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Fonacier: Important to tell stories from home

By Shareen Anjali Warad | News Writer

Vol. XCI No. 8

Oct. 4, 2019

“Continue to tell stories from home, our truth is there, our truth of who we are is there,” said film actress Chai Fonacier regarding Truth in Storytelling during her pop-up talk last Sept. 26 at the Café Memento, El Amigo.

Chai Fonacier, a film and TV actress and singer songwriter, talked about truth in storytelling. “Ma agit[ate] ko when things aren’t true in storytelling especially sa film,” (I am agitated when things are not true in storytelling especially in film) Fonacier said. She emphasized the importance of insights in storytelling where she talked about the clear usage of props in a set to properly establish the character’s situation: “Why in the damn hell is it always hotdog, bacon, [and] orange juice [on breakfast]?” She said that every tiny detail in a story should be true. “What do you eat for breakfast? That [food] is dictated by budget, schedule, social demographic, asa ka nagpuyo dapita – and that informs a lot sa character formation ba,” (What do you eat for breakfast? That [food] is dictated by budget, schedule, social demographic, where you live – and that informs a lot in the character formation) she added.

Fonacier added that tiny details are important because they tell the audience the kind of life the characters have and their identities. “A good story also hinges up either a solid insight or one that you want to explore,” she said. For her, inspiration is always waiting and ready to be found if people move and find them. “We do not wait for inspirations or insights; we find the inspirations and then we form the insights,” she added.

In telling a story, she said, “Don’t just tell it because ‘oh because it happened to me,’” there is always a why behind every story. You always ask why, why is this important to me, why is this important to the people who will read your story.” Truth in storytelling is important because of the “why” and “what for.” Fonacier added that she is not satisfied when the story doesn’t have a sense of humanity.

“As you keep exploring yourself, eventually you find how embedded you are in this society and you find a story that needs to be told. You find things that make you ask, ‘why is nobody talking about this?’” Fonacier said. She also mentioned her life in the film industry after she transferred from Cebu to Manila.

The pop-up talk was organized by Reel Hub, the film society of Silliman University (SU), in partnership with Silliman University Culture and Arts Council. Aside from Fonacier’s talk, they also showed two of Mark Lifana’s short films in memory of him. According to Prof. Ian Casocot, film and creative writing professor in SU, Lifana was one of the greatest storytellers in Dumaguete.

“We should be allowed to tell our stories,” Fonacier said. She mentioned that Lifana’s films were great examples of telling stories from home since one of Lifana’s films, Bugas, talked about a farmer’s story in Bayawan which was close to Lifana’s heart because he was from Bayawan and he came from a family of farmers. “It’s so important to tell stories from home because we need to assert the fact [that] we are not a homogeneous country,” she added.

Fonacier also mentioned that filmmakers and storytellers from outside Metro Manila should know that they are as much Filipinos as anyone from the metro and should identify their region first before they identify as Filipinos. “Eventually, I hope the entire Philippines understand [that] we all belong to this big barangay we call Pinas,” she added.

EJ Casio, the president of Reel Hub and the organizer of the event, mentioned that the purpose of the event was to educate more people about film and the pop-up event. “[The event] was a great avenue to create conversations and to have an exchange of ideas that will also serve as an inspiration for some people to do their craft,” he added.

The Reel Hub will organize more projects that will showcase stories of home for the organization to inspire more filmmakers in creating stories and using film as a medium for a new revolution.


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