By NICKIE WANG/ Manila Standard Today
As if the popularity and influence of the book The Secret by Rhonda Byrne is not enough to draw positive vive, a group of young documentarians made an effort to create a moving documentary-drama that would bring hope to the country and to its people who feel desperate to find the meaning of true happiness.
“What makes you happy?” was the last question directed to the cast and makers of the film Isang Lahi: Pearls from the Orient, during its recent press conference held at MyCinema, Greenbelt 3.
What the press got were generic answers like: love makes me happy; the balance of the four elements (love, success, health, and wealth) makes me happy; beautiful things make me happy; family makes me happy; and the oh-so-usual answer: “Knowing that people around me are happy and contended. That makes me happy.”
Isang Lahi: Pearls from the Orient is a digital feature that espouses the principle of “law of attraction” or the theory that posits “like attracts like,” or just like what Byrne’s book says: “The law uses people, circumstances and events to magnetize what you want to you, and magnetize you to it.”
The docu-drama cum travelogue is about a group of five documentarists (Ruel Ruiz, JP Tanchanco, Ayee Domingo, Zoilo Barrel and Naethan Lucero) backpacking all over the Philippines seeking the answer to happiness. Their journey is recapitulated into four different real stories they found from different regions. The four mini-movies are highlighted by the infectious acting flair of veteran actors Joel Torre, Mark Gil, Juan Rodrigo, and Aiza Seguerra.
The feature is divided into three parts. The first part is an upbeat MTV-style take on tourism showcasing Filipinos and the authentically beautiful places they live. The second part unravels inspiring stories Tanchanco, the video’s director and producer, and the team gathered through their six-moth journey throughout the country. Finally, the last part of the documentary features renowned Filipino experts who have empowered by their research, advocacy, embodiment, and endorsement in the fields of love, health, wealth, and success. These Filipino “icons” share their wisdom and insights attesting the power of the principles the film supports. The icons are as follows:
Olympic medalist Bea Lucero, chef and restaurateur Gene Gonzalez, sociologist Josephine Aguilar-Placido, motivational speakers Jhet Torcelino Van Ruyven, Lourdes Elardo-Gant, Severino Reyes and Alex Lacson, television personalities Cory Quirino and Boy Abunda, psychologist Margarita Holmes, parapsychologist Jaime Licauco, environmentalist and empowerment coach Josef Franklin Regis, homeopathic physician Corazon Ibarra, entrepreneurs Claire Villanueva, Edelwina Lema Beech and Elias delos Santos, prosperity guru George Sison, spiritual caregiver Mary Fidelis Estrada, and psychic and fortune teller Madam Rosa.
“We are students of empowerment principles; we decided to do the [sic] film as a way of practicing the principles and to know paano siya naisasabuhay ng mga Pilipino all around the Philippines,” budding video director Tanchanco explained.
The six-month jaunt of the team challenged their patience and passion as they travel in the most rural places in the Philippines just to find real stories from real people. Whether rich or impoverished, the team inquired and examined their conditions, concepts and mental attitudes on the four elements the movie promotes.
“The challenge there is that we only had two to three days to find at least four stories in each region. Apparently, that’s the only time we would ask tricycle drivers and other people from different walks of life. For the drama, we are talking four different places in the Philippines, from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao,” Tanchanco furthered.
As to the originality of the feature, the promising director asserted that it’s completely different from the The Secret that became an overnight phenomenon in the US. Though undeniably that Isang Lahi is delivered just like the Hollywood produced film (most particularly the third part of the film where the team interviewed local ‘icon’ experts), Tanchanco assured that it (the movie) is original on its part.
“Are we ready to face criticism that it is not original? Yes,” raved Tanchanco. “It is original on its part but the law of attraction, the principle is as old as time. What we are doing here is seeing how it applies on the lives of the Filipinos. It is a different way of presenting it [the principle] and applying it most especially that we have really good icon experts. It is very different from the way it’s explained in The Secret; very simple and maiintindihan ng masang Pilipino. Ginawa namin ito para sa mga Pinoy.”
The video features contemporized ethnical Filipino ditties like Naglalakbay by Bayang Barrios. Also part of the soundtrack is Dodjie Simon classic Isang Dugo, Isang Lahi, Isang Musika, covered by balladeer Bimbo Cerudo.
Isang Lahi is supported by the National Commission for Culture and Arts and will be screened for various organizations and institutions in different parts of the country. It is set to go on international showing on Jan. 15, being an official submission to the 2009 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.