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Mount Carmel School and Tribe Marianas continue ‘We Drank Our Tears’ series

(MCS) — Mount Carmel School and Tribe Marianas announced that they will present two more installments in the “We Drank Our Tears” film series at the Regal Saipan Megaplex on May 2.

As a follow up to last year’s Francisco Babauta’s story, the two new films will be Benjamin Abadilla’s Story and Rafael Mafnas’s Story.

Three separate posters were designed for the three “We Drank Our Tears” films, Francisco Babauta’s Story, Benjamin Abadilla’s Story, and Rafael Mafnas’s story.Three separate posters were designed for the three “We Drank Our Tears” films, Francisco Babauta’s Story, Benjamin Abadilla’s Story, and Rafael Mafnas’s story.

All three films are adapted from “We Drank Our Tears,” a 2004 oral history of the civilian experience of World War II battles on Saipan and Tinian, published by Pacific STAR Young Writers Foundation. In 1944, some of the final battles of World War II were waged on the Pacific islands of Saipan and Tinian. 933 indigenous Chamorro and Refaluwasch civilians did not survive the battles, and films chronicle three of their stories.

The first film from the series, Francisco Babauta’s Story, will kick off the screening on May 2nd. That film won the best local production in the 2017 Marianas International Film Festival and was a finalist for the Made in the Marianas Award at the 7th Annual Guam International Film Festival. Written and directed by school president, Galvin Deleon Guerrero, Francisco Babauta’s Story earned acclaim at the festivals and received positive reviews at a few local screenings on Saipan.

Based on the success of Francisco Babauta’s Story, Deleon Guerrero decided to move forward with two more films in the series. Benjamin Abadilla’s story, which was written and directed by Deleon Guerrero, follows Abadilla as he is separated from his family during the battles and hides out in the jungle tries to find them. Rafael Mafnas’s story, which was written and directed by students Angelo Manese and Justin Ocampo, tells of Mafnas’s efforts to escape crossfire between American and Japanese soldiers by hiding in a cave with his friend.

While Manese and Ocampo have been involved in numerous film and stage productions, this is their first time directing. Asked why they agreed to direct, Manese referred to the first film, Francisco Babauta’s story. “Ever since the first one, I’ve seen how much passion people have for this project, so I wanted to invest my own passion too.”

For Ocampo, he wanted to tell the stories. “When I saw the first ‘We Drank Our Tears,’ I liked how it was just one of many stories to be told. It’s all about telling stories.”

Both Manese and Ocampo believe everyone should see the films. As Manese put it, “Having lived here all my life, and seeing how World War II affected these islands, the families of the people in these stories need to see their stories about how they were affected.”

Ocampo added, “At one point, Francisco, Benjamin, and Rafael were real people who had real stories to be told. I also hope that, deep down, that is something that will resonate with audiences.”

When asked the same questions, Deleon Guerrero said, “There are just so many important stories to tell, and I felt like we just had to tell them, and more people need to see them.”

The films’ cast and crew included a wide range of talent from across the island. Both films were produced by Deleon Guerrero, 2005 AlumKnight Rob Travilla and his company Tribe Marianas, Frankie Eliptico and Northern Marianas College, and the Northern Mariana Islands Council for the Humanities.

Click to enlarge
Derrick Atalig plays Rafael Mafnas in “We Drank Our Tears.”
Dylan Santos plays Benjamin Abadilla in “We Drank Our Tears.”  MCS photos

Rafael Mafnas’s story features Derrick Atalig as Rafael, Matt Moran as his friend Juan, Seok Jun Run as Takeda, a Japanese soldier, Eric Kiser as Mike, an American soldier, and Rodrigo Castro as the older Rafael. Benjamin Abadilla’s story features Dylan Santos as Benjamin, Aysia Adele Duenas Santos as his mother, Martha, Kalea Borja as his aunt, Mariana, and Jeremiah Diaz as his father, Ramon. The cast also includes Mark Toves as the older Benjamin, Joaquin C. Duenas as the older Ramon, and Joyce C. Santos as an older version of Benjamin’s sister.

Both films shared a crew, with Quincy Chinen as the unit production manager, Kelvin Cepeda as the first assistance director, Reica Ramirez as script supervisor, Victoria Deleon Guerrero and Joani Paraiso as production designers, and Alvin Palacios as lead cameraman. The crew also included Aldwin Batusin and Ivy Leong assisting with production design, Kyle Bautista operating the boom microphone, and Maverick Irang serving as the crew grip.

“We Drank Our Tears” will be shown on May 2 at the Regal Saipan Megaplex. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and the screening will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 and are available at Mount Carmel School and Tribe Marianas. For more information, email galvin.deleonguerrero@gmail.com.