I was amongst a Miss Universe, Miss World, several more title holders, beauty queens, Smile Train Philippine executives, and volunteers a few days ago at Powerplant Mall Cinemas in Makati City. This was the screening for the documentary "Every Day After" created by Emmy award winning director Elisa Gambino who filmed this on location in the Philippines. Aimed to help raise awareness for the Cleft Palate and Lip condition, they follow around siblings Jary and Jessa, in their quest to get surgery for him.
Mr. Felix Grimares Program Director for Smile Train Philippines says "Every Day After the documentary holds a special place in the cleft community. As we share the complexity of this condition, this is also about the love of a sister. This is captured in this film, and I hope it drives support for our cleft community."
Here's the press conference which happened right after the screening
Jary and Jessa were orphaned before the pandemic. Jary felt something is missing, he talks about it lengthily with his sister in the documentary. Jessa says "When he was born, our dad couldn't look at him, nor treat him like he exists. When I turned 18, I left for Manila to get help from a person who's had the same condition as he does. She connected us with an organization and got him checked. I wish he would feel different when he goes back home in the province. Ideally, cleft palate and lip surgery should be done during infancy but my brother is already 13 years old. Health workers thought he was my son, but I told them how our parents passed. He is also going through speech therapy, planned ahead on what should be done in the coming months."
This is just the start of Jary and Jessa's story.
Jessa adds "I was afraid of hospitals because when my Dad went in for treatment in 2019, he died and never got out of it. I am so worried about him. When he woke up today, he nudged me and asked if we look alike now (after the surgery). He told me I did something that our parents could not do."
"When Dad died, I was worried about what will happen to our lives. I told my live in partner Robert about it, he knew my priorities was with my family. He was okay with it, and knew why my brother should live together with our kids too."
Their struggles and experiences would be told in the documentary and hope people who watch it and learn that the condition needs so much more that just a surgery. It needs support from all over, including financial, emotional and psycho-social. This was shared to us by one of the execs from Noordhoff Craniofacial Foundation Philippines (one of Smile Train's partners). Smile Train makes it possible for all the procedures to be FREE, so if you know someone with Cleft Palate or Cleft Lip condition, tell them about it because you need to do the surgery early.
If you want to know more, please visit SMILETRAIN.PH and their social channels. You can ask about it and they'll provide you the information you need to do it. They also are looking for volunteers if you are a medical professional who would want to share your expertise and services for the beneficiaries.
Here's Miss Universe Catriona Gray whom we got to talk to about Smile Train after the event.
As for the documentary, a local screening is in the works but it will be done in the near future. It will be sent to other festivals in other countries too to share Jary and Jessa's story.
Hope this helps!