Discusson Guide

Call Her Ganda: Discussion Guide

Discussion Prompt: Imperialism and Military

In 1946, the U.S. granted full independence to the Philippines, yet it has maintained a military presence on the islands since then through the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). In 1951, the two countries also put into place the Mutual Defense Treaty, in which both nations agreed to support each other if they are attacked. Some activists in the film demand the withdrawal of U.S. military presence from the Philippines. What are the pros and cons of reducing or withdrawing this presence?

“It would be unthinkable for a foreign soldier to commit murder in the U.S. and not be apprehended by U.S. police and not be tried by U.S. courts,” says Laude family attorney Roque. This is not the case in the Philippines, where Pemberton still remains under U.S. protection at a Philippine military facility. Why is it important to the Laude family and its allies that Pemberton’s case be overseen by the Philippine legal system and that he be incarcerated in a Filipino-run facility?

How might the Philippines change if the U.S. withdrew its military presence? In your opinion, can two countries maintain a close economic relationship without deploying their militaries on each other’s soil?

In 1967, during the Vietnam War, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a speech in which he warned of “the triple evils of racism, economic exploitation and militarism.” King saw American racism and militarism as two sides of the same coin. Does this quote resonate with you in the context of the Laude murder case in the Philippines? How do you think racism shapes American attitudes toward the military and U.S. interventions in foreign countries?

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