“Maganda”, which means “beautiful” in Tagalog is the edit I did from the video clips that I recorded in Manila as part of a research for a feature film project called “Iphigenia in Manila”. This feature film is the longer version of my previous short film “Iphigenia’s Night”. This is a story that takes place in the dangerous “Manila” where our main character has to survive after being targeted by the local mafia and the police. As we were visiting the most dangerous slums in the city, I was mentally ready to encounter a hostile and dangerous place, but what I found there was totally unexpected. I could experience how those people, even they are not able to live in a clean and proper environment, they could still find the way to build their happiness and move on with their lifes. Life standards where there totally different from western society: sense of privacy was much more lax, being people not afraid to show their spaces and encountering people sleeping and living without doors and walls. Although they all allowed me to, it wasn’t easy to step into people’s houses with my camera but at the same time I felt that it was a unique opportunity to show that a pure and sincere beauty definitely existed in that place. I wen there with the purpose of shooting a terrifying place but I came back humbled down and getting rid of a lot of excuses for my problems that awaited me in my comfortable life in Taiwan. This is probably one of the most unique experiences I felt with my camera, where recording them was the perfect excuse to reach their souls and experience their humbleness and beautiful hearts. That’s why I wanted to highlight that impression of sad beauty in the title as well.

Shot and edited by Albert Ventura 
Colour grading and credits by Miguel Fornés