Why did you apply for the Fulbright program?
I applied for the Fulbright program in 2009 because at that point in my career I felt the need to take a step back and reassess my skill set and career options. The Fulbright program and the master's degree in documentary filmmaking from NYU provided much needed formal training in film production and some welcome respite from the seemingly endless grind of TV production.
How has your Fulbright experience helped you in your personal and professional life?
Fulbright, NYU and my internship at The New York Times video unit gave me some crucial training and exposure in documentary filmmaking that I sorely lacked as a practitioner who had to learn the basic skills of production on the job. The film classes filled in the gaps in my knowledge and skills needed to level up my documentaries and my narrative films as well. It also gave me some much needed perspective in terms of the creative and technical process of not just making straightforward news docs but perhaps aspiring for cinema.
What should future Fulbrighters know about the Fulbright experience?
Future Fulbrighters should know that the scholarship, as with most things in life, is a two way street: you get as much as you give to the program. Fulbright will open doors for you but unless you actually step inside and make the most out of the opportunity, it will only remain an unfilled potential and not a life-changing experience.
Any project/activities that you are working right now that you would like to share.
I am mostly working from home at the moment because of the Covid-19 pandemic. I am still working for GMA News and Public Affairs as a Creative Consultant handling such shows as Front Row and Reporter's Notebook. I am also working on the pre-production of my next film "Guerra," which is a finalist at the 2021 Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival. "Guerra" was also recently selected for the Berlinale Co-Production Market Online Visitors Programme to be held at the end of February. It was among five Filipino films selected along with "Seasons of Chrysanthemum," a project I am writing for Cleverminds Inc. "Seasons of Chrysanthemum" and another film I am writing, "Beloved," was also selected for the 2021 Sundance Visual Storytelling Collab.
We also recently finished the three-month long Cleverminds Online Scriptwriting Workshop, which we held for free for Filipino screenwriters here and abroad. I'm also into urban container gardening -- mostly veggies planted on pots in my fourth floor balcony. I have also started a numismatic collection of mostly US, Philippine, colonial Spanish, ancient European and Pre-Colonial Southeast Asian coins. I am currently obsessed with the Laguna Copperplate Inscription, Butuan Silver Palaeograph and other Philippine and Southeast Asian pre-colonial writing on metallic plates or lempengan prasasti kuno. On the side I am also trying to learn the Pallawa and Jawi alphabets to try to better understand these ancient texts. And, yes, I am putting this out there so I will feel pressured to take all of these even more seriously. Another Fulbrighter, Annisa Gultom from Indonesia, is actually helping me translate some plates at the moment. To serve as a repository of these two new interests I started Coin Collectors PH and Surat PH mostly on Facebook but to a certain degree on other platforms as well, like Instagram and Youtube.
Finally, now that there are expansive highways being built around my home province of Marinduque, I am pushing for an archaeological survey or better yet an Archaeological Impact Assessment to make sure that Marinduque's rich heritage, as evidenced by the 1883 Alfred Marche Marinduque archaeological expedition, is protected and preserved.