Exactly three years ago, 44 members of the elite Special Action Force commandos of the Philippine National Police perished during an encounter with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters militant group at Mamasapano in Maguindanao.
The untold story of the men now referred to as the SAF44 is now the subject of the documentary film “Fallen Not Forgotten: The Untold Story of the Gallant SAF 44.” The film, which opened Wednesday in several SM and Robinsons Cinemas nationwide, is produced by Caelistis Productions with CNN Philippines as media partner.
Director Sally Jo Bellosillo, who previously produced and directed the EDSA People Power documentary “Laban” in 2006 (later retitled “People Power: 30 Years On”) and later executive produced the equally compelling docus “Pinoy Hoops” and “Haiyan: After The Megastorm” revealed that she originally pitched this project to lawyer Felipe Cruz two years ago.
“I told Atty. Cruz that the significance of Mamasapano was important because our very own SAF neutralized Marwan, the Osama Bin Ladin of South East Asia. The achievement and the crisis that followed would make a very good case study in teaching lessons in leadership and nation building,” Bellosillo recalled.
“It was an opportunity to open the eyes of our youth and help them build criteria for choosing the best leaders for our country. And what better way to show it than showing how a small band of men overcome incredible odds? Just like Luke Skywalker in “Star Wars” or Diana Prince in “Wonder Woman” except this time it’s for real.”
Bellosillo further shared that “Fallen Not Forgotten” reveals a lot more than what was reported by media about the incident.
“The documentary gives audiences unprecedented access to OPLAN EXODUS, the special operation that took out Marwan, one of the FBI’s most wanted men. With never before seen interviews, footage of the actual fighting itself, and dramatic re-enactments by elite members of the Special Action Force, the film reveals the men mourned by an entire nation,” she pointed out.
“I wanted to show that there are heroes indeed who walk among us. Many of them choose to remain nameless and faceless because they do it out of love for country and sense of duty. The work comes first…The cost of defending our country and its freedom comes at a very steep price. And the least we can do is to honor those in uniform and those in public service who selflessly and tirelessly work each day.”
Last year, President Rodrigo Duterte declared January 25 of every year as the National Day of Remembrance for the SAF 44.
Watch the trailer of “Fallen Not Forgotten: The Untold Story of the Gallant SAF 44” here: