By Micah Lee
Wrexham – After a successful screening of the award-winning “Kontra Corona” documentary film in SOAS University of London, in November 2021, it was time to show it in Wales. In September 2022, this documentary was brought to Wrexham Glyndwr University, Wales.
Juan Eu Konek Ltd., a non-profit organisation, produced the six-part docuseries on the lives and times of the Filipino community in the United Kingdom and in Europe at the height of the coronavirus pandemic from September 2020 to March 2021. The documentary is heart-breaking, as it covers loss and grief, but highlights the innate culture of hope, resilience and strength within the Filipino community.
A portion of the documentary focuses on the Filipino carers and residents of Bodlondeb (Pendine Park) Care Home, located in Wrexham. That’s why it was planned by the Juan Eu Konek team to showcased the documentary in Wales.
Care homes were one of the worst hit by COVID-19. However, Bodlondeb (Pendine Park) Care Home takes pride in having zero COVID-19 related deaths amongst their residents.
Featured in the documentary, the Deputy Manager of Bodlondeb and a survivor of COVID, Arlene Elano, praises: “Napakahalaga ng documentary series na ito dahil isa ang ward naming na nakuha para sa series na ito at proud kami na zero death kami until the end of pandemic. Sa katanuyan after nitong documentary series na ginawa, nakakuha kami ng award, bale binigyan ako ng Semilweiss Award, which is about infection control.”
The screening was attended by diplomats from the Philippine Embassy in London, headed by Charge d’Affaires, Rhenita Rodriguez, who travelled with her team from London to Wales.
She comments on her touching experience: “It was a very moving documentary and as I’ve said earlier, it is a testimony to the heroism, resilience and the resolute spirit of the Filipino spirit of the determination and courage really shows through in this film. Congratulations, Juan Eu Konek.”
A guest performance was given by Justine Afante, the Voice Kids Grand Champion UK (2020). She sang the beautiful song ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ by Simon & Garfunkel as a tribute to the community.
She states: “I found it so emotional and all that tearing up knowing all the people that we’ve lost but how we strive through everything, that everything was successful and that Filipino got so much strength no matter how many hardships they come through.”
No doubt, this documentary brought the community together and helped them cope with the devastation.
Those who watched the documentary for the first time were impressed and touched by the featured stories in various segments. One of them is is Michelle. “Thank you so much po for organizing this event and I’m really thankful that I attended this event and really I find it really heart-warming at the same time, really you know, ‘tagos sa puso,’ says Michelle.
“Well I’m really very proud of the people who were in the frontlines and the people that helped each other because we needed it, and you know what can I say? Thank you very much for those people and I’m glad that you have put that film together so everybody would know and be proud like me,” says Julie Roberts, another Filipino, who watched the film.
After the film showing, the community also gathered for a celebration of mass at the nearby Catholic church, organised by community leaders, headed by Elano.
Almost three years since the beginning of the pandemic, restrictions are gradually being lifted and we can feel a sense of normality. However, it is important that we remember those we lost and the continued dedication of the Filipino community.
Juan Eu Konek is proud to have had the opportunity to document the experience of the Filipino community at an extremely difficult time and to be able to bring the docuseries in Wrexham was promise fulfilled.
Photos by Ernie Delgado