Actor turned politician Alfred Vargas reacted when his Cinemalaya movie “Ang Guro Kong Hindi Marunong Magbasa” (for commercial release on December 6) was rated X by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board.
“Medyo mabigat po talaga sa damdamin. Sama-sama kasi naming pinaghirapan ang film na ito lalo na’t adbokasya. Halos lahat kami nagsakripisyo. Nag-sacrifice kami to do this independent film for Cinemalaya. Tapos noong nagkaroon kami ng commercial date, ang saya-saya namin only to hear the bad news na na-X nga siya,” he said.
However, he clarified that he did not resent the board’s initial decision in classifying the movie as unsuitable for public exhibition.
“True enough, to be fair with the MTRCB, binigyan naman nila kami ng guidelines kung bakit nagkaganoon. Noong makita namin, in-address ni Direk Perry iyon without sacrificing the artistic merits of the film at ang saya-saya namin na naging PG-13 siya, dahil ibig sabihin noon, mas marami ang makakapanood,” he explained.
“Kumbaga, noong na-X, it was to our surprise, pero noong naging PG-13, it was to our delight,” he added.
He also said he has no grudge against the board members and industry peers (Dennis Padilla, Gloria Sevilla and former MTRCB chair Consoliza Laguardia) who gave their movie the controversial “X” rating.
“They are my peers and I respect them, lalo na’t mas marami silang pelikulang nagawa kesa sa akin. Mas alam nila ang kanilang ginagawa . Seniority wise, iginagalang ko rin sila,” he pointed out.
“Being in the government myself , naiintindihan ko rin ang kanilang posisyon, especially if you are responsible kung ano ang palalabas at hindi ipalalabas. I’m happy kasi binigyan naman nila kami ng leeway at pointers. Kung may binago man kami, I think, it’s to our advantage na rin. At the end of the day, puwede namang e-edit iyan as long na hindi naman na-compromise iyong artistry and quality ng film, pati na iyong powerful message niya,” he added.
He also said that they plan to exhibit the film in various schools after its commercial run.
“There’s a separate marketing for that. I can see myself na still showing pa siya sa mga schools 5 or 10 years from now dahil ang strength ng pelikula ay iyong message nito na napakalinaw which is iyong advocacy nga sa education,” he declared.
In the movie, Vargas plays the lead role, Aaquil, a farmer who struggles to teach children (including child warriors) in his town to read and write, in spite of being illiterate himself.
“Mas lalo akong naging aware sa mga isyu ng edukasyon sa bansa. Actually, tinanggap ko iyong role ko dahil gusto ko talagang i-advocate ang education,” he quipped.
As the lone Congressman of the fifth district of Quezon City, he is currently pushing for the “Inclusive Education Act” which he authored.
“Inclusive education act siya kasi , ibig sabihin, basta Pilipino ka, puwede kang magkaroon ng edukasyon. Karapatan mong magkaroon ng edukasyon regardless of ethnicity, disability, social status, gender or economic status. Gagawin ng pamahalaan na magkaroon ka ng maganda at de-kalidad na edukasyon,” he expounded.
He also asseverated that the problem of warlordism is real in the Philippines.
“Long term kasi ang problema ng child warriors at warlordism sa bansa , pero ang pinaka-root cause niya ay poverty.Kulang kasi ng edukasyon because of poverty. Sa halip na libro ang hawak nila, napipilitan silang baril ang hawakan. Kailangang i-address din ng gobyerno ang iba’t-ibang bagay tulad ng walang infrastructure na kayang gawin ng gobyerno, iyong conflict sa Mindanao na puwede namang masolusyonan, pati na iyong availability of social services na kailangan sa mga kanayunan,” he concluded.
In Perry Escano’s “Ang Guro Kong Hindi Marunong Magbasa,” Vargas shares stellar honors with three of the country’s awarded child actors, Miggs Cuaderno, Marc Justine Alvarez and Micko Laurente.
A finalist at the 2017 Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival held last August, it also stars Mon Confiado, Lou Veloso, James Blanco, Kiko Matos, Loren Burgos, Garie Concepcion, Alvin Barcelona, Paul Sy, Lianne Valentin, Lorraine Salvador among others.