The cutest manananggal

12:52 PM / /

Aren’t you tired of four-legged animals singing in digital animation? Suspicious of all the merchandise peddled with each film—from toys that come with burger meals to video games? Are you afraid that your children are being manipulated to beg you to watch and buy, just as your heartstrings are manipulated by such formulaic yet polished Hollywood fare? (And if you aren’t tired or suspicious then you need to raise your standards.) Stop buying into cultural junk food and instead sink your teeth into some fresh soul food.

It’s time for a cute little girl manananggal instead.

The next big thing in the Philippine animation industry is about to happen this December as Dayo competes with seven other films in the 2008 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) opening on Christmas day.

Dayo is a heartwarming story of overcoming one’s fear and triumphing over adversity. It centers on the 11-year-old Bubuy (voiced by Nash Aguas) who is out to save his abducted grandparents in the land of Elementalia, a magical and mystical world that houses many of the Philippines’ mythical creatures and other enchanted elements. Along the way, Bubuy meets Anna Manananggirl (voiced by Katrina Legaspi), a teen manananggal (a winged creature that can separate her torso from her lower body) who befriends and helps Bubuy in his quest to rescue his grandparents.

Dayo aims to reintroduce the other side of mythical creatures like the tikbalang, kapre, manananggal and aswang by giving a new dimension to these usual reviled creatures. “They are normally presented as predators or portrayed as villains,” explains director Robert Quilao. “We created a new twist to these characters by transforming the scary manananggal into the friendly manananggol [defender] who acts as the guardian of Elementalia.”

Since the project is fully digital, it’s easy to animate the storyboard (also known as animatics). No storyboard could even be seen plastered on the office walls or workstations of Cutting Edge. While the drawing is done traditionally by hand, it’s executed directly onto the computer screen or PC tablet, hence, Quilao labels the project as “tradigital” animation.

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.

Currently, the film is 75 percent done and is expected to be completed by November in time for the MMFF. By then, the film will have spent just almost two years to make, a period shorter than the usual three years for a traditional full-length animation to finish. The team is done with the rough animation and is now on the “digital ink and paint” stage. Over 500 artists nationwide are pulled together to work on this project.

Also part of Cutting Edge’s objectives is producing world-class projects. Hence, everything from the content to the production process of Dayo is world-class. For example, multi-awarded composer and arranger Lasaten will do the musical score and record it with a live orchestra with the help of the FILharmoniKA, conducted by Gerard Salonga, while internationally renowned performer Lea Salonga will sing the movie’s theme song “Lipad (Fly).”