Filipino artist Edwin Guillermo speaks on his segment for the tribute to Dr. Jose Rizal

By PARITA UPADHYAYA | 12 July, 2011 - 12:16

GMA news network of Philippine gave tribute to Dr. Jose Rizal, the Philippine National Hero on his 150th birthday by special animated segments. Filipino artist Edwin Guillermo has contributed a 5 minutes segment of clay animation. The basic concept of the segment was the story of the mother and son moths, which was told by Rizal's mother to him as a child. Adapted from the Icarus story, it talks about a child moth being told by his mother not to get too close to the flame of a lamp, but the child moth is mesmerized by the flame and gets burned. The story becomes a metaphor for Rizal's life of seeking knowledge and exposing the truth, eventually leading to his execution. It was shown on GMA News TV Channel 11 on June 19 past 9 pm and GMA plans to air reruns.

The length of the whole segment “ANG KUWENTO NG GAMU-GAMO” (the tale of the moth) was around five minutes or less. There were two other segments done by guest illustrators: “Si Pagong at Si Matsing”, Rizal's comic book about how a turtle outsmarted a monkey and “Mariang Makiling”, about a nature deity from a mountain near Rizal's hometown.

Talking to AnimationXpress Asia Pacific Edwin Guillermo said, “For the tale of the moth, I did all the clay modeling and animation. My friend from animation school, Francis Nathaniel Ablaza did the character design for the mother and son moths. He also designed insect characters for me for a past 3D animation project. On GMA's end, they supplied me with a script and voice clips including child star Barbara Miguel as narrator, Aileen Gutierrez as the matronly moth, and Ely del Rosario as the moth child. For the whole show, there were 2 illustrators, 1 graphics artist and 4 writers”.

“For the segment “ANG KUWENTO NG GAMU-GAMO”, the people I was in constant contact with were Executive Producer Sharon Rose Masula, and Edit Supervisor/ Talent Coordinator Aileen Gutierrez”, he added.

When asked about the various challenges faced he shared, “The first is the insanely fast production schedule that is probably canon for Philippine television. To beat those deadlines, I used limited animation, limiting my characters' movements and shooting less frames. Most of the script was dialogue, so I lip-synched the characters in head shots, also to minimize movement. Next, the people from GMA, though very proficient in live-action production, were new to the animation workflow. Thankfully, EP Shao Masula lent a patient ear and was very accommodating to my requests. Then I sent wide angle, closeup and medium shots of the same scene so they could edit it like a live action film”.

The production of the segment started around June 1 after being sent the script and ended on June 16, after completing additional scenes. The whole production time for the TV special was 3 weeks.

Further talking about how he was approached for the segment, he stated, “I have a blog where you can view my works; it's usually the way clients learn about me and my clay animation ( GMA network was the first to feature my animation in 2006, with an animated version of host Jessica Soho writing the title for her show "Kapuso Mo Jessica Soho". People have been calling me up since April about animating the Rizal anecdote on how he lost his slipper on a boat ride and he threw away the other one so the one who finds them will have a complete pair. It was only at the end of May that Shao Masula gave me a call and finalized my assignment on the moths.
He concluded by saying, “For the Filipino animators out there, it's time to tell our own stories. Don't be contented with doing outsourced work. In the long run, Original content will bring more jobs and recognition for us. Go back to the folk tales your Lola told you and read about our epics. Learn about your own stories and culture”.