AND SO IT BEGINS – Filipinos in Fear

AND SO IT BEGINS is a socio-political documentary set in the months leading up to a 2022 presidential election in the Philippines. Hopes are high until a political dinosaur raises its head and rekindles memories of the country’s past.

And when hope and fear collide, the world needs to start watching.

Ramona Diaz is a Filipino film director who has dedicated her life to opening the doors ever wider on the political stage of her beleaguered homeland.

The despotic reign of Rodrigo Duterte is now coming to an end and there are two rivals vying to take control. The director believes only one is capable of repairing a country that has become fragile from being broken so often.

Leni Robredo is a human rights lawyer, widow and mother of three young daughters. On entering the political arena as Vice-President, she took up the torch to keep the flames of democracy alive.

This inspired a national movement of grassroots supporters which made her a champion of the working class. To those of a more austere political persuasion, she’s was a dangerous disruption, but Mrs. Robredo refused to be intimidated.

And so it begins cover
And so it begins cover

In the opposing corner is Bongbong Marcos, the only son of the exiled despot Ferdinand. Despite his name being synonymous with corruption, Marcos Jr pulled off one of the biggest political makeovers in recent history.

He managed to reframe his father’s autocracy as a ‘golden age’ and slipped sublimely onto the ballot sheet. His emergence as a TikTok star galvanized a generation who weren’t even born when their country lived in fear of Ferdinand’s martial law.

Bongbong’s campaign strategy consisted mainly of an unrelenting social media campaign against his opponent, Robredo. He would have continued unimpeded were it not for an intrepid journalist by the name of Maria Ressa.

Ressa, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is an esteemed global figure who leads the international Information and Democracy Commission. She’s as fearless as the director, Ramona Diaz, who stood by her side when she was arrested on a misinformation charge that was never proved.

So the stage is set. Ramona Diaz and Maria Ressa begin to tell us their tale.

and so it begins street screenshot
And So It Begins Street – screenshot

But as hopeful and courageous as these crusaders are, their fear is impossible to miss. It’s clear they’re aware their country is teetering on the knife-edge of a democracy that has died more often than it’s lived.

When Marcos Jr claims that Filipinos who support Leni Robredo are openly defying him, Ramona’s lens does not waiver. Perhaps it’s her way of telling the world that they can never stop watching.


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WORLD PREMIERE – 2024 Sundance Film Festival
Center for Asian American Media (CAAM)

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