On August 3, 2014, I was a guest at the TV show "Philippines Uncut" with Buddy Cunanan on Global News Network or GNN on Ch 213 (Sky), Ch 8 (Destiny), Ch 1(GSAT), 9 p.m. The topic was "Understanding the Israel – Palestine Conflict"
In 2006, the USAID gave a grant to the ABS-CBN Foundation to do a 10-episode TV series that promote peace between Muslims and Christians. The project was done in cooperation with the Department of Education. Aside from the TV product, a set of manuals were prepared for pupils and teachers. Grade school pupils in the public schools were / are required to watch the show, which was / is aired through cable, the Knowledge Channel. I am not sure if it is still being shown, but it has been shown for years.
The TV project had good production values, good actors, a very good director and a very nice script. Although I appeared in a cameo as an imam or Muslim religious person, my main participation was in the Script Committee.
I was invited to join the Committee just before the shooting started. At first, I declined because remuneration offered was not up to par with international standards although above local standards. But the Executive Producer was quite persuasive. It seemed like the idea of hiring of a Muslim script consultant came only as an afterthought. They did not think it was that important. I guess afterwards, everyone agreed that a knowledgeable Muslim consultant was necessary to the project.
When I read the script for Episode 2, I was quite shocked. It looked more like a script to promote hatred and division rather than peace. There are so many cultural nuances that other parties are quite unaware of. With almost 450 years of adversarial relationship, the Muslims and Christians in the Philippines could not be expected to know much about each other except through stereotypes.
There are many films and TV shows that purport to bring peace and understanding between the communities but end up in controversy. The big-budget films like Perlas ng Silangan and Juramentado are cases in point. The presence of a knowledgeable Muslim consultant could make or break a Muslim-Christian Peace Project. The TV series was titled SALAM, which means Peace. The project was so good such that it was shown for years. I won't be surprised if it is still being shown, although it is high time for another project. The kid actors in the show are now adults.
Below is an article I wrote in my magazine column about this rather successful Peace Project.
Jamal Ashley Abbas is a world-class freelance writer, He does journalistic, technical (business and scientific) and academic writing.