Questions answered by Dale Nelson Divinagracia, Fundraising and Resource Development Manager of Action Against Hunger Philippines
What is The Invisible Monster film about?
The film is a story of the Filipino spirit finding hope and happiness amidst poverty, loss, war, and hunger. It stars two children: Aminodin who lives and works in a landfill; Aliman who lives in an evacuation camp. Through these two boys, we see that happiness and hunger cannot always be seen by the naked eye.
Directed in part by Oscar-nominated Director Javier Fesser, the 32-minute film was shot in Marawi City whose inhabitants are still experiencing the after-effects of the 5-month siege that transpired from May to October, 2017. All the “actors” in the film are not professional and are actual residents who lived through the siege. The film intends to mobilize people against the extreme form of hunger – malnutrition, a disease that affects 4 million Filipino children.
Aminodin’s father always smiles because he says that “happy people live longer.” That is why, at eight years old, Aminodin puts on his best smile while working at the Papandayan dumpsite, where he lives with his family.
His cousin Aliman, on the other hand, lost his smile when bombs fell from the sky in his hometown of Marawi City. As Aliman spends his days sad and crestfallen in a refugee camp, Aminodin devises a plan to make him smile again.
Who is behind The Invisible Monster?
The film was produced by Action Against Hunger, a global humanitarian organization that takes decisive action against the causes and effects of hunger. The organization is in the frontline in nearly 50 countries, helping to reach more children than ever with lifesaving treatment while developing long-term solutions to stop them from becoming malnourished in the first place.
The Directors are:
Javier Fesser – Winner of six Goya awards, Spain’s equivalent to the Oscars, the prestigious filmmakers works include The Miracle of P. Tinto, Camino, and Oscar-nominated Binta and the Great Idea. His 2018 film, Campeones (Champions), was the highest-grossing Spanish language film in Spain for that year. Committed to social issues, Javier has directed audio visual projects linked to non-profit organizations such as UNICEF and the Organization of Ibero-American States.
Guillermo Fesser – Well-known in Spain for his radio show Gomaespuma alongside Juan Luis Cano, Guillermo works as a writer and correspondent in the America. His multifaceted career includes the direction of the film Candida, a story based on his bestselling biography of a cleaning lady, and the publication of several innovative interactive books for children specifically for tablets and mobile phones.
Photo caption: (L-R) Guillermo and Javier Fesser (Directors) with Luis Manso (Producer) on set of the Invisible Monster Film.
Is the film free to watch online?
Yes. The film will premiere online in Action Against Hunger Philippines’ YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/user/ACFphilippines, on November 27 and will be available until December 11. Moviegoers may register at Action Against Hunger Philippines’ website, www.actionagainsthunger.ph, to receive reminders and more details about the film. Viewers are encouraged to donate to support Action Against Hunger Philippines’ fight against malnutrition, the extreme form of hunger.
How is hunger linked to the title of the film?
Stunting, also called Chronic Malnutrition refers to a child who is too short for his or her age. It is the result of poor nutrition during early childhood. Children suffering from stunting may never attain their full possible height and their brains may never develop to their full cognitive potential. Except for the height, which some may attribute to familial genes, these children look normal and have no visible symptoms. It is invisible to the naked eye.
The effects of the monster, i.e. stunting, to children are irreversible and can last a lifetime: they will face learning difficulties in school, get sick more often, and earn less as adults.
Are the actors in the film really people living in the dumpsite in Marawi City?
Yes, all the main characters either live in the dumpsite in Brgy. Papandayan, Caniogan, Marawi City or in one of the refugee camps for people affected by the Marawi Siege. We have been responding to the immediate needs of these vulnerable populations since the start of the Marawi Siege in 2017 through various projects that are still ongoing.
In the aftermath of the siege, when we were conducting proper hygiene and sanitation orientation to the residents of Brgy. Papandayan and giving them hygiene kits, community leaders voiced their concern: they had a problem with getting clean water. The nearest water source was in a low-lying area 700 meters away where people had to traverse steep and slippery terrain just to fetch water for their homes.
To address this, Action Against Hunger, with support from Guillermo Fesser’s Gomaespuma Foundation, constructed a water system that was nearer to people’s homes.
Why is it important to address malnutrition in the Philippines?
The Philippines is at a critical point with regards to stunting. Based on the latest survey conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology, more than 3.8 million or 33.4% of Filipino children are stunted. This number is up from 30.1% in 2015.
Stunting is something that we see every day, although it is invisible to the untrained eye. It is quite common to see children who we thought were only in Elementary only to find out that they’re already in High School. These kids are underdeveloped – not only physically, but cognitively as well. If not treated in the first 1,000 days of a person’s life (from 0 to 2 years old), the effects of stunting is irreversible and will last that person’s whole life.
Nutrition during pregnancy and in the first years of a child’s life provides the essential building blocks for brain development, healthy growth, and a strong immune system. A growing body of scientific evidence shows that the foundation of a person’s lifelong health are largely set during this 1,000-day window.
Action Against Hunger and the Institut de Relations Internationales et Strategiques (IRIS), an international think tank that focuses on geopolitical and strategic issues, released a study titled “Socio-economy of Chronic Malnutrition in the Philippines: A preliminary key trends analysis by 2030” in 2016 to support strategic action in fighting malnutrition in the Philippines. According to the study, the Philippines ranked 9th among countries with the highest number of stunted children.
Since Action Against Hunger is an international organization, does the donation go to other countries?
All donations raised during the campaign in the Philippines will only be used for projects in the Philippines.
What projects has Action Against Hunger done in the Philippines?
Action Against Hunger has been operating in the Philippines since the year 2000. We’ve responded to major emergency situations like Typhoon Ondoy in 2009, the Zamboanga Siege in 2013, Typhoon Yolanda in 2016, the Marawi Siege in 2017, and Taal Volcano Eruption in 2020. You can find more details of our projects in the past 20 years by visiting https://actionagainsthunger.ph/who-we-are.
Our most recent response was to curtail the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate the effects of lockdowns and quarantine measures to the most vulnerable populations. As of November 5, 2020, we have achieved the following:
- Beneficiaries of Food Security & Livelihood Assistance: 49,971 Individuals
- Beneficiaries of Health Sector Assistance: 121 Individuals
- Beneficiaries of Water, Sanitation & Hygiene Assistance: 349,686 Individuals
You can find more details about our COVID-19 Response in the Flash Updates folder included in this kit.
How are your projects connected to Hunger?
Solving hunger is not just about giving food. We go to the causes of the problem to create lasting impact. We have identified the 4 main causes of hunger:
Poverty – 98% of those suffering from hunger are poor people in developing countries. Poverty and hunger create a vicious cycle, as malnourished children will have less of an ability to work on behalf of their countries in the future.
Diseases – The combination of disease and malnutrition weakens the metabolism creating a vicious cycle of infection and undernourishment, leading to vulnerability to illness. A leading cause for malnutrition in children under five years old is diarrhea caused by unsafe water and sanitation.
Conflicts – These lead to mass displacement. People leave their land & livelihood – losing access to water & food.
Natural Disasters – These have the greatest impact on the countries most threatened by hunger because they are exposed to and less prepared to deal with climate change. 95% of natural disaster victims live in developing countries.
To counter these causes, our interventions are centered on:
Nutrition & Health – Action Against Hunger’s expertise in preventing and treating undernutrition is internationally renowned, due to our more than 40 years of operational experience in parts of the world where hunger is most severe and entrenched. We have contributed to the development of revolutionary nutrition products and conducted field testing of treatment protocols that are now international best practice.
From isolated rural communities to overcrowded urban slums to refugee camps, Action Against Hunger works to prevent and treat undernutrition in nearly 50 countries around the world. We work in humanitarian emergencies and in more stable contexts to improve the health and survival of the most vulnerable children under the age of five, as well as pregnant women and nursing mothers.
Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene – Every day 1,000 children die from illnesses like diarrhea, dysentery, and cholera caused by dirty water and unhygienic living conditions. We can’t fight malnutrition without tackling the waterborne diseases that contribute to it. As part of our integrated approach to fighting hunger, we bring safe water, sanitation, and hygiene services to communities in need all over the world.
Food Security & Livelihood – Action Against Hunger’s food security and livelihoods programs tackle the root causes of hunger by addressing problems of production, access, and income. Encompassing a wide array of activities customized to meet a community’s specific needs, our programs are designed to bolster agricultural production, jumpstart local market activity, support micro-enterprise initiatives, and otherwise enhance a vulnerable community’s access to sustainable sources of food and income.
Emergency Response – Our rapid response capabilities reflect our commitment to emergency preparedness, and our global reach places us in forefront of disaster response.
With emergency teams on call 24 hours a day, and pre-positioned stocks of essential supplies ready for deployment, our internationally renowned rapid response capabilities ensure that life-saving assistance can be delivered anywhere in the world when needs arise.
Who else is supporting the online premiere of ‘The Invisible Monster?’
The online premiere of The Invisible Monster is supported by Action Against Hunger ambassadors, Chefs Rolando and Jacqueline Laudico, and in collaboration with The Spanish Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines, Nyxsys Philippines Inc., Pitchworks, and Summit Media Outdoor.
Where can I get more details about ‘The Invisible Monster?’