Donny Pangilinan on his advocacy short film: This has always been close to my heart

Writer-director Dean Colin Marcial

“Doing this is something I wouldn’t think twice about,” said actor Donny Pangilinan of the advocacy short film project he recently shot with musician-actress Nourijune Hooshmand, titled “Graduation.”

The five-minute film, written and directed by New York-based Filipino filmmaker Dean Colin Marcial, is about a young woman (Nourijune), who fell into depression after surviving human trafficking. Through the support of her brother (Donny), she was able to slowly get back on her feet.

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“Graduation” is a project of Called to Rescue Philippines (CTR PH), a nonprofit organization given to rescuing minors from sex trafficking, violence, and abuse. Donny’s dad, Anthony Pangilinan, is CTR PH president.

“This has always been close to my heart ever since. We’ve been part of CTR PH since we were kids. This advocacy is very much needed especially today. Awareness is needed, and it’s growing. I think it’s very timely to have a short film that tackles this incredibly enormous issue. A lot of people are not so educated on how big a deal human trafficking actually is, and the negative impact it has on society or in people who were once abused, and just everyone in general,” he told reporters during a recent hybrid media gathering.

“When Dean agreed to direct this project and that I would be working alongside Nour, I told my dad, ‘Let’s do it! Let’s find a schedule, let’s make sure we’d come up with something that will hopefully move people and gear them toward helping this advocacy or just helping out the ones who were abused and needed a voice,” the 24-year-old actor pointed out. “I really believe that it deserves so much attention. We’re very far from where we want to be still, but we’d rather that something is being done.”

A very important work

Nourijune, who is still glowing from the critical success of her Cinemalaya film “The Blue Room,” said she considers “Graduation” “a very important work. I’m just thankful that I had the opportunity to be part of it. Everybody was so collaborative and dedicated to doing this project.”

To prepare for the film, Nour actually spent time with some of the survivors. “They were gracious enough to tell me about what they went through, and how they are recovering from their experience. I just really tried to get to know them. I asked them for the kind of music they listen to, or what stuff they like to do whenever they are feeling something,” she recalled.

“I dedicated this to one of the survivors. We have the same sign, the same haircut, and enjoy the same music. She graduated only recently, too,” Nour revealed.

“Graduation” was the brainchild of Marcial, Pangilinan and CTR PH advocacy head Abby Anciano. The three all said they found the need to bring emphasis not only to a survivor’s rescue, but to their reintegration into society as well. “We shouldn’t just stop after the rescue. ‘Yung ‘after-rescue’ rin kailangan. This project was out of frustration for me, and is one of the reasons I decided to do this,” Anthony explained.