Women’s turn

FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - March 10, 2015 - 12:00am

The Philippine Commission on Women, under the leadership of Remy Rikken, issued a statement as the nation celebrates Women’s Day and Women’s International Month (the month of March).  “Women make up almost half of the entire Philippine population but disparities in women and men’s representation in leadership levels still persist,” says PCW. “While opportunities for women in politics and decision-making are opening up, many still hesitate to take on leadership positions due to their unpaid reproductive roles, conservative mindsets and beliefs that politics and leadership are not women’s world.”

“This National Women’s Month, we enjoin all ‘Juanas’ to stand and break through fear and self-doubt as fear is the root of so many barriers that women face – the fear of being not liked, the fear of making the wrong choice, the fear of drawing negative attention, the fear of being judged, the fear of failure and the fear of being a bad mother or wife or daughter. We hold ourselves back in ways both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in.

“Women should occupy 50 percent of the leadership. As women and men have different life experiences, they think differently and have different perspectives and priorities. Hence, both of them should be in all the different levels of leadership whether in civil society organizations, academe, bureaucracy or electoral politics.

“We, therefore, appeal to both government and social movements to join hands in enabling ‘Juana’ to participate freely and openly. We need to equip women with knowledge and skills necessary to effectively involve themselves in governance. We should never get tired of providing equal opportunities for women and men and break the glass ceilings and walls.”

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At 2 o’clock this afternoon, women leaders will be meeting at the Young Women’s Christian Association building on United Nations avenue, Ermita, Manila, for a “tea forum.” Here’s a gathering where women will be talking about the gains made and not made during the past year. Admission to the meeting is free. Hosts will be the YWCA, IWC Central Ortigas, ANWG, NCWP, Global Peace Women Council, ZONTA and other women’s organizations. Guest speakers will be Dr. Nona Saldana Ricafort and Judge Aurora N. Reciña.

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“Animation in the Philippines is a multi-billion peso industry and we have barely scratched the surface.” This statement is from the men and women running  iAcademy,  the first institution granted permission by the Commission on Higher Education to offer  a bachelor of science degree program in animation in the country.    

A babe in the woods in grasping the beauty of animation, I am told by my nephew, a software developer, that many films today use animation. For example, he shows me in his computer, the film “Frozen.”  I am awfully struck: the graphics, motions, expressions of characters are fascinating. I’ve learned that “Frozen” is no mere cartoon, like “Popeye,” or “Donald Duck” cartoons of old. Animations in this day and age are highly dramatic and entertaining, like “Lion King,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Walking Life,” “The Lord of the Rings,” “Koko Clown,” “Fire and Ice,” and so on and so forth.

It’s no wonder that Philippine-based iAcademy organizers tell me,  the world of animation is “more than just creating aesthetically-pleasing worlds and characters. It’s easier to say that animation is the best of both worlds – design and storytelling. Animation is simply graphic storytelling. Animators literally make the story jump out of the page. They create characters you can easily relate to on a highly personal level.”

Even the mainstream film industry, they say, recognizes the strength of animation as “a medium for storytelling”  with the Academy Awards (or Oscars) establishing a category for recognizing achievements in animated films with the Best Animated Feature award since 2011. As early as 1991, Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” became the first animated feature to be nominated for Best Picture.

Animation also found a niche in live-action films. Franchise favorites like “Harry Potter” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” found their success in the chemistry between live actors and stellar high-definition graphics.

Animation is a highly-creative career that is most in-demand in terms of job opportunities – and the Philippines has the upper hand. Filipinos have the skill; what they need are the right environment and world-class mentors to develop that skill, teach industry know-how, and foster connections to propel them out into the global market.  

The Philippines is one of the stronger players in animation compared to other Asian countries like China, India, Singapore, and South Korea. What’s more, Filipino animators have provided the bulk of work even in the US and Japan – films like “Finding Nemo,” “The Incredibles,” “Scooby Doo,” “Tom and Jerry,” and “Dragon Ball Z”  had Filipino animators behind their success.

Internationally recognized companies such as Walt Disney, Warner Brothers, Hanna-Barbera, Marvel Comics, and Cartoon Network also outsource animation work here in the Philippines. Foreign studios even set up their own branches here in the Philippines just to be close to their source of talent – examples of which are “Top Draw” and “Snipple.”

According to Tholons, the demand for animators will only grow stronger. In a study published in 2008, industry growth for animation was projected to reach $80 billion by 2010 – but these projections were no match to actual output. In fact, in 2011, the Philippine animation industry was able to generate $128 million or roughly P5.3 billion.

The animation sector led by the Animation Council of the Philippines (ACPI) has been looking into developing original content to further advance the local animation industry. Since the pool of talents has been mostly outsourced, the UPI said that it’s high time the Philippines had its own brand of animation – not just in graphic design but also stories.

Dane Romley, iAcademy’s creative director and former character layout artist for “The Simpsons,” said that animators need more than just technical skill; they need an eye for a good story and the ability to create one for themselves.

More than training students in visual design, iAcademy has courses in scriptwriting so that students have an encompassing foundation. Working professionals as instructors and state-of-the-art equipment ensure that students are aptly trained in 2D and 3D as early as their first year. With iAcademy’s   animation program, the Philippines is sure to produce students that will pave the way for an internationally-renowned Philippine animation industry.

Information and Communications Technology Academy, better known as iAcademy (stylized as iACADEMY) is a purely Filipino, not from the Washington-based animation group. It is a private, non-sectarian college located in Makati City.

Founded in November 2001, it offers specialized bachelor of science degrees in computer science, information technology major in web development, game development, business administration, finance management, fashion design and technology and multimedia arts and design. In 2001, the Commission on Higher Education granted iAcademy permission to offer the first BS animation program in the Philippines.  

In 2009, iAcademy became an authorized training partner of WACOM, a Japanese company that produces graphics tablets and related products.

In May 2010, iAcademy partnered with TV5 during the first automated elections in the Philippines.

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Email: dominitorrevillas@gmail.com


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