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‘Batang Quiapo’ issues apology over portrayal of Muslim characters
‘Batang Quiapo’ issues apology over portrayal of Muslim characters

'BATANG QUIAPO.' Rez Cortez portrays Muslim character Tikboy in the teleserye.

ABS-CBN Entertainment's YouTube

The teleserye comes under fire for showing Muslim characters with guns in its second episode

MANILA, Philippines – The team behind FPJ’s Batang Quiapo has apologized to the Muslim community over the portrayal of Muslim characters in the teleserye.

The show was called out by Lanao del Sur 1st District Representative Zia Alonto Adiong, who said in a Thursday, February 16 Facebook post that the show’s second episode showed “discriminatory, harmful, and derogatory portrayals of an entire community.”

In the episode, Coco Martin’s character Tanggol is shown running from the police and eventually escaping into the home of Tikboy, a Muslim character played by Rez Cortez. 

As Tanggol flees, Tikboy and other Muslim characters have guns at the ready, standing off with the police, who eventually back off. 

“In the episode, Muslim characters are depicted as harboring and condoning theft, under the pretext of using stolen goods to help others. Furthermore these same characters not only own guns, but have such a notorious reputation to police officers that the latter would give up the pursuit of a thief who has sought refuge with them,” Adiong said.

He noted that Islam considers theft a major sin, quoting a chapter 5 verse 38 of the Quran, stating that thieves must be punished. 

“We urge the creators of Batang Quiapo to reconsider the impact of their film and the message it sends to its viewers. In a time when the world is already grappling with hate speech and extremism, the last thing we need is a popular television show that adds fuel to the fire. We call upon them to take steps to ensure that such incidents do not happen in the future,” Adiong said.

The team behind Batang Quiapo responded to the criticisms by apologizing to their viewers, especially those who are Muslim, and saying they did not mean any negative portrayals of Muslim people. 

Nauunawaan namin ang mga nagpahayag ng opinyon at damdamin tungkol dito at sinisiguro namin na walang masamang intension ang programa na diskriminahin, saktan, o ilarawan ang ating mga kababayang Muslim sa negatibong paraan,” they said in a February 16 statement released on social media.

(We understand those who aired their opinions and feelings over this and assure you that the show has no intention to discriminate, hurt, or negatively depict our Muslim brothers and sisters.)

Nangangako rin kaming maging sensitibo sa paghahatid namin ng kwento ni Tanggol at ng kanyang komunidad sa teleserye,” they said.

(We promise to be sensitive in telling the story of Tanggol and his community in the teleserye.) 

Movie and Television Review and Classification Board Chairperson Lala Sotto-Antonio also issued a statement on the issue, saying that the agency is “currently working on institutionalizing television and motion picture guidelines/policies that are responsive to the cultural and religious sensitivities of Filipino Muslim viewers.”

She also said they would be issuing a notice to networks to ensure that their portrayal of Filipino Muslims “honor the culture, society, and special values of Islam and the Filipino Muslim community.”

Batang Quiapo is a TV adaptation of the 1986 action film starring Fernando Poe Jr. It tells the story of a criminal’s son who becomes notorious in his Quiapo neighborhood.

The series also stars Lovi Poe, Christopher de Leon, Cherry Pie Picache, John Estrada, Charo Santos, and Lito Lapid. It premiered on ABS-CBN on Monday, February 13. –

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