Israeli documentary ‘Kuya Noy’ features migrant life in the eyes of Asin’s Noy Pillora

Karl Cedrick Basco, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 06 2021 06:12 PM

'Kuya Noy' follows Mike Pillora’s life in the slums of Tel-Aviv where he has a daughter who is about to begin her military service. YouTube
'Kuya Noy' follows Mike Pillora’s life in the slums of Tel-Aviv where he has a daughter who is about to begin her military service. YouTube

After 5 years, the documentary about the migrant life in Israel of Filipino folk rock musician Mike “Noy” Pillora Jr. was finally released in time for the 16th Israeli Film Festival. 

In a virtual press conference organized by the Israel Embassy in the Philippines, Pillora, founding member of folk rock band Asin, and Daniel Binstead, director of “Kuya Noy”, talked about how the documentary came to be. 

The story follows Pillora’s life in the slums of Tel-Aviv, where he has a daughter who is about to begin her military service. The singer migrated there when he married his Israeli wife. 

According to Binstead, he first heard about Pillora through his friend at Tel-Aviv University, who met Pillora at a bar. 

Pillora said he met 2 Journalism students looking for a subject for a school requirement. 

“They wanted to make a specimen out of me. They had an assignment to make a 10-minute video for the school. They were looking for a subject at that time, so they made me their subject,” Pillora said. 

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The students were apparently curious as to how a Filipino could study in an Israeli school without knowing the native language.

When the students learned more about Pillora, they recommended the musician’s story to Binstead, who was a graduating film student at that time.

“The first time I met Noy, he was very interesting. He wore this very interesting clothes that I've never seen before. He had all these very interesting instruments in his room. The first thing that caught my eye was his persona,” Binstead said. 

The director also saw his father, who was not an Israeli, in Pillora.

Filming was not easy, they added, as Pillora was a hesitant to open up about his life to strangers.

Binstead said “Kuya Noy” was relevant not only to the Filipino community but also to Israelis living with Filipinos.

“As an Israeli, it is important because Noy and the Filipino community is part of our country. It is a glimpse for their community and for their history. Through Noy we got to really see, who the people live pretty close to us but we don't know anything about them,” he said.

Pillora founded the 1970s folk rock band Asin, which was behind the hit songs "Balita” and “Masdan Mo Ang Kapaligiran." 

Other members included Lolita Carbon, Cesar Bañares Jr., and Fred Aban Jr.