by Samantha Gwyneth Bonsol and Paul John Lazaga
Gerald Pesigan, a junior undergraduate at the UPLB College of Development Communication (CDC) won Best Short Film in the Cineiskool Short Film Lab and Festival for his entry entitled “Lapis Akong Naghihintay ng Pantasa” on June 22.
The festival was led by the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), in partnership with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and UniFAST.
His five-minute short film is about an out-of-school youth working as a factory worker who was offered an opportunity to better his future. Some of the scenes in the film feature the CDC building. A teaser can be viewed here.
The competition aims to give voice to individuals benefiting from Free Higher Education (FHE) and the Tertiary Education Subsidy (TES) programs under Republic Act 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, which was the theme of the competition.
Pesigan competed against nine other finalists from other schools in the country. Their films premiered at the Gateway Cineplex Cinema 1 in Quezon City on June 22, 23, and 25.
As a finalist, he was given a production grant of P125,000.
A Budding Artist
Ever since he was a child, Pesigan wanted to enter the entertainment industry. While his two siblings are helping out in their family business, he is the only one pursuing a career in the entertainment industry.
His first goal was to become an actor. He began doing workshops at the age of seven. He attended many auditions and casting calls thereafter.
He was fortunate to have landed roles in several films, TV series, and commercials through the years. The short film The Howl & Fussyket in 2011, directed by Chris Martinez and produced by Nestlé Philippines, was his first and most notable project.
He was also involved in other company projects that tell their consumers’ stories. Pesigan sees his involvement with them as one of the highlights of his career because it was where people got to know him. It was also where renowned filmmaker Lily “Mother Lily” Monteverde met him at Regal Entertainment, Inc.
Yet, he knew that being an actor was not a stable career.
“Ang pag aartista kase para sa akin hindi siya stable job, so it’s really for passion, yung pag aartista kase hindi siya pang habang buhay kasi may mga times na sikat ka meron times na hindi, may mga times na may project ka meron times na hindi,” he said.
(For me, being an actor is not a stable job, it’s really for passion. You cannot work as an actor forever because your popularity can wane and you won’t always have projects to work on.)
Yet his passion for the arts did not stop him from pursuing other creative endeavors, such as filmmaking. He took inspiration from the directors he worked with and their films.
He initially endeavored to pursue a BA Film degree at UP Diliman, but instead ended up taking a BS Development Communication degree at CDC.
“One year lang ako [dapat] sa CDC, magshishift ako sa UP Diliman pero sobrang napamahal din ako sa Devcom,” he said.
(I was supposed to stay for one year at CDC and shift to UP Diliman, but I fell in love with Devcom.)
Behind the Scenes
The inspiration for his short film came from his experience in senior high school, where they had a program for out-of-school youth to encourage them to go back to school. One of the program’s beneficiaries said he could not do so, despite the FHE, because he was the breadwinner of their family. Hence, he had to forego schooling to earn a living for his family.
Pesigan realized that there are indeed many factors that affect education and the living conditions of people.
Producing his short film independently, he encountered many challenges. It was a one-person army, coordinating and managing everything on his own.
Although he received funding from FDCP, his short film was also partially funded by his parents.
It was his first time participating in such a big competition, so he felt very fortunate to have brought home the bacon.
“Ibang level na kasi yon eh, from national competition yun tapos sobrang nakakatuwa, sobrang nakaka proud and sabi ko sa sarili ko, this is already an opportunity for me sa career ko bilang filmmaker,” he said.
(It was on a new level. It’s from a national competition, and I’m so happy and proud. I told myself this is an opportunity for me in my filmmaking career.)
For the Iskolars Para Sa Bayan
He dedicated the film to his fellow Iskolars para sa Bayan – young people who want to study but do not have the financial means to pursue an education. He also said that is the reason behind the title. He realized that many young people have dreams or want to achieve something in life. They just need an opportunity. They just need a sharpener to shape them.
When asked for his message to young people who want to enter or pursue filmmaking, he said, “Siguro pag patuloy lang nila kung gusto nilang pumasok sa larangan ng paggawa ng pelikula, mas matututo sila. Naniniwala ako na lahat tayo ay pwedeng maging filmmaker kasi lahat tayo may mga magagandang kwento, lahat tayo may kwentong dapat pakinggan ng mga tao, lahat tayo may mga kwento na talagang inspiring, talagang may magandang mensahe. So para sa mga katulad kong kabataan na gustong pumasok sa larangan ng filmmaking hanggat may storya ka gawa ka lang ng gawa ng pelikula.”
(If they really want to get into filmmaking, they should keep pursuing it to learn more. I believe that all of us can be filmmakers because we all have good stories that people need to hear, that are inspiring and have a meaningful message. So to young people like me who want to pursue filmmaking, as long as you have a story to tell, just keep making films.)
This article originally appeared on the UP Los Baños website.