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Letter from SBQ’s director

08 April 2017

I am Baby Ruth Villarama, the director and co-creator of the film Sunday Beauty Queen. Some Overseas Filipino Workers, our Sunday Beauty Queens themselves, and concerned readers of SUN HK requested I reach out to you to clear some inconsistencies in an article published at SUN HK recently.

Below is the link to the article:

As a documentary journalist, the following points are very important to clarify:

The airfare of Leo Selomenio and Hazel Perdido has been reimbursed in full. They were originally coming home for Christmas with or without the film. We made the offer to reimburse their airfare and they were thankful for the gesture. Our sincerest apology if it took a little over two months to reimburse it because the producers have not received the returns from the cinema but it was reimbursed already.

We personally paid for Daddy Leo’s suit with the support of another producer. Of course the gowns had to be returned as we cannot afford to buy them. Those were made by designers who dress celebrities in the Philippines. They volunteered to dress the Sunday Beauty Queens, which we are grateful.

The screening of Sunday Beauty Queen in HK is a personal request from Daddy Leo as he wants to organise one. No one forced him to mount it as resonated in the article. There is a standard license fee in every big screening that needs to be respected as the film needs to be prepared and shipped off. All ticket sales go to the association that organised it, and we believe Daddy Leo mounted it for the benefit of Bethune House and the recent earthquake victims in Surigao.

We are happy for the blessings and support our Sunday Beauty Queens have been receiving post the screening of the film, and they very much deserved it for all their hard work and sacrifices. We share everyone’s wish that there could be more.

The risks and fees our producer swallowed to fight for the film so it can be screened at last year’s Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) is something we don’t know if it can be achieved again. It’s the first time a documentary film ever made it the 42-year run of the MMFF. We want the Filipinos to see a story that can realise the value of our OFWs, more than to commercial gain from it. We hope writer  Daisy CL Mandap could have seen the bigger picture on why the film was made.

The independent producers are still recouping their four-year worth of production expenses as well as the expenses shelled out from its nationwide marketing to survive its 10-day limited theatrical release in the Philippines. The film was screened in an average of 20 cinemas. The film earned a gross of P10Million. The production expenses of the film was P4.5 Million over a span of four years, with P2Million spent on marketing and another P500k on distribution. To explain how it goes, the cinemas get a share of the box office revenue, while 30% goes to the Philippine government amusement tax. Only 20% returns to the producers and distributor of the film. We are happy that big studios have recouped already in last year’s MMFF and that their films were distributed in more than 150 cinemas. It is our wish for SBQ to screen as well in provinces around the Philippines so families and relatives of OFWs can watch it. Rest assured that we are working hard to help the producers recover soon. I personally cannot wait to reach a box-office statue so we can truly announce it and claim a Filipino documentary really made it!

The protection and welfare of my subjects are our prime priority as documentary filmmakers and to claim the SBQs were left out is not correct and this is something that hurt us deeply. It is not fair for Daddy Leo to be judged as the one who benefitted from it as he is also battling with so many responsibilities in the middle of trying to make a stand to uplift the Filipino community in HK.
We are happy that Daddy Leo is receiving enormous support for his next pageant and we wish his association all the best. We are happy that finally, the Philippine government is slowly giving close attention to address the needs of our migrant workers. There are still works to be done and we don’t discount any small efforts to champion our migrant warriors.

No one is being left out of any reward.

It is our hope for Filipinos to appreciate good documentaries and for the international audience to champion Filipinos to the world. The production team (Director, field producers & DOP) have also pitched in resources to make the journey of the film right.

We just hope the writer could have contacted us in the spirit for fair journalism. It is our regret that an article like this would put the producers and creators of Sunday Beauty Queen in a one-sided light. We are sure that is not what SUN HK represents. We wish there could be a chance for SUN HK and its writers to see the film.

I am whole heartedly requesting for the immediate ERRATUM of the story.

For your immediate attention,

Baby Ruth Villarama 
Film Director & Creator
Sunday Beauty Queen

 We are reprinting the letter of Ms. Baby Ruth Villarama in the interest of fair play. We interviewed Leo Selomenio as a follow-up to our previous articles on Sunday Beauty Queen which all put the movie and its makers in a positive light. All the information that we used in the subsequent feature story came from Leo, who is a longtime Filipino community leader in Hong Kong. As this letter itself attests, there was nothing factually wrong in that article. The air tickets of Leo and Hazel Perdido were paid after the article was published, and all rights for the movie’s screening in Hong Kong on March 26 were paid for by Leo, with support from her sponsors, in full. There is nothing to correct in the article.
Daisy CL Mandap
Editor, The SUN-HK

Miss you, The SUN

I miss you so much, The SUN… Ako iyong namumulot ng The SUN sa subway papuntang City Hall kasi paborito ko itong basahin, completos recados ang binabalita. Four months na ako ngayon sa Canada at bored dahil walang mabasa tulad ng The SUN. I miss you, The SUN.
Lucia P. Cornelia
Toronto, Canada

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