The latest video commercial from soap maker Safeguard Philippines is winning hearts of Filipinos everywhere, and we agree with director Pepe Diokno, who worked on the video: it is a "love letter to our parents."
The commercial is a story of grit as it reenacts the life of Norman King, the first Aeta to graduate college from the University of the Philippines. To get to this place, Norman and his family had to survive poverty and discrimination with their dignity and their Aeta heritage intact.
Norman also overcame an identity crisis, one of the moments in the video of the all-Aeta cast we're glad was included. Norman suffered from judgment and biases since he was little. He was called names because of his color ("Bakit tayong mga Aeta kakulay natin ang lupa? Kaya ba marumi ang tawag nila sa akin?"). Classmates taunted him because of his old clothes ("Norman, ilang taon mo na suot yan!"). Security guards didn't let him in because of how he looked.
It was no surprise when, as one scene in the video showed, Norman arrived home from college, wearing a hooded sweatshirt with aviator sunglasses and his hair was in an Afro-style, much like the ones African-Americans would sport.
His mother asks, "Bakit ganyan ang itsura mo?"
He replies, "Uso eto, Ma. Ganito rin ang mga Afro ng mg basketball players sa TV."
"Hindi yan ang tunay na buhok ng Aeta."
"Pero mas pinapansin na ako ng mga classmates ko ngayon."
To which his mother answers, "Kailangan ba talaga magbago para lang matanggap ka ng ibang tao?"
It is Norman's mother's unwavering will that never lets her son forget his roots, and neither does she let him wallow in self-pity when teased or judged. She knows her son needs to face these struggles on his own, to never give up. And she leads by example, steadfast in her values, to show Norman there is no shame in being poor nor in being an Aeta.
As one exhange in the video went, "Gusto mo ba na itago natin na mahirap lang tayo? Alin ang karapatdapat hangaan? Isang tao na madali ang buhay? O isang tao na dumaan sa matinding kahirapan?"
In the commercial, Norman accepted his diploma proudly wearing his lubay, his tribe's traditional garb, like he did when he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Behavioral Science last year.
Then the real Norman says in the voiceover, "Ang turo sa 'kin ng nanay ko kapag natanggap ko na kung sino ako, mas malayo ang mararating ko."
Moms, never underestimate your will, words, your influence in your child's life.