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‘Sa Gitna ng Pandemya’ by UST Angelicum College Wins at the 42nd CMMA

Updated: Apr 14, 2021

These past few months have been very challenging not just for the Filipino people but for the rest of the world. The COVID-19 pandemic took us all by surprise. Our faith is being tested and it is tough to keep our sanity intact.

No more hugs, no more kisses, no more handshakes. Our faces are all covered with face masks to prevent getting the deadly virus.

Everyone is affected. Some businesses had to shut down and a lot of employees were retrenched. Students are forced to stay home and adapt to home-based learning. Not only that, children and senior citizens are forced to stay inside their homes.

We saw millions of people dying and thousands of families starving because they can no longer put food on their tables. Jeepney drivers had to even beg on the streets because they can’t provide for their families. Our healthcare system is collapsing. A lot of nurses and doctors did not even survive the wrath of COVID-19.

These excruciating stories are just some of the many battles we are all facing today. And admit it or not, this is the kind of story that the world needs to know-- COVID-19 is real and it should be taken seriously.

This become the goal of these three young filmmakers from UST Angelicum College, Arlindane Jesusa Villanueva, Maria Helena Rosales and Ernesto Dominique Virtucio; they have successfully produced a trilogy short film entitled, “Sa Gitna ng Pandemya,” aimed to create awareness on the challenges during infection and how you can help others during this crisis.

This trio of talented and resilient filmmakers were inspired to create a story through the help of their mentor Mark Anthony Norella. The trilogy depicted the current situation in this pandemic: “Ang Sakit.”, “Ang Sakit!” and “Ang Sakit?”

“Ang Sakit.” revolved on the story of the frontliners who risked their lives to save others and continuously serve the country. Regardless if they might get infected because of their duty, or the possibility that they may not see their families again the next day, they have vowed to keep their pledge of service. The AngeliCOMM filmmakers trio highlighted the sacrifice of the heroes of today.

“Ang Sakit!” on the other hand is about the people who died because of the COVID-19 virus and it also shows how painful it was for them to lose their loved ones.

“Ang Sakit?” depicts another face of the pandemic. It focuses on people who lack empathy because they are privileged or shielded from danger. They still eat three times a day, or even more than that. They have a shelter, and may just choose to relax at home and binge watch on their favorite movies. In this third series, the filmmakers wanted to enlighten people on the value of kindness and the importance of empathy. Some people were complaining that they can’t go out, they can’t meet their friends, their plans are put on hold without even thinking of others who are experiencing the worst situations this pandemic has brought us. So instead of complaining, they want to encourage the audience to extend a helping hand to those in need.

So what were the challenges they encountered during the film production? One of the film directors, Dane Villanueva, shared with the Film Dream their remarkable experience.

“We cannot go out and we have limited resources. Since bawal lumabas, we have to think of something kung paano yung atake na gagawin namin to create the film without compromising its quality and at the same time following the health protocols. Some of the members of the production team do not have their own camera, lights, tripod, mic, etc. So what we did, delivery service na lang para maipadala yung mga gamit na available sa ibang classmates namin,” Villanueva said.

She can vividly recall that she even had to fulfill different roles especially with her assigned part, which is the third series of their film.

“Since bawal kami magkita-kita, ang nangyari, ako na yung direktor, ako pa yung actor since wala akong kasama sa bahay na pwedeng siya yung gumanap. Ako na rin yung editor since mahihirapan pa kami ipasa yung mga files because of the (slow) internet (connection) ,” Villanueva said.

True enough, film production in the time of pandemic is no walk in the park at all. As a matter of fact, while they were producing this film, they even had to juggle other school requirements including their thesis. But she is thankful because she has good working relationship with the other two friend directors Helena and Nikko, who directed the first and second series of their film trilogy.

“Yung mga assigned directors for the series ay mga kaibigan ko rin kaya mas naging madali para sa amin kasi we’re very vocal sa mga ideas kung paano namin mas mapapaganda yung film. Tulong-tulong kami mag-isip and at the same time may mga natututunan din ako sa kanila na mga strategies para maging mas madali yung trabaho.”

“We’re just so thankful that we now have messenger, zoom and other applications that we can use to video call. Communication is really vital kasi sa totoo lang mas madali mag-brainstorm kapag magkakasama and mas mabilis yung feedback on how we can execute the film but we also had to ensure our safety,” Villanueva emphasized.

Despite all those obstacles, Dane, Helena and Nikko withstood all these challenges with flying colors. An effort that was recognized as the 2020 Best Student Short Film at 42nd Catholic Mass Media Awards.

The message of “Sa Gitna ng Pandemya” undoubtedly put them on the pedestal not only because it is timely and relevant but also conveys a challenge for us to take a step in becoming better individuals. What a winning moment for this trio!

These young filmmakers are dreamers and they hope that this isn’t their last film project. When everything gets better, they will continue to create true stories that spark hope and truth.

“We are looking forward to making films that depict the story of the Filipinos. Impactful stories that will inspire, and motivate them to help. And also be the voice for the voiceless,” Villanueva emphasized.

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Their struggles and how they overcome challenges?

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