Image courtesy CineMaralita film festival

By Susan Goodwillie

This post is the first in a new blog series that will showcase the work of advocacy organizations utilizing the materials included in the WITNESS/Amnesty International  Mulitmedia Forced Evictions Toolkit, a resource for activists and communities fighting against forced evictions and land rights violations and working to raise awareness around the issues.

CineMaralita, a film festival in the Philippines supported by the Urban Poor Resource Center (UPRCP), has recently used the videos included in the toolkit as vehicles to spark conversation around land and housing rights issues. In an effort to learn more about how the toolkit is supporting activists like them, I asked CineMaralita’s organizers to share a bit about their work and how they seek to use video for change in the Philippines.

Susan/WITNESS: CineMaralita is a project of the Urban Poor Resource Center of the Philippines (UPRCP). How has the film festival supported and contributed to UPRCP’s work?  

CineMaralita goes to Payatas for community screening of “Sister Stella L.”

CineMaralitaUrban Poor Resource Center of the Philippines, Inc. (UPRCP) is a non-stock, non-profit advocacy institution for the Filipino urban poor. It seeks to shape public discourse and policy in favor of urban poor interests and aspirations, in the pursuit of realizing genuine national development and ending poverty.

In this light, CineMaralita: A Film Festival About the Philippine Urban Poor was conceived. Through cultural and artistic projects such as this, UPRCP is able to effectively raise awareness  and inspire action within the general public around issues facing the Filipino urban poor.

By exploring alternative forms of education, such as film festivals, UPRCP is able to popularize and bridge the gap between the audience, specifically different academic institutions, and the urban poor sector in the Philippines. This year, CineMaralita was able to travel to five different schools and universities and two urban poor communities with about 2,000 audiences in total. A film festival set as a caravan-type of event has had much positive response in the dissemination of the urban poor cause.

Are there specific issues or campaigns that CineMaralita focuses on?

The film festival focuses on three main campaigns—joblessness and growing informalization, low income and inadequate wages, and the lack of basic social services such as health, housing, and education—all of which can be seen or are discussed in the films that are a part of CineMaralita. Issues such as poverty, landlessness, and forced and violent evictions are also discussed.

The goals of the film festival include raising awareness and inciting action around issues faced by Filipino urban poor. What types of films do you feature that support these goals and how have they inspired change in the targeted campaign areas?

CineMaralita features more than 25 award-winning and notable films—both short and full-length, factual  documentaries  and  fictional  narratives—that  highlight the lives and struggles of the Philippine urban poor.

While we chose films and documentaries that mirror or reflect the harsh realities of society, we deem it integral to also emphasize positive Filipino culture and values—fighting for freedom, defending truth, understanding, helping one another, and always having that high sense of hope and happiness in the midst of problems.

CineMaralita goes to University of Santo Tomas in Manila

CineMaralita has been successful in raising awareness and action among its audience, in the sense that some students and teachers have volunteered to be a part of CineMaralita and discussions and foras have been launched to discuss issues faced by the Filipino urban poor. We also have a wide network of support from the filmmakers that are a part of CineMaralita. All have generously included their films for the urban poor cause.

CineMaralita has screened People Before Profit and Evict Them! In Five Easy Steps at several universities and community forums. How have these videos inspired discussion or motivated audiences to action?

Reactions vary from curiosity to solidarity when audiences watch these videos. Those who were not or not fully aware of urban poor issues in the Philippines are surprised to know that problems such as landlessness and forced evictions are being experienced by the urban poor people on a global scale, and that the culprits, the governments and the multinational corporations, are more or less one and the same.

We would like these videos to be used as a springboard for the audiences as a source of empowerment for action via actively being involved and raising awareness on the urban poor issues and proposing alternatives or possible solutions. We also hope to inspire filmmakers and storytellers to immerse in different urban poor areas, weave out their own stories, and give back to the community and the society.

CineMaralita at Payatas B, Quezon City for community screening

For more information about CineMaralita including pictures and videos, please visit their Facebook page.

More Infromation About the Toolkit

Let us know how you are using the Forced Evictions Toolkit and we would love to feature your work on our blog! For more information, please email jackie [at]

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Haven’t seen the Forced Evictions Toolkit yet? Download at: The Toolkit is available in eight languages.

Susan is an intern with the engagement team at WITNESS focused on our global forced eviction campaign. 

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