He should have seen it coming. He was a midnight appointee. He was not the most senior of the justices, so it was not a case of making sure the most senior got the job. Many people believe he was appointed by Arroyo to protect her. He was after all her former chief of staff and her former spokesman, to name a few posts he held under the Arroyo administration. And he was not the only one “indebted” to the former president: his wife was given a post in a government-owned and controlled corporation.
The presidential campaign of Noynoy Aquino has four legs: Food, Jobs, Education and Anti-Corruption. And now that he is president, he is damn well serious about delivering these promises. But with a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court perceived to be a hindrance, and not an ally in fighting corruption and/or persecuting those who committed corrupt practices, it was just a matter of time before an impeachment process is put in motion. Chief Justice Renato Corona should have seen it coming when this administration marshalled its forces Congress to make sure that Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez is impeached.
Or perhaps, he may have known about it way before his public announcement of such a plot in the morning of the day he is impeached. After all, we lesser mortals have heard about the move from the grapevine more than a month ago.
I am sure Chief Justice Corona has prepared for this eventuality. He may dig in, but that will be a costly move for him. The more he digs in, the more people will believe he is doing it to make sure he is in still with the Supreme Court when anyone of the cases against Gloria Arroyo will reach the highest court of the land.
Moreover, when the impeachment trial will start at the Senate level, the prosecutors will present a lot of evidence to prove their case against the Chief Justice. That will bring out a lot of dirty linens. Are Renato Corona and his family ready for that?
A few opinion makers have branded the current acts of the president as bullying – but the fact remains – an overwhelming majority of Filipinos is behind the president in his actions against the Chief Justice. Chief Justice Corona is widely perceived to be as a GMA boy even before the formal announcement of his appointment. It would be hard put for him to shed that image. Not even his personal guestings in various radio and cable since his appointment as Chief Justice helped.
Doing what Merceditas Gutierrez did before her impeachment was heard by the Senate might be something Chief Justice Renato Corona should consider.
In a earlier post, I wrote about the circumstances behind my joining the Happyland team as one of its producers. Here is the second part of my experience as an indie movie producer.
The Main Story:
Jim conducted various interviews with football aficionados, Don Bosco Brothers and former Tondo barefoot players to weave the story for the film. This is the excerpt of the movie:.
A Spanish missionary priest tries to form a fighting football team composed of disadvantaged boys from the slums. He enrolled the help of a seminarian, who was a college football star; his assistant parish priest; a volunteer catechist, and, parish workers.
Together, they recruit the most unlikely group of young men – a neighborhood basketball star; a skilled pickpocket and fearless thief; two drug-sniffing brothers who live off the garbage dump; a hare-lipped rapper wannabe; a gang leader; a pedicab driver; and many others. The young men were lured by the dream of winning the tournament’s hefty cash prize. And to win, they only have to do one thing — beat their opponents from the “rich catholic schools.”
The priests, the seminarian, catechists and other church people set out to build his football team.
The Back Story
The priest was inspired by the story of Filipino striker Paulino Alcantara– star of the Spanish football team FC Barcelona in the 1930s. His record of 357 goals in 367 games is still unmatched in Spain’s football history. It is the memory of Alcantara’s feats that inspired Father Jose, the Spanish missionary priest, to attempt the audacious: build a football team in the slums of Tondo.
Our original plan was to shoot some scenes in Barcelona to highlight the extraordinary feat of Paulino Alcantara. Budgetary constraints prevented us from doing so. Thus,we settled for dream scene instead. However, the Paulino Alcantara story may have been among the reasons (plus probably the fact that Spain won the FIFA World Cup that year) why we got invited to screen the film during the Spanish film festival in Manila in 2010.
Strictly speaking, we did not have any professional actors in the cast. But we do have football players who had important roles in the movies: Phil Younghusband, China Cojuangco, and football players from various exclusive schools. We also hired actual residents as extras. Some of the supporting characters were playing their real selves. Nevertheless, the production experience was one of camaraderie and fun.
People behind the Camera
Mitch Moreno, Jim’s partner, was the project’s workhorse. She was in control of all aspects of the project, except the creative side which was Jim’s.
I helped raised money from corporate sponsors. Initially the corporate guys listened to the pitches mainly because they were my friends, but when they started to interact with the production and the creative group, and after they have internalized the film’s story line, they become converts. We got funding from Alaska, Rebisco, and a few other brands..
Butch Jimenez and Manny Luna of Activ Asia pitched in with their personal funds. It was Mitch and Jim who talked to Butch and Manny, and since I saw the presentation outline before the meetings, I believe they were not there as financial investors but as believers in the objectives of the project.
We also got grants from a European donor and from the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP). We also did crowd-sourcing, a way of raising money via the social network, and got monetary contributions from various individuals.
It was a lean and mean way of running a movie production project, poles apart from my experience with my former network. At Happyland, we planned every shooting day and source out the best cost for everything we need in the production. It also helped that some members of the creative team agreed to cuts in their professional fees..
The movie’s setting was a place in Tondo that residents call “Happyland,” which comes from the word “hapilan” — a Visayan word for “garbage dump. “ The movies main characters lived in this place – a former smoking mountain of trash that government bulldozers levelled to give way to substandard and cramped residential buildings for the poor.
At one point, Star Cinema talked to us about the possibility of co-producing the film. It came with a condition though. They will re-write portions of the story to make it more commercial, introducing among others, a love angle aspect to the story. A tie-up with Star Cinema would have meant a great boost to the commercial success of the film. On the other hand, it would also mean we have to replace a number of actors, which would have resulted in a dissension among the ranks of our technical and creative personnel. A number of them are apprehensive with working with a major studio as this may result in loss of their creative independence. After much thought. I politely told Malou Santos, MD of Star Cinema, that in the interest of “industrial peace” I will have to refuse her offer.
We struggled to finish the film. We began filming at the beginning of 2010. We intended to release the film around June or July 2010, around the same time as the World Cup. However, problems encountered during post-production delayed the film’s release and put the production into debt. The post production house has inadvertently erased very important materials from two days of shoot, so we have to re-shoot those scenes. Production costs also shoot up because of the elevated cost of storage and expensive cost of post production that the choice of Red Cameras entails.
Nevertheless, there were opportunities that resulted out of our failure to meet the June-July 2010 deadline. Spain won the World Cup, and so when they held their Spanish film festival in Metro Manila in October 2010, they look for a football movie to show in their festival. Happyland is that movie – the first movie about football produced by a Filipino team.
The first payback we got was that we were able to provide opportunities for personal growth to the more than 20 teenaged football players who joined the cast. Some of the boys got football scholarships. Another one became a team member of the Philippine team to the Homeless World Cup. Moreover, the boys today are more confident and sure of themselves compared to how they were before we started their training.
Meanwhile, the Philippine football team -the Azkals, won games in the Asian stage and soon enough, football became a household word. That rubbed off on us, and it became a bit easier to get groups and communities to sponsor private screenings of the movie. Adobo magazine – the authoritative advertising industry publication sponsored a special screenings of the movie. It even got its corporate clients and guest to donate money or shoes for the Tondo boys.
It was clear to us that Happyland will have a difficult time at the commercial theaters, so our strategy was to do private screenings of the movie. It was also screened in various Sineng Pambansa events in various cities around the country. And it is making the rounds in schools and communities.
To be sure, we are still a long way from recovering the investments we made for the movie, But it is an historical first. It is the first football movie produced in the Philippines. It even won awards for some of our creative and technical staff.
And to me, the satisfaction of being part of a pioneering media vehicle featuring the game of football.
I become a producer of a movie about football two years before the sport got widespread attention. We even tapped the country’s most popular football player, Phil Younghusband, as one of the major actors in that independent film.
During the summer of 2008 my son attended a football clinic. As a culminating activity, football trainers from various schools held a friendly tournament among their wards. I was watching the friendly among teams composed of players aged 16 years and below. The venue was the Ateneo Football field. The name of the visiting team was Los Mataderos.
They don’t look like butchers to me, but the team name and being from Tondo evoked toughness and a killer ring to it. There was therefore an initial hesitance of the Ateneo boys to rough it up with the visiting team. Some of the Tondo boys were playing barefoot while others had worn out shoes. They were cursing a lot, but would quickly lower their voices when their coach called their attention.
Except for 3 or 4 players, most of the team members are still newbies. Nevertheless, they won the game and would have been the champion of the tournament had the organizers not discover that their best player was over aged.
They were also on a first named basis with my son’s team trainer/coach. I learned later that Coach Boy also trains the team. In fact, he grew up in the same neighbourhood as these boys. Like many others that played with him before, football became their ticket to changes in their economic well being. It sent them to school, it put them away from a life of vice and crime, and it paved the way for them to get jobs.
I thought that if football became a ticket for some Tondo boys to improve their lives, other boys all over the country can benefit from being good players of the sport. All it takes is an inspiration. And what would that be? Back then, I noted three possibilities: (1) a winning national team; (2)a popular league and/or players; and, (3) an inspirational media vehicle (movie,TV show, social network page, or a book).
In another part of the field on that same day, Jim Libiran was also watching his son play football. In the course of the tournament, Jim also noticed the barefoot boys and asked a question or two about them. He learned that they are from the same area that he used as a setting for Tribu, his award winning movie about the gangs of Tondo. The film maker and storyteller in him saw a material for a film.
Elsewhere, Peter Amores, a former college football standout, took a respite from helping manage their family business in Cebu and started a non government organization with the objective of teaching football to street kids. He named his NGO, Futkal or Futbol sa Kalye.
One year later, Jim Libiran invited me to a cup of coffee. At Bo’s Coffee in Katipunan, while both of us were waiting to fetch our sons, we talked about Happyland,his second movie after the much acclaimed Tribu. Jim invited me to join him in the project. My role is to advise the team on the business and marketing aspects of film-making and of course, to help get corporate sponsors for the movie.
Jim has also encouraged Peter Amores to take FutKal to Tondo.
Jim and Peter tapped more than 20 boys ranging from 12 to 20 years old and provided them with football training and even acting lessons in preparation for the film. They tapped the players Jim and I observed at play during the Ateneo tournament.
Immediately during our first meeting, I said yes to Jim, not only because producing films is in my bucket list but also because the project is a vehicle that will popularize a sport wherein Filipinos have a fighting chance in the world stage. I also have a personal affinity with the main message of the film which is: “Victory is sweetest if you worked hard enough for it. One won game is not enough to win a tournament. Fight hard enough in every game. Give it your best and then fight some more.”
And so it came to pass that I got involved in the independent movie, Happyland.
Today, December 1 is World Aids Day. In solidarity with all those involved in putting a human face to this affliction, we feature a post contributed by Emmanuel Roldan about his encounter with persons living with HIV(PLHIV) and what they are doing to increase awareness about HIV infection.
DAVAO CITY – One good thing about being in news writing is to be able to write about the lives of different people. A few days ago I interviewed three persons living with HIV (PLHIV); two gentlemen and a young lady. This activity was part of my internal program assessment commissioned by the Alliance against Aids in Mindanao (ALAGAD-Mindanao).
This was not my first time to meet PLHIVs, but this one was rather up close and personal. The 3 persons I interviewed, were in their late 20’s and early 30’s. And contrary to our notion of them being skeletal and sickly, my new friends exude life, beauty and hope. They are no different from people I see everyday: those waiting for jeepney rides; those pushing carts in grocery stores; those swimming in pools or beaches; and, those seating me in the church.
I did not bother to ask them about how they got infected. Rather, we talked about their lives as members of the positive community. Sometime in 2009 about 60 PLHIV formed themselves into what is now Mindanao AIDS Advocates Association (MAAA), Inc. with support from ALAGAD-Mindanao. The objective is to give a local face to the dreaded disease that has no known cure yet. It used to be that the face of HIV and AIDS was represented by a former overseas Filipino worker in the name of Sara Jane. But now, this group proudly stood on her behalf and those of hundreds more in Davao found positive with HIV. They want to tell the people about it and prevent them from being infected. The latest report says Davao ranks second to Cebu as having the most number of HIV positive and their number is growing everyday.
Organizing the positive community is hard. Even my three friends who are now seasoned volunteer peer counselors of ALAGAD-Mindanao concur that they have difficulty in reaching out to PLHIVs. Most difficult are those who are still in the denial stage; those who are professionals and athletic type; those who belong to well-to-do families; and, those who are hiding the truth from their families and loved ones. They told me that they too underwent the same stages in their lives after being diagnosed positive but later they realized that there is life beyond HIV and they have a mission to tell the people, particularly children and young people about their journey.
Definitely there is future for PLHIV because most HIV positive die from complications rather than from the virus itself, and we know that researches for medicinal cure of AIDS are underway. I was moved by their candidness so I asked them about their frustrations and fears being in the positive community. They told me that it could have been better if they had information about HIV and AIDS before. With a smile on her face, the lady in the lady in the group said she was worried about what will eventually become of her looks and her figure. They also stressed the need for family support and understanding of their situation as well as community support because HIV is not only an issue for gays, OFWs, sea fearers, prostituted men and women, but an issue for all sectors of society.
Correct information about HIV is a key to the prevention of being infected. Filipinos have yet to get rid of the stigma and discrimination that are associated with HIV and AIDS. I am happy though that the government is starting to show seriousness in the implementation of the national AIDS program and putting resources for its education, care and support with the help of private sector. Creation of positive communities, like Mindanao Aids Advocates Association (MAAA), is also an important component of our care and support to PLHIV. It is a way of strengthening them to overcome stigma and discrimination and to help educate the public about the infection.
Thank you and good luck to my PLHIV friends, to MAAA and to ALAGAD-Mindanao.
About Emmanuel Roldan:
Emi is my kababayan from Padada, Davao del Sur. We went to the same high school and were altar boys and choir members in our parish church. Today, Emi is a news editor/columnist of the Mindanao Gold Star Daily – a member of the Sunstar Group. Aside from being a journalist, he is also a development worker and a human rights advocate having served in various organizations engaged in human rights protection and development work. At work and at play, Emi was able to nurture his childhood love for music. He still plays mean tunes on his guitar and sings very well.
Emi can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Four friends, who hadn’t seen each other in 30 years, were reunited at a party. After several drinks, one of the men had to use the rest room.
Those who remained talked about their kids. The first guy said, “My son is my pride and joy. He started working at a successful company at the bottom of the barrel. He studied Economics and Business Administration and soon began to climb the corporate ladder and now he’s the president of the company. He became so rich that he gave his best friend a top of the line Mercedes for his birthday.”
The second guy said, “Darn, that’s terrific! My son is also my pride and joy. He started working for a big airline, and then went to flight school to become a pilot. Eventually he became a partner in the company, where he owns the majority of its assets. He’s so rich that he gave his best friend a brand new jet for his birthday.”
The third man said: “Well, that’s terrific! My son studied in the best universities and became an engineer. Then he started his own construction company and is now a multi-millionaire. He also gave away something very nice and expensive to his best friend for his birthday: A 30,000 square foot mansion.”
The three friends congratulated each other just as the fourth returned from the restroom and asked: “What are all the congratulations for?” One of the three said: “We were talking about the pride we feel for the successes of our sons. “What about your son?”
The fourth man replied: “My son is gay and makes a living dancing as a stripper at a nightclub.” The three friends said: “What a shame…what a disappointment. “
The fourth man replied: “No, I’m not ashamed. He’s my son and I love him. And he hasn’t done too bad either. His birthday was two weeks ago, and he received a beautiful 30,000 square foot mansion, a brand new jet and a top of the line Mercedes from his three boyfriends..
If we build, they will come. This is a line from the movie Field of Dreams. This was the same line we used to answer detractors when we decided to build a chapel with nothing but the belief that we will receive contributions from the community’s residents and friends
It was the early-90s, and Parkwood Greens Executive Village was not as affluent a community as it is today. This was prior to the real estate boom that drove up land prices in the area. We were a small community then – mostly middle class employees at the early stages of their professional careers. Ninety eight percent of the residents are Catholics. Once a month on Sunday afternoons, a priest held masses at the clubhouse. But as subdivision population increased, the small clubhouse become a bit small for the increasing number of mass goers.
In 1996, an attempt to generate funds for a chapel was postponed to give way to another pressing project: solving the subdivision’s water supply problem by interconnecting its water lines with the MWSS. Every household had to fork out a substantial sum of money to make push through with the interconnection.
In 1998, Fr Henry Ferreras, then parish priest of the San Antonio Abad Parish of Maybunga, Pasig encouraged the residents to revive the project. He also promised that if a chapel is built within the village, he will make sure that there will be weekly Sunday masses in that chapel. The subdivision’s officers, which I then headed as President, took the challenge squarely.
In the beginning, all we had was the determination and the desire to build a chapel. The village association has no extra funds in its coffers to bankroll the project. But we were able to increase the collection efficiency of the association dues so that we had excess funds after payments of the maintenance, security and admin expenses. We used part of these savings as a seed fund for the project. We also embarked on a series of fund-raising activities: a Little Prince and Princess of Parkwood; a souvenir program; and, fund-raising dinners. During the Christmas season, we went house to house and sang christmas carols. All these activities raised funds and became opportunities to expand the support-base for the project. Those who believed in the project not only contributed cash and/or construction materials but also their own personal time campaigning for support from residents and friends outside of the village.
It was a community effort. Somebody worked on getting a written approval from the subdivision developer to allocate a vacant lot for the structure. Another resident made the engineering design. Two other residents, supervised the project. Another resident acted as foreman for the construction group. Within 5 months from the start of the construction, the chapel infrastructure was finished. The structure was blessed and the first mass within the chapel was celebrated by a guest priest — Fr Rex Arminia. Weekly masses in the still unfinished chapel started immediately after.
It took us another year to complete the finishing stages of the chapel. Another resident adept at finishing stages of a construction work took over the supervision of this meticulous phase of the project. Almost every aspect of the finishing stages of the project was sponsored by either one family or a group of families: the pews, the floor tiles, the altar, the altar’s marble floors, the ceiling, the chandeliers. the belfry, the images, the sound system. The parish priest waived the parish’s share of the Sunday mass collections in the chapel to add funds for the project.
We could not ask for anything more. We started building, and the support and the contributions came
Finally, on November 18, 2001 — then Bishop Carino of the Archdiocese of Pasig consecrated the Our Lady of Remedies as the Patroness of a fully finished chapel,
Since then, the chapel has become an integral part of the community. Aside from the weekly Sunday masses, it is also a more convenient venue for the traditional Simbang Gabi and the Lenten activities. It is also used for recollections, retreats, Easter egg hunts, and other activities of the various organizations of which some Parkwood residents are members. Occasionally, it is used for wakes of departed residents or their close relatives.
Last November 18. 2011, the village celebrated the 10th anniversary of the consecration of Our Lady of Remedies as the Patroness of the chapel. It was momentous occasion especially for those who were there when the chapel was nothing but a dream; and, who have worked to make that dream a reality. Moreover, it was an opportunity for the younger generations to understand how a structure has become a symbol of a community working together to fulfill a dream. To me, the most fulfilling part of the experience was when we got more than the majority of residents of the subdivision to take part and to take ownership of the project. I would not have trade that for one or two guys just giving me the whole sum we needed for the chapel project.
In closing., let me share with you a music video prepared to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the consecration of our chapel. (please click-through the video title below)
Let me end this post with excerpts from the homily delivered by Fr. Henry Ferreras during the Holy Mass on the feast day of Our Lady Of Remedies held at the chapel last November 18, 2011.
…… Walang saysay ang ating pananampalataya kung ito ay hindi nakaugat sa isang malalim na pagmamahal.. pagmamahal sa Diyos, pagmamahal sa Inang Maria….na ipinangalan natin sa chapel na ito … Our Lady of Remedies…
Today, as we come together in this chapel let us remember that this chapel… ay bunga.. bunga ng ating pag-ibig sa Diyos, bunga ng lahat nag ating pagkakayahan sa lahat ng pagsubok sa atin… at ito ay bunga ng ating malalim na panampalataya…