TFC News

1st Kapampangan-Filipino short film/web series, malapit ng mapanood sa New Zealand

Annalyn Mabini | TFC News New Zealand

Posted at Sep 04 2021 10:29 AM | Updated as of Sep 04 2021 12:12 PM

NEW ZEALAND -- Malapit ng ipalabas online ang kauna-unahang Kapampangan-Filipino drama short film/web series sa New Zealand na pinamagatang “Mekeni” o “Halika” sa Tagalog at “Come here” sa English. Ang kuwento ay umiikot sa mga karakter ng mag-amang Filipino-Kiwi na sina Erica at Papa Noel sa gitna ng pagkamatay ng ina ni Erica, misis ni Papa Noel. At ang katangi-tangi sa short film, ang lenggwaheng ginamit ay Kapampangan. 

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The lead actors of Mekeni drama short film/web series: (Left) Marianne Infante as "Erica" with Allan Murillo as "Papa Noel" | (Right) Aaron Richardson as "Ben"

Sa panayam ng TFC News kay Marianne Infante, 26 anyos, writer at isa sa dalawang producers ng Mekeni, hinugot niya ang kuwento mula sa mga migrante sa Aotearoa o New Zealand at nais niyang mapanatili ang paggamit ng lenggwaheng Kapampangan. Kasama ni Marianne bilang producer si Todd Waters. Simula pa 2006 naninirahan sa New Zealand si Marianne. 

“I’m inspired by the migrant community here in Aotearoa but most especially my parents. I want them to know that their hard work and sacrifices to give my sister and I the life we have now hasn’t gone unnoticed... 

Next time I come home, I want to hear my younger pinsans (cousins) and inaanak (god kids) proudly speak and embrace their Kapampangan language and heritage...I’d like to come home and not be met with the surprise that a Kapampangan like me can still speak Kapampangan. I want the language to live so that my ancestors' energy, culture, history and words live on,” kuwento ni Marianne. 

May English subtitles ang Mekeni para sa non-Kapampangan speakers. 

“The English subtitles are there to make sure the story is accessible to non-Kapampangan speakers, especially to Kapampangans who perhaps want to reconnect with the language. 

This film caters to everyone. Everyone who knows what it’s like to have loved and to have lost, everyone who has struggled to understand an elderly figure, everyone who has moved from one place to another and experienced the feelings of displacement. Of course this film is also for our Kapampangan community to finally hear their voice and language on screen,” ani Marianne. 

Kuwento naman ng 23 taong gulang na si Alyssa Medel na siyang direktor ng short film, maraming Pilipino ang sumuporta sa production kaya’t nabuo ang pelikula sa gitna ng pandemya. 

“Out of our three cast, two of them, our leads, are Filipino-Kapampangan, Erica (played by Marianne Infante) and Tatang (played by Allan Murillo). We also had around 8 Filipino crew members, and that doesn’t include people from the Filipino community who have supported the film along the way,” ani Direk Alyssa. 

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Ang production crew and creative team ng Mekeni drama short film/web series

At kahit maluwag pa ang COVID-19 restrictions noong nagshu-shoot sila, pinairal pa rin nila ang istriktong safety protocols. 

“Fortunately, we were able to shoot the film during Alert Level 1 in New Zealand, at the time we had no Covid-19 cases in the community - so we were able to proceed as “normal” but, of course, with stringent health and safety precautions as we don’t encourage complacency, adamant about proper hygiene, and crew/cast members were not allowed to be on set if they were unwell,” pagbabahagi ni Direk Alyssa. 

Mahalaga rin ang moral lesson ng Mekeni ayon kay Marianne: 

“For me the moral of the story is two fold. Firstly, that there is strength in our vulnerabilities and weaknesses. It is strong to be able to acknowledge and share the sentiment of “I am not okay/I am not coping.” Because the minute you can be honest with yourself and those closest to you is the start of the journey to healing. Secondly, that our migrant parents/community are working extremely hard and the least we can do is give them a lot of love and patience especially if we don’t understand them or where they may be coming from.” 

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(Left) Marianne Infante as "Erica" | (Right) Alyssa Medel, Director of Mekeni

Simula na sa September 8 ang online streaming ng Mekeni at hinihikayat ang mga manonood na i-follow ang official Facebook page ng Te & Kuya Collaborative kung saan i-a-anunsiyo ang film release. 

Ang Te & Kuya Collaborative ay isang production company na binuo ni Marianne at isa pang Pilipino na si Merwin Silerio na nagdi-develop at nag-i-empower sa Filipino creatives o artists sa New Zealand. 

“I encourage you to watch MEKENI for the puso, the drama, to support our Filipino filmmakers in New Zealand and help us spread our love for the Kapampángan language,” sabi ni Marianne.  

Ayon pa kay Direk Alyssa, makaka-relate sa Mekeni ang mga migranteng Pilipino sa New Zealand: 

“It’s a heartwarming story that I think many of us can relate to, especially around family. It talks about grief, loss, and touches on the struggles migrants face in adapting to New Zealand. Specifically for the Filipino diaspora as well, we don’t often get to hear many Filipinos in Western media speaking their other languages outside of Tagalog. It’s a small step towards breaking the idea that Filipinos are a monolith, and making more people aware of how rich our culture really is.”