Josie Rizal’s public appearance last Sunday sparked talks and debates — from the wittiest and humorous to the political and controversial kind — among Filipinos.
Filipino netizens took the social media platforms by storm when they found out that a Filipina-inspired character named after the national hero — Jose Rizal — will hit the seventh installment of the popular fighting game, Tekken.
The “First” Filipina
Some fans doubted that Josie was the first Tekken character that hailed from the Philippines. Netizens cited that “Mokujin,” a character made up of wood, was the first Philippine pride given his “Filipino” nationality according to his character biography in Tekken Europe’s website.
In a reply to a tweet, Katsuhiro Harada, the creator and developer of Tekken, settled the debate on who’s really “the first Filipino character”, saying that Mokujin was really from Japan and their European website had a typographical error.
However, before Josie coming into Tekken, there was already a Filipina character in the fighting game industry. Talim, a short brown girl wielding two blades, became part of another fighting game titled “Soul Calibur” in 2002.
According to Trendinalia, a website that tracks trending topics in Twitter, “Josie Rizal” trended worldwide for at least 10 hours after her public appearance. “Josie Rizal” trended at the seventh (6 hours, 35 minutes) and 10th spot (3 hours, 40 minutes) on Sunday and Monday respectively.
Various tweets flooded the social media feeds including banats, jokes and fan arts.
“She’s great and can’t wait to play her soon! Nothing can change her name so as her outfit because she’s Josie Rizal! :)” Katarina Alves tweeted.
“I think what they (tekken) did was awesome. The fact that they did a female character creates a symbol of women empowerment, adding to that empowerment is Dr. Jose Rizal’s name making her (the character, Josie) both a symbol of heroism and women empowerment,” Cris Edward Panis wrote on Facebook.
Harada said in a tweet that Josie’s reception and feedback was “94% positive”. However some netizens — the remaining “six percent” — showed dismay and disappointment toward the Filipina character.
Some personalities also showed disapproval of Josie’s being Filipina. Josie sports bunny headbands, a blouse that reveals some skin, miniskirt and gladiator sandals — all inspired by the colors of the Philippine flag. It was reported that Josie’s expertise are eskrima or arnis, the national sport and martial arts, and kickboxing.
Adonis Durado, a poet and award winning artist, said in report by Gulf News that the problem with Josie is that “it doesn’t have any trace of Filipino-ness — neither in her physical attributes nor in her outfit.”
“If her fighting style is purportedly eskrima, where are the arnis sticks? So the Filipino-inspired name is simply a token,” Durado said in the report.
In a report, an official of the National Council for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) plans to “correct” the wrong portrayal of the national hero and of the country in general.
“Mahirap natin mapigilan ang ibang bansa na gumawa ng ganoong character kasi ang Pilipinas, sikat na sikat sa mundo,” Dr. Leodenito Cañete, Visayas coordinator of the NCCA’s Bayaning Bayan program, said in the report.
Professor Felipe M. De Leon Jr. , Chairman of the NCCA, has acknowledged that the Council is aware but has not made its stand clear on the matter in a recent press release. De Leon states “Dr. Cañete is not an NCCA official nor a member of any of our national committees”. He ends his press release with, “The commission shall issue an official statement soon on what actions it will take upon studying the legal aspect of this matter, in coordination with the National Historical Comission of the Phillipines (NHCP).”
Josie is yet to have a release date into the game alongside with a new Arabian-inspired character “Shaheen” as well as returning characters Jin Kazama and Devil Jin.