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A Loving and Supportive Family: The Jonnie Lyn Dasalla’s Backstory

Updated: Aug 19, 2021

Have you ever wondered about being the only surviving human on Earth? One would never know what kind of apocalypse or Armageddon would obliterate or halt the existence of humanity. While we do not expect a permanent detriment in our life, creating lasting memories with our family and loved ones is one thing we could carry on.

Some of the functions of families in the society would be physical maintenance and social control of its members and affective nurturance. Having not performed such things, individuals could be at risk and suffer as well as their morale would be degraded just like what the whole world is facing during these uncertain times.

For the Cinemalaya 2021, one short film entry may pinch the heart or somehow make anyone who will watch it realize the importance of family.

'Namnama en Lolang' or 'Grandmother's Hope' is a short fiction drama film produced and directed by Jonnie Lyn Dasalla. This five-minute film depicts a grandmother and her baby grandson who find solace with each other during the lockdown period as they face the harsh reality of the pandemic.

Hailing from Baguio City, Benguet, this budding filmmaker is currently taking her Master's Degree at the University of the Philippines Diliman with the course MA Media Studies (Film) and at the same time working full time as a Digital Media Editor in GMA Network Inc.

Jonnie Lyn shared that filmmaking was not the path she dreamt to take. At the time she was starting, she had struggles with her resources to gradually pursue what was considered a blessing in disguise. Indeed, passion is born when a person catches a glimpse of his or her true potential.

"Actually, ang course na kinuha ko nung college ay pre-Law which is Legal Studies. But then, narealize ko na mafifeel mo na hindi pala ito yung para sa iyo and then nagshift ako to Mass Comm. Dun unti-unting namulat ang passion ko for filmmaking and photography. At that time, wala rin akong camera nung college. So nakikihiram ako ng DSLR camera ng classmates ko and dun ako unti-unting natuto until nabilhan ako ng sariling camera and then I just exposed myself konti-konti on that."

After college, she decided to finally pursue filmmaking by applying for the Master of Arts in Media Studies major in Film at UP Diliman. She had friends who were also passionate of the craft.

"So dun nagkaroon ako ng friends who are also passionate in filmmaking. Naging videographer ako sa mga kasama ko until nitong pandemic, bumalik ako sa hometown ko sa Baguio."

Back in the Cordilleras, she produced and filmed her short masterpiece using only what she had--a mobile phone.

"Ang ginamit kong equipment ay mobile phone lang for that short film 'Namnama en Lolang' which is very challenging kasi syempre iba ang DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) sa mobile phone. Doon ko minaximize ang resources ko and then dun mo siya makikita na hindi about sa equipment but it is your vision, your passion, and how you tell a story."

"Nagsimula siya sa isang film festival here in the Philippines called Quarancine. Ang requirement po talaga is yung film is to be shot using mobile phone. Yun po ang challenge sa filmmakers. Dun na po umikot ang kwento."

When asked how she had an interest in filmmaking, she mentioned that watching films since childhood became part of their fun experience as a family. With the exploration and space created within the family, she was inspired to make her film.

"Dun pa lang, I was inspired to make one kasi yung film is not just a way of entertaining but it is also an escape from reality and also a way of expressing yourself to the world. Nung napanood ko yung mga film like '3 Idiots', dun ko narealize na I also want to make a film like that, that inspires other people to pursue their dreams."

The film has its cast played by Jonnie Lyn's mother named Concepcion Dasalla and her nephew named Jaeceelizeon Alhexys Dasalla. It focuses on the story of Lolang Keyag who lives in isolation with her baby grandson Eli, as she was left to take care of him during the lockdown period. Despite the difficulties faced in this trying time, she tries her best to be hopeful for her grandson.

BTS Photos from the film production of "Namnama En Lolang" directed by Jonnie Lyn Dasalla

"I just had one week to prepare kasi malapit na ang deadline ng competition. Kumbaga ilang days lang to make a concept. Una ko talagang naisip is that feeling of isolation so I just want to work on that kasi lockdown period. Lahat tayo common ang feeling of isolation and anxiety. Syempre, may constraints, may restrictions kasi ito yung mga time na bawal pang lumabas so kailangan sa bahay and yung mga kasama ko sa bahay, yung mismong pamilya ko ang kailangan kong itap as cast and crew kasi it's due to health protocols."

One of the many challenges facing families due to the COVID-19 pandemic is finding new ways of living together while letting go of old expectations. Research shows us that families need a sense of familiarity and stability in their lives; these experiences can foster feelings of family closeness. Jonnie Lyn mentioned that during this pandemic, the people whom she can lean on, rely on and cling to

are her family.

Amid growing pandemic fears and restrictions, when families spend quality time together, it can build and strengthen the family unit which, in turn, may alleviate stress and can be a beacon of hope--to strive harder, and to move forward.

"In general talaga, during this pandemic, ang kakapitan mo lang ay yung family mo. Nakakarelate siguro ang ibang tao kasi that feeling of isolation, that feeling na nakakulong ka sa bahay and then yung daily life din ng grandmother and nung grandson and just waiting for the lockdown na mawala."

"Despite the harsh reality na fineface natin together with our family, magkakaroon pa rin ng hope for the future kasi yung baby grandson represents the next generation and yung grandmother represents the past generation kung ano ang feelings natin in the past na hopefully yung future generations, maalagaan natin para hindi na maulit muli yung mga pagkakamali natin para hindi maapektuhan ang susunod na henerasyon."

Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, and difficulty. Having summoned up courage in the dark, Jonnie Lyn perceived a silver lining behind the clouds.

She didn't expect that she could produce and direct a short film during the pandemic. During the lockdown, what bothered her the most was their survival. However, she also thought that her passion would give her a break.

"Thankfully, nakagawa ako during this pandemic kasi ang isang goal ko talaga is to make a film during this time, to document the issues and hurdles that we are facing."

Film Still from the Short Film "Namnama En Lolang" directed by Jonnie Lyn Dasalla

"Despite the hopelessness, nagkaroon din ng hope sa nangyaring ito. Hindi ko po ineexpect na makakagawa ng short film na makakapasok sa local and international film festivals. Isa sa biggest breakthrough ay itong Cinemalaya kasi dream ko po talaga na makapasok sa Cinemalaya and hindi ko po inexpect na ngayon talaga sa panahon na ito."

Everyone needs a house to live in, but a supportive family is what builds a home. During the course of her struggles, her family, especially her mother, is her source of strength and determination. While experiencing tiring days and beginning to feel hopeless, Jonnie Lyn never fails to turn back and be gratified to God.

"I'm grateful that my mother is very supportive. My father passed away many years ago. Dun sa struggles na yun, she is supportive and hindi niya sinusuppress kung ano ang passion namin. Sa family and relatives namin, ako lang ang nagpupursue sa filmmaking. May isa akong pamangkin na nagi-start na sa multimedia. Supportive sila sa tinatahak kong landas. She (mother) trusts me sa decisions ko sa buhay."

"I'm blessed and grateful kay God dahil okay kami at nasusustain kami ni God sa lahat ng pangangailangan namin. They are happy, they are blessed that naging part sila ng film festival. Yung mama ko po and yung pamangkin ko, first time po nila na mag-act like napaka-raw, napaka-genuine. Akala ng iba minsan documentary siya, akala ng iba totoo ang film na ito. Thankfully, we are healthy and protected during this time."

According to her being a newbie, it is not like a walk in the park to enter in the industry especially that she has no connections. She started from nowhere and out of scratch.

Film still from the short film "Namnama En Lolang" directed by Jonnie Lyn Dasalla

"Don't be afraid to start small or to start from scratch especially na feeling mo you don't have resources but you have actually kasi you can start on your hometown kasi it's very great to represent your own hometown, your own region kasi may magagandang kwento sa sariling atin. You just have to maximize what you have. Just have a vision and ang pinakamaganda is you have a good intention, you know your purpose, and you have a social responsibility. Don't be afraid to take a leap of faith."

Amid all the attempts to fight and defy the odds in this challenging situation, the love and caress of our family is what keeps us valiant, determined, and optimistic. A challenge for us would be, to take care of our family and loved ones so that no lethal Armageddon could ever put humanity in distress and oblivion.

Watch Jonnie Lyn Dasalla's The Daily Daily video HERE.

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