“Quezon’s Game”: Revisiting Philippine history during the holocaust

By: Hemmady S. Mora

It is quite strange that a lot of Filipinos are not aware of their country’s act of saving Jewish refugees during the Holocaust. Admittedly, they have not heard about this story from their history teachers.

“From the bottom of my heart, in behalf of my people, I thank the Philippines for saving my people…during a time when other nations said no, your nation opened up for us,” former Israeli Military Major Amir Tsrafati emphatically pronounced in a University Symposium last January 2017.

Speaking in front of six hundred students and faculty at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Amir made mention of a special movie. “When Oscar Schindler saved some Jews during the Holocaust, a movie was dedicated to him. Your country during the time of Quezon saved more, so there should be a movie about you too,” he stressed.

Amir’s prophetic pronouncement came into fruition when “Quezon’s Game” a film created to commemorate the role of the late President Manuel Quezon and the Philippines during the holocaust got worldwide recognition after it bagged four awards at the WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival last April.

“Quezon’s Game” which was a joint venture production of Star Cinema, ABS-CBN’s streaming service iWant, and Kinetek Productions, won the Best Foreign Movie trophy along with three Gold Remi Awards for Best Art Design, Best Producers for ABS-CBN president and CEO Carlo Katigbak, Star Cinema managing director Olivia Lamasan, iWant originals production head Linggit Tan-Marasigan, and Lorena Rosen, and Best Director for Matthew Rosen, an award-winning TV commercial and music video director and pioneer in the data post-production field.

Just last January, it also garnered 12 awards from the Cinema World Fest Awards in Ottawa, Canada, including Awards of Excellence for its lead actor Raymond Bagatsing, who portrayed Quezon and Rachel Alejandro who played his wife, Aurora. In February, it also received six awards at the IndieFEST Film Awards in California, US.

A must-see film inspired by true events just like the world-renowned “Schindler’s List,” our very own “Quezon’s Game” tells the story of heroism in 1938
when Quezon joined future US president Dwight Eisenhower and other notable figures to rescue Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria that were turned down by other countries. Amidst his own battle against tuberculosis, Quezon sought the support of the Filipino people and saved around 1,200 refugees.

The film culminates with Quezon’s final question addressed to his wife, “Could I have done more?”   Undoubtedly, Quezon has done all. He has exhausted all his means to help a race that was close to our hearts.

May this film continue to inspire every Filipino to do what is right given the odds and unfavorable circumstances.

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