The Philippine American War

Hello Friends!
Through the magic of Facebook, I saw that filmmaker Marissa Aroy (the genius behind the documentary, Delano Manongs) is working on a new film with Niall McKay. The new project is titled, The Philippine American War: America’s Bloody Empire. For those of you who don’t know much about the Philippine American War, blame history books… and the colonialism… and the patriarchy… and the haole supremacy… and… and… and…

To help get this film underway, I urge you to donate to their fundraising efforts. As you all know, independent filmmaking is difficult because the production costs can be insurmountable. However, it’s also important that the funding remains grassroots because it helps maintain the integrity of the film. To donate to Aroy and McKay’s film, please go here or here. Donate as much as you can, when you can.

Here’s a message from the filmmakers:

We’re raising funds for the Philippine American war documentary by Marissa Aroy and Niall McKay. Your donation will be tax-deductible and will go towards the research and development and production of the film.

We’ve got a lot of archival research to do and have our Filipino and Filipino American academics to help advise, support and research with us.

Screen America Inc is the non-profit started by Marissa Aroy and Niall McKay. Screen America Inc Showcases And Supports Films And Filmmakers From Immigrant Communities Providing Them With A Platform And Network In The United States.

As an educator, I’m ecstatic to hear about this project because (1) Marissa Aroy is 100% phenomenal (I should know. I met her this past spring at a conference and I’m still starstruck. That is why there is no photographic proof of that meeting. You’ll have to simply trust that I met Marissa and likely acted like a blundering fool because that’s how I do in the presence of greatness.) (2) I’m glad to see something about the forgotten Philippine American War that’s not Savage Acts. (To clarify, Savage Acts was life-changing for me. It’s what helped inform the beginnings of what would be my dissertation. Sadly, EVERYONE in Ethnic Studies uses it. After a while, you kinda crave for more stuff. If films about the Philippine American War were treated like films about Steve Jobs, I’d be happy.)

Again, please donate. If you have any questions about the film, please direct them to the filmmakers.

Maraming Salamat,
Joanne L. Rondilla, Ph.D.
South San Francisco, CA


The Tiger Hunter

Recently, the Huz and I caught the short run of The Tiger Hunter, a film directed by Lena Khan. (For an article about Khan and making The Tiger Hunter, go here. For those of you who don’t already know, I watch a lot of film – especially smaller, independent films. I believe that if you want to see more diversity in Hollywood and popular media, then you have to do your best to support media that reflects those sensibilities. I was struck by her take on an immigrant story set in the late 1970s/early 1980s. The story was inspired by her father’s story, and Khan set out to create a film where the main character is Muslim. That she is one of a small handful of Muslim women filmmakers, makes this film a definite accomplishment. It seems the film’s theater distribution is limited, so please check out their Facebook page for screening information.

I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will say that the cast that includes Dani Purdi, Rizwan Manji, Jon Heder, and Karen David, is amazing. The story is very heartening, and serves as a reminder of the optimism one carries and humanizes the hardships that many experience upon immigrating to the U.S. Though we disagree on the film’s ending, the Huz and I were glad to have made our way to San Francisco to watch this. I do wish that it had a broader distribution. If there is a screening near you, please be sure to buy your tickets and check this out!

Maraming Salamat,
Joanne L. Rondilla, Ph.D.
South San Francisco, CA


Last night, my husband and I had the pleasure of watching Justin Chon’s latest film, Gook. An independent film that is currently screening in smaller theaters across the country, Gook takes place during the first day of the 1992 L.A. riots. Since 2017 marks the twenty five year anniversary of the riots, Gook is an important, timely film that centers on a young girl, Kamilla, and her friendship with two Korean American brothers, Eli and Daniel.

As an Ethnic Studies scholar, inter-ethnic and inter-racial conversations are very important to me. When the riots happened, I was in high school. The images of the burning buildings, the Korean shop owners protecting their stores with guns, the violence, and looting still burn in my memory. Other than shock and odd fascination, I cannot recall any substantive reactions from my sixteen year-old self. I sort of knew about Korean/Black racial tensions at the time. It would be years until I would be in grad school and re-visit the riots and what they continue to mean to the country’s history of race relations.

This post is not meant to be a film review. Rather, I’d like to simply urge you to watch it at your local theater. Justin Chon does a great job at capturing the relationship between these characters, and how their interactions are reflected in the larger backdrop of the riots and race relations in Los Angeles. (Confession: After seeing Chon’s directorial debut in Man Up, I had serious doubts about Gook. Luckily, reading various reviews helped me overcome those ill feelings.) Simone Baker, the film’s lead, is fantastic as Kamilla. David So, who is most notable for his comedy, also treats us to a commanding and touching performance. For your reference, feel free to peruse the videos below for more on Gook.

Maraming Salamat,
Joanne L. Rondilla, Ph.D.
South San Francisco, CA

Gook Trailer

Justin Chon Interview on BUILD Series

Justin Chon Interview on Kore Asian Media

Gook Cast Interview

the last dragon

This weekend, everyone is going crazy watching this:

Personally, I’m waiting for the hype to die down (and for the time to re-visit the original series). Though I will not be watching The Force, I will be watching something that has to do with The Glow:

Don’t judge. I’m well aware that The Last Dragon is one of those awesomely bad 80s movies. You either love it or you don’t. Well guess what side of the street I’m standing on. The Manpanion managed to grab some tickets to a 30th anniversary screening and Q&A event featuring W. Kamau Bell and Taimak. We can’t wait! (Yes, I’ll post a full report later.)

Maraming Salamat (Many Thanks),

Joanne L. Rondilla, Ph.D.

South San Francisco, CA