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The Gundam community in Davao

By SunStar — 20.04.2020

LESS than a month ago, the second trailer for the Mobile Suit Gundam: Hathaway was released on YouTube. What’s special about this trailer and this particular Mobile Suit Gundam animated film is for the first time it will be set in the supposedly future version of Davao City particularly at the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) at Calinan. It will be the first film from the film trilogy based on “Mobile Suit Gundam: Hathaway’s Flash” created by Yoshiyuki Tomino.

Mobile Suit Gundam: Hathaway, directed by Shuko Murase, will be the latest installment in the Universal Century continuity and is expected to be shown on July 23 in Japan.

Throughout the years Gundam has cultivated a certain community in different parts of the world – with fondness for its film and series franchises, gunpla (Gundam plastic model), and the manga.

Here in Davao City, the Gundam Fans na Pinoy (GFP) was created in May 2012, starting with 10 to 15 members, after the 3rd Annual Toy Convention. They started as a small subgroup under Mindanao Hobby Community (MHC).

“The local GFP group (now known as GFP-Davao) was originally a subgroup of GFP which is based in Luzon, and later became independent, while retaining some of the core ideals of the main group…The group has been involved in organizing and hosting gundam modelling competitions. The community has steadily grown both in number and in scope,” GFP-Davao Kingkoy told SunStar Davao in an interview.

According to Arch. Lunel Andrew Sayon he became a member in 2014 and has since found an outlet for him to connect with people with the same interest here in the city. The group participates in gunplay activities such as local, national, and even international build-off competitions.

“Gunpla community is so popular to the hobbyists that it has its own international competition held yearly at Japan which is the Gunpla Builder World Cup World Championship. The best gunpla builder representing their countries will compete in the world stage,” he said.

One would think that rare chances such as Gundam Hathaway being set in Davao City is but a reason for celebration and a very proud moment for GFP-Davao members. But as authentic fans would, they take this moment with an objective, neutral perspective.

Sticking to the storyline and the plot of the Hathaway, Kingkoy believes it could be set anywhere in the world. But he also thinks that the picking of PEF as the particular location where Federation officer Kenneth Sleg and passenger Hathaway Noa will land after being hijacked is also relevant. Sleg is to take over the mobile suit unit in PEF to fight against the terrorist Mafty Organization.

“If we base on how the mobile suit RX-104FF Penelope looks like, it almost symbolizes a Sarimanok, bird, an eagle, a flying mammal,” he said.

Sayon has the same observation. “Davao has a town called “Little Tokyo” which became a home for many Japanese descendants. The mobile suit also has a technology called Minovsky Flight which can fly without having to land for a long time just like an eagle,” Sayon said.

It was also previously reported in various media platforms that Hathaway producer Naohiro Ogata went location hunting before deciding for the location of the film.

Kevindion Gayol, a Gundam fan from Trento, Agusan del Sur who spent his college years in Davao City is immensely pleased with the city being picked as the location of the first film.

“After I watch the film, my daily life in Davao would be suffused with Gundam references. As a dystopian universe, it would give some commentary not just of the Dabawenyos but also of the whole human race and thus lessons which we will soon find out,” Gayol said.

The first film from the trilogy revolves around the war between the Earth Federation and the terrorist group Mafty Organization headed by Mabiyy Erin who is actually Hathaway Noa himself. Plot thickens and conflict grows as Hathaway Noa is the son of Bright Noa, the leader of the Earth Federation from the original “Mobile Suit Gundam” from 1979.

This article was first published here.