Arts Music Culture

Doing It with the Lights On

Barely ready for the day ahead, Peping walks toward his class. Being one of the few early birds, he found his instructor already tidying up the workplace from yesterday’s clutter. The greased glass table tops signify oil glands working overtime.

Peping is a 2D Animation student, particularly taking up a 600-hour certificate course to become an assistant animator also known as an “in-betweener” (IB). He is one of the scholars of Guhit Pinoy Animation Studio as part of the government’s educational and employment program through the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

Coming from a poor family, he belongs with the dreamers—among those who do it with the lights on.

Lesson for the day

Table surfaces started to illuminate as late comers trickle in one by one, filling in the rest of the 20 green animation tables encircled at Cyberzone in SM Marikina. Animation class started July is conducted in this air-conditioned and fully secured free venue of the mall. This commercial set-up which is open seven days a week, from 10am to 9pm, was intended to invite walk-in students.

While the area is an open space, Peping’s trainer can’t help but be claustrophobic. Students constantly crowd around him as he demonstrates the techniques in animation. Lunch break is not even an excuse from not attending to students’ overlapping queries. For some of the scholars, too, lunch break may seem to become more of a task than a pleasure. Peping is one of them. He eats whenever he can, wherever he can, and more significantly, whatever he can afford.

His classmates range from ages 16 to 40. He is 24, and just like the others, he works as a service crew in a fast-food chain in the same mall, so he leaves by 5pm since he is usually at night-shift. A few others go to school in the mornings and attend IB trainings in the afternoon until the night falls.

From dreaming to living  

Animation is an art form which can be defined as the rapid display of a sequence of images of 2D or 3D artwork or model positions in order to create an illusion of movement. It is done on a table with light underneath. Its origin can be traced back from thousands of years ago. Now, it is popular in cartoons and especially in Japanese animation called “Anime” which started from comics called Manga.

Photo credits:

Peping has always loved Anime. He was one of those who got caught by the Anime invasion. Peping has dreamt of becoming an animator someday, so it was a blessing when he found out about the scholarship. On his way to his work, he came across the application for free animation training during the launching of the Philippine Animation Magazine by the Anima Dreams Incorporated at SM Marikina last June 7. With his willingness to work harder, he registered.

In the Philippines, vocational and technical courses are considered as a means to gain employment. They primarily cater to Filipinos like Peping, who, for some reason unable to obtain a college degree. Institutions like TESDA were hence created to meet the demands of the growing shift in student preferences for “real world” training.

In a different light   

Although formal schooling basically characterized by a bachelor’s degree is the ideal choice, settling for vocational and technical courses is not settling for less. It merely indicates the Filipinos’ developing sense of practicality and responsibility to progress despite financial limitations. And though basic knowledge is inarguably essential, these courses offer a shorter and specialized training, job opportunities, and in some cases, even serve as the better option.

Still, some academicians and social activists see this alternative as a manifestation of commercialization in Philippine education since it seems to lower its quality with its thrust towards human capitalism.  However, Guhit Pinoy’s objective is to produce quality graduates and provide employment to Filipinos amid the current global financial crisis, thus, for the betterment of the country. Moreover, animation as a career doesn’t necessitate working abroad.

Peping is making his dreams happen. Doing exactly what he loves best which at the same time saves his family from more financial restraints, this alternative works for him. In a few weeks, with certificate in his hands, he is ready to face the world head on. Good thing he didn’t turn off the light for a brighter future.~

Photos: Google Images


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