by Gene Alcantara
“KONTRA CORONA”, a film documentary by Juan EU Konek on the coronavirus pandemic and its devastating effect on the Filipino communities in Spain (Barcelona), Italy (Bergamo) and the United Kingdom, was accepted as an entry under the Special Section of the prestigious 11th Asian Film Festival Barcelona (Casa Asia) which ended in November 2023. Casa Asia is Spain’s main body for public diplomacy in Spain on Asia-Pacific.
“Kontra Corona” is a powerful and moving film which documented and shed light on the challenges faced by Filipinos in Spain, Italy and UK during the Covid-19 pandemic, highlighting the crucial role Filipino frontliners have played in the battle, including those who have sadly lost their lives and those who have survived and continue to put themselves at risk while performing their duties. It is a raw, real, and heartfelt portrayal of resilience and solidarity within the Filipino diaspora community.
It is the first and only video documentation of its kind, emanating from the global Filipino diaspora estimated to be around 10 million, about 10% of the total population.
It was recognised by the Philippine Commission on Filipinos Overseas, Migration Advocacy and Media Awards when it won the Film Documentary award which was held at the Manila Hotel in 2022. Distilled from a six-part, 3-hour documentary, the two-hour “Kontra Corona” was shown on Philippine DZMM Teleradyo and ABS CBN The Filipino Channel in 2022.
It was produced by a team of journalists and writers in Europe comprising Rose Eclarinal, Gene Alcantara, Crystal Dias, Sandra Sotelo and Mye Mulingtapang. The theme song was composed by Jay Montelibano-MacLeod, with photography directed by Thirdy Ado.
Sandra Sotelo was instrumental in making all the arrangements in Barcelona, with her judging role in Casa Asia. I only assisted her in marketing efforts locally, printing leaflets, distributing them across the various Filipino restaurants and shops, and visiting the Philippine Consulate General to promote the film showing.
“Kontra Corona” was one of over 93 films from around Asia and Asia-Pacific which were shown in various cinemas in Barcelona in October and November 2023. From the Philippines itself, there were 5 other full-length film entries. These were “Abenida” directed by Dir. Luisito Lagdameo Ignacio, “Kargo” by Dir TM Malones, “The Baseball Player” by Dir. Carlo Obispo, “Dangerous Hours” by Dir. Joel C Lamangan, and “About us but not about us” by Dir. Jun Robles Lana. Only “Kontra Corona” was produced by Filipino filmmakers based in Europe.
A special screening of “Kontra Corona” was held at the Cinema Girona, with the cinema 94% full of Filipinos and Spanish friends.
“The Baseball Player” by Dir. Carlo Obispo won first place in Casa Asia’s NETPAC category.
If you wish to view one of the episodes featured in the Kontra Corona documentary, please visit:
Juan EU Konek wishes to acknowledge the assistance and support of the following sponsors from Barcelona:
1. BONGA BAGS by Bernie Velasco – Gave away 4 Bonga wallets from his winter collection 2023 to lucky viewers – Instagram profile: https://www.
2. LA SAMPAGUITA Spa y Belleza – Sponsored the staff to the film showing – Gifted Sandra Sotelo with a bouquet of flowers in appreciation of the film – Instagram profile: https://www.instagram.com/
5. Private Individuals who sponsored tickets for viewers – Arnel German – Victoria Madarieta – Audrey Billones – Jonalyn Nataya – Carolina Florendo. And, from London: Dan Revelo, Raquel Scrivens and Dulia Prado