What to read, watch, and listen to before PJ Raval’s ‘Call Her Ganda’ documentary on Jennifer Laude

On October 11, 2014, Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude was found dead at a comfort room in Celzone Lodge, Olongapo City. 

Days after, the PNP named Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton as a suspect in Laude’s killing. Her death was identified as a hate crime. In December, Olongapo prosecutors charged Pemberton with murder. He was found “guilty beyond reasonable doubt” of homicide in Laude’s death and eventually sentenced to 10 years in jail.

Laude’s story sparked a political uprising all over the world, with many protests over US imperialism and targeted hate towards minorities such as transgender individuals.

However, justice proved difficult to obtain. On September 13, 2020, Joseph Scott Pemberton was deported from the Philippines. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte pardoned Pemberton, 6 years after he was convicted of murdering Laude.

Call Her Ganda, an award-winning and politically charged human rights documentary from award-winning director PJ Raval, explored the uprising that began with Laude’s death and the quest for justice that has defined it. 

NANAY. Julita Laude, Jennifer's mother, is photographed by journalist Meredith Talusan

The 2018 documentary follows three women intimately involved in the case. These women are activist attorney Virgie Suarez, who is working to reveal the truth of Jennifer’s death from inside the courtroom, transgender journalist Meredith Talusan, a writer for VICE, The Guardian and Buzzfeed determined to bring this issue to an international audience, and Jennifer’s mother Julita “Nanay” Laude, who finds herself in the center of a political uprising. 

Call Her Ganda chronicles not just the pursuit of justice for the murder of Laude but also a political uprising in the Philippines. It also recounts the history of U.S. imperialism in the country. 

After making the rounds in various international festivals, Raval’s documentary will be available for Filipino viewers on Vivamax – Viva’s new streaming platform – starting February 12. 

To help you fully understand everything that will be shown in the documentary, we have compiled various supplementary materials which could help contextualize things:

TIMELINE: The killing of Jennifer Laude and release of Joseph Scott Pemberton

This article can help you visualize the timeline of events in Laude’s case. It lays out the important dates as well as major developments in the case, including court rulings. 

Remembering 'Ganda': The tragedy of Jennifer Laude

In this article, Rappler talks to Laude’s family and friends. It allows readers to get a glimpse of ‘Ganda,’ the woman Jennifer was before she was murdered. 

“Her friends said Laude deserved more from people who did not know her. She would often cheer up her friends just by her expressions and mannerisms. Whenever someone would greet her, Labrador said Laude would automatically strike a pose, to the delight of her friends.”

6 years after killing Jennifer Laude, US soldier Pemberton now a free man

This 2020 article summarizes the most recent developments in the Laude case. It also includes an analysis of the possible reasons for the presidential pardon.

“Roque, who again found himself speaking on presidential actions that go against his previous principles as an erstwhile human rights lawyer, told media his "guess" is that the pardon was in exchange for securing US coronavirus vaccine for the Philippines, if one is successfully developed.”

VIGIL. Jennifer's family and friends hold a candle vigil

[PODCAST] KRIMINAL: Where is justice for Jennifer Laude?

In the third episode of Rappler’s crime podcast, police reporter Rambo Talabong traces the history of Jennifer Laude’s case – from ‘Ganda’ to Pemberton’s absolute pardon granted by President Duterte.

“Forgiveness for her killer didn't come from her own family. It came from the President.”

Rappler Talk: Why Jennifer Laude's killing is a hate crime against Filipinos

This episode of Rappler Talk is centered around an oft-ignored aspect of Jennifer Laude’s case – that it was a hate crime against a transgender woman.

“In this Rappler Talk, Rappler's Rambo Talabong speaks with University of the Philippines - Diliman Assistant Professor of Sociology John Andrew "Andoy" Evangelista to discuss how the victim-blaming mentality is transphobic, and how it also undermines the rights of all Filipinos.”

#JusticeforJenniferLaude: Filipinos decry pardon for US soldier Pemberton

With Pemberton’s recent pardon, Filipinos continue the years-long call for justice. In this article, we go over the sentiments of various Filipinos. 

“Filipinos online lambasted President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to grant "absolute pardon" to United States Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton, as announced by Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr on Monday, September 7.”

This 2018 documentary remains relevant even until this day. Are you ready to rediscover Jennifer’s story? Catch PJ Raval’s acclaimed documentary Call Her Ganda on Vivamax. – Rappler.com

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