“Bagati” production stills

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Last weekend, I joined the thesis short film production of one of my colleagues in the UP Film Institute and STAND-UP. It had been a long time since I took part in a film production ever since I entered law school. Interestingly enough, I got invited into one right after I decided to take a break from law. The shoot was held in a peasant community in a barangay in Rodriguez (Montalban), Rizal, near Wawa Dam. It was, surprisingly, just a little more than thirty minutes from Diliman, if one takes the path through the winding Payatas Road.

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Despite the apparent beauty of the scenery surrounding the community, residents are actually suffering from neglect of support from the government. The hanging bridge that serves to connect the community with the main highway was only built three years ago, and even so, is already on the brink of total deterioration. Many of the residents are also confronted with the threat of demolition in the name of road widening and property development by big landowners. Until recently, the communities in the area were being patrolled relentlessly by soldiers and intelligence personnel.

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The short film features peasant children in communities suffering from military offensives and similar forms of violence.

More years to think about what to do with my life

April 25, 2008. A few weeks ago, I went to the UP College of Law for the interview portion of my application process. I was really apprehensive. I was among the last applicants to be interviewed from among the almost-300 who applied, and I was thinking the panelists would have probably heard everything from all the interviewees, and there’s probably nothing else I would say that would please them.

Just a few days after that, the list of eligible enrollees came out and I was fortunate enough to be included in it. One of my brods asked me why I didn’t blog about it. With all modesty, I didn’t want to make it too known, as I am not too keen on attracting too much attention and expectations that I don’t want to be pressured to fulfill.

A few days ago, I submitted my letter of intent to enroll at the UP College of Law. I’m excited, yes, but I’m really also quite anxious about it. I’m graduating from my undergraduate college with a degree in Film this Sunday, and honestly, if I didn’t get accepted into UP Law, I wouldn’t know what to do after. Here’s to four (or more) years of studying in UP!

Last few days as an undergrad

UP Diliman
April 23, 2008. A few days before graduation day, the college held a recognition rites practice. I took it as a time to reacquaint myself with my batchmates in college. I went around asking what they planned to do after graduation, among other such questions. I also volunteered to appear in the graduation AVP a batchmate of mine was making for the recognition rites. After the shoot, I had lunch with some college friends at Beach House.

I left the group a little after I finished my meal, and roamed around the Acad Oval by myself taking random photos. I was trying to romanticize the feeling of nostalgia just before graduation, but it didn’t feel quite like that. At the back of my head I say, I’m not leaving UP, anyway. There’s no use dramatizing graduation rites, at least for me.

An unceremonial end

April 7, 2008. I passed by UP last Monday to do some errands. I didn’t have any more undergraduate classes left, only a handful of final academic requirements. I met with some friends at the Batibot in Mass Comm, and hung out for an hour or so. I also argued with my thesis partner one last time, regarding our written thesis. Last Friday, I passed my last academic requirement ever for my undergraduate years in college. It was a final paper for PI 100. After sending it by email and receiving my grade, it felt quite anticlimactic. Was that it? Am I done with BA Film & Audio-Visual Communication? I don’t have anything else to do to complete my course? I had expected it to feel liberating but it wasn’t quite like that.

I also had my entrance interview at the UP College of Law last Friday. I had expected that my panelists would question me with regards to some of my affiliations. They did, but not as harshly as I had expected, thankfully. I’m looking forward to entering law school, but I’m really apprehensive. I don’t know what to do yet, if I don’t pass the interview.

Film thesis almost done!

March 26, 2008. My thesis partner and I defended our thesis short film yesterday morning. It’s finally over. Congrats, James! I’m glad that all the stress and sleepless nights editing and arguing over how our thesis shall develop or look like are over.

Yesterday was quite stressful. I woke up with a headache, and after taking three doses of ibuprofen the entire day, it barely toned down. And I had the luck of having to take a two hour exam for Sociology 101 after defending my thesis. I felt like going on a painful trance. I barely studied, and with a headache, it was quite excruciating how I had to extract whatever stocked knowledge I had regarding the subject matter. After filling up my blue book with words, I couldn’t recognize what I had written.

Anyway, I had just been to the second day of theses defense and screening at Cine Adarna, and I came out feeling proud of everyone in my batch at the UP Film Institute, with their brilliant pieces of work. Ah, I hope our talents will not be in vain when we pursue our careers in the “real-world” media / entertainment industry. Everyone’s works made me feel quite insecure, honestly. Joaqs just had to punctuate the day with his Bulong. It made me feel like my film is crap. High production value, multi-layered material, it’s that excellent.

But before I can say that thesis is finally over, we still have to work on and finish the written hard-bound part and submit them next week. Till then, let us hold on to what’s left of our film student days.

Gusto ko na matapos

March 12, 2008. The last pile of academic work has come upon me. I’m back to drinking energy drinks and 24-hour fastfood delivery to keep me up all night. I’m this close to graduating! To be honest about it, I’m not very interested in my present subjects anymore. Even my thesis! I just want to get things over with. It also feels quite weird that I don’t have to enlist in any subjects anymore. I’ll miss being an undergraduate. I’m just trying to kill time right now by blogging while waiting for a sequence I’m trying to weave and edit to render in Final Cut. In other news, we enrolled Tisay in a neighborhood day care center a few days ago. It was quite a joy bringing her to the center morning, all eager and ready with her tiny lunch box. Ok, back to work. [Photo above taken this morning with Photo Booth while waiting for a professor to arrive].

Tope and Joma’s shoot

Tope & Joma's Thesis Shoot Tope & Joma's Thesis Shoot Tope & Joma's Thesis Shoot Tope & Joma's Thesis Shoot Tope & Joma's Thesis Shoot Tope & Joma's Thesis Shoot

Two weeks ago, I passed by my film blockmates Tope and Joma’s thesis short film shoot in one of the quasi-abandoned building complexes in UP. Their thesis also sort of brushes up on political disappearances. Actually, another blockmates’ film also tackles the same theme. Having similar themes with the other theses don’t really bother me. For me it’s simply a manifestation of the social milieu our films are based and made on. I only stayed for a couple of hours that Saturday morning, as I had other things to attend to, so I was only able to catch the first few takes. Medyo bigatin ang thesis nila. They had Bembol Roco and Jason Abalos as their main actors.

“Katha” shoot Day 1

"Katha" Shoot Day 1 "Katha" Shoot Day 1

February 1, 2008. The day after my film thesis shoot, I passed by my friends’ own thesis shoot in UP Village. It was a set shoot, with all the bulky lights and equipment. It went on for almost twenty-four hours, but I didn’t stay on all the way. Eka and Patti were also shooting on 35 mm film, something I also planned on doing but eventually decided against it. Interestingly, we’re shooting at the same location, in the same apartment, in two weeks.

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Thesis Shoot Day 1

"Big Bro" First Shooting Day "Big Bro" First Shooting Day

January 28, 2008. First shooting day last Saturday, January 26, went okay. It’s been two days but there’s still a nagging feeling that suggests I am not entirely satisfied with the shots. I think we’re going to call for an additional shooting day to shoot more footage or re-shoot altogether. All our locations were outdoors and semi-guerilla. Our first location was at the Manila North Cemetery. Aside from the usual crowds who watch and make distracting noise, we didn’t encounter much problems.

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The day went by quite quickly. Since all our shots that day were outdoors, we didn’t have any artificial lighting, thus it was easy to shoot and move around. That proved to be quite an advantage when you’re not totally in control of your environment. For example, since we had a protest rally sequence, we coincided our first shooting day with an actual Mendiola rally (instead of staging/faking our own), which on that day was a commemoration of First Quarter Storm. We were, however, not able to schedule our shoot correctly so we had to rush and shoot everything we can before the protest action ended. We encountered some problems with the Manila Police, too, but everything was settled eventually. There’s an inconsistency with our actors’ police uniforms, I don’t know if people will notice.

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Thesis shoot at Quezon Boulevard

After having lunch with everyone in the production, we went shooting some footage along C.M. Recto. There were still a lot of cops around–good thing we didn’t get into trouble for having a bulky camera around. After waiting for some friends to join us and help, we proceeded to Quezon Boulevard and shot some police chase scene. I was trying to edit the sequence yesterday, and it really made me feel that we didn’t shoot enough. I’ve talked to my thesis partner and we decided to re-shoot this sequence. The stills look okay, though.

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