A Pinoy in London

Date posted on May 18, 2012

I spent about three crucial, unforgettable life-changing years in London as a result of my decision to take up my Masters there back in 2008. There’s never a day I don’t remember how fun it was, never a day I don’t wonder how my friends are doing.

Even now, I still find myself wondering whether I should just pack up and return there and make good use of my work visa to relive my adventures as a Pinoy student in London. Of course, with the goal of replacing ‘student’ with ‘professional filmmaker’.

I don’t regret being here in Manila. I just can’t help these thoughts whenever there’s a lull at work — times like this. Back in London, there was literally no lull. Life there was much faster, busier, and in many ways, harder. Especially when you’re a foreign student like I was. With everything there being so expensive and… well, foreign… I had to dispense with many of the comforts I am used to here back home. From big things like living in a home that did not require my paying rent, to simple things like having my own car or driver or not having to worry about making up my own bed. Routinary things like commuting, doing the laundry, and having sandwiches for lunch to save on the expense and not because you’re on a strict diet, suddenly get replete with profundity. Yet it’s precisely because of all that that London has grown that close to my heart.

But more than the City itself, the weather, the people, the accent, the lifestyle, the culture, and the thrill of living in a historic but modern capital like London, it is the experience of actually making films there that I miss the most. That, and the friends I made while at LFS.

My Term 4 Unit in the set that George built, Mike lit and I shot.
The entire staff and crew on Wrap Day. I was camera operator that term.
A couple of hours after the previous photo. Somewhere in China Town. Or Soho. The alcohol made me forget.

I’m waxing nostalgic cause I stumbled upon this video while browsing through my alma mater’s website.
This was shot back in December 2012. I didn’t know they’d put it up already. It was a day or two before our graduation ceremony. Some of the alumni were invited back to the school to record testimonials of their experiences while studying at the London Film School. It reminded me of what a blast it was to be a student in London. Wait. Make that, a student making films in London. I really doubt it could get any more fun than that. I recount my reasons for saying so in the clip below:

I remember writing in the Kwentong Peyups article I contributed to the University of the Philippines’ centennial celebration how I was conscious of representing the Philippines while I was at LFS. It was what pushed me to be at my best.

Oddly, even though I am now back to being a Pinoy filmmaker in the Philippines, one among so many others, I feel like I still carry with me a lot of what I said in that video. Even if I’m no longer a foreigner in the UK, the reversion to being back home revived some of the experiences and emotions I felt while I was in London. That awkward feeling of being an outsider at the beginning. The drive to earn my peers’ respect and earn my place through merit and hard work. Though I’m back to all things familiar, I’m reminded all the more of the values I learned while at LFS. Values of discipline, humility and openness. Perhaps because being a screenwriter making his way to directing mirrored the struggles of an Asian student in a big, western city.

My time in London reminds me of the precious opportunity I was given to represent my country. To build the image of a Pinoy filmmaker in London. Now that I’m back, I’m given an opportunity to represent LFS in Manila.