1990) with Ramon Revilla.

Reputable singer-songwriter Imelda Papin, who was also the president of the Actors’ Guild of the Philippines, is the film’s line producer while the event producer is Florita Santos of Dreamwings Production.

Malvar’s legacy

Malvar was considered a nearly forgotten leader who succeeded Emilio Aguinaldo after the latter was captured in Palanan, Isabela on March 23, 1901 during Philippine-American war.

He was born into a privileged middle-class family on September 27, 1865 in Santo Tomas, Batangas. Not much is known about his civilian life except that he went on to become a businessman and a farmer before the Spanish war.

Malvar soon left this life to join the battles of the Katipunan and later led the remaining Filipino troops before surrendering to US General Franklin Bell in 1902.

Not a political ploy

Those opposing the movie and describing it as a political move belittles Pacquiao’s competency as an actor, according to Villegas, the head of JMV Film Production that will produce the movie.

Villegas, who introduced himself as Malvar’s grandson, also claimed these critics are “using close relatives of Gen. Malvar to sow intrigues to serve the interest of some political sectors opposed to the government and act as apologies for the foreign colonial regimes that occupied the Philippines for 400 years.”

An official statement from JMV Film Production themselves. The team would like to ask everyone to take a moment to read…

Posted by General Malvar Film on Saturday, October 12, 2019

He also warned those sending offensive posts to the production team of possible cyber-crime offenses.

Historical movies about local heroes, such as “Heneral Luna” in 2015, “Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral” in 2018, gained traction among mainstream audiences. The films were directed by Jerrold Tarog and “Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis” in 2016 by Lav Diaz.

These movies did not feature actors with direct association to politics. — Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos