JUST like their adult or professional counterparts, eight students and their works have made it to the final roster of the 2nd Sine Halaga values film festival that opens on Dec. 8, 2022.

The films were chosen from among almost 100 entries submitted by both amateur and seasoned filmmakers from Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.

The jury — composed of academicians, cultural enthusiasts and movie directors Sari Dalena, Skilty Labastilla, Teddy Co, Arvin Manuel Villalon, Baby Ruth Villarama, Flaudette Datuin, Adjani Arumpac, Rolando Tolentino, Jeffrey Jeturian and Tito Valiente — chose the finalists that strongly highlight the top 20 Filipino values identified through the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) Study on Filipino Values.

Even on its second edition, Sine Halaga is considered one of the most successful film festivals for 2021, which according to the Society of Film Reviewers is the "Third Best Film Festival of 2021," next to Cinemalaya and QCinema.

Sine Halaga national festival director Elvert Bañares said that with all the accomplishments in 2021, there is a need to continue planting the seeds for new harvests as the festival entered the second edition.

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"We have diverse and dynamic entries this year, and we are proud of the finalists that our formidable jurors painstakingly deliberated," Bañares added.

Student Category finalists are "Lapis Akong Naghihintay Ng Pantasa" by Gerald Pesigan, "Lindeng" by John Mark Laguardia, "Sali-Manok" by John Carmen, "Bigktimasa" by Vahn Leinard Pascual, "If You Leave Me Please Let Me Know" by Patrick Pangan, "Sakaling Mahirapan Ka" by Karl Cedrick Marquez, and "Malikmata" by Jean Evangelista.

The Adult finalists are "Mga Handum Nga Nasulat Sa Baras" by Richard Jeroui Salvadico and Arlie Sweet Sumagaysay, "Unsolved Equation" by Dexter Paul de Jesus, "Walang Hanggang Nangis" by Lawrence Arvin Sibug, "Baso" by Patrick Lawrence Eugenio, "Hinakdal" by Arvin Belarmino, "Ma" by Miguel Legaspi, "Maria Makinang" by Gian Andre Rembrandt Arre, and "Write Here" by Jake Consing.

The top three projects in both categories will be announced on opening day and shall be included in the roster of films used in the Values Education materials for teachers and students through the Sine Halaga website (which is also under the NCCA Learning Hub) accessible for free.

During the announcement of the finalists on November 21, Bañares clarified that the first edition of the collaborative project between NCCA and Negros Cultural Foundation (NCF) was funded with grants, whereas the second edition was open to anyone as long as the film was made in 2021.

NCCA Deputy Executive Director Marichu Tellano said that they will continue to support the project although they could not tell yet if there would be grants again in the third or succeeding editions.

For a first-time festival, the goal to create films for values instruction was unprecedented as audiences, teachers and critics point out the quality of films, the specific educational programs related to the films, its systematic implementation, a comprehensive website and its audience reach.

The team is also preparing modules in relation to the films as study guides for mentors in explaining the core values tackled in the projects. There is also a multimedia lecture series being prepared for the 2022 edition, reading and analyzing the films.

Sine Halaga also prides itself for having the most collected awards in 2021 for any film festival such as Zig Dulay and his "Black Rainbow" that won in Cinemalaya, and Arden Rod Condez and his "Dandansoy" at the Urian.

Villalon, NCCA Values Study head researcher, enumerated the top Filipino values that must be present in the films — family, education, faith, health and wellness, basic needs, self, work and livelihood, peace and development, honesty and integrity, resilience, life and purpose, human rights, environment, love for country, happiness, kapuwa, culture, arts and sciences, governance, and creative excellence.

Dalena, who headed the student category jury and Datuin, who headed the adult category jury, shared their thoughts on selecting the best for the shortlist.

"Values Education is strengthened in educational institutions of the country by doing well-planned series of programs and components exploring, discussing, studying and reorienting audiences as to what is important for the Filipinos or what do Filipinos value at present. The festival made use of multimedia platforms and tools to help spread values to various sectors. This we have seen accomplished in the first edition at the height of the pandemic, much more in this second edition when lockdowns and health protocols eased," Bañares expounded.