Film lecturer presents an open letter to VP Leni Robredo through ‘Maria Leonor’ documentary

Published November 25, 2021, 11:22 AM

by John Legaspi

Seymour Barros Sanchez’s documentary shows how ‘Filipino women can become very good leaders if they will not let themselves be pulled down and prevailed upon by patriarchal dictates’

Support poured in many ways to Vice President Leni Robredo when she announced her presidential bid for the coming 2022 Elections. There’s the Leni Lugaw movement, a number of pink marches all over the country, a 60-foot mural, and now a documentary.

VP Leni Robredo (Photo from OVP)

Described as an open letter to VP Leni, “Maria Leonor” is an 11-minute video that asks viewers why “Robredo continues to be one of the most trolled public officials in the country–despite her office’s inclusive pandemic response efforts given their relatively smaller budget.” Released earlier this month, the short film is directed by Seymour Barros Sanchez, a communication and film lecturer, and is part of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde Center for Campus’ “To Differ Digitally 2: Love and Dissent in the Time of Pandemic” (TDD2) online art exhibition, headed by Architect Gerry Torres and the DLS-CSB New Media Cluster led by Associate Dean Maria Sharon Mapa Arriola.

“The COVID-19 crisis has revealed that some countries with women leaders have been shining examples of effective and vital leadership in their response to the pandemic. Despite challenges associated with them being women, they have been proactive in responding to the threat of the virus, seeking expert advice to inform health strategies, implementing social distancing restrictions early, and unifying their respective countries around a comprehensive response with compassionate and transparent communication,” the director’s note says. “Meanwhile, in the Philippines, the administration continues to impose its might, preferring an approach other than the more appropriate medical solution to a health problem. A Filipina leader is relegated to the background.”

‘Maria Leonor’ film poster

Chronicling VP Leni’s public service and credentials, “Maria Leonor” also sheds light on her and her office’s efforts during the pandemic crisis, and includes clips from her Oct. 7, 2021 announcement speech and past works in different parts of the country. To make it possible, Seymour worked with camera persons Ariel Alarcon, Charles Cajayon, and Kristin Joy Bactad Jor, sound recordist Darwin Novicio, music composer Tonton Hernandez (“Ituloy ang Laban”), voiceover narrator Eloisa Espino Sanchez, sound and graphic designer and editor John Lanbert Rafols, and creative consultant Richard Soriano Legaspi.

Apart from the documentary, TDD2 features live action films, animation, photographs, 2D and 3D models and rigs, texts, audio, applications, software, graphic design, and illustrations, offering “not only a fresh opportunity to deliver messages of social commentary through the digital medium; it is also a timely response to conditions wrought by the present scourge of the COVID-19 virus,” according to curator Karen Ocampo-Flores.

Watch ‘Maria Leonor’ here at