by Rebecca Urbančík Garcia Quotes from the Philippine Embassy in Prague
The ASEAN+3 Film Festival in Prague was officially launched on September 1, with the participation of six ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, joined by China, Japan and the Republic of Korea. This is the first ASEAN +3 film festival to be held in Prague.
My husband and I had the pleasure of attending the official screening of the Philippine film “Quezon's Game” at the Maly Sal of the Prague Municipal Library on September 2. Around 120 guests from the diplomatic corps, private sector, media and the general public attended the event.
In her welcome remarks, Chargé d’Affaires Indhira C. Bañares cited “Quezon's Game” to be "a compelling story of a Philippine President who valued above all the sanctity of human life and rallied the Filipino people to speak to power only the truth – the truth that regardless of religion, race or gender, every human deserves the right to live.” She also added, “When countries closed their borders, President Manuel L. Quezon opened the doors of the Philippines to Jewish refugees. Despite odds, the Philippines welcomed more than a thousand Jewish refugees mostly from Germany and Austria, and a number from Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Hungary, among others.” Chargé d’Affaires Bañares said that the Philippines could have welcomed more refugees had it not been for another war that came to its own shores.
Filipinos who came to see the movie - myself included - were touched by the story of President Quezon and are extremely proud of what the Philippines had done at a time of great need. When I asked my husband - who is a history buff - what he thought of the movie, he mentioned that the film was a good medium to relay the most significant event in 20th century European history and how countries such as the Philippines opened its doors to refugees of the biggest crime in human history — the Holocaust.
The ending credits of the film featured some of the Jewish Holocaust survivors. The audience also catches a glimpse of the “Open Doors” monument in the Holocaust Memorial park in Rishon LeZion, Israel. The monument was built to honor President Manuel Quezon and the Filipino nation for its open door policy, enabling the Philippines to be a safe haven for Jews fleeing the Nazi regime. The monument stands as a testament to the close friendship between Filipinos and the Jewish people. My family and I were fortunate to visit the “Open Doors” monument during our pilgrimage to the Holy Land earlier in May. Had I seen this film before our pilgrimage visit, the vision of the door would have been extra meaningful for me. I would have stood more proud and honored for my country and the Filipino nation that displayed the best of humanity in the midst of animosity.
Congratulations to the Philippine Embassy on a successful screening of “Quezon’s Game”, and to the participating ASEAN+3 countries. Since the ASEAN Film Festival’s inception in 2012, the annual event showcases selected films with the aim of further promoting ASEAN - now ASEAN+3 in the Czech Republic. I am delighted to see how the film festival has progressed over the years, and I certainly look forward to the next film festival!
(Image (left): Associate Editor Rebecca Urbančík Garcia with Charge d'Affaires Indhira C. Bañares; Image (right): Members of the Filipino community with CDA Bañares)
“Quezon’s Game” is set in 1938 where Philippine President Manuel Quezon, future U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower, and several other notable figures set out to rescue Jewish refugees from the ghettos of Germany and Austria to save them from the Nazis.
What seems within their power at first, turns out to be fraught with astronomical obstacles. On top of this, Quezon must battle a relapse of tuberculosis.
In his final days, Quezon asks the question “Could I have done more?” Before recollecting one of the least known, but most uplifting stories in Philippine history.
(Philippines 2019, Matthew Rosen, 126 minutes)