I'll always be grateful to Star Wars (which in my heart will forever include the expanded universe, no matter what Disney says). I don't even remember when I first watched it, or even if I watched it in a movie theatre or a bootleg copy on Betamax -- it's just always been part of the background noise in my brain, as far back as I can remember.
Probably my most memorable experiences with the franchise didn't involve the movies, or even the novels or comics, but the roleplaying games. Knight of the Old Republic, the sequel, even the Old Republic MMO, all of these allowed me to enter into these intergalactic conflicts, these exciting futures that took place "a long time ago", and somehow make them my own. Running around with a Bounty Hunter named Lam-Ang was ridiculous fun, but while I'll always enjoy playing in other people's sandboxes, what I'd really like to do right now is create a sandbox that, while filled with the space dogfights and alien warriors that I love, feels closer to home.
I love the Space Opera genre, but it's not one that has loved me back -- me as a Filipino, that is. As a race, we're not usually one of the people that get our own quadrant of the galactic empire to refashion in our own image, nor do we have a lot of fictional futuristic starship captains, ensigns, or hell, even smugglers who can trace their lineage back to our humble archipelago. And yes, we do have Juan Rico, protagonist of Heinlein's Starship Troopers, who is revealed at the end to be a Filipino... in the novel at least. In every film or television adaptation of the book, Rico's Filipino identity is neatly shunted aside for some more blockbuster-friendly ethnicity.
And, hey, their copyright, their properties, whatever. But I know there are Filipinos who love Space Opera as much as I do, talented creators like Aaron Felizmenio (Minkowski Space Opera), TJ Dimacali and John Raymond Bumanglag (Skygypsies), and, of course, everyone on Team Mythspace that I've had the pleasure of working with. We too, can weave dreams of the stars. We too, can establish empires.
May the Fourth be with you, everybody. And Philippines?
Time for lift off.