For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a storyteller. Whether it was writing, pitching stories, taking photos, or producing online content, I have understood that the world of media has the power to move people, and it is an incredible industry to be in. Everyone has a significant role to play, from the production team to the creative director, photographer, stylist, and make-up artist. It is interesting to realize how one cannot thrive without the other and how creating a powerful story involves a collaborative effort.
Surprisingly enough, in May 2021, an opportunity presented itself when I received a call from Mr. Alvin Tan, the president of Fil-Chi Media Productions, who offered me a job as an assistant writer for CHiNOY TV’s upcoming new documentary series “1CH1NOY: Chinese by Blood, Filipino by Heart,” to be aired on CNN Philippines. My immediate reaction to this was excitement. The thought of taking on this opportunity means accepting the challenge of learning and gaining even more knowledge, which is an experience unlike any other. As Mr. Alvin Tan would say, “We need the next generation of Chinoys to carry on the message that we’ve started.” A documentary that re-discovers the Chinoy identity locally and globally that brings more people to learn about Modern Chinoy culture.
With this vision in mind, we proceeded to the execution, starting with a series of online meetings for proper preparation and planning. Working as a team alongside our Director Mike Carandang and the whole Chinoy TV production, marketing, and online staff, our shared goal for this documentary was to capture the spirit of what a Modern Chinoy is. I would describe that this part of the planning stage was a nostalgic experience for all of us. As we were sharing and exchanging ideas back and forth, it made me realize how we all have different and unique perspectives on what it means to be a Chinoy. Reminiscing over Chinese festivals, New Year’s festivities, and other events. We eventually realized that our shared experiences largely stem from the values instilled in us by our Chinoy upbringings. Solidarity, Fortitude, Loyalty, Bravery, Discipline, Harmony, Integrity, Wisdom, Determination, and Legacy are among the qualities in the list. These values are what we committed to using as the representation of the Modern Chinoy in our episodes.
Now the challenging part of our planning and preparation, which was tapping the speakers and arranging the locations to shoot in. It was a difficult task, I’ll confess. During a pandemic comes with a few setbacks, mainly cancellations and rescheduling. One of the most important lessons I’ve taken away from this is that plans will constantly change. So, it’s essential to remain as adaptable and flexible as possible.
It took us about a month and a half to finalize everything, but our hard work and preparation paid off. And then we moved on to the next stage, which is the filming. Perhaps, my final takeaway from this pre-production experience is that anything can happen. Canceled and changed plans; it’s best to be flexible as ever. Another is to be outspoken to share your ideas. In my case, sometimes I would feel as if my ideas were not as good as the others. But, I’ve also encouraged myself to speak up and share my experiences as every experience is just as meaningful and unique as the other. Lastly, collaboration and communication are crucial. A compelling story necessitates the ideas of everyone. We’re all storytellers, and our shared and unique experiences allow us to connect and, ultimately, present a compelling narrative.
Part two of my production experience working at CHiNOY TV covers the filming and onsite process.
Catch “Chinese by Blood, Filipino by Heart 1CH1NOY” on Sundays 8pm only on CNN Philippines via Free TV Channel 9, Sky Cable Channel 14, Cignal Channel 10. It will also simultaneously air on CNN Philippines’ webpage www.cnnphilippines.com.