By Epi Fabonan III
“I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul,” said William Ernest Henley at the end of his 1875 poem Invictus.
If there is a Filipino personification of this famous line, that person would be Andres “Andeng” Navarro Sr., a person who is largely unknown to most people until he was recently featured in The Philippine STAR’s latest video, Andeng, which is part of a series of video shorts on Facebook (bit.ly/AndengInspire31) and cinemas for its 31st-year campaign, dubbed #Inspire31.
The video, which was posted on The STAR’s official Facebook page on January 29, has achieved viral status, having been viewed as 228,000 times and garnering more than 5,700 reactions, 1,045 shares and 123 comments as of this writing.
The 90-second video short Andeng, developed by creative agency IXM for The Philippine STAR’s 31st-year campaign, stars award-winning Karl Medina and has achieved online virality through its Wes Anderson-style of storytelling.
Andeng was a young lad from Isabela Province who simply wanted to get a college degree at the University of the Philippines Los Baños. He consulted with Yogi Zandra, a local fortune-teller, whose clairvoyance and tarot cards prophesied that he would not be able to finish his degree, that he would impregnate a woman, and meet certain death.
Andeng tells the story of Andres Navarro Sr., an ordinary laborer from Isabela Province, who, despite an ominous prophecy from a local fortune-teller, went on to pursue his studies at UPLB and became a successful teacher, coach and family man. (Photos by Gabby Navarro)
Determined to complete his education, Andeng still went to UPLB, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture, major in Agronomy. He went on to become a teacher and coach, married his wife Conching and had 14 children and 36 grandchildren. On Father’s Day in 2004, the National Consumer Affairs Foundation named Andeng as the recipient of the Huwarang Ama Award.
Since then, he has lived on to become a hundred years old. His persistence, perseverance and success in life has become a source of great inspiration to his grandchildren, and now, to many Filipinos. Had he listened to Yogi Zandra’s prophecy, he would have gone on believing that poverty was his fate.
Lolo Andeng (seated, second from left) with his children and grandchildren. He was awarded Huwarang Ama in 2004 by the National Consumer Affairs Foundation.
The STAR was able to bring Andeng’s story to the small screen through the vision and effort of its creative agency IdeasXMachina Advertising, Inc. (IXM).
IXM is no stranger to bringing to life several of The STAR’s inspiring stories. It has worked on Cardboard Balita, an award-winning short video released for the newspaper’s 30th anniversary.
Andeng’s story was told in a Wes Anderson-esque fashion by director Mike Dagñalan and narrated by no other than IXM art director Gabby Navarro, who happens to be one of Andeng’s grandchildren. She developed the story together with Dan Geromo.
“When the IXM creative team was briefed about the project to come up with true inspirational stories, the first idea was, ‘Let’s tell stories from our pasts!’ It was one fun, and at most times, tear-jerking session but a lot of stories stood out; and Lolo Andeng’s was one of those. It had such a colorful back story that we just had to share to the world,” Gabby said.
Being that it’s his grandfather’s story, Gabby employed a lot of research into making the story and the production design accurate, while at the same time, encapsulating it into a 90-second video.
“It didn’t help that the team was shooting on location and it poured a little that day. There were a few speed bumps along the way but the whole shoot was a huge success,” Gabby explained.
Award-winning actor Karl Medina, the eldest son of veteran actor Pen Medina, portrayed Andeng. He explained the key to portraying Andeng to make it as accurate as possible.
“It’s studying the script and understanding the character, plus the story being told. It also depends largely on your ability to imagine that world and place yourself in it. As far as connections go, I guess I still believe in carving out our own fates despite everything, same as what Lolo Andeng believed in,” Medina stated.
By bringing Andeng’s story to the small screen, The STAR manages to ingrain to its millions of print and online followers the perennial story of passion, determination and perseverance in a manner that would resonate to younger generations.
In a statement, STAR trade and brand marketing head Crizza Dealino-Kaw said, “During these times when there’s too much negativity everywhere, not to mention how rampant fake news is, The STAR is here to inspire you through these kinds of stories to have a better outlook in life. Because when something inspires you, it changes your perspective and it creates an infectious motion of love and understanding.”
Watch out as The STAR plans to release two more inspiring video shorts on Facebook and in cinemas soon.