By Boy Villasanta | Published: October 14, 2020
When I saw the short film “Ang Pagkalma sa Unos (To Calm the Pig Inside),” a masterpiece by a Visayan filmmaker, Joanna Vasquez Arong, I was moved. The film presented a grim and raw footage of Tacloban City in Leyte and Guian town in Eastern Samar devastated by super typhoon Yolanda in 2013.
The movie was harrowing even in its illusionary state but very realistic onscreen.
I said to myself that it would win an award even before I was informed it already did in a film festival in the US Slamdance in 2019.
As expected, “Ang Pagkalma sa Unos” won Special Jury Prize at the recently concluded 2020 Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival in a virtual awarding ceremonies last August.
After the local victory, it won in September the Best International Documentary Prize at the 15th Shorts Mexico Festival International de Cortometrajes de Mexico.
According to the website of the Mexican filmfest event, virtually held in Mexico City, the jury proclaimed: “After a long and conscientious deliberation, we have decided to declare the winner of the 15th edition of Shorts Mexico.”
“We thought it was a very powerful short film with excellent work in photography, and above all, excellent narrative work about a huge problem, which is the disappearance of people due to natural disaster,” the Mexican jury added.
Joanna isn’t from Tacloban City and Guian. She is from Cebu City.
But the tremendous effects of the super typhoon were also felt in many neighboring places in the Visayas, including Cebu.
“I wanted to show the psychological effects of Yolanda to its people especially the trauma it had created to the victims who are still alive. I made it a point to be nostalgic about the narration which was done by a young girl. That young girl was me who heard and seen the nightmares of the disaster,” said Joanna, a US-bred filmmaker who grew up in Cebu.
Joanna’s opus also won a Special Mention honor in the 2020 Bangkok Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Film Festival in Thailand.
Award-winning documentarian Babyruth Villarama, a pivotal name in the Daang Docu Film Festival which was held last week, “Ang Pagkalma sa Unos” was also part of the virtual educational film event.
Babyruth was proud to have curated Joanna’s film on Yolanda in the filmfest’s section, “Ang Lahat ay Magkaugnay”.