The University of the Philippines, the premier state university in the country, was my dream school. Lucky I was to get through the tough admission process where I was admitted to my first choice course: Bachelor of Arts in Film and Audio-visual Communication.
One of the Best Film Schools in the World
In 2010, the American magazine The Hollywood Reporter acknowledged the University of the Philippines Film Institute (UPFI) as part of the list for “The Best Film Schools in the World.” As an alumna, it is indeed of great pride to have come from a film school duly acknowledged as one of the best not just in the country, but in the whole world. Being of Filipino descent, it is also an honor that a third world country as the Philippines has two film schools recognized in the prestigious list.
Aside from the Philippines’ UPFI and The International Academy of Film and Television, the said list included other top film schools operating outside the United States. Completing the list are the following film schools (in alphabetical order per country of origin): The Australian Film, Television and Radio School (Australia), La Fernis (France), Baden-Wurtemberg Film Academy (Germany), Whistling Woods International (India), Scuola Nazionale di Cinema – Centro Sperementale di Cinematografia (Italy), Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts (Jordan), New York University Tisch School of the Arts Asia and Chapman University (Singapore), National Film and Television School (United Kingdom), and National Taiwan University of Arts (Taiwan).
Working My Way Through My Thesis Film
As a state university, the government subsidy significantly helped UPFI film students. I only spent about P5,000 ($120) to P6,000 ($140) a semester for my tuition, miscellaneous, and lab fees. However, I still had to contend with many financial issues due to the fact that there were many additional expenses that school productions require (usually, they’re even much higher than the tuition, miscellaneous, and lab fees).
After getting one year delayed prior to graduation due to lack of funds for my thesis film, I was able to finally secure the finances I needed through sponsorship and solicitation efforts. It was a bittersweet moment as I was sleepless and “overly exhausted” during my thesis defense. By then, my stressed and overworked body suddenly absorbed positive responses from the defense panel that almost made me shed tears of joy. Eventually, my film was acknowledged as the Best Film Thesis of the graduating batch and I won the Kodak Film Award for my 35mm short film “Karsel” (Prison).
Through my various film school experiences, I was able to gain many valuable networks and contacts and they significantly helped me with my film career after graduation.
Being a UPFI Alumna
So far, it’s been about seven years since I graduated. As a UPFI alumna, visiting my former alma mater and my professors is something I do every few months, or sometimes, every one or two years.
Every time I pay a visit whenever I go back to Manila from the United States, I receive good news and encouragements from great people whom I spent a significant part of my film school life with. Whenever I’m within the school premises, it’s amazing that many still recognize me, and they would ask about my films and my other film works as a writer and film lecturer. As for me, I would get updated with how much the facilities have improved, among many other significant and inspirational stories about my former professors, the film school staff, and the achievements of the students and alumni.
“The Best Film Schools in the World,” The Hollywood Reporter.
“UPFI Named One Among the World’s Best Film Schools,” University of the Philippines.
“In Camera On Campus July 2003,” Kodak Newsletter.
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