WHEN I GROW UP with Juliet

I am currently in the Philippines. I am filming here with Jill Coulon for Children of the Mekong’s film project: When I grow up . As I explained to you last week, it is a film about children. We wanted to hear their stories through their own words in their native language, their pains, troubles, battles, joys, and victories in life.  

Ranging from 6 to thirty-four years old, each person has their turn to simply tell us who they are and what they do. Through this, we unearth the extraordinary hidden in the ordinary…  

But why are you concluding the film with a thirty-four-year-old if you want to make a film about childhood? 

Who can say when childhood ends? I would ask you that very question in return. At what point do we measure success or failure? A while ago, I read a study that said that the happiest people were those who value the people around them. This study, which went on for more than seventy-five years, followed hundreds of people over the course of their lives. It stated that in fact, it’s good relationships that keep us the happiest and healthiest. Those in the study who deemed themselves to be the happiest were the ones who placed the most emphasis on social contact, family, and friends in their lives…as opposed to money or fame!  

Therefore, if our film wants to show the challenge of becoming a man or woman, it needs to be able to bring things around full circle by showing an adult. It was through this that we met Juliet… 

Juliet lives in the neighbourhood of Inayawan in Cebu, Philippines. An area which essentially survives off rubbish collection, given its proximity to an open-air landfill site. This shanty town has always existed in this way. By the age of twelve, Juliet found herself orphaned. She always fought to go to school. From a young age, she knew that school would allow her to escape the poverty in which she had grown up in. She has always worked hard and is the only one of her brothers and sisters to have graduated. Today, she is a Year 2 teacher with forty-five students and passes on to them the knowledge that she learnt. 

Juliet is happy. She has bought her own house and lives a good life. Far from comfort, she has built a haven for herself in Inayawan as she is surrounded by her children, brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews… 

Juliet beautifully concludes our journey. She has become an accomplished woman. She may not be rich or famous (not yet at least) but she lives happily, surrounded by her family. Salamte sa imong testimony Ate Juliet! Thank you for your testimony Juliet.  

 

To watch the teaser trailer and support the film ‘Growing Up’, visit our site at: https://www.childrenofthemekong.org/ 

ANTOINE BESSON