One of the pleasures in being married to a woman who spent the first 33 years of her life on the other side of the world is that life never gets boring. Everything is done at least a little differently–whether it is family gatherings which often seem dominated by karaoke or having a priest for a brother in law (a future pope?). I was lucky enough to get into the hottest Filipino event in NYC in some years, courtesy of Threese’s press pass. It was to celebrate three Filipino films in the Tribeca Film Festival but the real excitement surrounded Don’t Stop Believing, Ramona Diaz’s documentary on Arnel Pineda and his rise to fame as lead singer for the rock group Journey. He was the evening’s star attraction. Indeed he was definitely one of the reasons why we were there:
I had heard a lot about Arnel Pineda from Threese. What Filipinos love about Pineda, in part, is that he was seen as a good but hardly exceptional singer in the Philippines. Filipinos pride themselves on their musical abilities and I confess that Threese used to sing love songs to me over the phone. So they celebrate Arnel’s success but also it affirms the feeling that Filipinos can make it here in the US–where all too often doctors become nurses and college teachers become pre-school teachers.
We went to the Philippine Consulate to meet Filipino filmmakers, but Ramona Diaz, in particular.
From probably our first date, Threese was asking me if I had seen Diaz’s film Imelda. And she was not the only one in the Philippines who asked me that question! Once she was in the US, she started to urge me to bring Ramona up to Yale. I moved slowly but included Imelda in my World Documentary course, and was impressed. So were my students. Threese then heard that she was making a new documentary about Filipinas becoming public school teachers in Baltimore––The Learning (2011). So I began to be in email contact with Ramona–hoping to find a way to get her up to Yale. So this was actually the first time we met (I was behind the camera in this instance).
One very popular ritual in Filipino culture is the photo-op. There were tons of photo-ops happening at the consulate.
Here’s one with Filipino film distributor Vincent Nebrida (far left) and some of the stars and filmmakers there for the evening. -For some, it was their first visit to the US. So I will try to get Threese to identify these people–definitely part of the Filipino film community. But in any case, when in the Philippine consulate, do as the Filipinos. And so…here I am with Michael Collins, who partners with Marty Syjuco. Together they made Give Up Tomorrow, a documentary about the conviction and imprisonment of Paco Larrañaga for a crime he did not commit. I am holding their promotional postcard for the film in my hand.
A few minutes later, we caught them
We met another filmmaking couple, who had recently moved East from the West Coast–Niall McKay and Marissa Aroy, who worked together through their company Media Factory.