Serencio: Telling our story

WHAT happened at the Roxas Night Market on the evening of September 2, 2016 is remembered with horror and sadness as the bomb explosion attributed to terrorists killed 14 and injured 67 others in the center of Davao City's favorite after-office and school hangout.

It was also what inspired Jarell Serencio's short film “Mga Bitoon sa Syudad (Stars in the City)”.

“As a Dabawenyo and a story teller, I feel the responsibility of expressing how I feel and how painful it was for me watching the innocent victims and their loved ones suffering such tragic event. Making the film made me appreciate more the value of life and how you give time for your family,” he said.

It was a personal journey as Serencio's father was suffering from a health condition when he was shooting the short film. Though short on finances, he pushed on to finish what he started with the help of his uncle, lawyer Joel Mahinay.

Serencio won Best Director for this short film in the Metro Manila Filmfest 2016. It was bittersweet because by then, his father had passed on.

After graduation at Holy Cross of Davao College with a Mass Communication degree in 2004, he was accepted to a two-month Film/TV scriptwriting workshop of Ricky Lee and ABS-CBN. He was among the 25 chosen workshop fellows from the 2,000 applicants.

The workshop opened doors for him to be a contributing writer for ABS-CBN’s soap opera “Sana’y Wala Nang Wakas”. When the show finished its run, he was assigned to be a researcher for “Maalaala Mo Kaya”. Later on, he became a writer and then was promoted to head researcher and writer.

“My exposure in gathering real stories of people and going to places looking for worthy stories strengthened my passion in storytelling."

But work for a network is taxing and so he left four years later, feeling burnt out.

He became a cruise line photographer in the United States for a year and later a video editor and technician for entertainment.

The passion for film remained and he kept writing stories and shooting.

He joined the Found Story Screenwriting Workshop of Armando Bing Lao while on a two-month vacation in the Philippines in 2010 after which he shot his first short film "Victor", featuring the Senakulo in San Fernando, Pampanga using only his Canon Powershot G10. This won him the Cinemalaya 2012 Best Short Film.

Now, Serencio is under a one-year scholarship grant for selected Asian film producers/directors in the International Film Business in Busan Asian Film School (AFis) in South Korea.

He is developing two feature length films: "Diwalwal", the full-length version of his latest short film, Syudad sa Bulawan (City of Gold) and a Cinemalaya Short Film finalist for August 2018, and "Blue Desert", a tragic love story of Filipinos working in a cruise ship. Both films were accepted in the 2018 Link of Cine Asia pitching program in Busan, South Korea on October 2018.


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