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CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - October 8, 2015 - 10:00am

The minute the moviehouse sold tickets we were in line, the second “group” to make it to the first showing of “Felix Manalo.” But unlike the record breaking premier it had at the Philippine Arena, our first day showing at Robinson’s Pioneer was nothing close.  There were only six people watching! Perhaps it was because it was mid-week and mid-day, showing in several hundred theaters at the same time.

It would be our loss not to watch “Felix Manalo.”

I’m called the reluctant moviegoer in my home, but I watched through the three-hour movie and I was glued to the screen. Even my wife who is a foreigner, an “Estranghero” really appreciated the folk scenes of the Philippines in the beginning of the 1900s, the simplicity of life, the old houses and their abiding faith in God. In terms of filmmaking etc., what seems to impress people who’ve seen the film is how the characters in the film seamlessly age, how the “make-up” actually covers up many characters to the point that you have to take a second look to recognize them or be certain you are seeing who you think you are seeing.

In spite of better publicity and marketing than “Heneral Luna,” the film has not been talked about much by the general public or media. Like “Heneral Luna,” the film “Felix Manalo” is a superbly done biopic and period piece. The movie is very educational, and is in the same level of excellence. If Heneral Luna made us rethink and relearn our political history, and rekindled our nationalism, “Felix Manalo” teaches us about our religious history, how the impact of American churches on Catholicism, Filipino life and faith.

The movie walks us through the doctrinal challenge and devotion that stirred Felix Manalo to eventually establish what he believed was divine inspiration and the will of God for an “Iglesia Ni Kristo.” What should make all of us proud is that in spite of the odds, Felix Manalo was a Filipino who founded a Filipino church against overwhelming odds and discrimination.

However you relate to the lead character, it is a story of a man who clearly had a calling, pursued it to the point of suffering, persecution and being ostracized by his friends, family and even people he had grown with in the faith. If anything “Felix Manalo” teaches us that if we believe in something, if it is truly of worth, and it is of God, even if we lose family, home, jobs and the respect or honor of men, we must cling to that which we believe.

The movie also shows us that nothing much has changed in terms of people’s attitude towards religion whether their own or that of others. It shows that the bias against “Born Again” or “Muslim” now has always been there except back then they were labeled as “Protestants.” It shows that tyrants, conquerors, or terrorists all fear, abhor, or actively oppose religions and religious movements because they give hope, they give courage, they give strength and is a “unifying force” for people who have nothing in common in terms of wealth, or social class or status.

I think the best comment came from my daughter Hannah who said: “Hooray no more telenovelas!” I don’t know if she was being prophetic, making a suggestion or was into something in the future. But it would make sense for Channel 2, 7, 5 and other “telenovela makers” to shift from fictional, sampalan-romance stories and start developing programs in the likes of Heneral Luna and Felix Manalo. 

Such works would be highly educational, useful in schools and museums, can easily get the support of the private sector and they would help give theater actors a boost as well. There is enough material to sustain 20 years of biopics and docu-dramas about our historical and modern day heroes as well as Filipinos who have excelled globally and locally in their patriotism, professional achievements and service to the country. Everything is there for the picking, but “we” the audience need to put our money where our mouths are and support true art and true stories.

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The medical director of FEU-Fairview reacts to my column piece:

This is in response to Mr. Cito Beltran’s column entitled, “Adverse Reaction” published in the Oct. 2, issue of the Philippine STAR. 

In his article, Mr. Beltran accuses our attending physicians of being inconsiderate, having poor communication skills, and insensitive to his needs and the needs of his ward’s family being treated by FEU-NRMF. It is unfortunate that Mr. Beltran had a negative impression of our hospital after not being able to get confidential information about his ward’s condition over the phone, thus forcing him to drive from Pasig to Fairview, Quezon City.  

FEU-NRMF policy and procedure dictates that any medical information about a patient (in this case a minor) will only be released to the immediate next of kin present. In the case of patient mentioned in the article, all updates on her condition were relayed to her mother. 

 We completely understand Mr. Beltran’s viewpoint, and we share his clear passion to provide immediate care and attention to those who need it. On the other hand, we are bound by certain rules and ethical guidelines to ensure that our patient’s privacy is likewise protected. While Mr. Beltran clearly had only the best intentions at heart, our staff had to abide by a strict set of rules when giving out patient information and details

We do, however, sympathize with Mr. Beltran and have duly noted his comments. We appreciate all feedback, both positive and negative, as this is integral to our pursuit for the constant improvement of our staff, facilities, and services. Rest assured, FEU-NRMF is driven to deliver on our legacy of caring.  – Dr. Policarpio Joves 

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I welcome Dr. Joves’ reaction. May I just point out the possibility that he was not fully appraised of the fact that when I went to his hospital, I was in the company of the patient’s Great-Grandmother, Grandmother, and Mother all of whom were asking that the doctors speak to me. None of the residents or doctors came to say “hello” or “sorry but we can’t deal with you”. But thank you Dr. Joves for making the effort. You at least communicated with me.

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