This short film was made as a supplementary segment to a regular TV Business Magazine – Instructional program — Magnegosyo (1998) hosted by Ninna Castro — co-produced by the Office of the President: Technology and Livelihood Center & GMA7 Television Network. The whole series was on Cacti and Succulents and the main objective of the series was to encourage viewers to propagate and sell cacti and succulents. The technology is very easy and there is no need for heavy capitalization. It bothered me however, as to why these plants are not popular in the Philippines.
I discovered the culprit: there is a prevalent belief among Filipinos that cacti and succulents are thorny, they are considered “malas” or bad luck. I saw this point as a major block towards promoting business. I have to address the issue first before the audience will apply the technology and business proposition. Since this was more of an ideological problem, I resorted to the narrative film. I believe in the potential of the short film to bring about changes of ideology among viewers.
I chose melodrama as the genre because Filipinos love the form; the topic itself seemed meant for a melodramatic tone. I saw Ferdi (the main character) as the “ultimate malas” who wanted to shut out, and to kill even, everything that he considers bad luck — including his daughter Celine. His life looked as though it was a string of misfortunes — his wife abandoned him with a daughter to bring up, he was unemployed, his daughter’s teacher irritated him, he was hypertensive, to top it all up — his house burned down.
But even until the most unfortunate moment of his life, one of his alleged bad luck, his daughter Celine persisted to comfort and love him. Ferdi discovered just in time that he was doing something wrong: he was pushing away all his bad luck, when what he should have been doing was letting good luck (which were beside him all the time) enter his life. If there was any “bad luck” in his life it was his wrong way of thinking.
thorny outside, succulent Inside
The narrative film is not a standard segment in Magnegosyo; producing and directing it had its share of challenges. I had to include “instructional” components in the short film so it can be easily recognized as “within the format” of the show. There was no budget for actors so I had to request friends, former students, even Magnegosyo resource persons, to perform for free. Some of the actors doubled up as production assistants, musical scorers and production designers.
As director, this film was also brought about by a very strong desire to make narrative movies on a more regular basis — to make “telling stories on film” as my way of life. Integrating the narrative film in the TV instructional format is so far, my first major break. To date, the Magnegosyo series on Cacti and Succulents is one of the series that receives the most number of telephone inquiries. I would like to think that “Malas Daw sa Buhay” contributed to its success.
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