Inspiring youth to holiness, better reward for Calungsod movie producer, than ticket sales

MANILA—Despite knowing that religious films hardly make it to the blockbuster list, an investment banker has agreed to “throw money away” to bankroll the production of “Pedro Calungsod, Batang Martir” movie, knowing that the film adaptation of the life of the second Filipino saint must be made.

It was almost instantaneous for Ida Tiongson to decline, given the gravity of the risk but she said she suffered sleepless nights, thinking how to decline the proposal of film director Francis Villacorta to finance the project.

“When group of Francis Villacorta approached us to help fund this movie, our HPI Board initially planned to let go. For some reason, I could not sleep at all and was in fact palpitating whenever I was thinking of how I would decline funding this movie. I actually had an unusual encounter. I knew what the message was and that is to trust and find a way to do this movie,” Tiongson shared.

Tiongson disclosed that the movie’s budget is “quite high” and the risk of not being able to recoup the investment is equally “high.” But instead of declining, her group agreed to fund the movie and even enlist it to the Metro Manila Film Festival.

“Contrary to our position, instead of declining, we even pushed for the materials to be submitted to MMFF, an idea which just came to me the day I was supposed to give them the bad news. Since the movie’s budget is quite high the only possible way to recoup, let alone earn, is via MMFF. Still the risk is still considered high but the movie must be made, it has a purpose,” she said.

Tiongson said funding the movie was not a “gamble,” since she knew it was something that is meant to happen.

“As an investment banker, this movie is considered high risk since it’s only for a single market and that no local religious or historical film has apparently earned to date. In fact most people said that it’s like we are throwing money away and that it’s a crazy idea.  But I strongly feel God is with us in this movie. It is a movie with a purpose,” she added.

Tithing

Tiongson said she is prepared to lose her investment but adds that she considers it as a well-spent tithe.

“If we financially lose, then it becomes our tithing.  The real loss is when we earn but fail to plant the seed (of knowing Saint Pedro Calungsod) especially in the hearts of the children. What kind of success is that?” she added.

Tiongson said the “Pedro Calungsod, Batang Martir” movie is a must-see movie for the family and a good educational tool for schools to use in teaching students about Calungsod’s life and martyrdom.

“The film’s target is indeed to educate. According to researcher and director Francis Villacorta, the plot has been based on more than two years of research of facts, interviews and gathering voluminous information both local and overseas particularly in Guam, to ensure what we are doing is closest to what happened. Information gathered are like loose jigsaw puzzle pieces that need to be put together. To put the pieces together some inferences were made and some scenes have been dramatized,” she said.

“The movie visualizes the books, stories and information into this media format called the film. To date only a small percentage of the population are still unaware of Pedro Calungsod’s life and his ‘adventures.’  This is not just religion but also history. Isn’t it amazing how a young Filipino was able to substantially contribute to making Guam largely a Christian nation today? It’s truly inspiring!” she added.

While recouping appears a distant reality, Tiongson said inspiring children to holiness is worth more than recovering their losses or even bagging awards for the movie.

“With all sincerity, blockbuster ticket sales sound good and awards certainly would be appreciated. But truly if we can change and inspire even only child to be closer to God, that is more than success. What a joy that would be!” she added.

“Pedro Calungsod, Batang Martir” stars Rocco Nacino and Christian Vasquez as Pedro Calungsod and Padre Diego de San Vitores, respectively. The film is produced by HPI Synergy Group in association with Wings Entertainment. (Kris Bayos)