Meet the man behind The Valor Project: World War II Stories from the Philippines

Hello Filam Creative!  My name is Rodney Cajudo, I am a writer, director, producer, and overall storyteller.  I am thrilled to be able to come and share with you stories about my current project, The Valor Project:  World War II Stories from the Phillippines.  I present to you my first blog post for the Filam Creative Blog:
rod with bayani

“I don’t know how, I don’t know when, but I want to give back to the Philippines one day.”

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I made this vow to myself, somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, on the way back to Los Angeles from the Philippines.
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It was January 2010 and our family was heading back home after a family reunion in the Philippines.  It was my first visit back to the homeland as an adult and my mind was racing with all of the events, new memories, discoveries, and more.  Each day of my trip I soaked it all in, tried to learn more about my roots, understand more of what it was that made me Pinoy and the lessons I experienced were overflowing.
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As the jet rumbled and the stewards moved and down the aisles serving airplane adobo, I started to write down my ideas and try and process such epic thoughts in my way.  I wrote.
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It was electric.
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My pen couldn’t keep up with my thoughts, the journal pages started to fill up rapidly and then it hit me. I had the beginnings of a novel.
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The overall themes started to take shape, the characters, the setting, the basis of what I wanted to say.  Then one novel idea, became a second novel idea, then a third and in that moment of inspiration the beginnings of a trilogy was born.  A series of books loosely based on my families history in and around Olongapo.  The first would be during the Philippine-American War, the second would be during WWII, and the third would be in the late 80’s early 90’s during the Pinatubo eruption.
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Like I said, my mind was racing.  You can be amazed at how much writing you can get done on a 14 hour plane ride.  And part of what I wrote were the very first scenes between a little boy named Domingo and a Japanese Kempei Tai officer in WWII.
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That was the first beginnings of The Valor Project:  World War II Stories from the Philippines.  I realized I knew nothing about that time period, and even the family stories were scarce. My father told me a few stories he remembered.  He was a small boy and had to fish for the family or they would starve.  At 7 years old he was learning to be a family provider.
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My auntie told me how she had to hide in the mountains and the family would dress her in shabby clothes and dirty her face and appearance to make her unattractive, in hope of protecting her from being raped by the Japanese.
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It was in these times of research for my novel that I realized I needed to talk to more people who lived and fought in the Philippines during WWII. And since I’ve a background with video production, I thought to myself, I should just turn on a camera and document as many stories as I possibly could.
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But how can I fly all over the world and capture all of these stories?  That’s when I turned to Kickstarter.  The crowdfunding website will hopefully provide a platform to fund a creative project like this, but what started out as just research for my novel has grown into something even greater then that.  I want to shoot a documentary, create an art book and help capture the legacy of these men and women.
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Without fail when I tell people of my idea, they say, “You better hurry up, there are a few still alive!”
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And it’s sobering and the enormity of it really makes me pause, but I am here at this moment.  I want to help tell their stories, through art.  Photography, film, short stories, creative non-fiction, poems, and oral histories.  And this is one way I want to fulfill my vow of “giving back to the Philippines one day.”
Please visit the Kickstarter and watch the video to learn more and I hope that during this week of taking over the FAC blog we can get to know these stories and as a community we can help keep them alive.
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Please visit, www.thevalorproject.com to become a backer or to help spread the Kickstarter.

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3 thoughts on “Meet the man behind The Valor Project: World War II Stories from the Philippines

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