A shopping mall in the province of Laguna yesterday defended its decision to screen Avengers: Endgame in its cinemas with Chinese subtitles. This came after some Filipino moviegoers who bought their cinema tickets flat out refused to watch the movie and demanded refunds.
In a statement posted yesterday on their Facebook account, Southwoods Mall, a mall located in Biñan City, said that they made the decision to use the subtitles because there was a strong demand from Chinese moviegoers.
The statement went: “In recent years, we have noticed a strong demand from moviegoers coming from other countries, particularly those from China. As such, we have decided to make our cinemas accessible to foreign-speaking moviegoers by including subtitles in select screenings of the biggest movie of the year.”
Southwoods defended its decision further by saying that some Filipino movies have been screened in their cinemas with English subtitles. However, the mall gave in to customers who were demanding refunds.
“To our valued moviegoers who have already booked their tickets but prefer watching the film without subtitles, you may refund your tickets at the ticketing booths where the booking or purchase was made starting today,” it said.
The controversy involving Southwoods started when they posted on Facebook on April 17 a list of screenings where Avengers: Endgame will be shown with Chinese subtitles. Majority of the reactions were angry, and one netizen even called for a boycott of the mall.
But yesterday’s statement didn’t seem to placate angry netizens. One netizen said that the constitution of the Philippines recognizes only two languages, Filipino and English. He said that Southwoods should put Filipino subtitles in the movie instead.
Meanwhile, Diane Rodriguez wrote that when these Chinese nationals decided to live in the Philippines, they should have made the decision to learn the local languages and adapt to the way of life.
“Watching movies with Chinese subtitles make people feel like they’re watching bootlegged movies!” she added.
Kaji Mark Joven said that having English subtitles would help deaf moviegoers understand a film better.
“Why prioritize Chinese subs and Chinese moviegoers over our own?” he asked.
“Then why don’t you have screenings with Tagalog sub[s]? Not all Avengers fans are fluent in English,” wrote Jen Alvarez. “All you think about is money, #Megaworld.”
Southwoods is owned by real estate company Megaworld Corporation.
Some Filipinos have grown increasingly worried and hostile after news has spread that too many Chinese nationals have been moving to the Philippines to work, even in blue-collar occupations that are normally reserved for Pinoys.
Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in February that about half of the more than 169,000 Alien Employment Permits issued by their department from 2015 – 2018 were given to Chinese nationals.
However, there are reports that some of these Chinese nationals are working in the country illegally. Despite this, President Rodrigo Duterte has refused to kick out illegal Chinese workers because he believes that China might retaliate and do the same to Filipino workers living there. The same opinion was echoed by his spokesperson Salvador Panelo, but Panelo’s claim was later rejected by the Chinese embassy in Manila.
Yet Panelo and Duterte are not the only government officials taking the side of Chinese workers. The country’s special envoy to China, broadcaster Ramon Tulfo, said in March that Chinese workers are preferred here because they are more hardworking than Filipinos. Tulfo was widely slammed for his comments but he refused to apologize.