By Roy Mabasa
A select audience in Washington, D.C. got the chance to screen a movie about the life and martyrdom of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos, a Filipino patriot who was executed by the Japanese Army at the height of World War II for refusing to pledge allegiance to the occupying Japanese forces.
Produced by the Philippine World War II Memorial Foundation, the film “HONOR: The Legacy of Jose Abad Santos” was presented by the Philippine Embassy’s Sentro Rizal, in cooperation with the Philippine World War II Memorial Foundation last September 20 at the Embassy’s Chancery Annex in the United States capital.
The story is weaved together through interviews with descendants, World War II Philippine historians, official documents, and excerpts from articles written by the former Chief Justice’s son, Pepito, who was with his father through his last days.
Film executive producers Mario Benipayo and Desiree Ann Cua Benipayo, travelled all the way from Manila to showcase the film to a choice audience in Washington D.C. Ms. Benipayo is the author of the book with the same title.
In her remarks prior to the screening, Ms. Benipayo described Abad Santos as “one of the greatest heroes of World War II” noting that the former magistrate’s name remains ambiguous to many.
She stressed that Abad Santos was the highest government official executed by the Japanese and ‘yet his death, heroic in all aspects, never received full honors.”
“In screening this film, it is our foundation’s humble desire to pay tribute to the memory of this erudite patriot by lifting his name out of obscurity, and to bring his heroism back to the national consciousness of our people where he deserves to be,” she added.
The film screening was immediately followed by an engaging discussion between the audience and the producers and a simple Filipino reception to cap the night.
The Philippine World War II Memorial Foundation is a non-profit organization that aims to initiate, develop, and carry out projects and activities that will educate and enlighten the Filipino people, especially the youth about the Philippine World War II history.