Left by the Ship

Left by the Ship

  • BY Emma Rossi-Landi & Alberto Vendemmiati |
    Premiered May 24, 2012

About the Film

JR, Charlene, and Robert are half American; they are among the many children born to U.S. servicemen who were stationed in military bases in the Philippines until in 1992. Their stories illuminate the limbo of a generation of Filipino Amerasians. MORE

In 1982, the United States Congress voted to grant U.S. citizenship to Amerasians from Vietnam, Korea, Thailand, and other Asian countries, in what was known as the Amerasian Homecoming Act. Although the Philippines has been a United States ally for more than a century, Filipino (and Japanese) offspring of soldiers were not included: they must be claimed by their former American G.I. fathers if they wish to claim their U.S. citizenship.

The Subic Bay Naval Base in the Philippines was the largest naval base outside the United States mainland. The town of Olongapo, just outside its gates, did not exist until the base did. Its economy was built on the R&R needs of soldiers: More than 15,000 women worked in its red light district.

In 1992, the Marcos regime fell and the Filipino Senate voted to force the U.S. bases to close. At least 50,000 Amerasians remain in the Philippines today, and they suffer a great amount of discrimination.

Abandoned in early life, living with the stigma of being illegitimate children and unable to elude prejudice because it shows in their physical features, they are labeled "Iniwan ng Barko" (left by the ship). The assumption of every Amerasian person is that their mother was a prostitute and their father abandoned them. The children of African American soldiers are especially singled out and ridiculed.

What does the future hold for these forgotten children of the post-war world?

The Filmmakers

Emma Rossi-Landi is an Italian American dual citizen. She was born in Rome in 1971, studied the history of cinema at the University of Rome, and then obtained a diploma in filmmaking at the London Film School in 1998. She worked as an editor, directed eight short fiction films, and directed her first documentary in 2001. Her documentary films include Giuseppe's Journey (2001); Forty Days (2004);Veronica's Thread (2005); Looking for Eden (2006); and La Canzone di Vaccarizzo (2007).

Alberto Vendemmiati is a graduate of the University of Bologna and of Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia. He directed the fiction feature film Cadabra, a few short fiction films, and then moved into making documentaries. His films include Jung (War) in the Land of the Mujaheddin (2000), co-directed with Fabrizio Lazzaretti, which aired internationally and won numerous awards including the Silver Wolf Award IDFA, the Nestor Almendros Award, the Human Rights Watch International, and the Freedom of Expression Honor by The U.S. National Board of Review; Afghanistan Collateral Damages (2002); and The person De Leo N. (2005).


Film Credits

Written, Produced, Directed, Filmed, and Edited by
Emma Rossi Landi
Alberto Vendemmiati


Robert Ianne Gonzaga
Jr Nielson Dyas
Charlene Elizabeth Rose


Alma Bulawan
Minda Nielson
Richard Castillones
Beth Paciana Lamsin
Ivy David and Julia Gonzaga
Lilian F. Gonzaga
Ollie Barge
Alex Hermoso
Jim Tyler
Sergio Cruz
Aida Santos
William Boyd

Narration Written by
Robert Ianne Gonzaga

Original Music
Mario Crispi

Executive Producer
Vincenzo de Cecco

Assistant Director
Linda S. Alvarado

Sound Designer
Alessandro Bianchi

Research Coordinator
Myrla Baldonado

Marc Sobremisana
Mericar P. Rafael

Language Consultant
Charito Basa

Additional Camera
Robert Ianne Gonzaga

Producer for VisitorQ
Riccardo Cremona

Rerecording Mixer at Controfase
Alessandro Bianchi
Ivano Mataldi

Assistant Sound Editor
Paolo Ney Mattei

Marco Gentili

Graphic Designer
Elena Angeletti

Boojie Teofilo Juatco
Ivy Gonzaga

Legal Consultant for VisitorQ
Alessio Lazzareschi

Special Thanks

ABC International/People Task force for US Base Clean Up
Alma Bulawan and all the women of Buklod ng Kababaihan
Focus On the Global South
Barb Hall
Mn’age Car Rental
O’Campo’s Mall Olongapo
O’Campos Idol 2008 Contestants and the Staff
Pearl S. Buck Foundation
Preda Foundation
R.A.O. Olongapo
Subic Bay Colleges Inc.
Third World Movement Against the Exploitation of Women
Genevieve Vaughan
WeDpro. Inc

And to all the Amerasians of Olongapo City, Angeles, and Manila

Additional Original Music
Pivio & Aldo De Scalzi

Giuseppe Lomeo
Aldo De Scalzi

“Nakapagtataka” written by Jim Paredes
Performed by Spongecola © Universal Records, INC.

Archival Footage

Courtesy of ABCNews Videosource

1965 Navy footage by Gene McCallister

Left by the Ship is a co-production of
Rai Cinema
ITVS International
in association with YLE Jenny Westergärd

For ITVS International

Executive Producer for ITVS
Sally Jo Fifer

Vice President of Programming
Claire Aguilar

Program Manager
Cynthia Kane

Consulting Producer
Christi Collier

ITVS International is made possible by
Ford Foundation
The William and Flora
Hewlett Foundation
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Left by the Ship was produced by VisitorQ srl which is solely responsible for its content.

©2010 VisitorQ srl. All rights reserved.

Do you think the Amerasian Homecoming Act should be extended to the Philippines and Japan? Should it apply in any place where the American military has an installation?


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Do you think the Amerasian Homecoming Act should be extended to the Philippines and Japan? Should it apply in any place where the American military has an installation?