Return to the Tribes
Pagbabalik Sa Tribo

PHILIPPINES / 1999 / Filipino / Color / Video / 45 min

Director, Script, Narration: Howie Severino
Photography, Sound: Edgar Navarro
Production Company: Probe Productions
The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
Source: Probe Productions
13 Matipid St. Sikatuna Village Quezon City PHILIPPINES
Phone: 632-9229273
Fax: 632-9222054,
E-mail: probe@csi.com.ph

Howie Severino

A journalist throughout his career, he has also written documentary scripts. He shifted from print to television journalism two years ago, and has been directing documentaries for TV broadcast since. Among recent subjects are: the war in Southern Philippines between the government and Islamic rebels, the impact on children of mine poisoning, and the opposition on a Visayan island to a coal-fired power plant project by citizens groups led by women. In the past ten years, he has written scripts for UNICEF (children of war, tribal education, goiter, and mobile teachers) and for Plan International among others.

A filmmaker of tribal origin rediscovers his cultural roots in Palawan Island after success in the MTV world. The documentary accompanies his actual and psychological journey back and his commitment to preserving the traditional community and its values. Together with the indigenous people, he protests environmental destruction and the legacy of colonization, now in the hands of big corporations and government cronies.

Director's Statement

The Philippines is a country of diverse cultures, languages, and tribes. Many of our conflicts and problems can be traced to prejudice and misunderstandings between these groups.
Although I belong to the majority ethnic group (the Tagalogs of Manila), I grew up in the United States as one of the few non-white children in predominantly white schools and neighborhoods. When I returned to my homeland, I felt a natural affinity to those in minority groups, because I had been a member of one myself.
As a documentarist, I have always felt that I had a duty to build bridges among people, to enable the diverse groups within our society to understand and get along with each other.
I am constantly alert to personal experiences that can be documented to convey my ideas. That is what I saw in the dramatic saga of Auraeus Solito, the tribal filmmaker who is the main character in my documentary.
What was intended as a fifteen-minute television report for a journalism show evolved into a rare documentary broadcast to a mainstream TV audience in the Philippines. We shot most of it in less than a week with a three-person crew using small digital equipment. The size and lightness of our production team enabled us to move quickly and unobtrusively.
I have written many documentaries, but this is the first one for which I have been credited as the "director."
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COPYRIGHT:Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival Organizing Committee