Zamboangueña’s loss gives birth to Gawad Urian 2021's best short film

Zamboangueña Mijan Jumalon, the director and screenwriter of Ola, which earned the 44th Gawad Urian's Best Short Film plum on Friday, October 21, said the work was based on a tragedy she endured six years ago.

In 2015, Jumalon had lost her second son in childbirth, and since then has dealt with the loss through art.

Prior to writing Ola, Jumalon would try to fathom the depth of her grief through painting.

Jumalon said, “As an artist, I know that the formless can be made less overwhelming by encasing it in a language capable of transforming an ineffable experience into something comprehensible. Retelling this particular story through film has added dimension to such a life story, allowing me to understand and confront death – and life – with greater courage.” 

She said Ola was a project she felt most passionate about because it allowed her to translate the experience of losing a child into a medium she could share with an audience, whose members may have directly or indirectly undergone the same experience as well.

“Oftentimes, childbirth loss is a taboo subject," she pointed out.

The short film is about an artist, played by Sheenly Gener, who gets visited by her daughter, played by Italia Co Ngayo, four years after losing her in childbirth. The daughter then asks her mother to build a boat. 

“What happens next is an exploration of how art and madness can transform and transcend grief and tragedy,” said the film’s producer Neil Carandang, himself a painter, actor, and director.

Carandang was also the producer for Jumalon's 2019 short documentary Maglabay ra in sakit (The pain shall ease). –

Frencie Carreon is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship

Frencie Carreon

Carreon is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.