Baybayong Birhen: Q & A with Amaya Han

Photographed by Melizza Baquiran
In an interview via Facebook, Andrei Karoly Hernandez or popularly known as Amaya Han, talks about her recent film entitled Baybayong Birhen (The Virgin Shore) and her experience filming it.

Yadu Karu: Amaya, please tell something about yourself? 

Amaya Han: I’m Andrei Karoly Hernandez, 18 years old. I was born in Manila but grew up in Mindanao (General Santos and Agusan del Sur). I’m taking up Bachelor of Fine Arts major in Cinema at the University of San Carlos. 

Amaya Han is a pseudonym. “Amaya” means rain in Japanese. I chose a Japanese name because my dad is part-Japanese, and I chose a name that meant “rain” because I was born on a stormy day. “Han” stands for Hernandez, Ariston, and Narciso - our family surnames. 

Yadu Karu: Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that filmmaking was not just a hobby, but that it would be your life? 

Amaya Han: I’ve always loved watching films and taking videos as a kid. But it was during our second year high school when we were told to make a film for our ComEd subject that triggered me to pursue my filmmaking dreams. 

Yadu Karu: When did you start making films? 

Amaya Han: It was in second year high school. We made a 48-minute horror film. But if we’re talking about making films as a cinema student, then it was when I was in second year college. I made a 3-minute short horror film entitled “12:23”. It was meant for a horror video-making contest. 

Yadu Karu: Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either? 

Amaya Han: Both take courage. Despite all the hindrances, the only thing I had to do was to believe in myself and to believe that God will help me through it all. Everything else will follow. 

Yadu Karu: What is the name of your film, what's your role and what is it about? 

Amaya Han: “Baybayong Birhen” (The Virgin Shore) - It’s about a young couple who discovered a pristine beach. As naturally self-centered as humans are, the couple (especially the young man) forgot how they badly affect (or destroy) the nature, thus leading them to their punishment. In that film I’m the director, costume designer, storyboard artist, and additional sound person. 

Yadu Karu: What’s the inspiration behind the film BAYBAYONG BIRHEN? 

Amaya Han: It was from an observation - as someone who grew up in a less-polluted place, then having to reside in a polluted urban was like a “culture shock”. Pollution became something common that people have forgotten and neglected their duties to Mother Nature. Salamindanaw International Film Festival also inspired the making of this film. 

Yadu Karu: What’s your feeling after making your short film BAYBAYONG BIRHEN? 

Amaya Han: It was a feeling of relief and fulfillment. It was a “relief”, because we were able to make it to the deadline. “Fulfillment” because despite everything that has happened, we did it! As what the veterans say - sometimes it’s the lessons that you learn from filmmaking that makes it fulfilling. 

Yadu Karu: Describe your state of mind when you saw your film in the cinema. 

Of course, I was proud and happy that it made it to the cinemas. I’m sure my teammates were very happy as well. 

Yadu Karu: Can you tell me the challenges that you and your crew encountered during the shooting of the film. 

Amaya Han: There was a lot - actress backing out on the day before the shoot; bad weather and disturbingly strong waves; and time constraints due to work and school schedules. Et cetera et cetera. 

Yadu Karu: Describe the BAYBAYONG BIRHEN in one word. 

Amaya Han: Impressionist 

Yadu Karu: When I saw your film at the SalaMindanaw International Film Festival last November 2013, I notice that you hired professional actors from Cebu City. How’s working with them? 

Amaya Han: I didn’t hire them. The actor (Eli Razo) told me that he would co-produce and act for free in my film. The actress (Mutya Collander) who replaced the actress who backed out the day before the shoot is his friend; and the diwata is my older sister. Working with them was all good. 

Yadu Karu: Most of your short films tackle about the importance of environment like BAYBAYONG BIRHEN, so what motivates you to insert this advocacy in your film(s)? Is that your advocacy?  

Amaya Han: My motivation is the reality and yes, that's my advocacy. As much as possible I want to include these issues that we, humans, are gradually disregarding. 

Yadu Karu: As a (young) female director, have you experience any advantages or disadvantages in filmmaking? 

Amaya Han: Yes, I have. Trusting and expecting too much, but you learn from these “disadvantages”. At least you know what to do next time. 

Yadu Karu: Any interesting comments from the audience members during the film screening? 

Amaya Han: “Ngano di sila ga-istorya? Wala koy masabtan.” (Why they didn’t talk? I didn’t understand the film). It’s weird but sometimes I like it when people don’t understand my films. 

Yadu Karu: What was the most important lesson you had to learn that has had a positive effect on your film? How did that lesson happen? 

Amaya Han: I learn the art of Improvising. We had to remove or replace some scenes because we were running out of time (we were catching the last boat ride back to Cebu). I won’t say that it’s actually a good thing removing scenes from the original plan, but it helped. 

And also I learned that it is better to get your close friends or close relatives as actors (or even as crewmembers). If you plan to get legit people, then pay. Because once you pay, some people change and work better. Never sacrifice the quality of your film. 

Yadu Karu: If you are given a chance to change the ending, what would it be? 

Amaya Han: Nothing. I like it as it is. 

Yadu Karu: What’s your dream film project? 

Amaya Han: Surreal horror films. 

Yadu Karu: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life creating film? 

Amaya Han: I’m still new at this and I still have a lot to learn but for me, we all just have to believe in what we can do, and actually do something about it – that’s where the magic starts to happen. 

Yadu Karu: After BAYBAYONG BIRHEN, what’s next? 

Amaya Han: I will make a short film or two; some collaborations with my pioneering cinema-mates, and my thesis film. I really wish to shoot it in GenSan, that’s if the budget allows me. If not, then maybe next time.


Baybayong Birhen (The Virgin Shore)


Director – Amaya Han 

Writer – Diem Judilla 

Producer – Rachel Hernandez & Eli Razo 

Cinematographer – Jay Hernandez 

Editor – Jay Hernandez 

Music – Michael Vincent Tuico 

Sound – Jay Hernandez, Mykko Archie Zamora 

Cast – Astrid Hernandez, Eli Razo, Mutya Collander 

Duration – 10 minutes 

The spirit of the Sea takes rest in human form and relaxes in the waves of special shore. A couple discovers the shore and they make it their special place. The Spirit blesses their love, until the boy, who is careless, litters the seashore. Along with the sea, the Spirit’s human form changes from pristine to polluted, decaying its benevolence into malice. When the boy finally proposes, the Spirit captures him and takes him away. Later, the girl realizes what needs to be done: the shore must return to its original state in order for her beloved to return.

Amaya is one of the delegates in the 6th Cinema Rehiyon this coming February 19-22, 2014 in Cagayan de Oro City.

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Thank you.