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ACCA SUGPAT film fest: inspiring peace through movies

Short films produced by out-of-school youth of Masepla who participated in the Ateneo Center for Culture and the Arts (ACCA)’s SUGPAT Arts for Development program,were the main attraction during the SUGPAT film festival last February 10, 2016 at the Silcare Center in MASEPLA Transitory Site, barangay Mampang.

The four(4) short films, Bakwit, Taytayan Harap Molleh, In Bata Manukand Hi Apah Bugs Story, revolve around social themes like bullying and discrimination, with some plots based on true stories.They were produced to provide a platform for dialogue and understanding among communities, especially among children and adolescents.

“Kinakabahan kami pero excited kami na mapakita sa lahat ang mga movies namin (we’re nervous but we’re excited to show everyone our movies),” said Sitti, 16 years old, whose film Hi Apah Bugs Story (Uncle Bug’s Story) was featured in the filmfest, while eagerly waiting with about 50 other kids for the “big screen” to come to life.

“Ang wish namin ay sana sa pamamagitan ng mga pelikulang ito, ma-inspire tayo kung papaano ang maging isang mabuting bata (our wish is that through these films, we will be inspired to become good children),” says ACCA Director Marco Alfino “Kiko” Miranda, addressing the children in MASEPLA in his opening message.

Four mini masterpieces

Bakwit(Evacuee)features the story of Aisha, 15 years old, a survivor of the 2013 Zamboanga Siege, who recounts her personal experiences, saying that she that believes that by sharing her story, kids will refrain from bullying others. In the movie, Also the film’s lead actress, Aisha is seen with kids surrounding her, intimidating herto stop from going to school. This goes on until a friend and a teacher shields her from the bullies and helps her cope with school.

Another movie features a Badjao girl who loves to play outdoors but is often teased by her friends for being stinky. Dubbed Taytayan Harap Molleh(The Way Home), the film centers on the girl and how she chose to peacefully respond to the people around her.

In In Bata Manuk(The Boy Named Chicken), a kid named Nok-nok, short for “manok” (chicken) is bullied for smelling bad. Nok-nok leads a lonely life until a friend chose to defend him from the bullies and encouraged them to make friends with Nok-nok instead. This film presents a glimpse into the world of children who see beyond color, race, and status.

Hi Apah Bugs Story (Uncle Bug’s Story)recounts lead character Apah Bugs’ experience as a differently-abled person who strives for empowerment by reporting cases of discrimination to camp managers and peace keepers. Although he was not spared from being bullied himself, his determination gradually inspired positive changes in his community.

Future peacebuilders

Apart from filmmaking, SUGPAT Arts for Development Program (named after the local term meaning “to connect” or “to join,” used by different ethnic tribes in MASEPLA), also conducts formative art training workshops in photography, puppetry, and painting.

Funded by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the program aims to capacitate out-of-school youth ages 12 to 17 years old in using different art forms to become community peace builders. It also envisions lasting connection, understanding, and friendship amongst the youth of MASEPLA Transitory Site.

“I think it was really nice to see the different experiences of the children’s lives through these movies,” says UNICEF Mindanao Field Office Head Becca Pankhurst. “One of the things I really appreciated was to see them making stories about the challenges they face, particularly how they overcame them.”

Pankherst also acknowledged the passion and dedication of the ACCA team in handling the SUGPAT Program. “I think they are doing a really fantastic job. You can see that there’s a lot of passion in them. It’s also great to see that they are working directly with young people and helping them express their stories.”

Other partner institutions present during the SUGPAT Film Festival were the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, Department of Education, and Health of Mindanao.

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