HISTORY features Manila as a hidden city

by Nickie Wang

An hour-long special on the Philippines will be featured on History’s flagship original production, Hidden Cities. In this episode, the team spearheaded by American-Burmese Anthony Morse, visited the Philippines and discovered stories and places that according to the host “may not even be familiar to locals.”

In Morse’s two-week visit, his crew headed to the Malacañang Palace and was able to meet former first lady Imelda Marcos. According to Morse, the interview with the imeldific widow of the late strong man Ferdinand Marcos was just accidental.

“Our focus was on the Malacañang but during our shoot our local fixer asked us if we’re interested to hear Imelda’s side of the story so we said yes. At the end of our shoot day we had a confirmation that she agreed to meet us for an interview,” said Morse.

The 31-year-old host furthered that he feels honored to have met the person he considers as the first icon he had interviewed and featured on the series.

“She is a gracious lady and like as you all know a very great storyteller. The interview was quite difficult for me because even with one simple question she can launch a long answer and tell stories that are no longer related to the question,” he beamed.

The feature on the Presidential Palace revisits a notable part of the Philippines history with Imelda Marcos sharing her insights on the People Power Revolution. Imelda discusses her views on how the uprising that ousted her husband has affected her family and the perception of the people of their entire clan.

“The nature of Hidden Cities is not to spark controversy, we allow people to express their point of view. We are trying to make it educational and make the viewers see what is out there. We use the show as a springboard to stir the curiosity of the viewers,” Morse clarified.

Apart from revisiting a notable part of the Philippine history, Morse will walk the viewers through a rare insider’s look of some of the country’s forgotten treasures including their exploration in Corregidor that became a flashpoint during the World War II and the walled city of Intramuros focusing how the city became the center of Spanish rule for over 350 years.

Morse elaborated that apart from unearthing stories in the past, the program also talks about what is happening in the present. For example, while discussing the extensive damage done by the World War II in Intramuros, the program also highlights what have been done to restore the walled city and talks about what are still needed to be restored.

After their shoot in Manila, Morse and his crew went up north to the Mountain Province and visited the area inhabited by Kalinga tribe and discovered how this aboriginal tribe keeps an ancient ritual alive. Then they headed to Palawan and experience the most affecting story that made a “great impact” on him, the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, which is also known as the prison with invisible walls.

“Crime is a universal issue and there are so many lessons that the world can learn from Iwahig correctional facility. It’s a wonderful approach to a correctional facility, I mean how the Iwahig reforms these people and integrates them back to the society,” he explained.

The feature on the Iwahig Correctional will only run for 10 minutes but Morse assured that it’s enough to pick the curiosity of the viewers. The special feature will premiere on Jan. 4 at 9 p.m. on History channel.

Other hidden gems 

One of the main objectives of Hidden Cities is to explore well-known destinations and uncover lesser known stories.

With the help of local experts that include writers, historians, archeologists and scientists, presenter Anthony Morse attempts t investigate and reveal tales that have been hidden for so long.

Premiering on Nov. 23, the Hidden Cities returns with eight episodes featuring eight countries across Asia covering Singapore’s mysterious past, Malaysia’s untouched frontiers, Thailand’s temple relics, Vietnam’s great fascination with the mythical golden turle, Indonesia’s dark past and China’s tale of ancient imperial musicians who faced beheading if the notes they played were out of tune.

Biggest local movies 

As of press time No Other Woman starring Anne Curtis, Derek Ramsay and Cristine Reyes is the highest-grossing local films. Its five weeks cumulative gross revenue is more than P276 million.

Most legitimate reviews about the Star Cinema and Viva Films co-production put the romantic drama as an ordinary tale of love and adultery. The film is not the best local movie that delves on the same adult issue but was able to break box office record mainly because of its main characters. Similarly, another Star Cinema and Viva Films co-production is on its way to equal the amount of movie tickets sold by No Other Woman not because of its quality as a film but due to the popularity of its leading star.

Praybeyt Benjamin, or The Unkabogable Praybeyt Benjamin as how the producers put it, has earned P270 million in just two weeks. According to third party tabulator and a subsdiary of Internet Movie Database, as of Nov. 6, the comedy film is the biggest local movie in on its way to breach the P300-million-mark that no other local movie has ever done.

Given the monumental success of a movie that does not spell creativity, originality and brilliance in filmmaking, it is alarming how Filipino moviegoers have lowered their standard in terms of big screen entertainment. Although the term best film is totally subjective, Praybeyt Benjamin cannot be called as such.

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