The evening of October 2nd, 2023 was no ordinary movie night. It was a celebration of Filipino culture, history, and community spirit. The AMC Westgate theater was alive with excitement as the Arizona Filipino community gathered to witness the premiere of “1521: The Quest for Love and Freedom.”
The film, set against the backdrop of the epic Battle of Mactan, tells a riveting love story between a native princess and a Spanish soldier. It beautifully interweaves the historical significance of figures like Lapu Lapu and Rajah Humabon, reminding us of the rich tapestry of Filipino history. Such historical narratives, often used in global cinema, have rarely spotlighted the Philippines. This film changes that narrative, placing the Philippines on the global stage.
Francis Ho, the executive producer, expressed his gratitude to the Arizona Filipino community in a heartfelt video message. He emphasized the importance of supporting Filipino filmmakers to ensure their stories are heard. His words resonated with many, including Marie Cunning, International Director of the Lions Club and NaFFAA Board of Trustees member who echoed the sentiment of portraying Filipinos in a positive light, breaking away from typical western portrayals.
The event was a significant occasion for the Filipino American community in Arizona. The Filipino American Business Chamber of Commerce of Arizona (FABCCA) and multiple Lions Clubs collaborated to make this event a success, with proceeds supporting medical missions in the Philippines. Learn more about this celebration
Feedback from attendees was overwhelmingly positive. Many appreciated the film’s portrayal of Filipino history, while others enjoyed the unexpected plot twists. Jerry P. Weiers, Mayor – City of Glendale, praised the film for shedding light on the true essence of history and highlighting the spirit of the Filipino people.
As a father to three Filipino American children, I found the film to be a unique cultural experience. It sparked conversations in our household about Filipino history, a clear indicator of the film’s true impact. My children, usually glued to their devices, were engrossed throughout, a rarity in today’s digital age.
As Filipino American History Month continues, I wish the community all the best in their celebrations. The premiere of “1521” has deepened my appreciation for Filipino culture, and I hope many more will have the opportunity to experience and cherish the rich heritage and stories the community has to offer.
About the Author
Michael is joined at the hip with the Filipino American community through family, friends, and his love for the food. Over the past 15 years+, he has been an active "behind the scenes" contributor to a variety of Filipino community groups, events, and activities. Michael is also ringleader of the FilAm FamBam crew and in his free time enjoys RV'ing and anything tech.