Film is His Voice : Al-Zir Georges Malaga

July 25 2020

Raine Aguilar


Al-Zir Georges Malaga--“Al” began his story of friendship and vigorous social initiative by saying, “My only background in film is my passion for film.” In his art high school in Angono, Rizal, Al had been focused on refining his writing skills. As he studied literary arts, he and his friends Aira and LJ, started a production team called Paint the Film as a hobby. When he first started six years ago, his friends would lend him all the equipment to make short films. It was only recently that his parents bought him his own equipment. He told The Adversity Archive: “My closest friends made my dreams come true.” In spite of his undeniable talent and remarkable hard work, Al chooses to recognize his friends, who he claims are his motivation and inspirations as they’ve supported and helped him pursue his passions from the beginning.

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Now as a broadcasting student in the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, he and his friends created another production team called Iskoliarium, this time with a goal to spread awareness and incite discussion on various societal issues.


“As broadcasting students,” Al stated, “unwritten rule na ‘yung kailangan mulat ka at vocal ka ‘pag dating sa societal issues” (As broadcasting students, there is an unwritten rule that you have to be aware and vocal when it comes to societal issues).


Al knew that having film as his voice offered the power to call for awareness and action towards alleviating the problems of society. Al knew that he had a voice and he wanted to use it, especially in a manner that impacts the lives of others and sparks conversations. This is exactly what he did with his short film titled ‘Excuse Us’. The short, yet impactful two minute film about the implications of online schooling captured the harsh realities of the system implemented by authorities. Al told the Adversity Archive, “The inspiration came from the pressure that higher-ups are actually leaning towards the implementation of this anti-poor solution.”

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screenshots from 'Excuse Us'

The truth is that many do not have access to the internet, while others don’t have enough money to support proper internet access or compatible gadgets, and some simply do not live in places that can easily adapt to such a set up. Al talked about how people he knew had small businesses that were forced to shut down, creating financial struggles, but also how many he knew saw their school as a safe place. He noted that the issue lies mostly in that their houses may be home to relational issues or an environment wherein students are unable to freely express themselves. It is truly heartbreaking to think that many may feel stuck or trapped in their own homes and that many are forced to bend over backwards just to pursue the education they deserve. “What other people seem to forget is [that] online classes affect the students’ mental health too,” he said. With the apparent adversity of those around him, his friends, his peers, Al did what he does best and created a film.



In the beginning of their creative process, Al shared that their target audience was originally the students and teachers who faced these very problems, but as they realized that the short film was about those who have no proper internet access, they made the film for those who do have access to the internet, formatting the film in a way that seems as though it was talking to them and even linking petitions in threads and posts. “They have access to the internet if they can watch ‘Excuse Us’ that’s why we’re motivating them to support the call, sign the petitions, and speak up,” said Al. 

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screenshots from 'Excuse Us'

screenshots from 'Excuse Us'

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In the face of adversity, as someone who has heard of and seen the difficulties that many are facing, Al chose to use his voice and create. “No student should be left behind, education is not a privilege,” he declared as he hoped that those in authority would remember the sentiment.


Al continues to advocate for mass promotion, mass testing, and proper health care in order to go back to school like before. After pushing for an academic freeze, Al learned that though a school is supposed to cater to its students, the students are not all that a school makes. He acknowledged that “. . . mababangga and kabuhayan ng mga kaguruan, mga janitors, manggagawa, and mga manininda” (it would affect the livelihood of the teachers, the janitors, workers and vendors), recognizing that the fight to go back to regular schooling goes beyond just the students, and is far more related to the school’s staff than one would immediately think. “It’s better to push po sa ligtas na balik-eskwela para sa lahat” (It’s better to push for going back to school safely and for everyone), he stated. Immediately after, Al acknowledged that this would only be possible if mass testing, proper sanitation, and healthcare is available for everyone.


This is what Al fights for, what he chooses to use his voice for: a proper system that avails education for everyone while protecting the livelihood of those who work in schools.

“Take inspiration from the people. . . make art for the people. Huminga kung kinakailangan. Patuloy ang laban. Kailangan ka ng bayan.” (Breathe when it is needed. Continue fighting. Our country needs you.) This is Al’s message to the great deal of people who are facing their own adversities today. He encourages others, artists especially, not to pressure themselves, but to take their time.


“May it be by speaking up about societal issues on social media, o pagsigaw sa lansangan, o paglikha ng sining para sa bayan. . . Naniniwala akong kailangan tayo ng bayan at sana ganun din [ang lahat].” (May it be by speaking up about societal issues on social media, or using our voices in the streets, or the creation of art for the country. . . I believe that the country needs us, and I hope [everyone else] feels the same.)



Al spoke about how he found joy in the fact that a pandemic could not stop filmmakers from creating; even throughout adversities and discourse, there is always a way to speak up and be heard, and Al’s story is testament to that. 

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To watch Excuse Us, and Al’s other short films visit,

 Pelikula ang kanyang Tinig : Al-Zir Georges Malaga

ika-25 ng Hulio 2020

By Raine Aguilar

Sinimulan ni Al-Zir Georges ang paglalahad ng kayang kuwento ng pagkakaibigan at masiglang inisyatibo para sa lipunan gamit ang mga salitang ito, “ang tanging background ko sa paggawa ng pelikula ay ang aking simbuyo ng damdamin sa paggawa ng pelikula.” Nagmula sa isang art school sa Angono, Rizal si Al-Zir, kung saan itinuon niya ang kanyang mga pagsisikap sa pagpipino ng kanyang kakayahan sa pagsusulat, kasama ang mga kaibigan niyang sila Aira at LJ. Habang ginagawa nila ito, naisipan nilang tatlo na bumuo ng isang production team na tinawag nilang, Paint the Film.  Noong una siyang nagsimula anim na taon na ang nakalilipas, pinapahiram muna siya ng kanyang mga kaibigan ng lahat ng kagamitan upang makagawa ng mga maikling pelikula. Kamakailan lamang siya nabilhan ng mga magulang niya ng sarili niyang gamit. Sa kabila ng lahat ng kanyang pagsisikap at hindi kapani-paniwalang kakayahan, pinili ni Al kilalanin ang kanyang mga kaibigan, na para sa kanya, sila ang nagbigay ng lakas at pag-asa at sila rin ang nagsilbing inspirasyon sa kanya na ituloy ang paggawa ng pelikula. 

Ngayon na isa ng  broadcasting student sa Polytechnic University of the Philippines si Al,  nagtayo muli silang magkakaibigan ng bagong production team na tinawag nilang, Iskolarium at ang layunin nito na maikalat ang kaalaman at mag-udyok ng talakayan tungkol sa iba't ibang mga isyu sa lipunan. “Bilang, broadcasting students,” sabi ni Al, “unwritten rule na ‘yung kailangan mulat ka at vocal ka‘ pag dating sa societal issues.” Alam ni Al na ang paggawa ng pelikula ang kanyang tinig na nagbigay sa kanya ng kapangyarihan na maitaas ang kamalayan at tumawag ng pansin patungo sa pagpapagaan ng mga problema ng lipunan. Malinaw kay Al na mayroon siyang tinig at nais niya itong gamitin, lalo na sa paraang nakakaapekto ng positibo sa buhay ng iba at maaari itong maging daan para mag-udyok ng talakayan ukol sa maraming isyu na hinaharap ng lipunan.

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screenshots from 'Excuse Us'

screenshots from 'Excuse Us'

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Ito mismo ang ginawa ni Al sa kanyang maikling pelikula na tinatawag na, “Excuse Us.” Nakuha ng maikli, ngunit nakaka-apekto na dalawang minuto na pelikula tungkol sa mga implikasyon ng online schooling  ang malupit na katotohanan ng sistema na ipinatupad ng mga awtoridad.  “Nagmula ang inspirasyon sa kaalaman ko na ang mga namumuno ay talagang pinagpilipilitan ang isang solusyon, na sa aking pananaw ay “anti-poor.” 


Ang totoo ay marami ang walang access sa internet, habang ang iba naman ay walang sapat na pera upang suportahan ang wastong pag-access sa internet o katugmang mga gadget, at ang ilan ay hindi naman nakatira sa mga lugar na madaling maiangkop sa inimungkahi na set-up. Ikinuwento ni Al ang tungkol sa mga kakilala niya na may maliliit na negosyo na napilitang  magsara, at dahil sa pangyayaring ito, nakaranas ng kahirapan at pakikibaka sa pananalapi, Binanggit rin niya ang ilan sa mga kakilala niya na ang tingin sa paaralan ay isang ligtas na lugar para sa kanila. Isa sa mga isyu na nabanggit niya ang katotohanan na para sa karamihan ng mga kabataan, ang tahanan ay maaaring pinagmumulan ng mga problema sa relasyon, o para sa iba naman ang tahanan ay isang lugar kung saan ang mag-aaral ay hindi malayang maipahayag ang kanyang sarili. Nakakalungkot isipin na marami ang maaaring nakakaramdam ng pagkakakulong sa sarili nilang tahanan at kailangan pilitin na gumawa ng maraming bagay, para lamang makamit ang edukasyon na nararapat sa kanila.  "Nakakalimutan ng iba [na] ang mga online na klase ay nakakaapekto din sa kalusugan ng kaisipan ng mga mag-aaral," dagdag ni Al.


Sa kabila  ng matinding kahirapan na dinadanas ng mga nakapaligid sa kanya- ang kanyang mga kaibigan, mga kaklase,  nagsikap si Al na gamitin ang kanyang husay at galing at lumikha siya ng isang maikling pelikula.

screenshots from 'Excuse Us'

Sa harap ng kahirapan, bilang isang taong narinig at nakita ang mga paghihirap na hinaharap ng marami, pinili ni Al na gamitin ang kanyang tinig at lumikha. "Walang mag-aaral ang dapat maiwan, ang edukasyon ay hindi isang pribilehiyo, ito ay isang karapatan," ipinahayag niya. Patuloy siyang umaasa na hindi malimutan ng mga awtoridad ang sentimentong ito., kung walang humpay tayong maninindigan. Patuloy na itinataguyod ni Al ang mass promotion, mass testing at ang wastong pangangalaga sa kalusugan , upang ang lahat ay makabalik muli sa mga paaralan.  Matapos niyang ipagtulakan ang “academic freeze,” napag-alaman ni Al  na ang isang paaralan, bagamat itinaguyod para sa mga mag-aaral,  hindi lamang mag-aaral ang bumubuo nito. Kinilala niya na mababangga and kabuhayan ng mga kaguruan, mga janitors, manggagawa, at mga manininda.  Nang matanto niya ito, ipinahayag niya na ang lahat ng hangarin ay posible lamang kung ang mass testing, wastong kalinisan at wastong pangangalaga sa kalusugan ay magagamit para sa lahat.  

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Ito ang ipinaglalaban ni Al. Pinili niyang gamitin ang kanyang boses para sa isang wastong sistema na nagtataguyod ng edukasyon para sa lahat, habang pinoprotektahan ang kabuhayan ng mga nagtatrabaho sa mga paaralan. "Kumuha ka ng inspirasyon mula sa mga tao. . . gumawa ng sining para sa mga tao. Huminga kung kinakailangan. Patuloy ang laban. Kailangan ka ng bayan.”  

Ito ang mensahe ni Al sa napakaraming tao na hinaharap ang kanilang sariling mga paghihirap ngayon. Hinihikayat niya ang iba, lalo na ang mga artista, hindi upang i-pressure ang kanilang sarili, kundi ang maglaan ng kanilang oras. "Nawa ay sa pamamagitan ng pagsasalita tungkol sa mga isyu sa lipunan sa social media, pagsigaw sa lansangan, o paglikha ng sining para sa bayan. . . Naniniwala akong kailangan tayo ng bayan at sana ganun din [ang lahat].” 


Inilahad ni Al kung paano niya natagpuan ang kagalakan sa katotohanan na ang isang pandemya ay hindi mapipigilan ang paglikha ng mga gumagawa ng pelikula; kahit sa harap ng mga paghihirap at diskurso, palaging may paraan upang makapagsalita at maririnig, at ang kuwento ni Al ay ang patotoo nito.

Kung nais niyong mapanood ang 'Excuse Us', at ang iba pang mga likha ni Al, makikita niyo it sa,