“El Filibusterismo” is the second novel written by José Rizal, whom my people, the Filipinos, commend as their greatest hero. But along with his first novel “Noli Me Tangere”, “El Fili” contains scenes that are normally offensive to the Catholic faith, such as negative portrayal of the clergy (although the character Padre Florentino, a native priest, is one of the good guys) and suicide (both by Juli and Simoun).
Since 1956, the two novels are required reading in high school (“Noli” in 3rd Year, “El Fili” in 4th Year) and are topics that are part of the Rizal course in college, all because of Republic Act 1425.
In the early 1960s, National Artist Gerardo de Leon made film adaptations of the novels, both garnering FAMAS awards for Best Picture and Best Director.
Most Filipinos nowadays prefer Hollywood blockbusters and locally-produced romantic comedies rather than stage shows.
Suppose I want to adapt “El Filibusterismo” to mainstream cinema once again. Here are the obstacles I must face:
*]Negative portrayal of the Catholic Church = several friars are treated as enemy characters, and one of them has the name of an Italian criminal organization. I would afford to have their counterparts in my project as lay people; otherwise, I would be excommunicated as per Canon Law. In my country, excommunication is a big deal for me because I would be declared “persona non grata” the same way as Dr. Hayden Kho.
*]The setting = period films in the Philippines are hard to produce these days. Some of the colonial-era buildings around Luzon were replaced by newer-looking ones after World War II. Since “El Fili” is set in the future (by Rizal’s time), I can afford to make an Ultimate Marvel-esque extension of Rizal’s fictional universe to not worry about procuring antiques and to revamp the backstories of Rizal’s characters to fit with present-day situations.
What would be your advice if I would not risk being excommunicated and/or “boycotted” by the local film industry?