Why The Personal Is Political For Director Maria Estela Paiso

Internationally acclaimed indie filmmaker explains her work’s connection to social issues

For director Maria Estela Paiso, her debut work Ampangabagat Nin Talakba Ha Likol (It’s Raining Frogs Outside) is a form of acceptance for her identity crisis

Although she grew up in rural and urban setups at different points in her life, she chose to set her film in Zambales because the majority of her memories there were joyful. She says it’s only right to let go of adulthood disorientation as she moves on to the next reel of her life.

Paiso says her work will always be personal and political. She feels a need to connect her origins to the present struggles with self and society. That’s why her film featured a snippet of an article about Zambales fishermen who deserted the “dangerous Scarborough Shoal.”

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Given her hometown and political stance, we asked her what she thinks of China’s claim that the West Philippine Sea and everything in it is theirs.

Paiso said that there’s an actual ruling that states  China’s claim has no legal basis. She also stressed that it was an obvious tactic by China to expand and impose their political power on the region.

Empathizing with the people of Zambales, she questions the present administration’s handling of the territorial dispute and how it affects the locals.

“Naiintindihan kong prayoridad natin ang kaligtasan, pero kailangan bang at the expense of our fishermen? Hahayaan na lang ba natin ang kapabayaan ng admin na ito? Hahayaan na lang ba nating tanggalan ng karapatang maghanap-buhay ang mga taga-roon?”

(“I understand that we have to prioritize safety, but must we do so at the expense of our fishermen? Are we going to just let this admin be negligent? Will we just stand by and let the people of Zambales be deprived of the right to earn a living there?”)

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Photo credit: Ampangabagat Nin Talakba Ha Likol

According to her, there’s not enough reason to ignore what China is doing, especially since the people living by Scarborough Shoal depend on the sea for their livelihood. 

Atin ang WPS, at ang atin ay atin,” Paiso says emphatically

(“The WPS is ours, and what’s ours is ours,” Paiso says emphatically.)

Paiso will be exporting her rendered work for the 51stEdition of New Directors/New Films Film Festival from April 20-May1, 2022 at Film on Lincoln Center and The Museum of Modern Art, in New York. 

READ: Filipina Film Maker Debuts on Staple New York Film Fest

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For more on the New Directors/New Films Film Festival you can check out their website. You can also follow Ampangabagat Nin Talakba Ha Likol (It’s Raining Frogs Outside) on Facebook and Instagram.


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