PilipINO: A Documentary of a filipino balut vendor clinches the Montañosa Film Festival Grand Prize

On March 23, 2024, the Montañosa Film Festival (MFF) awards ceremony took place at the CAP John Hay Trade and Cultural Center in Baguio City. The event was graced by a distinguished panel, including Indonesian Ambassador to the Philippines, Agus Widjojo, who attended to promote Indonesian films for the MFF International Film section.

Following a meticulous year-long mentorship program led by MFF Director John Balanag and MFF Competition, Camp, and Mentorship Director Emmanuel ‘Ibonman’ Dela Cruz, the grand jury, comprising acclaimed directors Joyce Bernal, Pepe Diokno, Zig Dulay, award-winning actor Dingdong Dantes, and National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab, conducted careful deliberations. The result was the recognition of a documentary titled “Ino,” which unfolds the life story of a young balut vendor in Cauayan City, Isabela, winning the Festival’s Grand Prize along with five other awards.

Directed by Ranniel Semana, “Ino” portrays the struggles and triumphs of its main protagonist, Santino Aggabao. Despite the carefree scenes of Santino and his friends navigating the streets of Cauayan City, the documentary sheds light on the financial challenges faced by ordinary Filipinos, a narrative that resonated strongly with Joyce Bernal.

“Ang buhay ng bawat Pilipino ay katulad ni Ino, Pilipino si Ino,” she passionately remarked.

Semana shared insights into the life lessons gleaned from “Ino,” emphasizing how the documentary has provided answers to his existential questions.

“Sa buhay ni Ino, natagpuan ko ang mga kasagutan. Ang unang hakbang sa pagharap ng mga hamon ng buhay ay ang pagtanggap sa katotohanan kahit na ito ay maaaring maging masakit,” he stated.

“Ino” and other films from the documentary, narrative, and mobile categories remain accessible for viewing through the MFF Vimeo account and the Film Development Council of the Philippines’ online screening platform, “Juanflix.”

The successful conclusion of the event was made possible with the support of the Local Government of Baguio, SM City Baguio, and Baguio Country Club. The Montañosa Film Festival serves as an annual celebration of Arts, Films, and Culture, offering aspiring filmmakers a platform to showcase their passion and talents on a broader scale. | Princess Lhura Jesusa Payumo





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