Young Thomasian filmmakers are leaving their mark in the local film scene

Updated: Sep 7


When nine fourth year Communication Arts students from the University of Santo Tomas first got together for their film production class, they had no idea where it would take them. Fast forward to August 2020, the team who goes by 1PM Films, has participated and won numerous awards with their short feature, Gáring.


Gáring revolves on a single mother named Concha (Chin Jongko) and her son, Natoy (Cloud Ugayan). Concha sells religious items and candles in front of a church for a living. After an unfortunate accident happened that led to Natoy’s hospitalization, Concha had to exhaust all means to save his life. Knowing that Concha couldn’t collect the needed funds by herself, her Tsang Fely (Pamy Villa) suggested that she reach out to Natoy’s estranged father, Dante (Monits Torres) for help.


However, even with her efforts, Natoy’s condition had gotten worse and she was running out of time. Her desperation and love for her son led her to steal a priced relic from the church to illegally trade it for money. Unfortunately, when she came back home, Tsang Fely delivered the news of her son’s passing.


The filmmaking process

The original concept of Gáring is the brainchild of Charlaine Mutia (casting director). While pitching for ideas, the whole team comprising of Katarina Mendoza (production manager), Dan Pablo (director, director of photography, editor), Emery Principe (assistant director), Georgie Cerbolles (screenwriter), Ynna Dizon (associate producer), Alexandra Garcia (location manager), Shaira Calleja (production design), and Barbara San Diego (art director), felt drawn to the elements of religion and motherly love that was present in the Mutia’s idea. From there, the initial concept and storyline was developed and further refined by Cerbolles.


After the plot and characters of the story were finalized, 1PM films moved on to casting, location hunting, art direction, preparations, and scheduling. Even with a lot of apprehension during the decision-making process, Mendoza was relieved that everything eventually worked out. According to Pablo, he believes that the synergy of the team came from everybody’s collaborative efforts and willingness to create a film that would make a difference.


"We worked on Gáring on a limited budget and a tight deadline and with that, I think making it as authentic as possible was our greatest challenge. We wanted to create something that would stand out among other student films and at the same time, we tried our best to cover universal matters that everybody can relate to. Our film is not perfect but with the help of our friends and a little bit of luck, I believe we made something that we can be proud of," said Pablo.

The world of film festivals

Gáring won Second Best Picture, Best Direction, Best Screenplay, Best Actress for Chin Jongko, and Best Trailer in the 8th Sine Reel, an annual film festival organized by the Communication Arts Association at UST. After that, Gáring was selected as one of the finalists in De La Salle University’s Indie Un-Film Festival 2019, as well as the first-ever Filipino all-student film festival Cinestudyante, which was hosted from the partnership of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) and Santolan Town Plaza.

1PM Films continued to take their short feature places when they qualified for UP Cinema’s Piling Obrang Vidyo XVI and took home the Best Performance award for Chin Jongko. Gáring also bagged numerous awards in the recently concluded Cinemapúa 2020, such as Best Production Design, Best Original Soundtrack, Best Direction, Best Screenplay, and the Cardinal Silver Film Award under the collegiate category.


The road is still long for the humbled team behind Gáring, and they’d like to believe it’s only just the beginning. They hope to inspire other young and aspiring filmmakers to pursue their creative ideas and make it come alive. 1PM Films will be proudly showcasing their film once again in the upcoming 32nd Gawad CCP Para sa Alternatibong Pelikula at Video.

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