Diaspora Ad Astra, 2020
Diaspora Ad Astra is a fictional short video told from the perspective of a Filipino seafarer. There are currently 400,000 seafarers from the Philippines and their profession helps move 90 percent of global trade. Under brutal conditions, these people earn ten times more than what they can at home. They sign contracts for seven to ten months, leaving behind their families while a lack of onboard internet connectivity leaves these migrant laborers unable to maintain communication with their loved ones. While making this video in early 2020, stories of ships in their home ports, forbidden to dock due to fears of the spread of Coronavirus, filled our newsfeeds. Thus, the pandemic dramatically contributed to the sense of isolation and alienation for ship workers. How does it feel to be able to see your home in front of you but not be able to return to it? Taking the multiple stories related to this forced distance, Comilang weaves the narrative of Diaspora Ad Astra: An Anthology of Science Fiction from the Philippines, a collection of stories looking at the future of Filipinos while asking and wondering: will we be exporting human workers to Mars or will we be ruling a new Empire of Humanity? Or, will we be running a guerrilla war against mad robots as the rest of homo sapiens flee into space in derelict battleships? Installed in an industrial arrangement an environment in transition, the film reproduces a distant reality, inviting us to reflect on economic mechanisms and strategies, and ask ourselves to whose advantage or for what purpose these transitions of helm take place.