Tibaldo: Helping communities document their local stories

Consumers atbp.

I WAS invited as a resource speaker of a familiar topic in Barangay Tinongdan of Itogon, Benguet and since I do not usually refuse invitations to share my bits of knowledge, I drove for 50 minutes to an hour to a lecture hall in Binga Dam. I had other reasons to say yes because it was on a weekend, my schedule allows it plus I wanted to see the extent of development of said place that I haven't seen for about two decades since the time I was there for a documentary project particularly on the power company's reforestation programs.

Having attended the convergence of government agencies during the onslaught of typhoon Ondoy that badly affected Itogon particularly along the Tuding and Bua Barangays where dozens of small-scale miners were buried by a massive landslide, I also wanted to see how the community in that area are coping with life over a year after that tragedy.

My topic was on Smartphone Filmmaking with few tips on Photography following the module which I applied in Siargao, Bongabon, Nueva Ecija and Bontoc, Mountain Province which uses only mobile phone units without the aid of computers or laptops. First, I gave an orientation on Communication and Technology Trends and the various applications or tools used by the so-called smartphone convergence.

I also demonstrated how to take stills and moving pictures the way professionals do. The challenge for me really is how to entice the community on how members can tell their stories using their smartphones as these gadgets are already capable of broadcast quality stills and moving pictures. Today, many of the younger generations are into web-casting that include picture-stories or video like MTVs.

I did not bring any of my usual gears like camcorders and heavy tripods, wired microphones and headsets because the pocket size mobile telephone nowadays can record and replay scenes at the push of a button but just my iPhone and a handy laptop in case I needed to show some exercises and outputs. Our activity is part of a joint program of the Tuding Indigenous Peoples Organization and the Binga Indigenous Peoples Cultural Heritage Site coordinated by Norberto Pacio.

Accordingly, there was a time in 2016 when Barangay Tinongdan officials, NCIP representative Atty. Severino Manual, Benguet province officials and the incumbent mayor that time together with IP representative Norberto Pacio signed an agreement for a Site Management and Use Plan of the Binga Indigenous Peoples Cultural Heritage Site. I learned that the management of the dam fully supported the IPs and indigenous culture of the local community as an integral part not only of their corporate social responsibility but also of their operations.

As part of my usual talk with workshop participants, I mentioned the importance of knowing what to document and the culture of the people that producing such video programs need full sincerity, dedication and care including time unlike a tourist who can only spare few moments to snap few shots and go. Being from the place and documenting what they do, I am certain that the participants of my film-making workshop can produce documentary works that can give viewers from other places a different view or mindset about the documented subjects. It actually reminded me of that video letter concept initiated by a Japanese teacher who passed on a camcorder to one pupil to another so that each child can shoot and show what they are doing at their respective homes. That actually started the concept of a video letter when schools in Japan started to exchange videotapes through mails now only within their country but also with other schools elsewhere around the globe.

I added some inputs on cultural sensitivities such as the need to ask permission when recording and showing customary practices especially rituals, feasts and even celebrations. It is called Free Prior and Informed Consent and NCIP particularly requires a signed document similar to a model release used in television and cinema.

In one week's time, I'll return the Binga community to review what the participants have produced and perhaps to open a discussion on their production efforts and experiences. Like in many of my interactions with my former students, there is always that Eureka Effect of learning that like when Archimedes jumped out of his bathtub when suddenly a bright idea popped out in his mind.


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