“SiNa Dino at ang Kanilang Sikreto” Review
Written and Directed by Miller E. Ursolino
CineFilipino Film Festival 2016 (Best Documentary)
Filipinos as a whole have the tendency to view seafarers and Overseas Filipino Workers as lucky individuals, living the high life abroad while earning substantially more than those who stayed. They get to travel, experience new cultures, exotic delicacies, and buy things a lot of Filipinos can only imagine ever purchasing. But what do we really know? Are we ignorant? Or do we just choose to be ignorant, not concerned with the truth; but only with the spoils and decadence we enjoy every time we get a balikbayan box or a Western Union transfer?
Sina Dino at ang Kanilang Sikreto was created with the intention to hopefully educate the audience to the sacrifice our seafarers have to endure to ensure that they can provide properly for their family’s needs. Who better to do it than a former seafarer himself? First-time filmmaker Miller Ursolino has spent some of his years at sea himself, and knows firsthand what these people have to go through; even the secrets they harbour and deal with through the years.
Dino Bandol, a seasoned seaman, takes the audience through the different facets of his life, from being a husband, father, and a seafarer worth his salt. Others like him also discuss all the sacrifice they have to take and the risks involved working at sea. Being away from family for months on end, missing births, baptisms, and birthdays apparently is not the only thing weighing on their shoulders. Quite often, even getting the chance to rest and recuperate for the next day’s toils is a challenge, since bad weather and rolling seas ensure you roll on your bed as well, robbing you of any imaginable sleep.
One seaman pointed out how friends rejected his requests for a loan after being laid off for fourteen months, since they were under the impression that seamen always had money, and cannot imagine a seafarer ever having the need to borrow. Another seaman laments the fact that he got seriously injured on the job, forcing him to be sent back to the Philippines and prevented from ever stepping foot on a ship ever again. His worries about the schooling of his children who are both currently in college could be seen on his face, and his desire to be able to sail again is accentuated by the tears that rolled down his cheeks as he opened up to the audience.
Their line of work is not a special privilege, it’s a last resort. If there was any other way, they’d obviously choose to stay. But they don’t, and the reasons behind it all should be enough. They don’t do it for themselves, but for the ones who remain.
For people who have close relations who work at sea or abroad, Sina Dino at ang Kanilang Sikreto has a special significance. For those who don’t (specifically, the friends and reptilian relatives who always request stuff and drinking sessions), then this film might help them grow a conscience. Then again, maybe not.