Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Philippines ABA Project: Tigas Ni Paolo Dy

Philippines ABA Project: Tigas Ni Paolo Dy
By Marisse Reyes

When I was told we would be viewing a TV commercial entitled “Project: TIGAS,” I was immediately intrigued. My fertile mind had conjured up different kinds of images and connotations. Before my imagination got the better of me, someone set up a laptop on a dining table at Hai Shin Lo, a Chinese restaurant along Pasay Road. The screen initially showed the black/white/gray blades of a fan rotating clockwise, & counting backward 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… You hear the cadence of a methodical thud, as though someone were tossing a ball against the wall. Then the camera pans across a pink and blue life-size dollhouse. If you observe closely, you would see the image of a young girl reflected on an antique life-size mirror. It was surreal, as though you were seeing a giant Alice in Wonderland. Something was not quite right. It tugged at my heartstrings to see a little girl banging her head on the wall. As if on cue, her mother gets up from the room next door. All you can see later is the mother’s hand, cupping the face of her child away from the wall, and then cuddling her. The voice-over says, “Wag nang matigas ang ulo. If you see signs of autism in your child, seek help and give them a chance at a better life. Call Project Embrace.” A logo shows a man and a woman embracing a child.

Project Embrace, a multi-media awareness campaign for autism conceived by Jimenez Basic Advertising, was formally launched recently. The officers of the Autism Society Philippines (ASP), headed by Erlinda (Dang) Uy Koe, and PABA, spearheaded by Shanti Kilduff, had a difficult task of selecting from the sixteen campaigns and twenty storyboards. Many volunteers stepped forward when Mon Jimenez, joint CEO of JIMBASIC, called in their Accounts and Creative teams to tell them about the pro-bono project. Which execution would make people more aware of the signs of Autism for families to accept their child’s condition and seek help? The storyboard for the TIGAS commercial was selected to launch the campaign. Nato Caluag and Manny Tirona of Out of the Box Productions volunteered to undertake the TV commercial’s production, which was directed by one of their Resident Directors, Paolo Dy. Optima pitched in for the post-production work. The string of volunteers was not about to end.

ASP President Dang Koe says, “If the advertising can just make people more understanding of children who throw tantrums in churches and show more compassion for the parents who are trying their best to manage them, the campaign would have done its job.”

Autism occurs once in 166 individuals, and is four times more prevalent among boys. In the Philippines, 250,000 to 300,000 are known to be afflicted with autism; however, only 5% are diagnosed and about 2% receive appropriate intervention.

How does one get across such an important message in a 30-second commercial, what’s more in 15 seconds? Director Paolo Dy says his brother Mark had had some on-the-job training in Autism, which brought the task to a more personal level. He had seen how some upper-middle class parents were usually in denial about their child’s autistic condition. Moreover, he could see that the kids really needed help. Because of the economy of story telling, the message had to be simple, compressed, effective, and straight to the point. Using visuals and audio, a well-cared for girl in a typical room relays the message: “This could be your kid. It doesn’t mean this normal kid couldn’t have autism.”

Twenty-six-year-old Paolo Dy is someone my 15-year-old son would probably call ASTIG, slang for impressive. Paolo holds a double degree in Management Engineering and Economics from Ateneo de Manila University. Nevertheless, he was obsessed with film, and decided to forego corporate life for that medium.

In January of 2004, Paolo won First Place on MTV Asia’s THE PITCH screenwriting competition in Singapore, with his screenplay, The Oracle of Avendale U. Paolo’s directorial work for Ayala Corporation has twice won Gold Quill Awards of Excellence for “Someday, Today” and “What Makes a Company Great?” These pieces were finalists in the 2004 and 2005 New York Festivals (Industrial Films Category).

Apparently, Paolo’s laurels have not given him real satisfaction. It comes to a point, he said, that you get a feeling of emptiness doing things for money. “I want to give something back…to do work which makes you feel good inside. And opportunities like this rarely come up.” Executive Producer Nato Caluag chimes in, “This is an act of gratitude for our blessings.”

Paolo Dy believes there are three things one can never have too much of: a passion for beauty, a thirst for excellence, and a supply of fresh 35MM film stock. We may not be cinematographers, directors, or screenwriters, but I have heard it said that we all have photographic memories. Some just do not have film. Perhaps the anonymous philosopher meant that God has given us so many gifts and talents, but some of us have not developed them.

1 comment:

angie said...

My tears is about to fall after reading your story David. it lifted my spirit and give me hope and wish that my son will write his own story in his "own time" as what u have said. My son 'Gelo' (his nickname) was diagnosed with ASD recently (FEb. 21), he is five years old then. When we went home, i was terribly bothered on how to support Gelo in his therapy & study. Aside from financial constraint, we have no therapist & school in our place. For him to be treated we have to travel by bus to tagum city, the nearest clinic in our place. we are from mati city (davao oriental). it took 3-4 hrs. travel from mati-tagum. It can break a mother's heart if he can't help his child. I browsed the net for me to find an organization or foundation that could help me help Gelo.that's why i did see your story. maybe your story also the answer of what my desire for my Gelo. i am very blessed to read such story of yours; it touches my soul & give hope to my weary mind. may you continue soaring high & spreading your wings to a brighter future. God bless you in all your undertakings.

In Christ,

Angie Ysmael
DOSCST, Dahican Mati City, Davao Oriental, Philippines
Cel. # 09183698404
yahoo messenger: id:angelic_voice2000