Philippinen: Marilou Diaz-Abaya

Filmmakers can move towards an advocacy for the redemption of human dignity. It is their privilege to reverse the current culture of despair to a culture of hope.

— Marilou Diaz-Abaya

Marilou Diaz-Abaya (born 1955), the most awarded Filipino woman filmmaker, says that movies should not only entertain but should compel the audience to re-examine their own beliefs and value systems as they grapple with the truths magnified onscreen. Despite the limitations on free expression imposed by martial law and the commercial demands of movie-making, she has, since 1980, managed to make films that tackle controversial issues like domestic violence, migration, child labor, the justice system, marine destruction, nationalism, and lately, the Muslim conflict in Southern Philippines.

Marilou Diaz-Abaya’s film opus, "Bagong Buwan" (New Moon) sheds light on a difficult subject and could help Christian Filipinos finally understand the roots of the long-running Muslim conflict in the south. By showing how war continues to displace lives that could be their own, and how war perpetuates itself on succeeding generations, Marilou says she hopes that the movie could become "an instrument of peace instead of being an end in itself." Months of research, interaction with Muslim communities and filmmaking inside a war zone converted Marilou, a Christian, into an active peace advocate. She commutes regularly between Manila, where she teaches film, and the Muslim south, where she works with Mothers for Peace, a group that champions the role of women as peacemakers. To keep herself grounded on the issue and to contribute insights on how Christians and Muslims can work together, she has become a frequent speaker and resource person in various peace fora in Mindanao. She also organized Activists for Peace, which invites performers, visual artists and academicians to exchange messages of peace and dialogues of culture. She later became involved with the Silsilah Peace Institute that trains workers in the skills of peacemaking and in interfaith dialogue. In the past 25 years, Marilou Diaz-Abaya has made 21 movies, "2/3 of them flops," she says. She has used her extensive experience in public affairs television to help local communities to develop their own alternative media and sources of entertainment and information. "We must work to make media a balancing factor," she says. "It is important to equalize access to information because those who control the media practically control all civilization."

Mothers for Peace Activists for Peace