DAGUPAN CITY – In celebration of the Mental Awareness Week, the city of Dagupan, through its Gender and Development Focal Point system (GFPS), and the University of the Philippines (UP) Medicine Mu Sigma Phi Fraternity conducted the 3rd Quisumbing-Escandor Film Festival (QEFF) for Health caravan at the CSI the City Mall on May 19.
The event was also held in partnership with the Association of Private Schools, Colleges and Universities (APSCU) – Region I, Medichem Pharamaceuticals, Inc. and the Department of Education.
A brainchild of the UP Medicine Sigma Phi Fraternity, the QEFF is a nationwide filmmaking competition encouraging students and amateur filmmakers to create films that would help highlight health issues in the country.
These films are now being shown around the country through film festival caravans such as the one held in the city.
This year’s focus on mental health with the theme: “Tagu-taguan, Maliwanag ang Buwan” featured three short films: “Kaktus”, “Umaga Kasama si Elena” and QEFF winner “Comfort Room”, which tackled mental issues by depicting individuals with mental health struggles who hide themselves from society to avoid the social stigma that comes with struggling with such issues.
QEFF Project Head John Thaddeus Campo said that their organization chose film as a medium for their health awareness campaign because “films could capture the imagination and emotions of people.”
“Films are one of the best ways to get to people and to share our health advocacies, especially with Filipinos being large media consumers,” said Campo.
More than 350 public and private school teachers attended the film screening, which also featured panel discussions with psychiatrists and mental health advocates every after a film showing in order to discuss the film’s impact within the audience and to answer questions about the film and its similarities with real-life situations.
The discussants include City Social Welfare Assistant Trizia Dela Cruz who said the films shown are eye openers when it comes to mental health problems. In one of the discussions, Dela Cruz also disclosed the recent barangay campaigns held in the city which aimed to further increase mental health awareness among Dagupeños.
Also present were Dr. Phillip Manuel Oliva, Dr. Annabelle Reyes, Marriane Tan-Lor, Julie Christine Rimando, Engr. Epee Rafanan, Adolfo Solis and event moderators Dr. Prime Rimando and Dr. Julian Canero.
Dr. Lydwina Balingit-Bernardo, the city’s GFPS focal person, disclosed the need to raise mental health awareness among the school teachers as they are the frontliners and acting guidance counselors for the students in the city, with the children spending more time in school than in their own homes.
Bernardo also said that the QEFF films shown in the screening can be accessed in the city’s E-Library for free for those who wish to see the films or utilize them for other mental health forums.
Meanwhile, Mayor Belen T. Fernandez, in her message, expressed her hopes that the film caravan and forum would help erase the stigma that comes with mental health problems.
Fernandez also urged the teachers to further understand their students and to be aware of certain problems they may be facing so that they can be prepared for situations that may require their assistance.
“I think this (forum) would enlighten our teachers on how important it is to be aware, to be very sharp in understanding our children. I hope we can work together in reaching out to our youth,” said Fernandez. (Verdelle De Vera/CIO)