Reel Time: Written on the Water
GMA News TV (GMA Network, Inc. – Philippines)
INTERVIEW WITH THE WINNING PRODUCER
What inspired you to make this film? How did you find these children?
For many students, going to school is as easy as riding a school bus or walking to a nearby campus.
But in Matnog, Sorsogon, children face more challenges. They were left with no options but to cross the rough sea and rocky terrain every time they need to go to school. Carrying bags, books and their school uniforms has been a Herculean task for them. For students who have been taking school for granted, we thought these children’s story would become a wake-up call and source of inspiration.
After getting information from a local reporter based in Sorsogon Province, we immediately traveled more than 16 hours from Manila to film their story. What we found out was more heartbreaking than we thought.
How did you develop the idea?
A bridge was promised to these children once, but it was never built. They were empty promises that were washed away with the current of the sea that the students cross every day.
The narrative raised an important question to the viewers, who were then getting ready to choose their next leaders in the national elections – why do these children suffer every time they go to school? How do we intend to reverse their future?
What difficulties did you encounter in filming this story?
We met a string of difficult situations while doing the documentary. The sea was not entirely cooperative during our shoot. While the children were used to the steep and muddy terrain, we found it difficult to cross mountains going to their school. There was also no electricity in some villages where we filmed the story, months after a strong typhoon hit the province. We were short of extra batteries for our cameras, so we had to travel to far-flung villages just to recharge.
What has been the reaction from audiences after watching the programme? Have there been any changes after it was shown?
There was an outpour of positive reactions from the audience who were able to see the documentary on air and online. Weeks after its initial broadcast, some groups organized a fund drive and outreach project to send bags, books and other school supplies. Yellow Boat of Hope, through its donors, was able to build motorboats so that children can commute going to school.
The voters also selected new local leaders who they hope could really bring change and fulfill their promises of uplifting the kind of life they have right now.
What are your plans to promote children's rights in the future?
Reel Time will continue to be at the forefront in producing eye-opening documentaries, which examine the challenges that children face in search of a better future. Hopefully, we can work with different production entities from around the world for possible documentary collaboration.