Actor Rachel Weisz is reportedly “deeply concerned” with poverty in the Philippines after presumably seeing — and experiencing — the renowned banal impoverishment that blankets much of the country. Weisz is currently in the Philippines for on-location shoots for the film Bourne Legacy together with co-stars Jeremy Renner and Edward Norton.
In an interview with ANC, [theatre actor John Arcilla] said he had a conversation with Weisz, who was deeply concerned with what she had observed in the country.
â€œEvery break [I have conversations with] Rachel and sheâ€™s more concerned with the poverty in the Philippines. Sheâ€™s asking if the people in the squatters area on the side are just numbers of poor people in the Philippines or are there more. [I did not hesitate to tell her that there are] a lot… and [she asked] are these the poorest[?] [and] I said no theyâ€™re not the poorest,â€ Arcilla related.
[English translations and punctuation inserted by author for improved clarity]
This reality check from the A-List global celebrity comes as an entire nation remains catatonically transfixed upon a political circus raging in the halls of the Philippine Senate as a team of Congressmen struggle to make good on an order from Philippine President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to oust Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona. This circus, which could take many months and consume an immense amount of state resources to resolve, is widely regarded to be the centrepiece of a strategy being executed by the Second Aquino Administration to secure the hold of the Aquino-Cojuangco feudal clan over the vast Hacienda Luisita estate which is due to be subject to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program in 2014.
This focus on family and clan agendas and vendettas is seen to be an indulgent distraction the Philippines can hardly afford as the Aquino administration struggles to exhibit any real headway around the re-invigoration of the Philippine economy which seems to still be surfing a wave of measures put in place under the previous administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo…
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Noynoy Aquino is President not, as he would like to think, by the grace of God, but by the grace of the big business interests of this country who are doing rather well as he dithers away harmlessly in MalacaÃ±ang. Although the overall economy under Aquinoâ€™s distracted watch has steadily declined to embarrassing levels, there is a rather surprising aspect of stability to it that, if cultivated or at least left alone, might actually result in something resembling economic progress…
Interestingly, Weisz once played the role of the philosopher Hypatia in the film Agora which is a dramatisation of how a band of early Christian zealots, crazed by their fundamentalist ideals, came to overrun and destroy the fabled Library of Alexandria where much of the documentation surrounding the fledgling scientific inquiry and achievement of antiquity was kept.
Allusions to the behaviour of modern-day Taliban liberally pepper the film in the way it portrays the ignorance of early Christian converts and how their charismatic leaders and clerics exploited this ignorance to incite bloodlust in mobs of these converts to carry out their own political agendas and murder political opponents. A key theme of the film is the arbitrary manner with which clerics interpret scripture to make their edicts orbit above the reach of critical evaluation render them immune to negotiation.
The character Weisz reprises in Agora embodies the sort of minority modern-day thinking that is up against the majority sensibility that built the underlying structural socio-cultural dysfunction of the Philippine nation — a country whose population increased to numbers that now vastly outstrip its inherent capabilities to produce. To get a grip over her concern over a condition that is likely to be beyond the reach of any immediate (much less sloganeered) solution offered by any politician of the conventional mold, Weisz just needs to look back to one of the seminal roles of her brilliant career.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.