Values highlighted by the movie “Iloilo”

You can choose to believe there is no God, but hanging on to a Supreme Being and all the values that are associated with this Being – faith, hope, love, gentleness, caring, trust, forgiveness, understanding, kindness, compassion, honesty, and non-attachment to material things - are among the reasons that keep mankind afloat today.

The need for such values is highlighted in the many scenes from the movie “Iloilo”.  Some of them are:

Angelie Bayani, Koh Jia Ler, Teresita Sajonia 
and Director Anthony Chen

* The Chen couple was money-driven in order to survive. Too busy with work, they delegated their parenting duties to a nanny, Aunt Terry, an Ilongga.
* Too eager to show-off to relatives, a wife takes more from the husband’s earnings.
* Feeling hopeless, a wife falls for a scammer who says, “Hope is within you.” Though the message was correct, any person who is truly concerned for your soul will not charge you money for it.
* A husband is forced to keep things from his wife due to high expectations.
* For whatever reason, a man committed suicide.
* Auntie Terry was like an angel sent to the Chens to show them spirit-based values by her example. Movie writer and director Anthony Chen depicted her as a kind woman who is patient and loving but no pushover.

Living in a developing country like the Philippines where economic difficulties exist teaches you to be such.
Auntie Terry in real life is Teresita Sajonia and one of the children she cared for is Director Chen himself.

Teresita Sajonia receives a Global Pinoy award


Auntie Terry and Chen were present during the premiere of “Iloilo” at SM Cinema 6 last December 1, 2013.
The premiere was sponsored by One Meal, which aims to raise funds for victims of typhoon Yolanda in northern Iloilo.

“Iloilo garnered international recognition through the film. It also shows the indomitable spirit of Ilonggos,” said Chona Layson-Bondoc, president of One Meal.
Chona Layson Bondoc, One Meal president

“While we gather, let us remember the less fortunate Ilonggos affected by typhoon Yolanda. The proceeds will go the Yolanda’s victims in Northern Iloilo. The survivors are rebuilding their loves because of you. Thank you for your continued support and your giving spirit,” she added.

One Meal is a program founded by Nene Chan, her way of giving back to the city she loves.
The program partners with several restaurants in Iloilo wherein P5 from every food order will go to the organization’s feeding, education and other community activities.

Meanwhile, Department of Tourism 6 Director Atty. Helen Catalbas said, “Iloilo is home of the sweetest and most soft-spoken people in the world. This is acknowledged in Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and Singapore through the movie Iloilo. This has opened more doors for domestic and international audiences to Iloilo, its people and attractions,” she said.

DOT-6 Director Atty Helen Catalbas


“I have no idea last year that the film would travel this far. It has won 120 awards already. In all my travels in the past 6 months, people have been asking this: ‘What is Iloilo?’ Now, everyone knows what Iloilo is and where it is,” Director Chen said.

“It feels wonderful to bring back the film in the Philippines. We can use this occasion to ask what more we can do for those who still don’t have electricity, homes or food to eat. I hope this film will bring a little bit of inspiration as we rebuild homes and lives,” he added.


Sajonia is a former overseas foreign worker who served the Chen family in Singapore for eight years.
She took care of the children Anthony, Christopher and Justine, all boys.
She is closest with Christopher, now 24 because she took care of him when she was just a baby until he turned eight years old. Anthony is 29.
Jose Marie Chan, Charles Lim and Toots Jimenez

But since her contract expired, she went home to San Miguel, leaving the Chen family with limited information about her. They knew her as Auntie Terry and that she lives in a place called Iloilo in the Philippines.

While Sajonia was busy in her life as a farmer for 16 years, Anthony became a filmmaker and created the indie film “Ilo Ilo” which won an award during the Cannes Festival last May 2013.
Inspired by the story, Charles Lim of Selrahco Management, also a Singaporean based in the Philippines initiated the search for Sajonia.

“I told them, I had enough contacts in the media. I will get help to search for Auntie Terry. The Chen family sent three photographs. So, with those photographs and a name, I asked the media for help,” Lim said.
“July 4 we started looking for Auntie Terry. I was getting a bit anxious. Then on July 13, Bombo Radyo received a call from the nephew of Auntie Terry,” he said.

Through the help of Cebu Pacific, Anthony and Christopher were flown to Iloilo to give their former nanny a surprise visit.
Rosmar Villalon, the writer and Anna Marie Wharton.
 Thanks to Ms. Wharton for the movie ticket.

Fortunately, Christopher who is based in Vancouver, Canada was on vacation in Singapore at that time so he took time out to fly to the Philippines and reunite with Auntie Terry.
”Kibot ako nga ara na sia sa tubang ko. I asked him kon sia gid ang alaga ko and he said, ‘Yes Auntie Terry’,” Sajonia said of Christopher.
It was an emotional reunion, Lim said.


Now that Iloilo is in the spotlight in Asia, it is up to us Ilonggos to live up to these values. We can start by embracing our diversity and by recognizing that there is good in everybody. The rest will follow./Marie Katherine Villalon

Mission  members: Councilor Jason Gonzales, Jim Sharman,
 Jagat Rubio, Tammy Dinopol,  Nicanor Perlas, Kathy Villalon 
and Shiela Castillo. Mission stands for Movement 
of Imaginals for Sustainable Societies Through Initiatives, 
Organizing and Networking.

Check out these popular posts, too

Hip-hop dancer turned entrepreneur helps people get jobs

The San Lorenzo Wind Farm and a brighter future for renewable energy

10 must-eats at DoVa Brunch Cafe

SM City Iloilo launches solar panels

Sea Spa: relaxing escape to the sea and the surf

Amid poverty, these Ilonggo moms raised successful children

Ilonggos fulfill poor students’ dreams to finish college

Why stay at The B Lifestyle Complex in Iloilo

Miag-ao hablon weaving

Sino ang panalo? Ang bully or ang api?