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The Journeyman finds home in football

A broadcast journalism professor once told this author that in picking a documentary subject, you must choose the one with the most compelling story. The producers of Journeyman Finds Home: The Simone Rota Story did just that.

A project which initially started as a documentary on five then-new Azkals back in 2014, director Maricel Cariaga with the guidance of co-director and producer Albert Almendralejo, decided to just focus on Philippine Azkals defender Rota’s life story as a jumpoff point to tell a tale of redemption, transformation, and Philippine football as a whole.

Why Rota? Because he is a man whose answer to all challenges life threw at him has always been football.

When he was struggling with his academics, he chose football. When he was getting frustrated with his search for his real parents, he chose football. When he was ridden by injuries, he still chose football.

The result of three years of production and hardwork is an hour-long documentary that covered the 33-year-old’s life extensively. Starting from being a Filipino orphan adopted by Italian parents who raised him in Milan, the story branched out to how the beautiful game gave him the opportunity to return to his motherland not only to serve the national team but also to search for his real parents. Tangentially, the story of the grassroots programs in the country and Rota’s charity work were also told.

The first half was about Rota’s origin story drawing back to the orphanage Buklod Kalinga, his hometown in Italy, and his arrival in the Philippines. There is immense difficulty in producing a documentary on something that is done already. The usual nature of the genre is to document something that is happening during the filming period. Due to the difficult task and the apparent lack of situationer shots on Rota’s early life, the storytelling relied heavily on talking heads and file photos.

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Fortunately, the thrill began when the search for Rota’s real mother kicked off. The documentary team followed his travels around the country as he tried to look for his biological mother. Gushes and squeals of excitement from the audience filled the Uptown Ultra Cinema during the February 24 premiere as this played out.

There was also a considerable amount of time devoted to featuring the grassroot football programs available for Filipino youth. While this part may not necessarily be essential to telling Rota’s story, its inclusion to the documentary is understandable given that it was produced by Football for a Better Life, an organization advocating the sport in the grassroot levels.

Journeyman compensated for the lack of situationers through very rich interviews. From his parents, to his teammates, down to the children whose lives he touched through Buklod Kalinga and football clinics, the audience get to see a glimpse of what Rota is like as a person away from the pitch. Reminscent of the kindness his adoptive parents exemplified, Journeyman showed how he is a kindhearted man whose heart goes out to all orphans like him. Even during the premiere as buildup for joining a film festival, Rota personally took care of the kids of Buklod Kalinga who were present to watch the film.

All in all, the documentary is a story of football, family, and the intersections of it. In just an hour, it was able to tell Rota’s story, the rise of Philippine football, plus echo socially relevant issues related to orphans and sports development.

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There were some technical and storytelling lapses but a subject as endearing as Rota is enough to make you book a ticket. Perfect also for all Filipinos who are itching to see Philippine football soar, remain in the mainstream, and not just a fad. If you are not a football fan, Journeyman still has something for you in the storyline of finding home and identity.

Luckily, after foregoing the 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival, the documentary will be available to the public in March for the Sinag Maynila Independent Film Festival 2018. Watch out for the screening dates through their official Facebook pages: and

As for the journeyman Rota, he sees the documentary as a love letter to the youth that.

“Sports, not only football, can be a way to change [your] life.”

Written By

Danine is a graduating Broadcast Communication student who writes about basketball and volleyball in between her classes. Initially just a sports fan mostly influenced by her fanatic dad, she eventually realized that she can make a career out of her passion after her amazing internship with Tiebreaker Times

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