A FEW weeks ago, I was trying to decide which among the 36th Metro Manila Film Fest entries I was going to watch: I decided between RPG Metanoia, the first Philippine full-length computer-generated feature film in 3D, and Rosario, which by then I have presumed to be one of those glorified love stories.

I ended up placing my hundred-eighty peso bet on Rosario despite its exceptionally unimaginative title. I didn’t have the guts to believe that RPG Metanoia wasn’t as awful as the Super Inggo and Super Tropa series. And Filipino animation did not exactly own a good record when it comes to motion picture.

Two years ago, I was so keyed up when I heard the news about Urduja, a locally produced movie created by an all-Filipino group. Finally, a foretaste of what Pinoy animation would be like, I thought.

But it had turned out to be a quite sour. I didn’t think that the aftermath of three centuries of colonialism was this critical until I saw the animated Pangasinense warrior-princess looking so much like a plagiarized Pocahontas.

Yes, I know about the standard line up of justifications; that we’re a fiscally-pitiable country and we don’t have those technologies that make the foreigners look so good. But what kind of excuse do we have for these look-alikes? If this is their strategy of getting close to the level of the first-world animation studios, they better design a new one—fast. Because whether we can bear it or not, studios like Disney exist. And they excel in their existence so much that anything created in attempt to go after them would be sucked in and digested by ignominy (long before we even get a chance to see the unfortunate thing).

Pagbibigay-pugay sa papel

Sadly, this blemished record became roots of the biggest barrier that our animators must surmount. More than the budget constraints, second-rate technology, and the resemblance of their designs to foreign characters, they would have to endure the utter lack of confidence of their own local audience.

We have a long, rock-strewn path to climb, but we have to admit, RPG Metanoia is a huge leap for the Philippine animation industry; no matter how frozen the characters’ hairs are or how much they reminded me of those kids in the animated movie, Despicable Me. Mimicry is a learning process after all; they say even dear Astro Boy was a derivative of Mickey Mouse. And Japanese animation had turned out to be more than well, so why can’t we? Because if there’s one thing that Filipinos will never be deprived of, that would be natural and genuine talent. Even if this profession isn’t spared of the charm of greener currency, I still believe in those who have the spirit to stay and make a name for our country.

It might take more than a few painful tries to win over our own Disney-dominated hearts, but as long as were young and in love with what we do, we’ve got plenty of time.


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