Q&A with the production team of “I-Witness: Piggy Bank”
(Winner of the Asia-Pacific Child Rights Award 2012)
Q: What inspired you to make this film – how did you find this boy?
Poverty, child labor and lack of education are common problems in the Philippines. Through research, we found out that in Eastern Samar, several minors have little choice but to help their parents earn income --- day and night. In this rural area, we met 12-year old Anthony. He toils all week without rest. Each morning, he sets out early to catch fish by a small boat.” Afternoons are spent either collecting sea shells or washing cars in a nearby town. But the toughest task is done at night, when Anthony dives and scours the seabed all night to search for a sea creature used in Chinese recipes and traditional medicine--- the sea cucumber.
In exchange for his hard work, Anthony is rewarded with a measly income: a few coins which he saves in his piggy bank.
Q: How did you develop the idea?
The challenge was to find the best case study to represent their struggles. What motivates these children to dive in to a sea of pitch blackness, other than to help bring food to the table?
After further research, we found Anthony. We felt that he represented the aspirations of minors like him in their area and probably most child laborers in the country. Despite his hardships, he has high hopes of graduating from high school. Every breath he holds when diving for sea cucumbers is worth another penny, which would bring him closer to his dream.
Q: What other difficulties did you encounter in filming this story?
No major difficulties were encountered during the filming of the documentary. One challenge though was the night dive, when the presenter of the story almost got separated underwater from the team.
Q: What has been the reaction from audiences after watching it? Any changes after the programme was shown?
After the episode aired, pledges of support came flooding in. The Facebook and Twitter accounts of the show were also flooded with comments of admiration for Anthony.
At present, Anthony is not a child laborer anymore. He is now a scholar of the foundation of the presenter, Kara David.