As a young Chinoy, most would relate when someone says that their parents’ first career choice for them is anything related to business. Steering out of that path is never an easy conversation to have, yet distinguished film producer Alemberg Ang shows that it is possible to take a different route.
In his case, it is not just one but two career paths that he forged for himself: education and the arts. You may ask which of these two things Ang is most passionate about. Yet Ang asks the question: why choose when you can have both? Indeed, this he did as he fused together his passion for teaching and producing in the creative field, embodying what it means to be a Chinoy that goes beyond borders.
Growing up in a traditional Chinoy family
Ang is no stranger to the typical Chinese expectation where parents want their children to pursue a career in business, medicine, law and other “practical” professions. A career in the arts is not always their first choice. “Growing up, I have always been dissuaded by my parents [from] going either in teaching or into the arts because that’s not where a typical Chinoy would go, that’s not where the money is,” he said.
Despite his parents’ aversion, Ang’s passion for the arts never went away. At a young age, Ang would take part in plays and theater inside and outside school. It was also during this time that he discovered his love for teaching as he participated in outreach programs at his educational institution, Xavier School. Through these programs, he was able to practice teaching catechism, math or science to underprivileged children.
Before beginning a career as a producer in the film industry, Ang worked as a teacher for almost 8 years in his own alma mater. Eventually, the tug of pursuing a career in the arts proved too strong for Ang, which is why he left teaching and looked for a jump off point into the creatives industry.
It was never smooth sailing for Ang as according to him, he did not know where to start. “When I left teaching, I didn’t honestly know where I would go. At that point, I just wanted to do something more creative and then perhaps go into the corporate world,” he shared.
Little did he know that it was his friend from Cinemalaya who would get him into the film industry. His friend asked him to produce a film and even without any professional experience, Ang bravely accepted the offer and eventually the opportunity paid off.
“That one shot deal, that one film that I was just supposed to produce eventually won awards locally and internationally and kickstarted my whole film producing career,” Ang shared.
Starting at the bottom
Before he became truly successful as a film producer, Ang admits not knowing much about the career in the first place. He shared the humble beginnings where he was treading unfamiliar waters yet they did not stop him from pursuing his dreams.
“It was a challenge because I really didn’t know the ins and outs of showbiz or the film industry. I was like the oldest intern on set. I would ask everybody what was happening,” Ang shared.
Eventually, working hard in the industry for more than 10 years, he is now one of the formidable figures when it comes to Filipino film production. Recently, one of the films he produced, Ang Pang-gagahasa kay Fe, won an award in the prestigious Cairo International Film Festival during its 33rd year in Egypt.
Honoring his Chinese roots and going beyond borders
Ang also uses his passions to embrace his Chinese-Filipino heritage. As an educator, he shares stories to his students that are reflective of what the true Chinoy identity is.
“In Filipino literature, Chinoy characters are not portrayed positively. Chinoys are usually landowners or business owners who would not treat their employees well. I would choose these stories to share with my students kasi I know that in the future, they will become business owners or leaders in their own fields and I want them to see how other Filipinos see the community and I want them to process what they felt at the time and what they think they should do as responsible members of the community,” he shared.
With this, Ang reminds the Chinoy community on why going beyond borders and breaking stereotypes is vital for the community. “It’s very important for chinoys to always go beyond these stereotypes, to go beyond what other people think of us so that we can actually help in nation building. We can help in creating a better community, a better world for us,” Ang shared.
If you’re having doubts of pursuing a career in the creative field, let Alemberg Ang’s story be a sign that traditions and conventions should not stand in the way of you pursuing your dreams and passions in life but instead, serve as your foundation towards overcoming stereotypes and going beyond borders.