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School teachers are also filmmakers, winners, too

School teachers these days—specifically during the pre-COVID-19 pandemic and after easing up restrictions on the mitigation of the new coronavirus—haven’t confined themselves mentoring students in the classrooms and on blended learning and online studies but in the filmmaking arena as well.


On perfect example of this dichotomy is Geraldo M. Jumawan, better known as Gerry Jumawan or Jek Jumawan, the filmmaker.


Jek has been a teacher all his life when he graduated from an Education course from Davao City. Initially, he spent his teaching in the south but later moved to Manila.


He applied in public high schools and was readily accepted as a fulltime faculty member of the Lagro High School in Quezon City.


In Lagro High, he taught Filipino and other subjects but was happily given an upper hand in fusing theater arts and filmmaking in his cognates. As a result, he was already giving theater arts workshops like stage production and other theatrical theories and practices including acting. He went on to give filmmaking seminars and workshops especially to his students on their spare time like during weekends or holidays. These extra-curricular activities were and still are optional for students who are interested in the fields.


His enthusiasm, though, on the enhancement of these arts, proved to be rewarding and flourishing even without incentives like money. “Pag nakikita ko lang ang mga estudyante na intresado at madaling nagagawa ang nasa workshop, bonus na sa akin ‘yon (When I see my students interested and working easily in the workshops, that’s bonus for me),” Jumawan smiled.


Most often than not, he even doled out from his own pocket just to see through the activities considering that the students have just enough for their daily provisions. Other than official expenses like buying books and other school materials contributions to off-campus gigs aren’t allowed within the rules and regulations of a public school.


Pero masaya naman ako (But I am happy doing and helping),” he beamed.



Jek gathers all his energy and networks to pull off theater and filmmaking workshops which aren’t easy.


This writer remembers when he was telling me that he was able to invite Palanca award-winning writer, professor, actor and researcher Domingo Landicho as one of the speakers in his theater workshops. “Malapit lang kasi ang bahay ni Mang Doming dito sa school namin kaya madali ko siyang naimbitahan (Mang—a term of endearment to an older man—Doming’s house is just a stone’s throw from our school that’s why we could easily invite him if he’s free),” recalled Jek.


I was also a perennial guest in most of his extra-curricular activities like acting as a judge in a literary contest or speaker on subjects related to the movies although there were times I couldn’t make it due to my many commitments.


I met Jek during the 2nd Pandayang Lino Brocka Political Film and New Media Festival where my short film “Dumagat” and his entry “Ang Kamot nga Nagluwas” were among the finalists. After the festival, we were already communicating with each other.


We were also classmates at the Malayang Sining Kayumanggi (MasKay) filmmaking workshop, if my memory serves me right, in the late 2000s.


Jek is an auteur.


He is an unselfish film artist who shares his skills and talents to his fellowmen especially to his colleagues in the education department.


Didn’t you know that teachers are also good filmmakers and actors if one believes Jumawan?


He also connects and inspires his fellow mentors like his sharing information about talented teachers apart from him who have won in international film festivals.


In Jek’s own account, he said that teachers have talents in acting aside from teaching. A teacher, he believes, should also be acting realistically so that he or she could influence his or her students of the knowledge being conveyed.


Most of the teachers Jumawan knows are also actors during their high school and college days like Roderick Alo of Mapulang Lupa High School in Valenzuela City and Erlinda Paras, his co-teacher at Lagro.


“I am happy that, modesty aside, we were given breaks to act in indie films and to win awards internationally,” exclaimed Gerry.


Roderick, according to Jek, teaches Filipino and adviser of Tanghalang Banyuhay of his school.


Recently, Alo won Best Actor at the Tagore International Film Festival in India last October for his portrayal in the monologue “Palimos” which was also shown at the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) as part of the information drive on the COVID-19 pandemic.


Meanwhile, Roderick’ short film “Yugto” which he directed won Best Story, Best Child Actor and Best Production Design at the Pista ng Pinilakang Tabing. At the moment, it is a finalist to the Pelikulang Juan Film Festival in Bulacan City.


Erlinda, on the other hand, teaches Theater Arts.


Because of her know-how in acting, she won Best Supporting Actress at the 1st Golden Dragon Awards, an annual Druk International Film Festival last November in Bhutan for the short film “Nothing Beats Oldies” under the direction of Clarklouis Sanchez.


Paras also won the same plum at the Tagore and Port Blair International Film Festivals, both in India last October.


In the local fest, Erlinda won Best Supporting Actress for the same movie at the Urduja Film Festival in Pangasinan Province.


On his part, Jek founded Teatro Oktubre Nueve twenty one years ago and the Sining Bahandi Youth Filmmakers ten years ago.


Last November, Jumawan with his co-director Win Suarez Compendio won Independent Achievement Award for the film “Sulyap” about love for nature at the International Film Festival in New York which was organized by Luis Pedron.


Jek was honored Film Ambassador twice in 2018 and 2019 by the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP).


He was proclaimed for Best Actor Honorable Mention for the same film later year at the Top Short Film Festival in the US, Oniros Film Festival in Italy and at the Lake City International Film Festival in India.


This year, he won the same plum at the festivals in Roshani, Calcutta, Cult and Virgin Island, all in India and at the World International Film Festival in Singapore and Twilight International Film Festival in Tokyo, Japan.


Meanwhile, to set the record straight, said Gerry, they won’t take mentoring for granted as it is their primary responsibility.


Jumawan said he is vent on making advocacy films like “Pas-An (Carried Burdens)” which he co-directed with Compendio about disability issues and won Best Short Film at the 2020 Golden Dragon Awards. Meanwhile, “Sa Dulo ng Bahaghari” is about LGBT issues.


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