By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – Pinoy Media Center released its newest documentary on the lives and struggles of urban poor communities in the Philippines.
“In this video, you would see how the divide-and-rule tactic is being used against the residents. But you will also see how they manage and how they are trying to overcome it,” Ilang-Ilang Quijano, editor of Pinoy Weekly and the filmmaker behind the documentary, said during its screening at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City.
“Puso ng Lungsod” tells the story of North Triangle residents. It tells about the dreams and struggles of families, mostly mothers, and why they decided to stay and assert their right to the land.
Quijano said it took them several months to complete the documentary. Their group stayed with the community and joined them in several protest actions. They documented not just the event they were covering but how residents were thinking and feeling at the time.
Not the usual documentary
“Puso ng Lungsod” is not the usual documentary where a voice over tells the audience to focus their attention on certain scenes or feel certain emotions toward what was being presented. It does not treat you as a mere “target audience” and assume that you would just just accept what you are being told.
This format has been used in other recent video documentaries produced by alternative media groups. It allows the interviewees to talk more freely, something that is hardly given to urban poor residents. Their voice is frequently muted in the dominant media.
With this, the documentary allows more opportunity for the audience to think about what the poor residents were saying. The format of the documentary also challenges us to rethink whatever stereotypes we may have had against urban poor dwellers.
“Puso ng Lungsod” has several scenes where you would sympathize and laugh with the residents. You would feel their fears and dreams. The candid parts of the video make you feel like you are talking to the interviewees in person. It captures not only their lives but how they are living it.
The filmmakers behind the project appeared but eventually disappeared into the lives of the people they were interviewing, as they shared their lives while documenting their struggle.
A boost to urban poor’s campaign
Carlito Badion of urban poor group Kadamay said “Puso ng Lungsod” is a big help to their campaign to mobilize urban poor communities who are resisting threats of demolition. It is also timely since their group has documented several pocket demolitions all over the country. Some 852 communities who are facing threats of demolition had been burned down, he said.
“All our efforts suddenly paid off. This would be a big help to us,” Sherlita Jimena, 43, a resident in North Triangle, said. “It would be watched not just by the people here in the country but all around the world. They would understand the struggle of the residents of North Triangle.”
“We are very happy because we saw ourselves in that documentary,” Jimena said, adding that she is forever grateful to the people behind the documentary.
Elvira Reyes, 48, also a resident of North Triangle, said the documentary showed a lot about them. “It would give people insights on why we choose to fight. We believe that this is our land.”
Estrelieta Bagasbas, a community leader at North Triangle, said she is happy that the documentary highlighted the victories of the people. “It has been three years since the September 23 violent dispersal and we are still here fighting.”
“In that time span, we managed to convince our indifferent neighbors to fight for our right,” Bagasbas said, adding that this video would not just help them to politically awaken their neighbors but also residents in other communities who may be facing similar threat of demolition.
The Ayala Land, a big company behind the Quezon City Central Business District, continues to find ways to drive away people from their homes, said residents of North Triangle. They vowed to keep on fighting until victory is achieved.