The 2001 film Bagong buwan (New Moon) was hailed as the first feature film to focus seriously on the long-standing conflict between the Philippine central government and Muslims in the southern Philippines, and the first to treat Muslim Filipinos (Moros) with sympathy and sensitivity. A heavily “pro-peace” rhetoric was deployed by the Christian Filipino director and producers during their promotion of the film. The article argues that, given the history of Moro disenfranchisement and oppression, the film and the pro-peace discourse surrounding it attempt to sublimate not only the legitimate claims of Moros for secession/separation from the Philippines but also the feminist critique of military sexual violations against Moro women. Yet despite the controlling pro-peace discourse, the film features a series of fractures and discontinuities in narrative and characterization that leave the viewer with a conflicted notion of what peace and reconciliation between Christian and Muslim Filipinos might look like. Using gendered tropes of family and women's bodies to stand in for the nation, the film attempts to interpellate Moros back into the nation through its pro-peace discourse, but the film ultimately does not disrupt the shift in government rhetoric that now brands Moros, previously perceived as “insurgents,” as terrorists in their own land. In the end, despite its purported desire to empower Moros and humanize them by making them seem just like other Filipinos, the film reinscribes a State-Christian normativity on which the “normalcy” of Philippine citizenship is based.
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Gladys Nubla; Managing the “Moro Problem”: Fractured Nation/Narration in Bagong Buwan. positions 1 May 2011; 19 (2): 393–420. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-1331769
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