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Olympic gold medalist diver Victoria Manalo Draves will be focus of new film

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In celebration of Olympic gold medalist diver Victoria Manalo Draves birthday today (December 31), filmmaker Georgina Tolentino is launching a Kickstarter campaign on Jan. 10 with a goal of raising $18,000 to finish script development on her upcoming "Manalo" film project.

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“Today we shall honor someone who came into this world full of light, strength, love, laughs, and left this earth to inspire not only me but many others. Happy Birthday to you Vicki,” Tolentino stated. “To me she is like the closet friend that I have never met, in the eyes of her family and friends or rather anyone who has met her, I see her spirit. I can only imagine that sharing her story could move the world.”

Fans can learn more and get updates about the film project at: https://www.facebook.com/VickiManaloFilm

Manalo was born and raised in San Francisco, to a Filipino father and English mother. She faced prejudice growing up in a segregated society, especially during World War II’s high Anti-Pacific sentiment.

Regardless, she became a legendary diver and the first woman in history to win two gold medals in diving at the 1948 London Olympics.

When she first started diving, her coach Phil Patterson forced her to drop her father’s Filipino name “Manalo” and instead use her English mother’s first name “Taylor” in order to compete at the Fairmont Club.

According to Tolentino, another Olympic diver, Korean American Sammy Lee shared Vicki’s commitment to the sport. Lee later became the coach of legendary Olympian Greg Louganis.

"Vicki’s father was once prohibited from attending a diving competition because it was a white only facility; refused to dive until they let him in. She then changed her name back to “Manalo,” which in Tagalog means “to win,” states Tolentino.

Tolentino first became involved with the project on April 29, 2010 when she was handed a New York Times newspaper clipping at a restaurant by a stranger who told her “you look just like this woman” and walked away.

“I then took a good look at the picture in the New York Times with the headline ‘Olympic diver dies at 85.' She was a woman of dedication, passion, intelligence and most of all sense of humor. Victoria never played a victim. Instead, she used her sense of humor in the obstacles in her life and focused on her work," Tolentino recalls. "After researching her story, I became immersed and fell in love with her story and her life and decided to produce her story.”

Tolentino, who will also be portraying Manalo in the film, has been training to perform her own dives in preparation for the the film's production.

"Like Victoria, I have a fear of heights and drowning and I am Filipino and Portuguese, I relate to how much she means to the community in San Francisco, which is also my home," says Tolentino. "That's what carried me through training; it was because of the community that believed in her, the friends and family that wanted her to succeed. Vicki dove not for the country that excluded her, but she dove for those that saw her as an equal through sports. Most importantly she dove for her father, a man who taught her how to reach beyond her boundaries. Vicki didn’t dive for the America that set limitations, she dove for the America that allowed her the opportunity to break through them."

Tolentino's Kickstarter campaign goal is $18,000 to help finish script development for the film. The fundraiser will launch online Jan. 10.

"Manalo" fans can get updates at:

https://www.facebook.com/VickiManaloFilm

https://twitter.com/vickimanalofilm

http://instagram.com/vickimanalofilm#

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