Atom Araullo brought home two gold medals from the prestigious U.S. International Film & Video Festival — one for his first GMA Network documentary special, Philippine Seas, and another for an I-Witness documentary on Rohingya refugees titled “Silang Kinalimutan (The Forgotten).”
Philippine Seas received the Gold Camera award for Documentary: Environment, Ecology category and was cited by the 2018 edition of the U.S. International Film & Video Festival for uncovering the wonders and threats surrounding the world-renowned center of marine biodiversity found in the Philippines.
Araullo’s debut project with GMA News and Public Affairs was shot over a rigorous 10-day expedition across Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao and featured some of nature’s most impressive sceneries such as in Moalboal, Cebu’s world-famous dive site, where hundreds of thousands of sardines gather in a single ball exhibiting what it means to be ‘under the sea.’
In Negros Oriental the Philippine Seas documentary team told a story of hope about how dolphins, once caught and slaughtered, are now the province’s leading tourist attraction.
The documentary also featured the daily struggles of those who rely on the seas for a living off the coast of Sarangani in Mindanao, where tuna fishermen wait for days, endure harsh conditions, and risk their lives for a single catch.
Araullo’s documentary team uncovered a group of Filipino fishermen, detained in Indonesia for fishing in foreign waters, who crossed international borders due to the dwindling catch in the country’s waters.
After the documentary special was aired, eight Filipino fishermen detained in Indonesia were repatriated to the Philippines after the court found insufficient grounds to charge them for illegal fishing.
The second Gold Camera award for Araullo was for the Documentary: Social Issues category given to the I-Witness episode, Silang Kinalimutan (The Forgotten).
Silang Kinalimutan documents the story of the Rohingya people through the eyes of a Filipino humanitarian worker in the largest refugee camp in Bangladesh.
The documentary is cited by the 50-year-old U.S. Film & Video Festival for teaching the value of compassion, bridging differences in color and beliefs as it presented the plight of Rohingya refugees who fled to Bangladesh after the Myanmar government denied them citizenship.
The documentary took its audiences into a refugee camp in Bangladesh where it drew attention to families living in small makeshift tents, bare except for a few belongings scattered on the earthen floor.
Araullo’s documentary awards led GMA Network News and Public Affairs group’s big medal haul for the Philippines with 4 Gold Camera awards, 3 Silver Screen awards, and seven certificates – including Alden Richards’ Alaala DocuDrama.