For five years now, the Third World Studies Center and the University of Montreal have produced documentaries that tell the stories of the lives and struggles of Filipinos at the unmarked margins of society. This special panel features films focusing on such subset of the population against the backdrop of access to land and its uncertain, if not diminishing resources—a community that lives on the back of an active volcano for want of a liveable space, women mining the dregs of what was once a gold country, a worker living in a packed urban space and cycling through poverty and the deadly streets of a metropolis, and a tribal leader bequeathing to his son a future that is about to vanish. These documentary videos have been used as advocacy pieces by some civil society organizations and have been official entries in documentary film festival competitions. Of note is “Naglalahong Pamana,” for having won the 2016 Active Vista Best Human Rights Short Film Early and two awards at the Singkuwento International Film Festival by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts: Best Documentary Film and the Golden Philippine Eagle Festival Director’s Choice. The panel comprises of members of the documentary teams from the University of the Philippines.

 

Screening schedule: February 10, 2017, Friday, 2:45-4:15 PM, Japan Hall

Minera: The Women Miners of Benguet

In the province of Benguet in northern Philippines, small-scale gold mining has been an important source of livelihood for centuries for indigenous communities. Artisanal and labor intensive, most of Philippine gold is still extracted with the simplicity of picks, shovels, human hands, and water; sometimes just besides large mining corporations. Men are thought of as the usual prominent actors in these communities. This documentary corrects this misimpression. Women miners are as essential to small-scale mining as the male workers. And unlike men, they must combine numerous daily responsibilities, in the household, the field, and the mine. However, these duties are balanced neither with compensation nor representation, in the family as well as in the community. This documentary is a story of the women miners of Itogon, Benguet who have moved mountains and have kept pushing on, how they have transcended the weariness of the body and the strictures of gender to live a life in their own terms and to unselfishly care for others.

 

Alas-as: Sitting on a Volcano

Would you build a school on top of a volcano? This is a story of how a community strategizes to provide education for their children amidst poverty and natural hazards, of what they are willing to compromise and sacrifice for their children to even just glimpse a future that they were not able to have for themselves. In the city of San Nicolas, in the Taal Volcano Island, an elementary school was built by the fishing community of Barangay Alas-as for their children. The island has been classified by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) as a high-risk area and a Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ), within reach of the second most active volcano in the Philippines. Despite many pleas for the residents to relocate somewhere safer, they have refused to leave the island– the only home they have ever known. Before the Alas-as Elementary school was built, children had to travel long distances and cross the lake to get an education. Though their children are going to school, the prospects of the community remain quite bleak as they belong to one of the poorest municipalities of Batangas. The conditions of the lake where they mainly draw their livelihood continue to deteriorate as the danger of life-threatening volcanic activity looms over the community. The documentary highlights the struggles and difficulties residents have had to face in order to obtain a basic education for their children. It chronicles how, in the face of the government’s failure to provide for them, residents have decided to take the matter into their own hands.

 

Kadena

A film by Jeremy Agsawa, Jesse Rey Baban, François Robert-Durand, and Alexandre Marcou

For years, Roger has depended on his bicycle to go to his place of work in Metro Manila, and from there to safely pedal his way back home to his family in the outskirts of the city. “Kadena” chronicles how Roger moves along and lives through the monstrous sprawl that is Metro Manila–from the grunts of its monumental traffic jams to the glitzy hiss of its malls and skyscrapers. This is Roger on how the city has changed before his eyes, on how the desperate have tried to turn it into a place of refuge and the poor aspired for resilience amid its unending squalor. “Kadena” is about two lives on the road chained to each other: that of the city and Roger’s.

 

Naglalahong Pamana (Fading Heritage)

A film by Lucy Lavirotte, Jerrica Manongdo, Berna Sastrillo, and David Simantov-Levi

Panglima Kenisio Malasan is a traditional leader of a Palaw’an tribe. Through him, the tribe’s tradition is passed on to the next generation—a tradition rooted in the land. But the Panglima wonders how their way of life can endure in the face of relentless encroachment of palm oil plantations. In a poignant dialogue between father and son, the Panglima and his child share fears for the future of their tribe.

Best Documentary Film, Golden Philippine Eagle Festival Director’s Choice at the Singkuwento International Film Festival (SIFF) by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA)

Best Human Rights Short Film, 2016 Active Vista Human RIghts Film Festival