Fantastic Fireflies and Where to Find Them

6:11 PM

Fireflies have been in some key moments in my life. And I could write a book or make a film out of them. For now, let this blog post suffice. I remember when I was a kid, I spent one summer in our farm. At night, my cousins and I would catch those little glowing bugs and put them on jars. It was a magical experience and probably what unlocked my vivid imagination as a child.

When I was in high school, I was part of the Rovers Scouts where we had this vigil. The thing about a Rovers Scouts' vigil is that it's kind of a rite of passage ceremony where aspirants become Rover Scouts overnight. But before you get your own neckerchief (a scout's badge of honor) you need to survive the night and protect your Y-Stick (a traditional wooden staff for boys scouts) from getting stolen. Our seniors would then put us in some dark location, blindfolded and isolated from everyone with only a candle, a bible, some candies, water and our Y-stick.

 There was a time when they told everyone to remove the blindfolds and I got scared shitless. I was put in a dark area in the BL building and I was alone. I was put in the freaking BL building where there's an urban legend of a ghost majorette who was brutally raped and murdered by students of rich families. The school is Davao City National High School by the way. I looked around to check my surroundings and then I froze. On my peripheral vision is a white object crawling towards me and I didn't dare looked that way. I don't know what it was or if it was just my imagination or the after-effect of being blindfolded but I quickly opened my bible and started praying the Lord's prayer until a voice frightened me. It was one of our seniors telling me that I should light my candle.

 Then, everyone started lighting their candles and I could see the other aspirants from a close distance. I felt safer. But the night was still young. Our seniors started to rove around and check on us. Some tried to talk us out of giving away our sticks. It was a challenge and I hugged my Y-stick so hard it hurts. I got dragged and all but I never let go of my Y-stick.

Then came dawn. I remember we were asked to write something about ourselves. I don't really remember what I wrote but it's something you either want to be taken away from you or something you'd wish for. While writing my piece I saw fireflies from up above trees and I felt inspired. Morning came and I've become a full-fledged Rover scout.

 About two years ago, shortly after my College graduation my classmates and I ventured on this short film project. It was meant to be submitted to the CineFilipino Film Festival but time consumed us and on my part, the reality of completing the film - of being so passionate - or looking for a job dawned on me and hit me hard. The project was a failure and I have never felt so weak. I easily gave up on it because of some issues or non-issues, actions and inactions that happened between me and my film crew. It was really blurry how we came to that point. Over time it just died and I've become a slave to the harsh realities of life. I had a choice and however freeing it is to pursue film I cannot say no to the needs of my family. Nevertheless, making that 'unfinished' project was one of the best experiences of my life.

The film is called 'Ngadto Sa Layong Dapit' (To A Far Distance / A Place Way Beyond). Well that's a rough english translation but go figure. The film is about a group who got lost in the wilderness trying to find an indigenous tribe. It's also about a man trying to search for his family (the Tribe) after years of staying in the city. It was an allegorical tale which involves local folklore and Encantos (Forest Spirits). It is kind of funny how the story almost exactly paralleled the fate of the film and its filmmakers. We all got lost.

 Anyway, while shooting a death scene for the film my friend Claire (the blonde girl on the picture above) saw something flickered in the backdrop. She got spooked but we still continued rolling. Then came another flicker and I thought they were eyes of some big beast gleaming from afar. We got really scared that we hurried the shoot and ran off. It was only after a few minutes that I realized those were actually fireflies and it's been so long since I last saw them.

 This is why I always look forward to seeing fireflies. They just fill you up with these different crazy emotions. Seeing them is almost like how it feels to be alive. First I felt warmth and joy when I was a child. Then I felt brave and inspired during high school. But who would have thought that there will come a time when I'll actually run away from them? Hahaha.

I hope many years from now I would still be able to see these fantastic creatures. With developments around us plus environmental issues, it's kinda hard to tell.


Anyway, if you're interested of seeing more behind the scene photos of Ngadto Sa Layong Dapit check out the Behance Gallery of my friend (our talented cinematographer) Cyrus The Great. CLICK HERE!

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