WI DING HO, A Malaysian living in Taiwan, successfully captures the hilarious plight of Filipino migrant workers in his film, “Pinoy Sunday.” He got noticed with his short film, “Hu Xi (Respire),” which garnered the Kodak Short Film and Young Critics Awards at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival.
About his latest movie, he shares: “The first time I lived in Taiwan, I had no family, friends and connections. I was looking for a job. I was the same as the Pinoy migrant workers. I sorely missed home.”
The image of Filipinos scavenging for used furniture in the streets was vivid in his mind. “The locals in Taipei don’t do that. They have too many resources. I used the image of two guys carrying a discarded couch as my starting point.” He wrote the story with an Indian writer (Ajay Balakrishnan) based in New York.
“Pinoy Sunday” stars Epy Quizon, Bayani Agbayani, Alessandra De Rossi, Meryll Soriano and Nor Domingo as migrant workers trying to endure loneliness and deportation in Taiwan.
It’s a series of misadventures involving the red couch, as well as a test of friendship for Bayani and Epy as they accidentally run into a drunk motorcycle driver, help a suicidal teen, and escape the wrath of an angry dog.
Bayani’s character is the typical Filipino male – he diligently sends money to his family back home. He’s terrified to lose his job, but is more than willing to have an extramarital affair. Epy is the romantic type who’s desperate to have a woman (De Rossi) in his life. They’re both dreamers who soften the blows of ill fate with humor.
During a screening in Taiwan, Wi noticed a phenomenon among the foreign workers. He relates: “The audience laughed hard when Bayani called his family back home after saying goodbye to his girlfriend [Soriano]. It’s sad, but this is common among migrant workers in Taiwan.”
How did Wi get his actors? “I refused to watch their past films. I want them to be real, I didn’t want any acting. When I met Bayani in person, he looked like a family man – and that was what I was looking for.”
Was there a communication barrier during the shoot? He replies, “On the set, I tell them what to do. The actors improvise with the dialogue. I don’t understand the language, but I know it works, because when the crew watches the monitor, I see them laughing.” Dialogue is mostly in Tagalog, with some Mandarin.
Wi was in Manila early this week to preview his film. He shares, “We’re looking for distributors. We just don’t want to screen this film at festivals – we plan to have a commercial run here.”
By Rica Arevalo/Philippine Daily Inquirer