UPD Cum Laude BA Film Graduate inspires others to chase passion in the Arts

“You can’t make money in the arts.”

This is just one of the many misconceptions of liberal arts / communications / humanities majors. Fresh graduate Christian Candelaria can attest to that.

The recent Bachelor of Arts, Major in Film 24-year-old exited the University of the Philippines Diliman with a cum laude distinction, with a story to share about the struggles of art-related majors in his Facebook account, particularly those in Film.

“Your career can’t be your passion.”

“What can you do with a film degree?”

“Pwede ka bang kunin as videographer sa kasal ko? Photographer. Kaso wala kaming budget.” (Can we get you as a videographer for our wedding? Photographer. Except, we don’t have a budget.)

“Anong ginagawa niyo dyan sa film? Vidyo vidyo lang, ganern?” (What do you do in Film? Just videos, all that?)

“Di ba dapat napanood mo na yan kasi film major ka?” (Haven’t you watched that already since you’re a Film major?)

“Uy kunin mo yung anak ko kapag direktor ka na ha? Or pwede ako extra!” (Hey, consider my child in your project once you become a director, okay? Or make me a film extra!)

“Palagi lang ba kayong nanunuod ng movies?” (Do you always watch movies?)

“Buti ka pa chill yung course mo!” (Lucky for you, you have a ‘chill’ course!)

“Huh? Film? So, anong work mo niyan? (Huh? Film? So where do you work afterward?)

“Artists are destined to struggle.”

The statements above are just some of the many criticisms and remarks Candelaria faced as a film major.

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He continues:

When I decided that I wanted to pursue an art-related field, some of my friends and relatives shunned me. With my choice came negative feedback that became a common predicament. Mahal daw kasi (it’s expensive), and possibly a really bad decision. Their comments insinuated that I’d just end up like other starving artists out there. Nakakaloka (crazy).

Candelaria expresses that even as a kid, movies “have always been his medium for storytelling“. During those days, he did not have a DVD player, so he would end up in his neighborhood to watch movies. He lists all the films he watched where he regards that the majority of the films he watched were those of Fernando Poe Jr., James Bond and Sylvester Stallone. One day, his father was able to purchase a mini-DVD player, then that’s when they bought DVD’s that contained 8-12 movies. He found joy in watching films, that he noticed he would point out on the film’s technical details. That was just the first step towards his realization that he wanted to pursue film.

When Candelaria was in high school, he was fond of doing projects that required shooting and editing videos.

It was there where I realized that making films was one of the things I can endure long hours in, without losing any interest,” he recalls.

That’s when he also knew that he wanted to take an art-related course in his dream university, the University of the Philippines – Diliman. He considers himself as a ‘probinsyano boy with big dreams‘. Unfortunately, his high school batch missed the UPCAT. Not losing hope, he persevered his remaining high school years to attain a scholarship, even going against the wishes of parents to take a ‘practical course’ since they insisted that ‘art had no money’. To prove doubters wrong, Candelaria graduated high school with flying colors. But, he went to other schools before landing in Diliman.

“I got accepted in Unibersidad de Sta Isabel, and I didn’t like my course. I ended up transferring to Ateneo de Naga University, but I still wasn’t satisfied. I finally decided to try my luck in U.P Baguio, I took the UPCAT there. Well, it’s sort of like the UPCAT – it’s kind of like an entrance exam. Nakakaloka (it’s crazy), after passing the exam, I found out that they weren’t offering a film course, but in Diliman.”


Candelaria 5Candelaria filmed on location at Pasacao, Camarines Sur; where he shot for five days.

Luck found its way to him where he finally got the opportunity to take the exam and interview for a possible film education at the UP Film Institute, to which he passed. Candelaria spent a total of 3 years “finding his true path”.

“I found this field of interest extremely fascinating. I love film. I love it so much that, it came to the point where I disobeyed my parents. I love it so much that there’s a burning desire in me to know and understand everything about it, inside and out. I love it so much that I’d gladly take on rakets of all kinds, from covering baptisms to weddings, even funerals, just to earn a little money for me to survive the course. I love film even people keep on saying it’s is a waste of time, that not it’s not truly academic and can’t be quite be applied anywhere, lumaban pa rin (I still fought)! I love it so much that even if I was diagnosed with major depression and gastroenteritis, I persevered! I love film so much that I genuinely want to understand more of how cinema affects lives and cultures. I love how film depicts emotion, and how it subtly addresses big issues by capturing it so effectively and vibrantly, yet still manages to provide the infotainment and the delight that I personally find very infinitely captivating. Film is somewhat I strongly believe in, and I would put my all into it, devote my time for and willingly go an extra mile to see myself achieve in.

He also points out that film school is not easy, which requires “a lot of hard work, networking, and creativity to obtain.” He also gives advice for those who aspire to take an arts-related course.

“Blood, sweat,money and sleep is what we surrender from inception to competion of one film. And I think, there’s no easy course, to be honest. If you truly want to study art even when you have minimal means, go for it! Follow your bliss! Walang makakapigil sa’yo. (No one is stopping you). It is far greater to study a subject which you are passionate about rather than to grinding your butt off through the years of a course you’re not interested in. At the end, opportunities will present themselves for as long as you are open to them; an artist is never out of work. Go with your passion! Sabi nga nila, “Don’t let people who didn’t follow their dreams talk you out of yours”. Explore lang see where it takes you.”

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thesis, ‘Sa Saiyang Isla’ was awarded Best Thesis. It is a short film that talks about “a small fishing community struggles amidst an oil spill. Meanwhile, part of that community is a prepubescent and cheerful young boy struggling with his identity who finds comfort in his dreams of becoming a mermaid.” He also points out that he likes to make films that center on the LGBTQ community.

Candelaria was in a college for a total of seven years but did not lose hope in getting an undergraduate degree. With high hopes and determination, he “made it, with hard work and willingness”.

7 years, 14 semesters, 3 student numbers, countless suicide attempts. Hindi madali at hindi minamadali ang pangarap. (Dreams aren’t easy and shouldn’t be rushed). Maraming kailangang isakrispisyo, maraming ebbs and flaws. (You have to sacrifice a lot, there are a lot of strengths and flaws) It is important to desire things, to have goals and aspirations, but it is even more important to take action to achieve them. Huwag puro asa sa himala’t kapalaran pero importante na may faith. (Don’t let dreams or miracles do the work alone, but it is also important to have faith). I learned that thoughts alone won’t get me to the goal line, I need to do the work necessary to reach the objective.

Para sa mga taong lost pa rin in life (For those people still lost in life), we all know that life is sometimes hellish and hard. Failure and anxiety will sneak up on you, but please don’t quit. Keep going. Make the struggle worth it by persisting. Ralph Emerson, once said, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm”.

Wala pa mang kasiguraduhan ang hinaharap, tuloy lang ang laban! (You may be unsure of the future, but continue to fight!)

What do you think of this story? Let us know in the comments below!

Disclaimer: WheninManila.com does not own the photos here. Photo credits go to Christian Candelaria. You may view the original post here.


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