As the lower labor costs of the Philippines allow international clients like the U.S. or Japan to create shows for cheap, original Filipino animation finds itself steadily rising on the horizon. From the popularity of the series Trese to the recent win of Iti Mapukpukaw in Cinemalaya 2023, the skies never looked brighter for the future of Filipino-told and animated films.
Behind the flourishing medium are thousands of imaginative artists eager to bring animation to the main stage, including some of our Benildean animators. In an official interview with The Benildean, three different Benildean animators who worked on award-winning animated films share their experiences with the opportunity and their thoughts on the future of Filipino animation.
A couple of sketches for the animator
With the Film Development Council of the Philippines recently announcing that Iti Mapukpukaw had been chosen as the country’s entry to the 96th Academy Awards, there are more eyes locked on the film than ever after winning the best feature-length film for Cinemalaya.
“Upon hearing the news last night, at first syempre tuwang tuwa ako and proud na proud kasi as an animator finally mabibigyan na spotlight ang animated films sa Philippines,” Rotoscope Artist and 2D FX Animator for Iti Mapukpukaw and ID118 AB Animation alumnus Aaron Matthew Concepcion shared.
While Iti Mapukpukaw continues to prove what strides Filipino animation can make, other local animated narratives have also shown potential on Filipino animation. ID119 AB Animation alumnus Arlo Jhan Bayot’s film Dati, which is available for screening in Cinemata, won 2nd place in Gawad Alternatibo’s Animation category The said film tells the story of a Filipino family and the changes on their island after it becomes a tourist attraction.
“I never thought my film would be qualified to win any awards or prestigious awards,” Bayot laughed, the scale of what he achieved only hitting him after attending the Gawad Alternatibo awarding ceremony.
“I heard people clapping when I was called on stage then my film has been recognized and won several times in different film festivals,” he said, “but it never felt real.”
For both films, Benildeans were sure to put their creative efforts into something great, reaching different accolades and surely the hearts of its audiences as well. While individually, these artists find themselves basking in the success, Filipino animation’s next few frames aren't far from seeing a brighter outcome.
And another frame for the future
Flashback and Body Parts Animator, and ID118 AB Animation alumnus Gio Nicolo Robles wished more animated films sprout in the Philippines, allowing animators to take on a bigger platform in the film industry. Concepcion pondered what might be if the industry was given more support and funding.
“The animation industry in the Philippines has the potential to compete with the likes of Japan or even the Western countries,” Concepcion said.
To Bayot, he believes that more effort could be put for Benilde to support Benildean animators.
“They could do more by making the Benilde film festival to the public [...] it could encourage more students to take up animation, and more people will be interested in seeing animated films,” he said. On the other hand, Robles found that the College could push further for animation, wanting more classes on the fundamentals and even some on advanced animation as well.
Much like Concepcion and Robles, Benildean animators totalling to four professors and 39 students including Bayot, were able to see their efforts put into the making of Iti Mapukpukaw with its entry into the Academy Awards.
As popular animated Filipino shows and films like Trese and Hayop Ka! gaining both national and international attention, upcoming projects like the animated version of Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah and the indie short film The Lovers are no short of continuing this wave of excitement as animation fans thirst for more.