Producer shrugs off poor response to Pedro Calungsod movie
Low sales and indifferent reviews greet movie's release
Actor Rocco Nacino plays Pedro Calungsod, the young Visayan catechist who was martyred in the 1600s. (Picture by Don Gordon Bell)
Despite a disappointing opening night for a movie on the life of Filipino saint Pedro Calungsod, Church groups said the film is "an effective tool of new evangelization."
Although there were no figures given, organizers of the Metro Manila Film Festival said “Pedro Calungsod The Child Martyr” trailed in earnings compared to the other movies on the opening day.
Early reviews have varied between lukewarm and scathing, with one critic dismissing it as "a sermon best saved for church."
“We feel like we are David among the Goliaths," said Ida Tiongson, one of the movie’s producers. Tiongson told reporters during a forum last week that the movie's producers are not afraid of losing in the box office because they have a "goal in mind," that is "to help evangelize the Philippines.
"The movie visualizes the books, stories and information into this media format called film," she said, adding that to date only a small percentage of the population are aware of Calungsod’s life and adventures.
"When there’s a message you feel that you have to do, then you just have to do it," she said.
"With all sincerity, blockbuster ticket sales sound good and awards certainly would be appreciated. But truly if we can change and inspire even one child to be closer to God, that is more than success."
She said the aim of the movie is to spread the message of goodness, adding that the best way to help in the church's evangelization is through the media.
The Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines, the organization of Catholic schools in the country, lauded efforts to bring the Filipino saint closer to young people through the movie.
Narciso Erguiza Jr., association president, urged school administrators, teachers and students to watch the film.
"We hope that Pedro Calungsod will be an inspiration for the Filipino people with the message that we can reach sainthood through our everyday lives," he said.
The movie depicts the life of Calungsod, who left the central Philippines island of Visayas with Spanish Jesuit priest Diego de San Vitores for a mission to the Marianas Islands, now Guam, in 1668.
The missionaries arrived in the Marianas where the young Pedro, a trained catechist and mission assistant, worked for San Vitores and helped in baptizing the islands’ inhabitants.
Despite the threats to their lives, Calungsod and San Vitores continued their missionary work, roaming the islands and preaching the Gospel.
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