Please note: the following blog post was scheduled prior to Typhoon Haiyan. For the latest updates on our borrowers, Field Partners, field staff and Kiva Fellows in the region, please see our blog post here.
Before our last day of filming in Manila, we had dinner with Michelle and Edwin at a local restaurant. The highlight of our night was when a small musical group, made of blind musicians, came to our table to sing (you pay a small amount). Edwin broke out his musical talent by playing the drums with his chopsticks, joined in my Michelle and myself soon after. Our musical ensamble only lasted for one song but it was a moment I wont soon forget :)
It had been a very successful few weeks filming in Manila and today was no exception. We spent the day shooting montage shots with a number of different businesses for the Kiva video. Each of these pieces were meant to be taken in 30mins to an hour tops, but weather and nature decided to not let that happen for us.
First up was a pineapple farm. For those of you who did not know, pineapples are in fact, grown in the ground with the crown, or head, of the pineapple sticking out of the ground.
We were informed by the client, Adoracion, the pineapple farm was a bit of a trek from the car. "A bit of a trek" turned out to be a very long trek through a tropical jungle where we felt like we were attempting to escape or join a rebel faction. After 30 or so minutes in the "jungle", we arrived at a wide open field, the pineapple farm. It was a beautiful scene and something that I would have never seen were it not for this Fellowship.
I really wanted to film the client with her product, the pineapple, but unfortunately none were ripe enough to harvest - so we had to improvise. The local loan officer from CCT called someone on the outside (on the other side of the jungle trek) to help us find some pineapples from other local businesses and deliver them. Not being in pineapple high season and the fact that the person had to go through the Philippines bush, those pineapple did not come cheap. The pineapple farm was beautiful, but difficult to navigate and direct through. Adoracion was a great sport and never complained even when we were getting slashed by the ravor sharp stems on the pinnapples.
Like clockwork, the second we finished shooting, it started to rain. We had to make our way through the jungle trek in the rain but we walked out of there extremely happy. And, I managed to get some great shots in the process.
After once again rinsing off our mud-covered feet, we set off to our next location, a variety store. Since the early days of the trip, I have been trying to capture a trio of variety shop owners peak through their shop windows and smile proudly at the camera. Esmeralda was my missing link. Filming her through her window proved to be a tad more difficult than expected, since her shop opened right up to the road. Both traffic and rain wanted to get in our way but our patience was rewarded with my final variety shop shot. Tenacity always wins!
Today was the last day of shooting in Manila and both Yungkit and I wanted Edwin and Michelle to be there for it. After much persuation we finally got Michelle to agree. The catch was that we had to deliver Michelle to Tagaytay at approximately 4pm so that she could tend to her other CCT duties. Turns out Tagaytay is one of the most gorgeous and scenic places near Manila - a local vacation spot.
Before dropping off Michelle, we were brought to the Lookout point on the highest hill of the area to get a panoramic view of the area. Once again, nature had other plans and this is the view that greeted us...
We decided to wait it out, but not without some form of encouragement to the sky - Edwin and I attempted to do a rain dance to shoo away the clouds, the fog and the rain. You could say that it worked, around some 30 minutes later.
The fog cleared up and the view was Stunning. We were able to see one of the world's smallest volcanoes - which had errupted only last year. The heat from the volanoe nearly boiled the water killing all of the fish in the area. Needless to say it did not make for a pleasant smell and the community had to cart away all of the dead fish. Nasty thought, but I digress.
The day was a success and was a perfect ending to two great weeks with my new friends Edwin and Michelle. We dropped Michelle off at the CCT location in Tagaytay, said our last goodbyes, then were dropped off for the last time by Edwin and Rocky at our hotel in Manila. Both Edwin and Michelle are great individuals who take enourmous pride in the work that they do. Their efforts and dedication to their job at CCT have helped a countless number of individuals get up off their feet and help themselves through the micro loans and various programs that CCT takes part in. I feel very fortunate to have met Michelle and Edwin. Thank you for coordinating our time in Manila! It was awesome!
Goodbye Philippines! Next stop: Indonesia!!
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After many years working as a producer and director at a Manhattan creative agency, Michael decided to make a change and put his skill-set to use creating meaningful content for causes he believed in. While in Guatemala on a video shoot, he had a chance encounter with a Kiva Fellow that resulted in a successful experience producing videos for Kiva's Women-Owned Businesses initiative. He profiled indigenous women and their businesses around Lake Atitlan and produced a best practices video for the local field partner, Friendship Bridge. These experiences in Central America helped him grow as a filmmaker and instilled a newfound desire to apply his craft telling the stories of the people around the world who have used microfinancing to change their lives. Michael is elated to be continuing his work with Kiva in Southeast Asia this fall. He will be tackling a new Media Fellowship, searching for the borrowers that best exemplify the power of Kiva to give people the resources to lift themselves out of poverty. This Kiva Fellowship is Michael's calling and was the opportunity he was looking for to make a difference.