Like many other Filipino employees, Vangie is a hard working person, but she struggles to have her contract renewed.

/ 21 December 2020

In the Philippines, some employees have to endure contractualization, an exploitative system of work which allows companies to employ workers for a specific period under a contract. 

Time and time again, the practice has been condemned by human rights and labor groups through a series of statements and protests. A Cinemalaya short film in 2020 titled ‘Excuse Me, Miss, Miss, Miss’, explores the plight of an ordinary worker living through a time when the rights to regular employment seems bleak.

Directed by Sonny Calvento, the film follows the story of Vangie, a miserable contractual sales lady, whose contract is about to end.  In her desperate attempts to convince her boss not to fire her, she unravels the ultimate secret to regularization. 

“It happened organically. It was inspired by the experiences of real-life contractual sales ladies of a department store. Their stories are oftentimes heartbreaking but strangely, they told them in a comedic way. There are injustices that happen to them but there is already a level of acceptance to these women when they’ve shared their stories. That for me is even more tragic–that they’ve reached a point to just laugh at their problems because they can do nothing about it anymore. Humor as a sign of helplessness,” Calvento shares in an interview with Coconuts Manila. 

Calvento slams the term ‘Filipino resiliency’ saying it is only used to perpetuate the bigger problems by making it ‘laughable’. 

“One of the common idiosyncrasies of Filipinos is the so-called “Filipino resilience” where we are known to laugh at our problems. While most people consider it a positive trait, I feel like it shouldn’t be like that all the time. I wanted the audience to laugh while watching the film, but also realize that there’s an injustice happening amidst the funny predicaments faced by our protagonist,” the filmmaker said. 

Calvento’s film was accepted and will be shown in the prestigious Sundance Film Festival  from January 28 to February 3, 2021 at Salt Lake City in America. 

“This is a dream come true. Thank you, Sundance,” said Calvento on his social media posts.

“Excuse Me, Miss, Miss, Miss” was initially an official entry to Cinemalaya’s 16th Independent Film Festival Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) last August.