MANILA, Philippines – Is art just for arts' sake?
Apparently, this is not the case for some groups after using the power of cinema to highlight issues on the country's current situation of maternal and child health.
Organized by the Mu Sigma Phi fraternity of the UP College of Medicine, the 2nd Quisumbing-Escandor Film Festival for Health (QEFF 2) aimed to respond to "the plight of mothers and children as they suffer the ill effects of poor access to primary care."
The film fest saw 28 films in its lineup, simultaneously shown in 32 partner schools and NGOs over the country last month. It ended with an awards night last February 19 at the Philippine International Convention Center.
| Mu Sigma Phi Fraternity with winners
The organizers said the films aimed to inform people regarding the "pressing concerns of reproductive health."
"The Philippine health care system is faced with so many issues that medical students were moved to act and be creative to have a significant contribution to the improvement of primary health care services. The power of cinema was harnessed so that health advocacy would be far reaching, stirring and stimulating to initiate action," the organizers' statement said.
As of posting time, the country's health concerns are bent mostly on whether or not the plenary will pass the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill.
If passed, the RH bill will allow public access to methods and information on birth control and maternal care.
However, rather intensely, the bill is still under debate. On one side, the RH bill advocates have been pushing for its immediate passage. On the other, the Catholic Church has stood its ground, calling it "moral corruption."
Among the films which bagged acknowledgment was Ice Idanan's "Limang Libo" after winning the grand prize of P100,000.
Starred by veteran actress Cherry Pie Picache, "Limang Libo" tells a story between two people, separated by circumstance at first, but was later bound by fate. It shares the tale of Susan, a midwife abandoned by her own family, and Manuel, a garbage collector who can't afford his pregnant wife's delivery.
Meanwhile, Genevieve Caberte and John Macahilas's "Sa Direksyon ni Makoy" grabbed the Jury Award for short film; while Donnie Sacueza's "Ang Ina" earned the Jury Award for documentary. Both films garnered P50,000 apiece.
For Mu Sigma Phi president Danilo Alpapara, the films shown portrayed "the ills of the nation’s health system, society and government."
“The apparent need for action persists across the entire archipelago," he said.
Film festival chair and Mu Sigma Phi’s service committee chair Daniel Dellosa seconded Alpapara, hoping the QEFF 2 films will reflect a brighter future for the country's health care.
"The privilege is ours to work for our Filipino who deserves nothing less than the highest attainable level of health and well-being," he said.
Meantime, the organizers said the 32 partner schools and NGOs which have participated in the festival are bound to receive the entire video library of the 1st and 2nd QEFF.
The organizers also said that a "QEFF Caravan" will be launched soon, wherein the entire video library will be toured in different parts of the country.