Monday, May 29, 2017

Director's Word

I started my documentary journey in 2010, beliefs of transpeople were heavily influenced by the stereotypical stories that comedies and drama present. Most documentaries I had seen concentrated on the various problems and discrimination that transpeople face. After getting into their world I found out it was quite far from what I had learned.

I realised that part of the reason people learn to consider these people so different, is the genre in which they are presented over and over again. I decided to change completely the genre and mood and present transwomen as hosts of their own culture, food, history, work, families, friends and nature. After seeing our film, even people who previously had prejudice against transgender people, got a chance to meet them as human beings, who are full of life and love. They struggle with the same needs we all have: to be loved and accepted.

We are honored to show our documentary in WAS 2017 – and happy to answer any questions after the screening!

Jaakko Jaskari


The trailer is available here.

The Documentary

Jack in the Land of Transpinays (Philippines, 2015)

(Short) Transpinays – Filipina transwomen. Stunningly beautiful and adored, yet feared and abused. Jack travels through exotic Philippines to find out what these amazing ladies are about. Char guides Jack further than he expected to go.

(Long) The Philippines has a strong but continuously threatened subculture of trans women – or transpinays as they like to call themselves. Transpinays are adored but are also feared and abused. Who are they? What is their everyday life like? Finnish photographer and documentarist Jack (Jaakko Jaskari) travelled to the Philippines to find out. This is the story of that journey.

From the exotic beaches to the slums of Manila, Jack gets to see all sides of the fascinating culture that is less known outside of the Philippines. His guide is Char, a local trans activist. They discover new things not only about transpinay culture, but also about each other.

Together with Char and Jack we get to meet entertainer Marimar, waitress Irene, account manager Vanity, nurse Claire and slum resident Nicole, among others. Vanity ponders her career choices and explains that dating foreign men is often only option for transpinays since local companions are hard to find. For Nicole living in the slum problems are more mundane. They are completely on their own. Even healthcare officials may refuse to treat transpinays because of their religious beliefs.

Hearing the stories of these people, we feel their joy and love – as well as their pain and sorrow when they have to battle against a world of fear, prejudice and violence.

While filming the documentary Jack’s feelings for Char deepen and he has to face his own fears and prejudices. Yet – as their story demonstrates – love does not know boundaries set by man.

Join Char and Jack – and take a journey to a place you have not been before – the land of Transpinays!



Jaakko “Jack” Jaskari was born in Porvoo, Finland, 1968. He graduated with a degree in Professional Photography from Lahti Polytechnic Institute (1995) and a degree in Professional Video Editing from KEUDA, Helsinki (2013). He also writes journalistic articles.

Jaakko is a gifted visual freelancer who since 1995 has worked with the main media distributors of Finland, as well as with various international organisations, labour unions, entrepreneurs, artists, startups and corporations. He is the Visual Connector of a Finnish GreenTech coalition that is revealing a new combined energy storage & energy rennovation technology.

Aside of his commissioned work he has projects that further issues in human rights and gender equality. He travels well, works with people from all walks of life and carries a depth of experience with diverse cultures.

Transwomen were originally one part of Jaakko´s independent documentary series idea. After finding most of the issues that the tentative series was going to deal with in transwomen’s lives, he decided to take a journey to the unknown through this exciting world.

A vital factor in the success was Mrs. Charlese Saballe´s guidance and expertise. With their seamless co-operation the journey proceeded magically – and in time led to a beautiful life-long mission, together.

Jaakko’s web pages: www.jww.fi

Charlese “Char” Saballe is the outgoing Chairwoman of the Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP). STRAP is the pioneering transgender human rights advocacy and support organization for transsexual women in the Philippines which aims to promote the right to self determination, to combat discrimination based on gender identity or expression and to encourage empowered transpinays.

She became active in trans* advocacy in 2009 aiming to educate the society about trans* issues and concerns. Charlese has represented STRAP in media interviews, conferences, talks and trainings. She has also coordinated several trans*-related projects and events.

She is the Philippine project coordinator of the Transrespect versus Transphobia (TvT) Project Worldwide, a global study on the legal and social situation of transpeople, in cooperation with Transgender Europe (TGEU). She hopes to see more trans* voices heard and wants to work on trans*migrant issues.

Charlese majored in Statistics at the University of the Philippines. She was employed for a decade as a Workforce Management professional at Sykes Enterprises, an American business process outsourcing company. Aside from her advocacy work, she also has a passion in data analytics. After marrying Jaakko in 2014, she is currently living in Finland and updating her studies in BusinessIT.

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