News Commentary

Ex-Hollywood child actor touched by 'Yolanda' victims, fascinated with Phl politics

Christina Mendez - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Hollywood actor David Dorfman was so touched upon seeing the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) when he saw the news about the aftermath of the country’s most devastative typhoon in history that he decided to include the Philippines as among the countries he'd visit for his legislative exchange program at the Harvard School of Law.

He just wanted to help, Dorfman told The Star in an interview, which is why he chose the Philippines to be part of the legislative exchange program that he needed as a requirement at the Harvard Law School, where he is a candidate to get his law degree by next year.

Dorfman is turning 21 this February 7. He was admitted to the University of California in LA at the age of 13, and graduated summa cum laude in B.A. in Geography.

“The reason I chose to come to the Philippines, obviously the tragedy in Tacloban. The situation is a tremendous proportion. I want to help. I have seen the tragedy, I want to be part of the solution,” Dorfman said.

“Hainan. It’s important that a tragedy like that happened particularly to a place with such kind people, you got to help. I want to take advantage of that,” he added.

“And also, it’s a laboratory for learning how the legislative processes work because you have the same structure with America but totally different application,” Dorfman added.

Dorfman, who boasts of a 4.0 General Point Average in college, was on a three-week legislative exchange program at the Philippine Senate under the office of neophyte Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, who also pursued post-graduate legal studies and Master of Laws at the Harvard School of Law in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S. A. in 2003.

Dorfman, who starred as “Aidan Keller” in the 2002 horror film remake "The Ring" and its sequel, "The Ring Two," went to Tacloban without much media fanfare last week. Dorfman returned to the US last January 25, carrying with him the images of the victims of the Hainan aftermath.

Before he left, Dorfman granted this reporter an interview, to narrate how he saw for himself how the victims have been continuously trying to cope with the aftermath of the typhoon.

Phl politics, the best out there

“This kid, he rushed up to me. All he said was thank you so much. It really summarizes about what I have felt so much. I was touched,” Dorfman said.

Dorfman admitted that prior to the Haiyan disaster, he has less knowledge of the Philippines which he now finds to be full of kindhearted people and a fascinating legislative process.

“You don’t get a better political theater than this,” he said, after witnessing how Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. delivered his speech upon the resumption of Congress session last January 20.

“Obviously, corruption at that level where we don’t have to deal with at the United States. Seeing the speech, without weighing on the merits one way or the other, that is great, politics here is the best out there. Very exciting, you know,” he added, referring to Revilla’s privilege speech.

In America, Dorfman said it was  already a big deal when Senator Ted Cruz had filibustering for 13 hours last year, where he read a bedtime story from a Dr. Seuss book for his children as he expressed his opposition to the Affordable Healthcare Act.

“My primary objective was to observe how the system works and this is such a fascinating platform how you do that… because you have the same structure as the US system but in practice it is so different,” he added.

“In America, politics is like a chess game where you have two political players, competing against one another essentially,” Dorfman said.

“Here it is like the Olympics, where every legislator in the sense is a fiefdom. I can’t emphasize how much that changes... It might be the same structure, might as well be a parliamentary system,” he added.

The former child actor has been cited as one of the top 11 “Faces of the Future" by the New York Daily News and graced full page spreads in magazines such as GQ, Popstar and People.

Entertainment industry

Dorfman believes that there is a lot of potential for the entertainment industry here. “I think, Philippines should definitely take advantage of its proximity from the rest of Asia… Geography can be destiny,” he said.

“Well, many other countries have had success with fiscal incentives for the entertainment sector… I think the Philippines’ proximity to some of the film industries of the world, like China, is a unique opportunity for creating job creation,” Dorfman said.

A check on his acting background showed that Dorfman made his feature film debut as William H. Macy's son in the acclaimed drama "Panic," and then played Gwyneth Paltrow's son in "Bounce."

Dorfman also appeared in the independent film "100 Mile Rule." He also played Aidan in "The Ring" a remake of the Japaneese film Ringu, where he made an outstanding performance as a young actor. He repeated the role in the sequel The Ring 2 three years later in 2005. In between in 2003 he appeared in the remake of the cult classic horror film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and also played a role in the musical comedy "The Singing Detective," playing young Robert Downey Jr.

Besides his acting experience, Dorfman has an impressive resume showing that he graduated summa cum laude in Geography, minor in film, television and digital media in 2011 at the University of California, Los Angeles.

He was admitted to college at a very young age of 13. He had 4.0 G.P.A, a Blackman Family Award in Geography (awarded to department valedictorians), and was admitted to the College Honors Program, Dean’s Honor List in every quarter via the Golden Key International Honour Society.

He worked as a clinical intern for the anti-terrorism unit in the Fall of 2013 at the US Attorney’s Office, Department of Justice in Boston, Massachusetts.  He wrote memos related to the prosecution of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as well as the other abettors of the Boston Marathon bombings and conducted legal research related to terrorist surveillance and evidence procurement.

He also worked as a law clerk for Sen. Charles Schumer in the summer of 2013 at the US Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, DC.

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