donny pangilinan

Donny Pangilinan’s Indie Film Debut Is For A Good Cause

Donny's advocacy movie.

Donny Pangilinan’s first-ever short film, Graduation, marries both his love of acting and advocacy for promoting just social causes.

Related: 10 Times Donny Pangilinan Was A Walking Green Flag

With his showbiz family background and matinee idol looks, some may stereotype Donny Pangilinan as an actor only interested in the cookie-cutter or mainstream roles. But that isn’t the case. Donny is a dedicated actor who shows us new facets of himself with his new projects. He also isn’t afraid to use his platform to speak up on certain social issues. And that came together in Donny’s latest film, the sentimental and poignant, Graduation.


Graduation comes from Called to Rescue Philippines, a non-profit that helps rescue children who are missing, have been abused, or are trafficked, and Media Works APG. The film’s goal is to shed light on the reality and trauma of survivors of human trafficking. International director Dean Colin Marical, whose other socially focused films include Manila Death Squad and Reminiscences of the Green Revolution, helms the project.

It stars Donny as Topher and Nour Hooshmand as his younger sister Kika. Topher and Kika are on their way to her graduation party following the ceremony. But on the way, Kika suffers a panic attack and refuses to attend the party. What starts as a tense situation de-escalates when Topher calms his sister with the techniques they know. While it is never said, it is implied that Kika is a survivor of human trafficking. Topher is meant to represent the support survivors need who may still be dealing with the trauma of their past.

To that end, the closing seconds of the movie leaves a message for viewers. It tells the audience that survivors of human trafficking need a community and support for them to overcome the harrowing experience they went through.


graduation film 2022 poster - starring donny pangilinan and nourijune hooshmand

While most of us are excited to see Donny back on the big screen in An Inconvenient Love this November, it’s nice that he is championing an important cause in this film. Human trafficking may seem like a foreign concept to some, but the harsh reality is, it’s still very much a real problem that affects many Filipinos both locally and abroad.

Graduation teaches us that while human trafficking survivors may look alright on the surface, there can still be deep trauma that they still have to deal with. Kika’s graduation is proof that they can make it in life following their ordeal. But they also need that helping hand and support shoulder to help them overcome their struggles. While the movie is less than four minutes long, it says enough to get its point across with the help of Donny and Nour’s strong acting. At the very least, it reminds us to have a little more compassion in this world.

Continue Reading: Meet Gabriela Serrano, The Young Filmmaker Ready To Put More Of Women’s Stories In The Forefront