The big story of a small woman
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.