Pangasinan high school-made short film adjudged best international documentary–POPCOM

Published April 26, 2021, 12:41 PM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

High school students from Alaminos, Pangasinan bagged the Best International Documentary Film award for their short film titled “Sa Layag ng Bangkang Paurong” (Boats that Sail Backward) during the recent Fresh International Film Festival in Limerick, Ireland.

WORLD-BEATERS–Students of Alaminos City National High School comprise the production team of the internationally-recognized documentary “Sa Layag ng Bangkang Paurong.”(Photo courtesy of the Commission on Population and Development / MANILA BULLETIN)

The Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) said the short film– created by students of Alaminos City National High School (ACNHS)–was a product of the 4th Adolescent Health and Development Film Festival organized by PopCom Region I in 2019.

The short film depicts the plight and demographic challenges confronting young students who work as boatmen in Hundred Islands, a popular tourist spot in the province. They work at a young age in order to support their education and family’s livelihood.

The documentary represented the region in POPCOM’s National Film Festival in 2020. It has since has managed to break through in the global scene such as in Bangladesh’s Children’s International Film Festival and 3rd Meihodo International Youth Visual Media Festival in Fukuoka, Japan.

It was also recognized as the Best Advocacy Statement and Best Documentary Film in the Streets to Schools National Film Competition of the Association of the Rights of Children in Southeast Asia on March 21.

“We are overwhelmed to witness these young students’ mindsets evolve: from simple perspectives, to gender and culturally sensitive, age-appropriate, and advocacy-worthy films by way of their exposure to POPCOM’s film festivals,” POPCOM-I Director Erma R. Yapit said.

“[The film] emphasizes issues and needs that beset young people of today, and the way they affect the country’s quest to achieve its desired demographic dividend — meeting the needs of these young people contributes mainly to the attainment of their full development into adulthood,” Yapit added.

For the part of the production team, they said that participating in POPCOM’s film festival was a good opportunity for them to be “exposed to the realities of today’s alarming issues.”

“This documentary we produced reflected the actual experiences of our fellow students in their desire to help their families financially, while sustaining their own education. The film is our way of communicating our story. It enabled us to understand the situation as an essential step in achieving social change,” they explained.

Since its production in 2019, the film has been part of the official selections of various international film festivals, such as the Newark International Film Festival in the United States; International Children’s Rights Film Festival in Istanbul, Turkey; Festival Film Bahari in West Java, Indonesia; Golden Tree International Documentary Festival in Hessen, Germany; and DYTIATKO International Children’s Media Festival in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

The documentary may be viewed on POPCOM’s official YouTube channel here.