Manila Bulletin

The big story of a small woman

- By SARA GRACE C. FOJAS Im­ages by NOEL B. PABALATE Lifehacks · San Juan · Cultural Center of the Philippines · Philippines · Self-improvement

Le­tran stu­dents and their en­counter with an or­di­nary woman with an ex­tra­or­di­nary tale

What started as a class re­quire­ment be­came an av­enue for an in­spir­ing story to be told, a tale worth ev­ery­body’s time.

Ze­naida Zeny” Navarro, a 60-year-old ven­dor at Mabini St. with dwarfism regularly tends to her store de­spite hav­ing to walk sup­ported by two canes. She is helped by her son and daugh­ter-in-law, as well as her nine-year-old grand­son. De­spite the hard­ships that she has gone through—get­ting dis­owned by her own fam­ily when she was young, hav­ing to face the in­sults her whole life, strug­gling to make ends meet just to raise her grand­son—she has re­mained happy and con­tent, head and shoul­ders above any of those tri­als.

Nanay Zeny’s story caught the at­ten­tion of the of AB Com­mu­ni­ca­tion se­nior stu­dents of Cole­gio de San Juan de Le­tran. Her ded­i­ca­tion and per­se­ver­ance in serv­ing and pro­vid­ing for her fam­ily touched their hearts that they just couldn’t help but share her story to their class­mates in Writ­ing for TV class through their doc­u­men­tary en­ti­tled Sukat.

“Our doc­u­men­tary is all about a self­less 60-year-old grand­mother with dwarfism who raises her grand­son by selling cig­a­rettes and candies some­where along Mabini St. She wishes for a bet­ter life for her and her grand­son but doesn’t stop there, work­ing very hard ev­ery day to achieve that wish de­spite her short­com­ings,” says Juan Domingo de Cas­tro, tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor and cam­era­man of the team.

The team, which call them­selves the Plan Z Pro­duc­tion, made it a mis­sion to in­spire their au­di­ence like the way Nanay Zeny inspired them. As they wit­ness her life and strug­gles, they also had to cap­ture it in a way that it would knock into ev­ery­body’s heart. From the di­rect­ing, to shoot­ing, to edit­ing, up to the time where it would be on screen, the team of­fered their heart and soul, sweat and blood, to show the pur­pose of their story.

“The jour­ney wasn’t re­ally a pleas­ant cruise, we had to work hard for it ev­ery step of the way but we were for­tu­nate be­cause the mem­bers co­op­er­ated well enough to get the job done. It took us prob­a­bly more than a month to fin­ish it but it was all worth it,” says Juan.

All these strug­gles, ef­forts, and sac­ri­fices of the team paid off when they de­cided to en­ter their pro­ject in the 27th Cul­tural Cen­ter of the Philip­pines (CCP) In­de­pen­dent Film and Video Fes­ti­val and won the sec­ond prize.

“Com­pli­ance, above all, was our goal in cre­at­ing the story. We made sure we came up with a wor­thy doc­u­men­tary on time and meet the dead­lines given by our men­tor. I re­mem­ber agree­ing with them that any­thing that came af­ter that was a bonus. Lit­tle did we know, we were into some­thing far more mean­ing­ful and the story just slowly un­folded. I never re­ally thought of win­ning any award at all, we just did our thing and ap­plied what we had learned and did it all by heart,” says Juan.

The doc­u­men­tary was also awarded Best in Script, Best in Edit­ing, and Best Sulyap Doc­u­men­tary.

“Win­ning in the Gawad CCP is ev­ery film­maker’s dream. It is con­sid­ered a step­ping stone for those who want to pur­sue a ca­reer in film­mak­ing. Win­ning in this com­pe­ti­tion as a col­lege stu­dent is some­thing to be proud of. The ex­pe­ri­ence in mak­ing this doc­u­men­tary is some­thing I will trea­sure for the rest of my life. Be­cause of this doc­u­men­tary, I was able to re­flect on my­self, on how lucky I am to have this kind of life. And be­cause of Nanay Zeny I re­al­ized that dis­abil­ity is not a hin­drance in what you want to ac­com­plish, as long as you have the heart and you be­lieve in what you want, you can achieve your dreams,” says Jae-re Louise Li­wanag, di­rec­tor, cam­era­man, and editor.

Plan Z Pro­duc­tions is made up of Jae-re Li­wanag, di­rec­tor; Juan Domingo de Cas­tro, tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor, cam­era­man; Abi­gail Ven­tu­ranza, cre­ative di­rec­tor; Rafael Omega, pro­duc­tion man­ager; Les­lie Car­de­nas, pro­duc­tion as­sis­tant, cam­era­man; Stella Cat­a­cu­tan, pro­duc­tion as­sis­tant; Mar­ian San­tos, pro­duc­tion as­sis­tant; and Bet­tina Bonillo, pro­duc­tion as­sis­tant.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines