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How The TVC Starring Norman King, The First Aeta Graduate Of UP, Was Made

In 2017, a bare-chested man in traditional Aeta garb marched up to the University of the Philippines Manila stage to receive his diploma. That man was Norman King, the first Aeta to graduate from the state university.



King debuted as a TVC star. It was a recollection of how he grew up through poverty and discrimination, with his mother’s loving wisdom keeping him in check as he worked to earn his degree.

Simple and well-told, the campaign hits where it needs to.


Watch it here:


The telling of this poignant tale via TVC is the brainchild of Saatchi & Saatchi Singapore. The ad is directed by award-winning indie filmmaker Pepe Diokno, in collaboration with Chief Creative Office Ajay Vikram, Regional Group Creative Director Noel Orosa, and Creative Director I-van Policarpo, from the international creative team.    

Because of its take on the cultural integrity of our Aeta brethren, we wanted to hear more of the creative insights behind the ad and found that there is indeed much more to love about this heartwarming story.

The story is essentially about inspirational parenting. “We believe that a key tool to help achieve this are the ‘pabaon’ parents give their children —be it an everyday lunchbox or life lessons — which help keep them protected as they explore the world on their own,” said the team from Saatchi who requested to be quoted as one.

The campaign pitch was met with a wonderfully positive response.

“Norman was open to telling the world about his story right at the onset, and he believed in the message of the film,” said the team of Vikram, Orosa and Policarpo.



“In fact it was us, the agency and our clients, who made sure Norman and his community were represented in the best way possible. We felt that in order to give justice to the beautiful Filipino concept of ‘pabaon,’ we needed to represent the Filipino Aeta with dignity from the script to the visual narrative.

“We also did due diligence by asking permission from the community elders and leaders,” said Vikram, Orosa and Policarpo, careful to preserve the authenticity of their portrayal of the indigenous group.

The production team consulted Norman’s family every step of the way to ensure the result stayed true to the Aeta culture. They also shot on location within the Aeta community in Pampanga, where the team was able to develop a much friendlier and deeper connection with the locals.

Most importantly, real Aetas were cast as talents regardless of acting experience. Aside from Norman, his mother Warlita also portrayed herself.

The other cast members from the Aeta community were: Jonalyn, who played the young Warlita; Borjack, who played the five-year-old Norman; Jonathan, the 13-year-old Norman; and Rocky, the 18-year-old Norman.

It was the boys’ first time to act, but because they could relate to Norman’s life experiences, they proved to be natural storytellers on camera.

The campaign received overwhelmingly positive response, garnering over one million views within 24 hours of being online. “The aim is to give justice and have a strong cultural stand while delivering the story in the most authentic way through an all-Aeta cast who were all excited to be part of this campaign,” said Vikram, Orosa and Policarpo. The Saatchi team hopes it will inspire parents from all over the Philippines to keep sharing their loving ‘pabaon’ with their children.