Thursday April 30, 2015

There’s a short film currently making the rounds on YouTube and it’s entitled “Pacquiao”. No it’s not another bio-pic. It’s not a documentary on Pacquiao’s preparation. In fact, you won’t even see a glimpse of the Pambansang Kamao in the film. EJ Fernandez’s “Pacquiao” is a War Story. But it’s not just about Manny’s war in the ring – but the war in Mindanao.

The 4 minute film is a fictional narrative tackling the thesis of peace through sports. The film begins with a small group of soldiers taking a break in the woods while listening to the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight over the transistor radio. All is well until a group of rebels step into their turf and the two camps take position to fire. However, both groups of armed men are put on a stand still as the fight progresses and Pacquiao seems to be winning over Mayweather. Smiles are exchanged among the soldiers and rebels despite rifles still being aimed at each other. Manny is winning. And it looks like peace is about to reign over the warring camps. When suddenly, one of the soldiers accidentally pulls the trigger and kills the rebel he was aiming at. Mayhem follows. The battle inside the ring ends with Manny’s victory but the war rages on in the battlefield of Mindanao.

Producer, writer, director, and editor EJ Fernandez says that he wrote the film as a reaction to the on-going war in Mindanao and to the hype of the upcoming Pacquiao-Mayweather fight of the century. He uses the sports commentators over the radio as the device to juxtapose the war inside and outside the ring. Clever writing from Fernandez allows viewers to understand the commentary more clearly.

Pacquiao War Story 2

EJ relates, “I remember my dad’s story about the Sport for Peace initiative, which aims to bring peace in Mindanao through sports. It was under the banner of the Philippine Sports Commission back then, when William “Butch” Ramirez was still the PSC chairman. Papa told me about how Fr. Romeo S. Saniel, OMI, President of the Notre Dame of Midsayap College, rounded up some of the children of the MILF to join the Sports for Peace Event. My father said, it was a sight to see. It was almost Utopian. For a moment, the children experienced peace. Religion and other denominations didn’t matter when they were playing various sports events. One of the children of the MILF even said, “dili man diay maldito ang mga Christianos”. When the event was over and the children were about to leave for home, most of them cried. Perhaps they wanted to play some more games with their fellow children. Perhaps they wanted to stay in a place of peace and harmony. Perhaps they wanted to stay children a little longer. “Pwede man diay magka-peace, through sports.”

EJ says that story really stuck to him. It was one of those rare moments when an initiative actually works. Peace can be achieved through sports the same way it can be proverbially peaceful anywhere in Philippines when Pacquiao fights.

As a filmmaker, EJ hopes to do his part by imparting this message through his craft. He wanted to do a film about war, peace, and sports and since the fight was just around the corner, decided to set his message against this backdrop.

Pacquiao Francis Lobo


Armed with only an iPhone 6 plus, some duct tape, and a tripod, EJ and his team made of Francis Lobo as director of photography and assistant director, Diego Pascual as sound engineer, and Eva Fernandez and Shievar Olegario completing the production, the crew shot on April 25 and edited the film for 30 hours straight.

The short film was immediately uploaded to YouTube on April 28, five days earlier than the actual Pacquiao-Mayweather fight. The film has been making the rounds since then. They also had the help another friend Alexis Battaler as their weapons consultant. The original theme song “War is in the Mind” was arranged by Diego Pascual.

“The message is about peace, dedicated to the children, or the next generation, because I was thinking about my 2 year old son. I hope the war won’t continue for his generation to see it.”

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