‘Dayo’ animates the film industry

THE animated film Dayo makes it to the 2008 Metro Manila Film Festival. That’s a good enough reason for rejoicing, especially on the part of Cutting Edge Productions, the outfit behind the movie. But it is also a full-length feature film done entirely in animation, the first of its kind to be made part of major local film festival. Now that is another huge reason for celebration. That in this country, we have reached a level of understanding and articulating so as to allow into a film festival a movie that is really made up of drawings and voices and songs.

It wasn’t easy sailing for the film to be accepted, Jessie Lasaten, the producer, said. The barrier had nothing to do with its form, although it can be safely assumed that the technologies behind the production of a full-length animation film must have been looked into. Who would make an animation entry for a film festival? We must admit that a movie like the Japanese animated masterpiece Spirited Away does not come by every day, and that an artist like Hayao Miyazaki and a company like Studio Ghibli are not common occurrences. That Spirited Away also won the Golden Bear at the 2002 Berlin Film Festival (tying with Bloody Sunday of Paul Greengrass) is a tough act to follow.

Almost enchanted by the prospect of making a first in the country, the team persisted. At the end, Dayo became part of the so-called Final 8, out of the 19 that applied for the slot.

The script of Dayo is from Temi Abad and Eric Cabahug, and from their pen thus soars the story of a boy named Bubuy out to save his grandparents abducted by enchanted beings—elementals as we call them—and are now prisoners in mystical land called Elementalia. A book, Creatures of Philippine Lower Mythology by Maximo Ramos, was even consulted. This is the popular compendium of mythical and fantastic beings of Filipino childhood. Within the book lurks the enchanting product of the country’s wild and fiercely grotesque imagination. The people behind Dayo, however, have something else in mind than just duplicating past interpretations and drawings.

There are many other “firsts” for Dayo. The project is fully digital. This means that although artists had to conceptualize figures and their characters, the animators on their powerful workstations were working directly on the storyboard, changing designs as they went along with the changes becoming part of the finished scenario. This technology is known as “animatics.” Robert Quilao, the director, gives the project and the processes that it employs a name: tradigital animation. No hard copies exist outside the workstations; no storyboard is seen pasted on the office walls.

According to Cutting Edge, Dayo is a hybrid product of combining 2D and 3D animation, powered by Toon Boom using Macintosh and Linux platforms. 2D animation is used for the characters, while 3D animation is used for the backgrounds especially for the big scenes.

Still, firsts in technology are part of the order of things. Devices and inventions bring about new things. Those are accepted as part of the nature of technologies to innovate. There is, however, a first in this animation, and it is found in the more provoking realm of content and ideas. Available now on trailers online and on YouTube is an amazing creature, the Philippine aswang, in the form of the entrancing manananggal, the creature who is able to separate her lower torso from her upper body so she can fly in the night, with just the devil moon to provide her the nocturnal traffic signs. That creature in Dayo retains her power of self-surgery but earns something unthinkable: a lovely nature. And a lovelier name: Anna Manananggirl. Now, this is a first. Vampires have been made lovely in the past but never has a manananggal ever fitted with a charm so disarming that Bubuy, our hero, becomes her friend. This manananggal does not bite; she saves! The manananggal becomes the manananggol, the defender. In a conversation with Lasaten, I relayed to him the information that, originally, the aswang, in Bicol culture anyway, was one of the supreme deities in the pre-Spanish mythologies of the region. The coming of Christianity demonized the being and made her into this evil creature. They were, in a sense, the guardian of mountains. As with the kapre and the tikbalang who were extensions of a nature that was awesome and surroundings that were mysterious.

Lasaten also relayed the information that it was their intention to create figures and forms that would not be different from those identified with Walt Disney. The producer, who has made his mark as a musical scorer of many excellent films, talked also about their desire to create characters whose lines and colors would be identifiably Filipino even if they know it would take a long time to achieve this.

The powerful influence of animé has been discreetly avoided, Lasaten said. For students of Japanese culture and animé, however, Dayo partakes of one charming element of the said traditions. In animé, ugly-looking creatures and monsters, as well as mutants, are really good beings. Their massive forms, their “elemental” structures are, after all, part of a quiet message that in their state of enchantment they are closer to nature.

As he looks forward to the success of Dayo, Lasaten never forgets the past of animation in this country. He acknowledges the daring of Ibong Adarna, and the audacity and creativity of the more recent Urduja. We build up on each others’ works, he said. Our mission is to enter the global market and to introduce once more the artistry of the local animators and artists.

It is not an easy task for Lasaten and, for that matter, those who venture into producing animation, full-length or in short form. Lasaten admits that they have been working already on Dayo for almost two years. He reveals that Cutting Edge has already shelled out some $1.3 million.

Like Urduja, this work from Cutting Edge is ambitious in the good sense of it. Lasaten, as expected, is doing the score and will record it live with FILharmoniKA Orchestra, to be conducted by Gerard Salonga. The movie’s theme song, “Lipad” (Fly), will be interpreted by Lea Salonga.

There are engaging trivia about the voicing of the characters. Auditions were held for the lead roles of Bubuy and Anna. Nash Aguas gets to voice the young hero, while Katrina Legaspi gets the honor of providing the voice for the very first good aswang. The team had Pokwang in mind to play the manananggal nanny of Anna and they were toying with the idea of the comedienne and her unique voice playing against the character of Mike Enriquez, the newsanchor. While they were not able to get Enriquez, a character nonetheless bears that highly recognizable inflection and roar of the newsanchor.

The film also features the voices of Michael V, Noel Trinidad, Johnny Delgado, Laurice Guillen, Nova Villa and Peque Gallaga. Behind them are the minds and the hearts of more than 500 artists from all over the country gathered for this feast of the imagination.

Find more like this: Entertainment


  1. ethan says:

    WOW!what a group genius….go pinoys go

  2. dan says:

    i think it’s high time for us to do our own full length animated movies like “dayo”..anyway i saw the trailer and it’s superb!..parang gawa ng disney ,sana marami pang katulad ninyo [cutting edge] ang maglakas loob
    na lumikha at magproduce ng ganitong uri ng animation pics that shows values,tradition and cutures of pinoys…go for it.we’llsupport you.

  3. aaov says:

    galeng! next naman 3D! haave you seen this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5jSTwbOm68

  4. carlo says:

    hanga na ko sa mga nagtityagang gumawa ng animation di2 sa pinas… XD

    gus2 ko na rin ata pumasok sa mga animtion studios di2 XD

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