I just want to spread hope and inspiration during these trying times. Today is day 15 of the enhanced community quarantine. In the Philippines where I am from, the COVID-19 positive cases have reached almost 1, 500 as of this writing. The least thing that I can do is to spark some positivity. I have realized that as much as possible I try to inject that in my films, so I thought might as well share them.
In this short documentary, we take a look at the inspiring initiative of a teacher who spearheaded the Education Under the Bridge advocacy. She is Teacher Fe Matullano-Lustañas from Parañaque. She is a public school teacher by profession but on Saturdays, she teaches the out of school youth who reside in a coastal area of Parañaque. Most of these kids do not have a permanent home.
We filmed this back in 2018. I made it with the help of my friends in UP Film Institute. Thanks once again to Kim Ilaya, Isabelle Toledo and Josh Lomahan to name some. Luckily, the film was recognized by the Change Film Festival. We won 2nd place.
As I write this, we are currently on Day 12 of the enhanced community quarantine here in Metro Manila, Philippines. It is March 25, 2020, Wednesday, as I write this.
While everyone wants to remain hopeful that we will survive this pandemic, the anxiety and fear combined is very much palpable where I live. I reside in Quezon City, near Mindanao Avenue or C5.
I have not been going out for days in an effort to adhere to the social distancing measures enforced by our government. Except for when I really have to buy groceries and medication.
When I did, I was really surprised that outside, it looked like a ghost town. The otherwise bumper to bumper sight in our main roads is nowhere to be seen. Yet this is not a feeling of comfort or relief, it is fear. Fear of the unknown and the unseen. We do not know for how long this pandemic will last. We also do not see the enemy: #covid19.
I must admit, I am very fortunate to be able to work from home during these trying times. Some of mykababayans are not as lucky. Online, I have read numerous accounts of people who have lost their main source of income ever since the lock down. Some have been mercilessly laid off, some were not required to go to work anymore. In a snap, they were jobless.
Freelancers and independent contractors like me got worried too, when one by one, our gigs or rakets were cancelled. This really made a dent in our cash flow. The constant bills keep on piling up, but the active income has stopped.
Ever since I led the freelancer life, I felt that I had to maintain a multiple income stream. This is to provide a buffer during emergency situations. Never did I think it would be this soon though. In theory and in all fairness, that seemed fine and logical. But that seems hardly so at present. But I firmly believe we shall get pass this.
As someone who constantly worries about my cash flow, I accepted a project from #kumu months back. Let me put my worries into context. The economy is volatile. Though they say that the Philippines has a booming market and economy, I always thought of the worst. I always thought anything can happen. The good, the bad, the worst. And the first one who should be able to help yourself, any time, any where, should be yourself.
At that time, it was crystal clear that Kumu is about building a fun Pinoy community. What is Kumu? As posted in this online portal, it is a “Filipino-centric social app that lets users host and watch livestreams, do virtual hangouts, as well as join interactive quizzes and social games. The app, which takes its name from the Pinoy greeting ‘kumusta?” Sounds well and fun, right?
But as March came in and the tragic deaths related to the novel corona virus piled up, everything else in the world has changed. Travel bans, both local and international, were implemented. A collective panic was beginning to grow. And now we’re prohibited to go out of our house. Three weeks ago, this was unheard of. Unthinkable even.
But what can a social app contribute to the present circumstances? That’s why Kumu is presenting “Social DistanSing”.
While other people underestimate the arts and entertainment in providing ‘relief’ during this period, I would like to point out though that it is also through these very things that we find comfort and solace amidst the chaos and fear.
When you see a daily update of rising death tolls worldwide due to COVID19, the future looks grim. And it is in those times when we look for something that can get us through the day. At this point, sometimes we turn to entertainment. To music, movies, poetry. Otherwise, we’d go bonkers even before the virus hits us.
How does this Kumu Social DistanSing event work? Basically it is a live stream session featuring Filipino celebrities and influencers whose collective goal is to raise funds.
Extremely thankful for friends with giving hearts.. Kumu is collaborating with artists to help raise funds! We pledge that virtual gifts given on the Kumu Cares livestream will be donated to alleviate the plight of Filipino families most in need during this time. Download Kumu and catch your fave artists Go Live from March 26-April 8, from 4 to 9PM. On Kumu, no need to logout for other payment platforms, donations go straight on the livestream via virtual gifts!
I am really glad that we, Filipinos, are doing everything that we can to help each other out, in the best ways we know how. Philippines has been heralded as the social media capital of the world, and now we can use that to our advantage. To exercise our compassion and actually help others, too!
So I encourage everyone to download #kumu and take part in this noble cause. It’s accessible, easy and fun. Most of all, it is life-changing.
In 2018, we made a short documentary about Fe Matullano-Lustańas, a teacher who is the brainchild of the Education Under the Bridge project. Teacher Fe has an advocacy and that is to educate the children/youth who live under the bridge in Barangay La Huerta in Parañaque City. Our short docu about her was recognized by the Change Short Film Festival as 2nd Best Short Film. As a way of giving back, we held an outreach program this February to help the community. You can contact Teacher Fe thru her official Facebook page.
Whew, it has been a while! And now I’m releasing some never-before-seen footage from the Hidden Cinema Congress that happened last month. I wrote about it in detail in this post.
And now I’m compiling the videos that I took from the said event. Here, you’ll be seeing film historian and academician, Nick Deocampo, film teacher Jag Garcia and and filmmaker Elvert Bañares.
For those who have not attended the event and for those who’d like to know what happened, I hope I was able to help you by sharing these videos. I feel like I’d have to do this to contribute to the documentation of the present and evolving landscape of Philippine cinema.
This is Marlon Fuentes, with his wife, Rio. Marlon has Tourette’s Syndrome but this did not hinder him from being an Uber driver. Yup, he was that driver whose placard was shown in that Facebook post that became viral last January. This February 22, we’ll get to know his story on #Mars. 7pm on GMA News TV.
What an eventful month. So tired. Seriously. Ugh. But not giving up!
A high school friend of mine got married. I graduated from a short Sales course at UP. I am preparing for the upcoming sem for my MA schoolwork.
All these just added to my already hectic writing job at GMA. But hey, no complains! Am just glad to be doing something rather than nothing.
But for me, the main event of the month is our outreach. Over a year ago, I joined a retreat organized by The Feast Bay Area. I was expecting it to be the usual religious retreat like what I have experienced in Catholic school. Meaning a longer version of a bible study session where you quote passages from the Holy Book and interpret and relate them to your life.
Instead, that day was more than that. What welcomed me was a series of talks and activities encouraging self-discovery through psychology, neuro-linguistic programming and… sheer fun! And I’m lucky to have shared it with 80+ others who were also searching for some answers in their lives.
Fast forward last week, we did more than just celebrate our first anniversary as a batch. By the way, we call ourselves Team Enlighten. (enl19then, we are batch 19 of the Live Life retreat).
To mark this milestone, we organized an outreach for the kids of Looc Elementary School in Zambales. And by “we,” I mean “they”. There’s no better way than to admit that I’ve been MIA from the team for most of the time. It’s something I’m not proud of. But hey, I do volunteer from time to time. And I did last weekend! U-huh.
Outreach for students in Zambales
There were around 300 kids from Kinder to Grade 7, all below the age of 13. It was a rainy Saturday morning. And it rained non-stop. It wasn’t easy to unload the donations including school supplies and the hygiene kits, as well as the food and snacks. Because we got wet, and it was slippery.
Photo by Patty Bellido
It was a challenge, too, to get to one room to the other because of the downpour. We had prepared several games for the kids so we had to go room-to-room for that. I also had to do the photo documentation so I went around several times.
But not even the rain can dampen our spirit. Honestly, I did not hear any complain from anyone of us. We wear wearing our smile, just happy about what we were doing. Because that day was not about us.
And here’s where I tell you why you should volunteer, at least once in your life.
Volunteer so that you’ll know it’s not all about you.
When we’re too engrossed about our daily routine, our stressful work, our never-ending deadlines, and some toxic people in our life, sometimes we become self-centered. In the sense that all we think about is how things will benefit us. How they’ll be of help to us. It’s about me-me-me.
But when we volunteer, the perspective shifts. It’s what we can do to help others, without expecting anything in return. No need for any monetary compensation, recognition. By volunteering, we realize that we exist not just for ourselves. But we exist because we can make other lives more meaningful. We can make kids happy. We can inspire them envision a brighter future. There are many ways we can help other people outside our work, our home, if only we could just dedicate time for it.
2. Volunteer because it feels damn good.
Why does it feel good? For me, it’s that feeling of being high. Because I get to see other people happy. And when we see other people happy because of what we do, we just feel good about it. It’s priceless.
3. Volunteer to give back or pay it forward.
I’ve always been an advocate of quality education. So when I heard about extending our help to these kids, it was a no-brainer. In college, I was a scholar at a city-funded university. I’ve always been thankful for Manila and its diligent and honest taxpayers for that. At a time when tuition fees were really expensive, I got to study because of PLM. I am forever grateful to my professors, mentors, the university staff and personnel.
I’m nowhere what you can call someone who already made it big. But I find time to give back or pay it forward, whenever I can. This was another opportunity to do that.
Those are my top 3 reasons why we should volunteer at least once.
I know you can think of more. Share it in the comment section below. 🙂
In behalf of our team, thank you so much to those who helped us and donated in kind or financially to make this outreach possible.
Thank you very much to the following:
Team Enlighten & Team Overflow
Thank you to our sponsors: PLM- Film Society, TOSS Travel and Tours, Chocovron.
My friends: Cherry Aggabao, Ma’am Ludz Labagnoy, Macky Macarayan, Kimberly Ilaya, Karina Reyes, April Garcia, Jed Macapagal, Ms. Che Ingles, Riechelle Garces.