MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – A lawmaker representing the 1st district of Agusan del Norte on Thursday, January 23, raised alarm over the “unrealistic” and “offensive” depiction of Butuan City in the pilot episode of ABS-CBN’s newest television soap opera, A Soldier’s Heart.
In a statement, Agusan del Norte 1st District Representative Lawrence Fortun called on ABS-CBN “to immediately air an appropriate disclaimer, review and reconsider the content and story elements of the teleserye in order not to further besmirch the reputation of our historic city.” Fortun represents several towns and cities in the province, including Butuan City.
The show’s pilot on Monday, January 20, involves an apparent bombing of a fictionalized Butuan City market. Following the explosion, top officers from the Army’s 4th Infantry Division express worry over how an attack slipped through in Butuan City, the regional center of Caraga.
Fortun added: “Better still, as partial recompense for the damage this imprudence may have caused Butuan and its people, we implore upon them to do depict the real Butuan and feature stories about it in their news and public affairs programs."
He noted that the “lessons” from Bagani – an ABS-CBN show which also got backlash over cultural insensitivities – should have “taught them to be more circumspect and sensitive.”
Fortun said in his statement that he is co-author of a measure in support of ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal.
Responding to Fortun, ABS-CBN said: "ABS-CBN would like to apologize to Agusan Del Norte Rep. Lawrence Fortun and the people of Butuan City if the scenes in the TV series A Soldier’s Heart have offended them. While the incident portrayed in the series was fictitious, there was mention of the city name. We would like to assure them that there was no deliberate intention to portray Butuan City negatively in the show. We acknowledge that Butuan is one of the most beautiful and peaceful cities in the country."
The TV series follows the lives of several soldiers – both of high and low rank – in the Philippine military. In the pilot episode, Alex (Gerald Anderson), a colonel’s adoptive son, ventures to Mindanao following the attack to help the military. – Rappler.com