When one hears the late, great ManuelL. Quezon’s name, president of the Philippine Republic during the Commonwealth times, majority of people associate him with being the father of Tagalog language and the man responsible for the annual Linggo ng Wika celebration.
His last name, conjures the imposing image of what seems like an edifice from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, from Mordor, the Quezon Memorial Circle where his remains are buried.
It has also become the city of the stars and one of the richest in the metro and the province named after his family name, adjectives such as bucolic, provincial, rustic and vacation comes to mind instantaneously.
Now, as it comes to the cinemas this May 29, a not so popular historical moment that transpired during his term of office as the President will unfold in the film aptly billed as Quezon’s Game.
With Matthew E. Rosen as its director and produced by ABS-CBN’s Star Cinema, Quezon’s Game tells the story of President Quezon’s hand and resolve to assist and help more than a thousand Jews escape the Holocaust by persuading American authorities to issue Philippine visas to the refugees.
Google it and you will be made aware that in the late 1930s that Adolf Hitler systematically massacred six million Jews during the Holocaust. While other world leaders ignored the plight of Jewish refugees, Quezon, despite heavy opposition, did the unthinkable, he created an open-door policy which was meant to welcome more than 10,000 Jews to the country though he had originally planned to welcome more.
Per the film’s official press release: “President’s Quezon’s compassion has been compared to Oskar Schindler, the German industrialist who inspired the Oscar Best Picture Schindler’s List (1993).”
The Philippines initially issued 10,000 visas but plans were halted when Japan invaded and occupied the Philippines during the Second World War. In the end, only about 1,200 Jews reached the country’s shores.
In what seemed like a heated verbal exchange which between Vice-President Sergio Osmena, Sr., played by Audie Gemora, and Quezon, played by Raymond Bagatsing, which audiences may view its official movie trailer: VP Sergio said, “Mr. President, why are you doing this? It’s not that we’re belittling the Jews but should the Filipinos be concerned about this?”
Quezon replied: “I can’t turn a blind eye, Sergio. … This is the Philippines. We will stand against Hitler.”
Bagatsing’s thoughts on giving life to a revered President, “As an actor, it can make or break you. Portraying him, I believe is my biggest acting challenge to date. Honestly, it made me feel nervous and excited at the same time. I know I must trust my instruments as an actor, I must make this iconic man, a living, breathing figure.”
People can expect, “A Quezon who is a very lively speaker, he really gives his heart and his whole body when he speaks. Audiences will see him smile, what makes him smile. He loves telling jokes. No doubt he’s a great man.”
Providing stellar support to Bagatsing and Zamora in the film are Rachel Alejandro who plays Aurora Quezon, the President’s wife and the nation’s First Lady. Other cast members are David Bianco as Dwight Eisenhower, Billy Ray Gallion, and Tony Ahn as Alex Frieder and Herbert Frieder, Kate Alejandrino as Baby Quezon and James Paoleli as Paul McNutt.
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