FEU DepComm Chair recognized in Cinemata Features for filmmaking advocacy

FEU Advocate
July 13, 2023 03:59

By Randy Espares Jr.

Far Eastern University (FEU) Department of Communication (DepComm) Chairperson Herwin Cabasal was highlighted by Cinemata Features as an advocacy filmmaker and educator spearheading social commentary film fests for the University, published last June 30. 

The article featured the DepComm Chair's accomplishments as a filmmaker and FEU professor amplifying Communication students' voices for critical and social awareness. 

In an interview with FEU Advocate, Cabasal stated that this feature is solely not his victory but for FEU DepComm as well, by majorly contributing to society through the relevant media and films it produced.

“This is an opportunity to showcase how the department is doing its role in shaping the critical consciousness and social involvement of our Communication students, and the general public, through the content that they produce. This resonates with the department’s mantra, ‘May alam, may pakialam’,” he said. 

Cabasal has been a professor at FEU since 2015 teaching subjects under communication, media, and film.

After teaching for almost six years at the university, he became the department chair in 2021. 

The department also contributed significantly to his journey by letting him be more socially immersed in the academic setting. 

“FEU DepComm has opened doors of opportunities for me, not only as an advocacy filmmaker but also as a film and media scholar and educator now that I am more active in the academe. The department has consistently ignited my passionate interest in alternative cinema, especially social advocacy filmmaking,” he shared. 

The DepComm chair has initiated two annual student film festivals led by FEU Communication students: the first-ever TAM DokyuFest and the social advocacy-centered Likhang Mulat Film Movements Festival.

Likhang Mulat Film Movements Festival was also recognized by the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) and earned the Excellence Award in the 2021 and 2022 Philippine Student Quill Awards.

Cabasal believes that the film festivals have impacted the students by making them realize that their works could be a tool for amplifying their social advocacies. 

In an interview with EngageMedia, the department chair explained that his initiatives aim to provide an outlet for the social advocacy of students through film, urging discussions on social issues, not only locally but throughout the Asia-Pacific region. 

“But now, because of these initiatives, they treat cinema as an ideological tool that can organize a movement for social advocacies. They have learned not to escape from the realities of life, but to bravely confront it,” he discussed. 

Likhang Mulat Film Movements Festival and TAM DokyuFest are included in DepComm’s four-pillar initiative which aims to hone socially and morally responsible Communication students.

The four pillars include: FEU SCREEN (Society, Culture, Research, Education, Entertainment, Nation), FEU STUDIOS (Student’s Digital Immersion on Screen), FEU FRAMEwork, and FEU MILA (Media and Information Literacy Advocacy).

The chairperson aims to strengthen the pillars by partnering with more organizations internationally and inviting other universities to join the said film fests. 

“We would like to also welcome film entries from students of various universities or other filmmakers outside FEU… we also have plans for more international partnerships, linkages, and involvements,” he stated. 

Currently, the Likhang Mulat Film Movements Festival and TAM DokyuFest have partnered with human rights organizations such as In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND) and Engage Media distributing these student works through Cinemata. 

From DVD collector to advocacy filmmaker

In the EngageMedia article, Cabasal shared that he used to collect digital versatile discs (DVDs) during his youth which sparked his interest in film.

The filmmaker then pursued a master’s degree in Media Studies for Cinema at the University of the Philippines (UP) Film Institute.

While studying at UP, he produced and directed several short films like The Signature Mustache, Mr. Postman, and the award-winning film Incubo, which bagged him the Best Director and Best Cinematography Award at the 2016 Singkuwento International Film Festival. 

Cabasal also explained why he concentrates on social advocacy cinema that began when he co-founded Hagonoy Young Leaders Program as a media production head in his hometown of Bulacan.

“From 2008 to 2015, I headed its media productions unit that aims to utilize audiovisual content as a tool in advancing social advocacies. That little seed that the organization planted in me started to grow when I [joined] activist and human rights-themed film festivals like Pandayang Lino Brocka Political Film and New Media Festival by Tudla Productions and Active Vista Film Festival by DAKILA,” he said. 

In 2010, the advocacy filmmaker enrolled in the Asia Pacific Film Institute to take the Motion Picture Production Program, leading him to produce various short films like Motion Picture (2010), Viscera (2011), Pieta (2012), and Resurreccion (2012).

His film Viscera won Best Screenplay and Best Director at the Art Film Festival and Indie Un-Film respectively.

Cinemata Features focuses on harnessing filmmaking professionals including filmmakers, film organizations, curators, reviewers, and archivists who produce and present films tackling social and environmental issues in the Asia-Pacific region. 

(Photo courtesy of EngageMedia)