‘Plane’ of Hollywood’s Gerald Butler Calls Jolo ‘Lawless Town with No Government’

Would the provincial officials accept “Plane’s” characterization of the island? Is there a Tausug voice to be heard? Would be nice to hear also from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) stationed on the island of Sulu.

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(SDN) — I had the chance to watch Hollywood star Gerald Butler’s acion thriller movie titled “Plane”, and what struck me was the characterization of Jolo as having “no government and no police”.

Immediately, what came to my mind was the pejorative description which recalls the height of the brutal reign of the dreaded bandit Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) on the island of Sulu province. That led to the media dubbing Sulu as the “kidnapping capital” of the Philippines.

Which is not fair to the people of Sulu, because the ASG does not represent the Tausug people, nor do they represent the Moro communities. The ASG is just a group or groups, though they are surely many.

That was the time that included the ASG’s kidnapping in 2000 of 21 foreign tourists, mostly European, from Sipadan resort in Malaysia, the abduction of tourists in Dos Palmas in Palawan, Mindanao, among other many violent acts. Killing, beheading, bombing, all in the name of ransom money and terrorism. Even Filipinos were not spared from these atrocities. Indeed, the ASG kidnapped several Filipinos, even the ordinary working men and women.

Senator Robin ‘Abdul Aziz’ Padilla. He started the move to ban the movie ‘Plane’. (Photo: SDN — SciTech and Digital News)

At least the bandit group did not practice discrimination in their choice of victims — foreigners, locals, men, women, old, young. Rich, poor!

The ASG bandits are also said to have raped some of their female hostages.

Back to the movie. Butler is a pilot in the movie from the mind of Charles Cumming, screenplay by Charles Cummiing and J.P. Davis. It was directed by Jean-Francois Richet.

With Butler, the Captain Brodie Torrance of the ill-fated flight, included Mike Colter as Louis Gaspare, Chinese American actor Yoson An (the co-pilot), Evan Dane Taylor as Datu Junmar, the leader of the ASG-like group of armed bandits who also behead one of the plane’s passengers.

Taylor, according to IMDB.com, was born in Japan in 1986, out of the marriage of David Taylor, a retiree as intelligence officer from the United States Navy, and Susan Reyes Taylor, a health insurance broker, and first generation of Filipino American.

While Sulu is the setting, it was filmed or shot in faraway Puerto Rico, an American territory. You won’t see any sign or landmark that will identity the setting with Sulu, which is famous for the ASG. Only similarity is the forest where the damaged plane piloted by Butler crash-landed after it was hit by a lightning. Dreadful thought, a plane cruising 40,000 feet high in the sky hit by a lightning.

After the plane landed Captain Torrance and his co-pilot look at a map to try to determine where they are in some kind of a wilderness.

Part of their dialogue after a violent storm forced them to land:

Co-pilot: “Captain, this island here? (pointing to the map), Jolo? It’s very, very bad.”

Captain Torrance: What?

Co-pilot: “It’s run by separatists and criminals. There’s no government or police. It this is where we landed, we’re not safe.”

Captain Torrance: “Alright. We tell Bowie. But let’s keep this for ourselves for now.”

The movie earned over US$46 million worldwide. It has a budget of $26 million.

This movie poster is courtesy of and thanks to ‘Plane’. The movie’s distributor has pulled out it and will not be shown in local theaters. But if you are subscribed to a digital platform showing movies, you can still watch it.

For the movie’s portrayal of the Philippines, Senator Robinhood “Abdul Aziz” F. Padilla wanted it banned in the Philippines. He asked the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) to not show it in the Philippines. It was not known if what Padilla wanted was to ban it in movie theaters, or even in the digital platforms, like Netflix, and others.

I watched “Plane” on MovieBox Pro platform.

“Alam niyo po napakasakit lang po…Dito sa kanilang pelikula sinasabi ang ating awtoridad ay naduwag na sa mga rebelde, hindi na po sila umaaksyon at sinabi pa dito ‘they went down somewhere in the Jolo island cluster. It’s run by separatists and militias the Filipino armies were not there anymore,'” Padilla said, per GMA News Online. in a manifestation during Senate’s session on Wednesday.

(You know, it really hurt. In their movie they said our authorities turned coward against the rebels, they were no longer taking action.)

Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri had joined the Padilla, suggesting a Senate resolution condemning the movie.

But there are always two sides to a coin — gold coin or silver or bronze. Whatever.

In this case, the flip side of Padilla’s coin is the Directors’ Guild of the Philippines, Inc. (DGPI). They said banning “Plane” is “injurious to free expression”, as quoted by Interaksyon.com.

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