A FILM about the life of General Miguel Malvar, the last general of the First Philippine Republic to surrendered to the American forces during the Philippine-American War, is facing opposition from the late general’s family with a great-grandson saying that they were not consulted regarding the biopic and that they initially thought the film was “fake news.”

“I have been receiving messages from friends with links to online articles asking if the General Malvar movie featuring Senator Pacquiao were true. Like everyone else, I thought it was fake news. It was only after I had seen videos about the formal launch that I realized it was factual. I only found out about it like everyone else, through media,” Gabriel Malvar, a great-grandson of General Malvar, said in a Facebook post on Oct. 13.

Mr. Malvar said that had the family been consulted, ideally the issues about the film would have been handled privately, but since it wasn’t he had no choice but to respond publicly as well.

The film — described as the “biggest-ever film produced in the history of Philippine cinema” according to the film’s poster — stars boxer and Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao as General Malvar and is scheduled to be released on 2020. The film being produced by JMV Film Productions, headed by Jose Malvar Villegas, Jr. The film will be directed by Jose “Kaka” Balagtas with a screenplay by Ed Samson.

“Apparently, a relative had unilaterally decided that he would enter into an agreement with outside parties to produce the Malvar film without the express consent of the entire clan. This caught us by surprise,” Mr. Malvar continued.

He explained that while his great-grandfather’s legacy is one “that deserves to be communicated well to as many as people as possible,” he would have preferred “someone not involved in politics or in public service to portray him” as General Malvar, after surrendering in 1902, refused to have anything to do with politics and declined the position of Governor of Batangas and an offer to serve as the head of the Philippine Constabulary.

General Malvar was born in Santo Tomas, Batangas in 1865. During the Filipino-American War, he was appointed brigadier general and had successive engagements with the American forces in Muntinglupa, San Pedro, Tunasan, Kalamba, and Kabuyaw. He also defended for a time the towns of Pagsanjan, Pila, and Santa Cruz in Laguna.

After President Emilio Aguinaldo was captured in Palanan, Isabela in 1901, and the subsequent surrender of Generals Mariano Trias and Manuel Tinio, General Malvar assumed control of the revolutionary forces in the South. In 1902 he surrendered with all his men to General James F. Bell due to a lack of ammunition and exhaustion.

The Presidential Museum and Library noted in an article on General Malvar that the surrender was “in a way due to the supplication of his wife (Paula Maloles).”

“The good senator’s story is very remarkable. Senator Manny Pacquiao’s rags-to-riches rise is a fairytale. He is an icon. A global brand. My fear is that he is larger than life and his character cannot be separated from Manny Pacquiao the person,” wrote Mr. Malvar in his post. “If he plays lolo Miguel, the viewers will not be able to see and appreciate my grandfather. Senator Pacquiao’s personality will dominate. That is not a knock on the senator. It is the truth. He is too big to be contained in any role for that matter. His essence will eventually prevail. And it would be disrespectful and a disservice to my great-grandfather if even in the movie about his life, he is not the center of the attention and is merely an afterthought with all the distractions.”

He explained that he would rather not have a film at all if it will not do Gen. Malvar justice. “As a direct descendant, I am a steward of this illustrious legacy. It is my duty to protect it and ensure that his reputation and what he stood for is not tainted. If I cannot add to it, then at the very least, I should make sure it is not diminished. Miguel Malvar deserves nothing less.”

In response, JMV Productions in a letter dated on Oct. 12 but posted on the Malvar Instagram page on Oct. 13, said that “the overwhelming acceptance and acclamation of the choice of Sen. Manny Pacquiao to play the major role in the movie MALVAR as Gen. Malvar is a [sic] proof that the public accept the fact that Sen. Manny Pacquiao, aside from being a senator, is also well-known in the Movie World [sic] as [a] consummate actor, as well as being a Boxing World Champion who is famous all over the world.”

The statement said that critics of the casting choice only “wants [sic] to twist the choice of Sen. Pacquiao as a political ploy,” and “do not do justice to the ability of Sen. Pacquiao as an actor.”

The same post also warned “bashers in multi-media” who have been sending “derogatory remarks against those involve[d] in the making of the movie” can be “subject[ed] to cybercrime offenses.”

“General Malvar’s life story and the value it holds in the Philippine [sic] history belongs to the people and cannot be monopolized by his immediate family as stated in the Heritage Law and anybody can write and do a movie on the national hero even without the consent and knowledge of his next of kin [sic],” the film’s producer, Mr. Villegas. said in a separate Instagram post on the same day. — Zsarlene B. Chua