Peque Gallaga on Erik Matti's claims

MANILA, Philippines - Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP) president Peque Gallaga and “Transit” producer Paul Soriano reacted to "On the Job" ("OTJ") director Erik Matti’s remarks in the wake of an FAP committee's selecting "Transit" to be fielded in the 2014 Oscars.

The 8-member committee convenes annually to select a film for consideration in the Foreign-Language Film Category of Hollywood's Academy Awards. 

In an interview with ABS-CBN, Gallaga said he was insulted by Matti's claims. The veteran director of "Oro Plata Mata" and "Scorpio Nights" said he was never swayed by political influence.

“‘Transit’ was ahead from the very beginning. There will always be winners and losers, okay lang to be very disappointed pero walang pikunan [but let's not be too sensitive]. Who does he think he is, the savior of the industry?” Gallaga told ABS-CBN.

According to a report by the Inquirer, the FAP chose Hannah Espia's "Transit" for its portrayal of the Filipino struggle and culture.

“We had two sessions of deliberation. The biggest consideration was technical mastery," Gallaga explained.

"One shows the Philippines as an ethnic entity ['Thy Womb']. The second ['OTJ'] shows the underbelly of our criminal and political system. ‘Transit’ is about us as a people struggling to make a living, about the love and the sacrifices we make for the people we care about."

"Obviously, the committee felt that the projection we make in ‘Transit’ is how we want the world to see us as Filipinos. It was very strong; it got a 5-2 vote,” he said.

Meanwhile, "Transit" producer Paul Soriano, himself an acclaimed filmmaker, told ABS-CBN that he holds no grudge against Matti and only hopes to receive support from the whole film industry.

"I think ‘Transit’ is bigger than a film. It’s now representing the Philippines. My prayer is that everyone in the film industry can come together and support ‘Transit’ to achieve the impossible ...which is to make it the first Oscar nomination and the first Oscar win," he said. 

Soriano is part of preparations for the film's US release. -