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updated inforgraphic obrero as transmedi

Obrero as Transmedia Documentary Project

Obrero ('worker') is an independent multi-platform documentary project. It tells the stories of Filipino rebuild workers temporarily migrating to Christchurch, Aotearoa New Zealand after the earthquake in 2011. The project is comprised of three media formats, the documentary film, the interactive documentary (i-doc) and the social media page. Not only using multiple platforms, Obrero also employs a transjournalistic mode of representation, expanding the reportage of labour migration through different documentary variants. The project aims to contextualise labour migration in the Philippines by featuring Filipino workers in Christchurch as documentary participants and using the earthquake rebuild as a backdrop to its narrative. It stimulates social transformation by providing media platforms that explore the issues, struggles, and realities confronting our modern-day overseas workers.

Although focused on the Filipino migrants, Obrero represents a bigger global labour migration trend. Recent statistics shows that roughly 258 million people have migrated and taken residence outside their country of origin. The focus on the Philippines’ experience, however, is an important case study given the nation’s reputation as a “pioneer” in the “global enterprise” of labour. Therefore, while Obrero documentary explores the experience of a relatively small number of migrants working in New Zealand, the project is applicable elsewhere, as economic issues, migration policies, and social impact of migration transcend geographic boundaries.



Obrero is dedicated to all Overseas Filipino Workers in New Zealand and worldwide.


Obrero would not have been possible without the logistical, academic, and funding support of the University of Auckland.   

Story synopsis

After the 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck Christchurch in 2011, the city sought construction workers from overseas. Around 3000 Filipinos have been granted ‘essential skills visas’ to work for the rebuild. But some workers remain without an income for a year, as they are paying large recruitment fees. Obrero (worker) paints a portrait of a recovering city and tells the struggles and dreams of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) who migrated to work for the rebuild.

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Norman Zafra

Director's Bio

Norman Zafra is both a documentary maker and an academic. He has worked as producer, writer, and director of Philippine TV documentary programmes such as Reporter’s Notebook and I-Witness. As a researcher-practitioner, his academic works often straddle the border between theory and practice. Norman obtained his PhD in Media, Film and Television from the University of Auckland. More info here.

Obrero documentary film

  • Official selection and Finalist, Best NZ Short, 13th Documentary Edge International Festival, Wellington/Auckland New Zealand

  • Invited for screening, Cinematografo International Film Festival, San Francisco, USA

Obrero interactive documentary

  • Winner, 2018 Global Media Competition on Labour Migration (Multimedia Category), International Labour Organization, Geneva Switzerland URL

  • Best website [interactive media category], Migration Advocacy and Media Awards, Manila, Philippines

  • Loturak Festival, New documentary genres festival, Basque Country, Spain

Want to find out more about this project?

Click the following links:

1. The new documentary film and its role in democracy

2. Do-it-yourself interactive documentary (i-doc): A post-textual analysis

3. From film to Web 2.0: transmedia as a distribution model for political documentary

*This i-doc was last updated on 13 November 2021.

Give Us Your Feedback

Thanks for submitting!

Alternatively, you may also send an email to Obrero director Norman Zafra at normanzafra@gmail[dot]com

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