Paolo Contis on the moral of 'A Faraway Land': 'You only live once, give it your all'

Published September 2, 2021, 1:37 PM

by John Legaspi

Apart from its romantic plot, the movie gives a glimpse of Filipino expats’ life in Faroe Islands

Living in the picturesque Northern Atlantic, exploring a different culture, and a chance to build a new, better life—these are among the many reasons why Filipinos go continents away from the country. There is always a call, be it to answer a need or to satisfy a want. And Netflix’s new Filipino flick “A Faraway Land” presents the same themes but is made more palatable for the romcom-loving country with such beautiful sceneries and a complicated love story, it even has a title fit for a fairytale.

Yen Santos and Paolo Contis in “A Faraway Land” (Photo from Netflix)

Directed by Veronica Velasco, its plot centers on Nico Mendoza (Paolo Contis), a Filipino reporter who is making a documentary about overseas Pinoys in Faroe Islands in Danish territory. There he meets Mahjoy (Yen Santos), a Filipino expatriate with whom he develops a complicated relationship. Mahjoy is already married to a local and has a daughter. No worries, we’ll leave it to you to discover how the movie ends.

But setting all the romantic stuff aside, the film offers a glimpse of what it is like to live in that archipelago. And just like other movies about the Filipino diaspora, it brings out mixed feelings. We just can’t help but wonder why Filipinos need to leave the Philippines, in the first place. Is it because of the adventure for some? Or is our country the main reason many want to build a life abroad?

During the filming of the movie late in 2020, actor Paolo Contis was able to meet Filipinos living there and see their lives as an expat. According to him, many Filipinos prefer that kind of life because, just like Mahjoy, it is there where they find their success and achieve. But it is not always a victorious story.

“There will always be a big longing for your family, especially Filipinos are makapamilya (family-centered),” he tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “Ang maganda lang sa Filipino, I think, all over the world, pag alam nila may Filipino doon, laging nagkikita-kita ang mga Pinoy. Doon nila nakukuha yung sense of family na hindi nila nakukuha sa ibang bansa. But I honestly think na whether kung nasaan ka sa ibang bansa or nasa Pilipinas ka man, if you are with the people you love, you will be happy (The great thing about Filipinos, I think, all over the world, is that when they know there are fellow Pinoys there, they will always try to get together. That’s where they get their sense of family abroad. But I honestly think that whether you are in different nations or in the Philippines, if you are with the people you love, you will be happy).”

Despite the film’s cliché infidelity narrative there is still a moral to pick up from it and, for Paolo, that’s to live a life without regrets and always give everything your all. Whether it’s about seeking that faraway land or winning the love of your life, it is always better to say in the end that you gave it your best shot.

“You only live once, give it your all because at the end of the day, win, lose, or draw, wala kang pagsisisihan sa sarili mo (you’ll have nothing to regret about yourself),” the actor muses. “Hindi lahat ng bagay ay panghabang-buhay. Meron maikli pero sobrang precious. Merong maikli pero sobrang tatatak sayo and it will make you a better person in the future, maybe with your next partner or with how you deal with life (Not everything in life lasts forever. There are short moments that are very precious. There are short moments but they stick with you the most and make you a better person in the future, maybe with your next partner or with how you deal with life).”

“A Faraway Land” is now available on Netflix and is currently one of its top streamed titles. Watch the trailer below.