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Norman King speaks up about criticism, detraction of MMK episode

Dan Manglinong - Philstar.com
Norman King speaks up about criticism, detraction of MMK episode

Norman is the first Aeta graduate of the University of the Philippines. He graduated from its Manila campus with a Bachelor of Arts in Behavioral Science in 2017.

Photo courtesy of Norman King

MANILA, Philippines— Long-running biographical anthology "Maalaala Mo Kaya" has received both acclaim and derision following an episode aired on March 24 titled “Equal Rights,” essentially an account of father and son Roman and Norman King, members of the Aeta striving for equality in various aspects of life.

Norman is the first Aeta graduate of the University of the Philippines. He graduated from its Manila campus with a Bachelor of Arts in Behavioral Science in 2017.

Since then, the episode has polarized viewers. Praise for the show's attempt at representing the Aetas in mainstream has been mixed with criticism for its use of 'blackface.'

Another developing concern has been brought by the Kaisahan ng Artista at Manunulat Na ayaw sa Development Aggression(KAMANDAG), an artist collective that has ties with the Central Luzon Aeta Association(CLAA).

Through their Twitter profile, the group posted a statement attributed to the CLAA denouncing the episode’s portrayal of Roman.

Though the statement reserves praise for Norman, it also contains allegations of his father’s collaboration with large corporations which led to displacement for other aetas.

It also claims that the aetas who found employment after construction of a large resort were paid a meager daily wage.

The full statement is also posted on the Facebook page ‘No to Development Aggression.’

Norman, in a text conversation with Philstar.com, related how he checked with the Aetas before the use of blackface was implemented.

“No one is affected. What is important is that the collective experience of the Aeta is showcased,” said Norman in Filipino.

He also contacted several Aeta groups who claim that they did not consent to its publication.

He told Philstar.com that these groups are set to release a statement condemning the prior statement denouncing his father.

Asked about the allegations made about his father, Norman believes that Roman was the victim of a coordinated attack from opposing groups to besmirch his name.

“My father knows the law and he knows what he is fighting for is right,” said Norman in Filipino.

Norman related his father’s previous experience being hunted by military on some land disputes and how he was eventually released when proven innocent.

His son's account suggests the allegations against Roman to be the result of an internal conflict.

Norman has in particular decried the allegation in the statement that his father’s actions led to the massacre of several Aeta families.

For Norman, the severity of the claim is a matter that will have to be discussed immediately.

He told Philstar that there will be a meeting among the Aeta to assess the veracity of the statements released.

“Instead of uniting the Aeta of Porac and of Bambang Tarlac, they are being divided. We are being used by those who pretend to fight for our rights. The truth is that they have done nothing but to sow dissension among us.”

Philstar has also tried to reach out to KAMANDAG to verify the statement released by CLAA but has been unavailable for comment

AETA

NORMAN KING

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