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From the 11th Floor to the New World: Studio Onse's Story

We had limited resources, but we were brought together at the right moment, in the right place, surrounded by people who value creativity as we do.

ABS-CBN ELJ’s 11th floor, where our former office resides, became our inspiration as we formed our group and created a film that was supported by officemates on the 11th floor. STUDIO ONSE – a group of aspirants who were given a rare opportunity to put their imagination into imagery and help their story, become a living vision.

I had a short conversation with Steph Angeles, Studio Onse’s finance chief and production manager, the night I started penning this article. In our conversation, she mentioned that no amount of money can repay the love and support of the people around us when we were starting to create our short film, a final project for Multiplatform Visual Storytelling - the ABS-CBN University course that we signed up to.

People. Love. Support. These were key ingredients.

“Dama de Noche”, the final output that I was talking about was borne out of collaboration. That is why no single person in the team can own it entirely as his or her brainchild. We all sat together to flesh out the details of the project. Jill Aspiras, our head of research, was challenged by all the sensitivities of the story. “We wanted Dama de Noche to not only carry a story of an Overseas Filipino Worker, but we also intended it to become some sort of a Public Service Announcement,” she mentioned. “We had to reach out to the nearest possible person from whom we can get important data, we get copies of actual documents and related stories just to create a real person out of Daisy Resurreccion’s character blueprint.”

Our Director of Photography, Karen Adiova, recalls her realization while filming the important scenes in the film. As a daughter of a Hong Kong OFW, Karen said that seeing the scenes through the lens projected images of reality that she prays her mom doesn’t have to go through. “As I peeped through the lens, I am seeing it both as a blessing and curse,” Karen recalls. “Blessing, because the short film can become an eye-opener to both the authorities and the families of OFWs. Curse, because this kind of abuse that Daisy experienced happen to the dead and the living every day – in real life.”

Help surged and continued as we move closer to 2018 September 11, the official launching of Dama de Noche, together with 8 other short films, for the Lente Film Festival – the culmination event of the course we took. Our officemates-turned-friends came together to collaborate with this project. Some officemates contributed funds, “passed the hat” to add up to our production budget. We needed music, and we got it through our resident music producer, Lloyd Oliver Corpuz. We needed an editor who can weave the videos intricately, and there came the help of Jaimee Jan Agonia who considers this a total breather from the daily workload that she does for the same department. We needed special effects, and there came Alfie Landayan, an international award-winning animator who willingly shared his expertise without second thoughts upon hearing the project. The roll call doesn’t stop.

Long story short. The collaboration has resulted in an award sweep on the night of the Lente Film Festival.

L-R : Jill Aspiras, LA Sibug, Steph Gonzales, ABS-CBN University Professor Nico Hernandez, Nathan Perez, Happy Adiova
Jill Aspiras, LA Sibug, Steph Angeles, University Professor Nico Hernandez, Nathan Perez, Happy Adiova, Toff Cagape

Here comes The Film Dream who believed that Lente Film Fest will never be the end of it. They were all-out in pushing us to bring the short film out of the classroom. And because they believed in us, we also started to believe that Daisy’s story is meant to be told to a larger audience. The Film Dream made it happen. With careful planning and few more enhancements, including an all-original song and scoring, Dama de Noche made its way to Cinemalaya 2020 as one of the featured short films for the first-ever digital film festival.

From the glass rooms where the brainstorming happened to the pages of Cinemalaya, we relied on the LOVE and SUPPORT of the PEOPLE around us. Steph was right when she said that more than the talents that we have, the love and support of people around us were the strongest pillars that made Studio Onse. And because of these pillars, LA Sibug, our Director is seeing more for the team. “Cinemalaya is just the start,” he writes. “There are more stories that need to be told and I think we are in a perfect position, considering all the help that we are getting, to do it the best way we can.”


Studio Onse’s eleventh-floor office might not be the same now since the CoVid-19 pandemic and the ABS-CBN shut down but it will live on as each member continues to tell stories as they have gone separate ways braving the new world. After all, as the team says, anything is possible if you came from “the house that builds stories”.



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