Human Rights Day
Rights Out Loud – The Cultural Center of the Philippines Celebrates Human Rights Day with a Special Film Screening
The Cultural Center of the Philippines in partnership with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom - Philippines celebrated the International Human Rights Day with a film screening and talkback discussion of three human rights films on November 9 at the CCP Tanghalang Manuel Conde in Pasay, Metro Manila. The annual event aptly titled ‘Rights Out Loud’ featured the Rappler and FNF Philippines produced documentary ‘Pounding The Rock: The Legacy of CHR Chairman Chito Gascon’ that chronicles the late Chito Gascon’s early history of activism that eventually shaped his unending advocacy for human rights and democracy in spite of relentless efforts from the former president Rodrigo Duterte’s administration to impede the commission’s operations. At the height of the past administration’s war on drugs campaign, Gascon and the Commission of Human Rights were amongst the few government organizations to stand their ground and fight against the onslaught of extrajudicial killings.
Also featured in the screening was Pepe Diokno’s 2009 debut feature ‘Engkwentro (Encounter)’ that follows two brothers caught on opposing sides of two rival gangs while the older brother was simultaneously trying to escape to the city after ending up on a death squad watchlist. Filmed and stitched together to appear like one continuous long take, the film was inspired by former president Duterte’s tenure as Davao mayor when death squads and extrajudicial killings began to elicit media attention. The film aimed to depict the harsh realities present in urban impoverished areas in the Philippines and the misguided approach local governments took to address the situation.
The third film featured was Veronica Velasco’s dark comedy film ‘Last Supper No. 3’ which took a satirical approach to present the ridiculousness of the local judiciary system as well as the infamous ‘red-tape’ syndrome pervasive in local government processes. The film presents the mundanity of having misplaced a Last Supper carpet spiraling into a long and arduous process between agencies and government offices in a legal system meant to confuse and capitalize on unwitting citizens.
The event was attended by more than 70 university students, media practitioners, young professionals, and members from different human rights organizations. In the ensuing discussion, audience members voiced out several of the themes tackled in the films and echoed how some of the featured disregard for human dignity and freedom remain commonplace in different sectors and institutions in the country. A former staff of Chito Gascon, Dado Sta. Ana, talked about his experiences with his former boss during the time when everyone at the commission were afraid for their safety. He cited how many of them sought to continue the good fight even after Gascon’s passing and how the presence of many young people in the event gave him hope. The event marked the last screening to be held at the CCP Tanghalang Manuel Conde before the whole establishment is meant to undergo a 2-3 year renovation period.
“Pounding the rock”: the legacy of the late Filipino human rights defender Chito Gascon
A documentary produced by FNF Philippines and Rappler tells the story of the late Commission on Human Rights Chairman Chito Gascon’s legacy in the fight for democracy and human rights