Uber driver story inspires in short film; won top prize at Istorya ng Pag-asa Film Festival

Jun 13, 2018
istorya ng pag-asa film festival

A short film about an Uber driver who perseveres despite a physical condition won the top prize at the Istorya ng Pag-asa (INP) Film Festival, an initiative of the Office of the Vice President (OVP) and the Ayala Foundation. The film fest aimed to enlist professional and non-professional filmmakers as partners in telling stories of hope and inspiration involving ordinary Filipinos.

“Ang Biyahe Ni Marlon” was named Best Film at the INP Film Fest Gala Night and Awarding Ceremony, held Tuesday, June 12, coinciding with the Philippines’ 120th Independence Day. It features Marlon Fuentes, a man who has Tourette Syndrome (TS), a condition that shows through involuntary movements or tics. 

The short film takes viewers on a ride with the former Uber driver, whose story went viral on social media after a passenger posted about him and the signs he put up inside his car, which say “I have Tourette Syndrome. I hope you understand my condition.” According to Marlon, the signs were his response to passengers who feared TS’ physical manifestations while he was driving. 

The driver, who has been featured in Vice President Leni Robredo’s weekly radio show, BISErbisyong LENI, was cited by the ride-hailing company for his dedication to his family—his source of light, who inspired him to work hard despite his condition.

“Ang Biyahe Ni Marlon” was directed by Florence Rosini, a multimedia writer whose works have been featured on television and online. She hopes the short film will spark awareness about the plight of Marlon and other Filipinos who have TS.

Florence took home a P50,000 cash prize, a DSLR camera, and a Samsung S8 phone.

“Tago,” a short film about jazz drummer Nelson Gonzales, who runs the Tago Jazz Cafe for both artists and enthusiasts of the genre, was named 1st runner-up, winning for Meg Seranilla a P30,000 cash prize. Meanwhile, Kelsy Lua won P20,000 for “Gawilan,” where she tells the story of Ernie Gawilan, a disadvantaged swimmer who competed in the 2016 Summer Paralympics.

The Top Three films will be screened at Ayala Mall Cinemas from June 13 to 30. 

istorya ng pag-asa film festival

Special awards were also given, including:

  • Best Director for Anna Mikaela Quizon, whose short film, “Pamilyang Bernardo,” tells the story of two women who find light inside their home amid discrimination because of their malformed limbs;
  • Best Cinematography for “The Climbing Puppeteer” by AR Angcos, about a BPO professional and hiker who uses ventriloquism to reach out to poor communities in the mountains; and 
  • Best Script for “Ang Gahum Sang Daku Nga Handum,” about an eloquent young teacher from the Ata Tribe of Negros.

The winners were determined by an esteemed panel of judges, which included screenwriter Doy del Mundo, filmmakers Dan Villegas and Quark Henares, actress Shamaine Buencamino, and Film Development Council of the Philippines chairperson Liza DiƱo.

All 15 short films that made it into the finals premiered on the big screen during the Gala Night at Cinema 6, Glorietta 4, Makati City. Prior to this, the filmmakers were treated to a documentary film lecture with producers Kristoffer “Tops” Brugada and Jayson Bernard Santos.

The packed theater during the Gala Night also included the filmmakers’ subjects, who were recognized during the ceremony, as well as other INP champs, public officials, and partners of the OVP’s Angat Buhay program. The event was hosted by actor Dingdong Dantes.

Speaking at the event, VP Leni urged Filipinos to strive to fulfill a “collective responsibility” to create “a life that is more prosperous, more inclusive, and more free” for everyone.

“We celebrate the ordinary Filipino’s triumph over adversity, but that does not mean we should resign ourselves to such a life. We need to understand why our people languish and we need to question why we have not been able to break free from the shackles of poverty and adversity. Only when we do can we figure out how to do better,” she said.

“Let us turn our thoughts inwards to figure out how we can honor the extraordinary acts of ordinary Filipinos we have witnessed tonight. The most powerful societal change begins from within every citizen, when we each learn to find heroes in ourselves instead of expecting saviors to change our world... You have it in you to be that hero,” she added.

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