As part of its annual celebration of Catholic Schools Week, Mount Carmel School announced yesterday that a new entry in its Theatre Club’s award-winning “We Drank Our Tears” film series will premiere on Thursday, Feb. 4, at 7pm at the American Memorial Park. Telling the stories of Visitacion Camacho, Henry Indalecio, and David “Uncle Dave” Sablan, the new film will be screened after encore screenings of all previous films in the series.
The film stars Jessiana Tenorio as Visitacion Camacho, Jayson Tagaubel as Henry Indalecio, and Kainoa Tenorio as Dave Sablan. Their stories were directed by two students, Mikee Mendoza and Larry Cruz, and the school’s director of institutional development and AlumKnight, Victoria Deleon Guerrero. While the directors had led previous theatrical and film productions, telling these stories was particularly special for them.
“Not a lot of people know what happened to these families and survivors during the war, so it was an honor to tell these stories so that future generations will understand and see exactly what happened,” said Mendoza, who directed Camacho’s story. “I hope my film will touch the hearts and souls of the audience and help them strengthen their faith in God.”
Cruz had a similar experience in directing Indalecio’s story. “These stories that have been told by grandparents, moms, dads, and relatives, are an important part of their histories” but “something that we don’t often realize is that they also hold a key role in Saipan’s history too.”
Deleon Guerrero shared Cruz’s appreciation for history in directing Sablan’s story. “At first, I simply hoped to do a good job of telling the story. But, once shooting started and we were actually in the caves, hiking along the fields, and recreating the hardships our elders faced, I gained a new appreciation for the resiliency of our people. So when I think back on all the catastrophes our community has faced, I take pride knowing that our people have gone through so much despite having so little, and we still emerged stronger than ever, without losing the essential values that make us who we are.”
Given how important the films are, all directors were emphatic about urging others to see the films. “Each and every story is an important one to hear and see, and I hope more films like these are showcased because of how significant they are to the CNMI culture and history,” Mendoza said.
Cruz said, “These stories have tremendous value and I believe that we should celebrate that by coming together and watching these films.”
Deleon Guerrero took a broader view. “When you look at Hollywood films about the Marianas, they almost always get it wrong. But these films are about our people, produced by our people, and made for our people.” That is why, she said, “These films are more than school productions; they are an important reclamation of our identity, history, and culture.”
All the films that will be screened are adapted from “We Drank Our Tears,” a 2004 oral history of the civilian experience of World War II battles on Saipan and Tinian, published by Pacific STAR Young Writers Foundation. In 1944, some of the final battles of World War II were waged on the Pacific islands of Saipan and Tinian. A total of 933 indigenous Chamorro and Refaluwasch civilians did not survive the battles. The book and the films chronicle those stories.
Tickets for the Feb. 4 screening are $5 and may be purchased at the MCS Business Office, Herman’s Modern Bakery, Kagman Mobil, Naked Fish, Surf Rider Hotel, or Tribe Marianas. To comply with COVID-19 Mitigation Guidelines, this is a ticketed event with limited seats available.
The screening is made possible by the support of Herman’s Modern Bakery, JEM Mobil Stations, Naked Fish, Triple J, and Tribe Marianas. Funding for this production is also provided by the CNMI CARES Relief Fund for Organizations and supported by the National Endowment for the Arts through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2020. (PR)