Filming for Kiva, Philippines take FIVE

 Please note:  the following blog post was scheduled prior to Typhoon Haiyan. For the latest updates on our borrowers, Field Partners, field staff and Kiva Fellows in the region, please see our blog post here.
The next leg of this Filming for Kiva journey was in Manila, the capital of the Philippines - the largest of its cities. It was obvious that when we landed in Manila, that it was signficantly different from Bacolod. For one thing, there were street lights! (Only a few, but better than none) Still no lanes though - traffic jams are a way of life in Manila, but the non-stop honking just adds to the city's charm.
Manila from the air. Photo credit: Yungkit
The local MFI, CCT ( welcomed us at the airport and promptly brought us to their main office for a tour. We were put in touch with our two main (and awesome) contacts for the week - Edwin and Michelle. 
Michelle, myself and Edwin. Photo credit: Yungkit
Both of whom take extreme pride in the work that they do - both describing their jobs as very fulfilling. As we soon learned, there are always a million things going on at CCT - in addition to coordnating our video shoots with the local branches, Edwin and Michelle had ther daily jobs plus other coordinating efforts to complete. Needless to say they both had big hearts and were very dedicated to their jobs. Our stay at CCT/Manila would not have been the same without them. 
Michelle had no idea! Adorable. Photo credit: Yungkit
They also showed us several of their promotional videos that they have, giving us a clearer picture of what their organization is all about. It was very obvious that CCT has and continues to help its community in countless ways from educational programs to getting street dwellers off the streets. The background information about the street dwellers and the misguided youth was indeed very sad, but this was greatly offset by the great work CCT has been doing to make changes. One particular story that sticks out in our minds is the story of a street dweller. He said in the video that he used to rummage through the unfinished food at Jolibee's (a local restaurant) when he was on the streets, but with CCT's help, he was able to afford to now actually eat inside of Jollibee. A short and simple story, but very touching, especially after Edwin mentioned that this is the same man we saw in the cooridor earlier, the janitor tidying up the offices. 
CCT location in Tagaytay. Photo credit: Yungkit
Our first shoot was the day following our arrival - a shoot very different from what we have been doing. We were accompanied by Michelle (CCT Coordinator) and Maggie (a CCT loan officer) to town outside of Manila, about an hour and a half away. We met Mirasole, a lady who owned a water filtration station or Alkaline water station. This water was filtered but still contained the important minerals that were good for the body. Her business is not only able to earn her money, but also provides clean water for her community. Her loan was used to buy the water filtration system and she slowly built her buiness with the help of her son. Now, her business has grown and she moved to a larger location adding more water filters so that she is able to produce more filtered water for the community. Her filtered water costs significantly less than buying bottled water from the local shop and better to consume than the local tap water, which is not always the healthiest choice.
Marisole outside her shop. Photo credit: Yungkit

Just before heading to Marisole's business, we went to an early morning CCT Fellowship bible study session with a number of CCT borrowers. In addition to being a religious gathering to share their faith, this was also a meeting of women to support one another to reach for success. CCT facilitated dialogue between the women to discuss the teachings of the bible as well as how they can apply it to their every day lives - to Marisole, these meetings were a great help to her in achieving her current success.
Marisole at CCT Fellowship bible study. Photo credit: Yungkit
CCT Fellowship bible study. Photo credit: Yungkit
When we interviewed Mirasole, she very quickly became teary eyed because she was so grateful and thankful for all the great fortune she has received over the years, being able to build her business and build a better life for herself and her family. She told us that her success would never have been possible without the help of CCT, the local MFI and their constant support - they had helped her through so much.
Just outside Marisole's shop. Photo credit: Yungkit
Filming Marisole selling her filtered water. Photo credit: Yungkit
Being a completely different business from what we are used to shooting, we tried out some new uses of the go pro. May we introduce the waterjug-cam. We managed to have a lot of fun with the waterjug-cam and with the help of Mirasole and her son, it turned out to be a really unique an great shoot.
Screenshot from shoot - GoPro on a waterjug! Photo credit: Michael Mazur
Screenshot from shoot - GoPro on water jug about to be filled! Photo credit: Michael Mazur

One of my favourite shots was when we were filming Mirasole going to her desk and going out her normal routine. She sat down, said a prayer to give thanks and went about her tasks. Although not everyone in the world is religous or of the same religion, but it's always important to give a moment to look around, appreciate what you have and give thanks, reglardless of to whom. These small microloans that borrowers like Mirasole receive may seem like small amounts but they can truly make a world of difference. We didn't need to know Tagalog (Filipino dialect) to hear the gratitude in her voice during the interview. 
Screenshot from shoot - Marisole in prayer. Photo credit: Michael Mazur
I look like a giant. Photo credit: Yungkit
This was a great shoot to start off our time in Manila - of course it wouldn't have been possble without Mirasole, the help of Michelle and everyone at CCT. Thanks everyone for the great welcome and awesome shoot!

About the author

Mike Mazur

After many years working as a producer and director at a Manhattan creative agency, Michael decided to make a change and put his skill-set to use creating meaningful content for causes he believed in. While in Guatemala on a video shoot, he had a chance encounter with a Kiva Fellow that resulted in a successful experience producing videos for Kiva's Women-Owned Businesses initiative. He profiled indigenous women and their businesses around Lake Atitlan and produced a best practices video for the local field partner, Friendship Bridge. These experiences in Central America helped him grow as a filmmaker and instilled a newfound desire to apply his craft telling the stories of the people around the world who have used microfinancing to change their lives. Michael is elated to be continuing his work with Kiva in Southeast Asia this fall. He will be tackling a new Media Fellowship, searching for the borrowers that best exemplify the power of Kiva to give people the resources to lift themselves out of poverty. This Kiva Fellowship is Michael's calling and was the opportunity he was looking for to make a difference.