9:00am Departure to Bayawan, Philippines
The first two days of shooting interviews with Kiva's successful borrowers can be summed up in one word: amazing. First days are always a bit tough with unexpected obstacles and snags here are there, but I think it was those obstacles and snags that made the first days all the more fulfilling. It was only after our first day of shooting that I realized what a substantial task I had taken on... Travelling to rural areas of the Philippines with over 30kg of shooting gear without an experienced crew of 3-5 individuals was even harder than I expected. This made me all the more grateful to have Pach, Ramil and my friend Yungkit helping me on this journey.
Obstacle #1: Language Barrier
I knew that there would be no escaping the language barrier, but after our first day of shooting, I realized how beneficial it was for me to know Spanish while i was filming in Guatemala this summer. Luckily Pach, our NWTF coordinator was there to save the day and translate for me.
Obstacle #2: New Camera
Embarking on this Media Fellow journey, I wanted to make sure I did Kiva, the MFI's and the borrowers justice - and to do that, I had to do my best work yet. To achieve this, I decided to use new camera system I had not used before. The learning curve was steep and the first day of shooting was tricky to say the least. But, after a day of working through the kinks I was able to capture some amazing shots. The footage was spectacular :)
Obstacles are meant to be overcome and after this first shoot, I already know there is no stopping me from creating some of the best work of my life.
On our first full day of shooting, we interviewed two NWTF clients; Josephine and Aileen, both female borrowers working in the fishing industry. Josephine has been an NWTF borrower since October 2004 owning a fish vending business. Josephine has borrowed and repaid a series of loans which have significantly improved her living conditions and elevated her and her families well being. Aileen also owns a fishing/fish vending business, working to support her family. She has now been in business for ten years and is earning enough money to give her kids a better education and the hope for a brighter future.
Although they did not speak English, I could feel how genuinely thankful they were for the loan they received and how significantly these loans had changed their lives. At first, they were shy towards Yungkit and I, not knowing what to make of these foreigners with camera gear. But after exchanging smiles and some translated conversation, they warmed up to us. Particularly when interviewing Aileen, the shooting was not just about her, but about the coordinated efforts and camaraderie of her fishing village.
One of the neighbors heard I had taken a liking to coconuts in the Philippines and made our group a delicious fresh coconut beverage with fresh coconut, milk, sugar and ice - a welcomed treat to the 86 degree weather and the 100% humidity (it may not have actually been 100% but it sure felt like it).
As we filmed Aileen and her family, we saw children frolicking along the beach laughing and simply being happy about life. Their families watched on by the shore as they waited for the next fishing boat to come in. Whenever a boat approached the shore, it seemed like the whole village would go and help push the boat in. In turn, the fisherman of that boat would hand out small fish that were caught to share. All we could see were a constant sea of smiles and a sense of community between everyone in that village.
We were very fortunate that the people never shied away from us but instead proudly showed us their trade and their successful catches. There was nothing but kindness and smiles coming from everyone in that village and It was because of them that we were able to obtain such great footage. We were given a glimpse into what their daily lives are like - the effort of the individual as well as the effort of the whole village working hard to reel in each day's catch.
Our day ended with heartfelt hugs as we left their homes and business. Aileen in particular came up to us to give a big hug and thank you for showing her work and village to the world. We could tell both her and Josephine were kind and hard working individuals who were using the Kiva loans to work towards a brighter future for themselves and their families.
As I had told my friends and family after this day, I truly wish more days could be like this one. It was amazing.