A mother’s love should never be underrated or questioned because it is truly incomparable.
This inspired and motivated 26-year old Communication Student Paul John Grajo of University of Caloocan City to write and direct his film “Ang Gugma ni Mama,” an entry to the Monumento Film Festival 2021.
“Napaka-personal sa akin ng story. It is something very close to my mother’s heart. At ang pinaka objective ko dito is to serve as reminiscence for my mother as well as to inspire other mothers to show love and compassion para sa mga anak nila.”
“ I believe na ang pagiging ina ay hindi naman natitigil kapag ang anak mo ay naging magulang na rin. I do believe na kapag dumating na sa point na yun, it opens another chapter of your life as a mother. I am hoping na through this film, maka-inspire kami ng mga nanay at mag-iina.”
His film “Ang Gugma ni Mama” revolves in the story of Adela and her mother Rosal who both experienced miraculous and heart wrenching moments in their lives. A sudden twist and turns of events will change their lives and will also affect the people around them.
With a story about love, indeed, Paul can never go wrong. But he recalled that creating a film during a pandemic is totally a different experience.
“Given na we have to face the limited resources because we are all students after all and there are a lot of restrictions. But naalala ko din na nung kinailangan namin mag-pitch ng story, nahirapan talaga ako mag-isip. It just happened na tinitigan ko ang mama ko, then nung younger pa ako, naaalala ko na may kinukuwento siya about her mother and her grandparents. Kaya ko nasulat ang pelikulang ito.”
His mom was generous enough to share the backstory of that particular experience which transpired with her mother and grandmother. She also shared to Paul a very beautiful composition which they ended up using in their film.
Thanks to her mom’s vivid memories, his vision of paying tribute to all mothers has come to life.
However, being the writer and director of their film, Paul shared in an interview with The Film Dream that he had his personal struggles during the film production. As the captain of their crew, he really wanted to allow everyone in his team to shine and fulfill their respective roles.
“I don't want to be dominating. Basically, I tried to be more understanding to the majority more than myself. Ang kagandahan naman is that they are willing to compromise as well.”
“Yung pandemic is really a challenge and the story requires different characters. Nahirapan din kami talaga humanap ng talents. Di’ba usually nung high school kapag pinapagawa tayo ng dula dulaan and such, kaklase lang din natin yung gumaganap. This time, it's different. Kailangan talaga marunong umarte.”
Despite the challenges, Paul made sure that nothing and no one gets left behind. He also mentioned that he is grateful to his professor Rhyan Malandog who has been very hands-on since they started the film project.
But before completing his film project, little did we know, Paul has a lot more story to unfold.
“I graduated 2012 in high school and then when I decided to enter college, ‘yung choice ng course (Business Administration) ‘yung mother ko ang nag-decide. Nagkaroon ng conflict and I chose to stop.”
He utilized this time to work for a beauty brand and other projects. And because he has always dreamed of acting in television so he decided to juggle auditioning for some roles and appearances while working.
“I tried auditioning sa I Can See Your Yoice, three times. Nagpapaalam ako sa boss ko kasi pwede ba akong ma-late sa work kasi ganito, ganyan ‘yung schedule ng auditions. Paulit-ulit yun and parang di ako natatanggap so I decided to give up my work.”
After six years, Paul made a huge decision to come back to school and continue his studies. He had to enroll for another course before finally taking a slot in the Communication program of UCC. He believes that in one way or another, taking up Communication in college can be a stepping stone for him to penetrate the entertainment industry.
“Pinakapangarap ko talaga ay kahit papano maging part ng showbiz kasi passion ko talaga ang pag-act. Bonus na lang din talaga na I was given the chance to produce, direct and write a film.”
“Napaka-fulfilling na malaman na napili ang film namin. Kasi this is really for my mother. Alam naman natin ang sacrifices ng mga magulang natin, and kahit man lang dito, makabawi-bawi. I’m thankful na kahit papano, kahit mahirap ang buhay nasusuportahan pa rin na makapag-aral.”
BTS Photos during the Film Production of "Ang Gugma ni Mama" directed by Paul John Grajo
When asked about the greatest lesson Paul has learned over the years, with all the detours and humps and bumps along his way, he junctured:
“Noong nag-work ako and I had to stop from schooling, I learned that if it’s for you, it’s really for you. No matter how long it takes. Kaya ngayong 4th year na ako and I’m taking my internship, isa din sa mga pangarap ko talaga is maging part ng film production. If not given the chance to act infront of the camera. It was really a blessing. Kung ano man pinagdaanan ko noon na mahirap, parang nawala na siya.”
He also shared advice to his fellow dreamers, “Keep yourself on the ground. Even if I am the director, I absorb ideas and changes kasi kung nakikita ko naman na it’s for the betterment of the film, why not. Huwag maging self-centered. Huwag tumatak sa sarili na ako ang director, so ako ang masusunod. It’s not like that.”
“I am always this kind na kapag may groupings and may magre-raise na ako ang maging leader. Ang sinasabi ko sa kanila, ako magle-lead satin pero equal kami. We are all leaders. Yung position, it’s nothing to me.”
“Just continue your creativity and your imagination. As time progresses, we absorb new things, new ideas. Just keep it there. If binigay mo yung gigil mo, kahit sino humarang, aarangkada ka. Huwag na tayo mahiya. Huwag na tayo mawalan ng lakas ng loob na subukan kasi wala namang masama.”
What amazes me even more about this determined storyteller is his eagerness to transform his vision into reality. No stones left unturned. In fact, he is very excited to learn more and given the chance, he will not think twice about creating another film in the future.
Paul John Grajo clearly knows what he wants and he is truly unstoppable. With the right amount of dedication and hard work, who knows he might be the next stellar actor/director. We’ll never know.
COMING SOON! Monumento Film Festival 2021.
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