Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Dear Dad

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation! Today I am pleased to be joined by Pableo Semacio who is here to talk to us about his emotional Kickstarter Dear Dad.  Thank you for joining us today Pableo.   

Hi everyone.

Your project covers a topic that I think most folks don’t even realizes exists.  Could you tell us about it?

I am the creator of “Dear Dad” a poignant documentary about Fil-Amerasians’ quest for their long lost fathers.   A personal encounter with Richard, one of the characters, inspired me do this project.  He shared to me how hard is to be an amerasian, how it felt to be different physically in skin color and how it hurts being stigmatized and discriminated as a son of a “night girl” in a night spot where American soldiers have their R & R at U.S. Air and Naval bases in the Philippines.

Yes, it is true that most people don’t know this group of “children” exists.  Ironically, some American fathers even do not know that they have sired a child and had just left the Naval Station without knowing it.
This is the reason why we would like to let the whole world know especially American soldiers who had been assigned at U.S. Naval bases in the Philippines that there is such a group of abandoned children living in a kind of life without hope of being recognized by their own fathers or better yet know, see and meet in flesh and blood.  It is a kind of life in a limbo, hopeless and a never-ending search.

Amerasian?  Where did that term come from?

Amerasian.  This comes from the words - American Asian, a child born in Asia to a U.S. Military father and an Asian mother. These children are found in most Asian countries including Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Vietnam and most notably the Philippines where the largest U.S. Air and Naval bases outside U.S. mainland were situated.
In the Philippines, they are significantly called Filipino American Asian or Fil-AmerAsians.

Are these children just the forgotten remnants of a bygone era?  

Yes maybe these children could be considered remnants of a bygone era.
When the United States Congress passed the Amerasian Immigration Act of 1982, the Filipino and Japanese Amerasians were alienated.  Filipino and Japanese Amerasians can only become U.S. citizens if their fathers claim them.  The law gave preferential immigration status only to those children born in Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
With the closure of Subic and Clark Airbases in the Philippines in 1992, this also closed the ties between the U.S. military and the Philippine government.  These closures made the search for the U.S. fathers more difficult and daunting.  The immigration process is more stringent like you are pushing an elephant through an eye of a needle.
What got you involved in this project?

When I met Richard in 1992, I got interested and challenged of helping him look for his father.  I thought it would be easy like finding a melon on an open field.  But, I was wrong because the search was like looking for a needle in a haystack.  The search was arduous and frustrating but also very challenging.  I was challenged of being able to find Richard’s father which finally our hard work paid off on that fateful day of July 2013 when we were able to talk to Richard’s father acknowledging his identity and his search for his son.
Relatively, along the process I realized and I found out that Richard is not the only “Richard” in the world.  There are literally a thousand “Richards” out there looking for their American fathers, thus this project.

What is the goal for Dear Dad?  Are you just trying to raise awareness or is this a call to action?  

We want to do both – action for acknowledgement of their cause in US Congress to pass a law allowing Filipino Amerasians to gain US Citizenship and awareness especially fathers of these children to be aware that they have sired a child and that these children need them for recognition, support and acceptance including love and affection a child’s basic physiological need from a father.

Is any of this film shot yet or are you in preproduction?  

We are in the preproduction stage.  We have not started filming the documentary video yet though we have prepared the ground work and the logistics.  We are dependent solely on the success of this funding platform of Kickstarter.

Budget breakdowns are a key component to any good Kickstarter campaign.  These basic business tools  help potential backers see the plan you have for the funds before they put their money down.  I notice you have a list of what the money is for, but no breakdown was that on purpose? Are your costs still in flux and hence unable to give solid figures?

We are still in flux and unable to give solid figures considering the budgetary requirement is different in the Philippines considering the currency difference. We have to have the actual costing right on site.  Everything is generally an estimated budgetary requirement.

How did you discover Kickstarter?

In a writing workshop that I had attended, we were prompted to look for sources of funds for our literary works if we needed one.  Kickstarter was one of those platforms that were suggested.

A key part of successful Kickstarters is backer participation and how to convert a potential backer into a full backer.   How are you engaging your backers?  What kinds of things do you have planned for updates to give notice to those who just hit the “remind me” button and surf on?  Interviews?  Videos?  Stories from the project?

I started my campaign for support from within my circle, relatives, friends and acquaintances at my personal facebook accounts and the official facebook of our group – Families United for Progress.  We have posted videos at youtube, vimeo, twitter and linkedIn.
We haven’t done interviews yet but we have posted videos and updates on the project at our social accounts like facebook, youtube and twitter but honestly our project is getting nowhere.
I am thankful for this interview that through this means, our project might be given the opportunity to be known and promoted to prospective supporters and ultimately backers.

What kind of media attention have you received with your project?  How are you spreading the word?  Facebook?  Twitter?  Google+? Youtube?  Advertising?  Are you using Kicktraq to track your progress?  

We did not receive any media attention yet except for this interview with you.  Like I said, we have posted our video at our facebook, twitter and youtube accounts.  We hadn’t done advertising yet because of budgetary constraint and we have not used kicktraq to check our progress because we were not aware of its services.  But we will check on it anyway.

Do you have any tips/advice would you give to anyone looking to start a Kickstarter?

My advice to those who are planning to start a project with kickstarter is to study thoroughly the rigors of creating a project and the a-z of the kickstarter processes and guidelines.  I learned a lot doing this maiden project of mine and still learning a lot along the way.

Thank you for spending your time with us!  Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?

Yes, let me take this opportunity to promote our project “Dear Dad”.  Let me emphasize the urgency of this project because U.S. fathers of our Fil-Amerasians are in their late 60’s and 80’s and most are old, sick and dying.  We just received very sad news that the father of Richard had died of pneumonia on December 19, 2013.  This made us so determined to pursue this project so no more “Richard” that is going to miss the opportunity of seeing and meeting a long, lost, esteemed father.

Thanks again and I hope to hear good things from your Kickstarter!

Thank you so much for this very valuable opportunity of being able to promote our project “Dear Dad”.

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