For the first time in Call of Duty history, you can now play as a Filipino when you go into battle in Vanguard and Warzone.
Ever since the late 2000s, Call of Duty has become one of the most popular video game franchises in the world. You can’t talk about first person shooters without including COD. While the series’ latest entries may not be as popular as past entries have been, there’s no denying it’s impact, especially with how its free-to-play battle royale component Warzone still being played by millions around the world. No doubt Call of Duty is popular among Filipinos. And now, Pinoy players have something new to look forward to as Call of Duty Vanguard released the series’ first ever playable Pinoy operator.
MEET ISABELLA REYES
As part of Season One for COD Vanguard, three new operators were added to the game. The newest one is Isabella Rosario Dulnuan Reyes. She was part of the Wild Rose Operator Bundle, which dropped this past January 14, 2022. Isabella is playable both in Vanguard, as well as in Warzone. She, along with operators Lewis Howard and Francis “Kai” Lanakila, are part of Special Operation Task Force 006, also known as Trident.
According to the game’s lore, Isabella was born in 1923 in the Philippines. She was taught Arnis and hand-to-hand combat by her father, an officer in the 57th Infantry Regiment of the United States Army. During World War 2, her father was captured during the Battle of Bataan and died during the Death March. As revenge, Isabella fled to the Caraballo Mountains and joined the Hukbalahap to fight the Japanese and avenge her father’s death. Later on, she was recruited by Carver Butcher and the SOE, and joined the Task Force Trident and took part in Operation Vulcan at Caldera.
COD AND FILIPINO REPRESENTATION
The Filipino representation doesn’t end with her background and name though. Isabella is voiced by Filipino-American Jenn Wong. Her credits include Raya and the Last Dragon and Disney XD’s adaptation of Yo-Kai Watch. Two of Isabella’s skins are in Filipino. Her rare skin is called Puno while her legendary skin is called Espada. Her mastery of Arnis is reflected in her customization options as well. She has a finishing movie called Arnis Assault which is unlocked at operator level 17.
Her epic highlight intro is called Arnis Attack, which you can only get as part of the Wild Rose Operator Bundle. Finally, she has two MVP Highlights that feature Arnis, the common rarity Arnis Counter and the epic rarity Two-Handed Takedown. The former is unlocked at operator level 5 while the later can only be used when you get the Wild Rose Operator Bundle.
REPRESENTATION IN GAMING
Having someone like Isabella be in Call of Duty is a nice treat for Pinoy players who were looking for representation in their favorite game. Given how more often than not, Call of Duty has been a game centered on white protagonist, having a Pinay playable character is a good change. Vangaurd‘s narrative designer Belinda Garcia, who herself is Filipina, expressed on Twitter the care the team took to properly represent a Filipina and her culture in the game.
But it’s also important to note that Call of Duty has also been a video game series that has been criticized for glorifying US intervention and wars. Now, there’s nothing wrong if you decide to play as Isabella and having more Pinoy representation in the West. But let’s also use this moment to recognize and remember our history, not whitewash it, because there’s already enough of that going around.
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