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Abstract

Early portrayals of Philippine Muslims in film show them not only as a people who profess a “heathen religion” but also whose culture is dominated by notions of superiority and violence against women and non-Muslims. This presentation is largely due to the colonial legacies of Spain and the United States, whose respective occupation of the Philippines was met with resistance by Muslims. Such negative portrayals made their way into early films as indicated by Brides of Sulu (1934) and The Real Glory (1939). This paper argues that representations of Philippine Muslims in films changed over time, depending on the prevailing government policies and perceptions of people on Christian-Muslim relations. The other films included for this paper are Badjao (1957), Perlas ng Silangan (Pearl of the Orient, 1969), Muslim Magnum .357 (1986), Mistah: Mga Mandirigma (Mistah: Warriors, 1994), Bagong Buwan (New Moon, 2001) and Captive (2012). This paper will put the films in the social and political context in which they were viewed – in the earlier years when Muslim-Christian negative perceptions were dominant, under governments where Muslims were viewed as the “other” and later, at a time when, as part of the responses to the Muslim rebellion, the Philippine government moved to officially consider Islam as part of Philippine heritage, and Muslims as Filipinos who happen to profess a different religion from the majority.

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