A trans gendered Filipina was murdered by an uniformed American serviceman, and that is the back bone of P J Raval’s documentary ‘Call Her Ganda,’ (Call Her Beautiful) Filipinos have this love-hate relationship with the LGBT community – gays dominate society and their popular culture, yet the religious upbringing of most countrymen shuns them. They tolerate them but have a ‘not in my backyard’ policy towards them. In 2014, Jennifer Laude was murdered at a motel by a uniformed American, and it sparked a case that interested the people. At the center of it is the country’s ‘Visiting Forces Agreement,’ which protects American personnel accused of crimes, wherein they still fall under the jurisdiction of the American military. The documentary goes into the case specifically, up to its conclusion – wherein Joseph Pemberton, the American accused is found guilty of homicide (a reduced sentence) There was notion that he would be coddled by the American military, and that seems to be the case, as he got special treatment instead of going to the local jail.
It’s an interesting case, and obviously struck a chord with me as it happened in Olongapo City, which is where my family used to have a business. It also shows how Americans still try to bull doze their way into other countries by influence (Can you imagine if this happened in Singapore with their strict laws?) The documentary is a bit thin, and I wish had dug deeper into Jennifer’s life, as they had access to her family. But this was a very interesting watch.