When I found out about the kickstarter for Ricefield Collective through my news feed in Facebook, I was really happy to see that Anna was part of the project. As design director, I took great interest in following this fantastic organisation, to see it smash their original target to be fully funded. I caught up with Anna before she left as I was too considering putting together a crowd funded campaign for one of my projects, and I made a small promise that if I was ever in Ifugao I'd go and make some sort of video for Ricefield. A sort of cross promotional type thing for my projects.
Well 8 months later, I was in the Philippines for work. I was also visiting my family who live in Sagada, around 3 hours away from Banaue, and well here we have it. Whilst working in the Philippines I always had an objective to film as much as I could. Mixing up filming organisations I wanted to promote, to trying to construct a short film, just so I can get more and more engaged with Filipino life and documenting it in film. I mean I'm trying to make a feature film tkifilm.co.uk which will half be shot in Sagada, whilst the other half will be shot in the UK.
Anyway, it was a few days after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) hit the Philippines, and as I was on my vacation time almost 1000km with my family, I felt rather helpless with knowing how I could help the people directly affected. I could have cancelled seeing my family and maybe flew directly into one of those areas, but I only wanted to go there if I knew my presence and skill set would totally outweigh the fact I was taking away resources away from people who needed it. So I stayed with my family, and spent a lot of time just getting to know a part of my origin, half my blood if Filipino, Igorot and it just felt right being there. So one of the best things I knew that I could do is try to promote sustainability and secured livelihoods wherever in the Philippines. This organisation is actually doing that, but it still needs support. Like any new business, it's a tough market to break and requires so many hours of blood, sweat and tears.
With my cousin in tow, we went to Uhaj, the village where the women from Ricefield reside. I only had a few hours to spend, as I had a packed itinerary with family visits over my 10 day vacation period in between my 6 weeks working in Manila. So I filmed and spoke with as many women as I could. Seeing how they sat down and knitted in the beautifully peaceful but fairly remote area of Uhaj was beautiful to see. Having given one the Kickstarter hat to my sister in law, to see where it came from, how it was made was a beautiful sight. Women just knitting all day, able to have some form of secured livelihood. To me, it felt right to be out there to promote these women knitting away in this small barangay (village), talk to them and get out this very simple video.
So here's my video to Ricefield.co.
Thank you to Cindy Seville for meeting up and hanging out and helping to arrange a few bits and pieces for me. Thanks to Meredith as well for allowing me to come down and help in whatever way I could. Big ups to Anna Maltz for talking to me about this project in the first place and being super awesome. Shout out to Ganawan, my kasinsin... and of course to all the amazing women at the knitting centre in Ifugao.
Keep on supporting the ricefield collective
Filmed by Ivan Madeira
Edited by Sagandoy Jack Buyagan
Music by Big Mountain - Staying Home