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From reel to real: Meet the Thomasian alumna behind Pixar’s ‘Coco’

Advertising Arts alumna Gini Santos is the first Filipino and first female supervising animator of Pixar Animation Studios.

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Photo courtesy of Disney-Pixar.

With a little bit of imagination and a whole lot of dedication, animators bring new worlds to life through animated films—films that shape our childhood and even our identity. But for Advertising Arts alumna Gini Santos, animated films are not just child’s play: It is her lifeblood as an animator for Pixar Studios.

“No matter what the medium, I knew I still needed to have a good foundation in the craft of animation,” Santos said in an online exchange with TomasinoWeb.

Influenced by her interest in watching animated films and cartoons while growing up, Santos’s passion for the process of animation started when computers developed in the 90s. Her fondness for art made her pursue a degree in Advertising Arts, and she fondly remembered the classes where they were sent out on the campus to draw, making her feel like a real artist

“My design foundation allowed me to be successful in my career as an artist, and that includes animation. There is design in the appeal, posing and composition of animation and my art education has allowed me to have an artistic eye for it.”

After finishing her studies in the University, she furthered her education by taking a computer art course with a specialization on computer animation.

Santos has been been with Pixar for 21 years now, and she has been the woman behind some well-loved animated classics such as A Bug’s Life, Monster Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, and Up.

It was only a month ago when she made headlines as Pixar’s first Filipino and first female supervising animator, taking the reins of the studio’s latest film Coco, which garnered excellent reviews for its breakthrough aesthetics and narrative.

“Being a supervising animator on Coco was a great experience for me. My role was to mentor and support about 85 talented animators so they could create the amazing animation that you’ll see in Coco.  I’m honored to be the first woman in this role at Pixar. We have so many strong women animators and I hope in seeing me in that role, they would be inspired to become a leader, because we need to hear more of their creative voices,” Santos said.

Based on the Mexican feast Dia de Muertos, the animation team exerted every effort to make sure that every color and detail faithfully embodied the said fête.

However, making the film culturally authentic was the biggest problem they encountered.

“We really wanted to be true to the spirit of the celebration of Dia de Muertos and the family dynamic around it,” Santos added. “It was important so that our audience could really connect with the story and the characters in it.”

Perhaps, she was echoing Walt Disney’s words through her work when Disney said that animation is a medium of storytelling which can bring pleasure and information to people of all ages everywhere in the world; it was a principle she kept in making films like Coco.

Looking back on her life as a Thomasian, Santos said that she still relies on the things she has learned during her stay in the University, even in her two decades as an animator for Pixar.

“There’s a lot of hard work that comes with achieving your goals. I realize that now looking back at my journey. Focus and be in the moment and have faith that the effort you put in now will support your long-term goals.”

by Danielle Arcegono

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Chat with astrologer shapes the fate of a UST bar exemplary passer

For bar passer and exemplary performer Portia Wynona Soriano, turning to astrology is one last resort.

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Artwork by Wendell Adrian Quijado/TomasinoWeb

A saying goes, “When in doubt, dance it out.” But for bar passer and exemplary performer Portia Wynona Soriano, turning to astrology is one last resort.

Having finished the first day of the historic 2020-2021 Bar exams, Soriano was doubtful about the accuracy of her answers given her struggles with the exam. With all the worries coming in waves after the first day of the historic 2020-2021 Bar exams, Soriano enquired about the fate of her dreams with a virtual astrologer, setting the direction of her success today.

“Noong first day kasi, wala na talaga akong confidence so nag-download ako nung app na parang may astrologer tapos tinanong ko siya, ‘Will I become a lawyer this 2022?’” Soriano told TomasinoWeb laughing as she recalled the moment.

In response, the virtual astrologer said that she would indeed become a lawyer this year, allowing her to sigh in relief.

Screenshots of Soriano’s conversations with the virtual astrologer

“Medyo kumalma na ako, nag-ready na ako for the second day tapos yun na lang yung pinanghawakan ko and aside from that syempre nagdasal na rin ako,” she stated.

Law school journey

The divine prophecy was just a small portion of the entire journey towards the Bar. As a student in the Faculty of Civil Law, Soriano faced numerous challenges that added fuel to her fire to becoming a lawyer.

During her first few years in law school, Soriano became susceptible to fevers just as she was asked to recite the Lagman vs. Medialdea case. Her sickness, however, did not stop her from studying the case, which she said is about 70 pages long.

“Doon ko na-realize na gusto ko talaga maging lawyer kasi after kong mag-recite parang naka-ginhawa ako,” Soriano said. “Parang nawala ‘yung sakit ko […] parang nag-enjoy ako nung nag-recite,” she added.

Soriano also shared how the UST Law Review became a “turning point” in her law school journey. 

“Feeling ko doon ko na-level up ‘yung recitation skills ko, and also how to make case digests kasi through that training, I learned how to properly read the case,” Soriano said.

After graduating cum laude in 2021, Soriano went straight for the gold. She started preparing for review right after the list of graduates was released. On those days heading to the Bar exams, she would enroll in Magnificus Juris and follow the syllabus given by the Supreme Court.

But those days made Soriano that the actual preparation starts on the first day of law school.

“Kasi kung sobrang nag-aral ka talaga nung law school days mo– when you are reviewing– mabilis lang ma-refresh sa’yo lahat,” she said.

The rewarding aftermath

After the Bar, Soriano tried doing things that would make her avoid the thoughts of the results. She tried doing jump ropes, among other things, which she said was a “big part” of her life.

She also said staying fit and healthy has gold benefits for those taking the Bar exams. “You have to stay fit for the bar kasi kung hindi ka healthy, baka mahirapan ka.”

When the results were announced on April 12, Soriano learned that she had passed when she was packing her things for Nueva Ecija. And as if the cherry wasn’t already on the cake, she also learned that she is an exemplary performer, a recognition beyond her expectations.

“Hindi pa rin ako makapaniwala, parang ‘di ko inexpect talaga yung exemplary kasi feeling ko sobrang dami kong mali sa questions sa bar,” she said.

Moving forward and persevering 

Now working in a private firm, Soriano said she wants to work in government but clarified that she still has a lot of work to learn about its “ins and outs.” 

Na-realize ko ngayong nag-w-work na ako parang sobrang theoretical nga ‘yung natutunan mo sa law school, parang andaming other skills na kailangan mong matutunan, how to interact with your clients,” Soriano said.

For Soriano, such success took a lot of hard work and dedication to her craft, and quitting is out of the question. 

“Fake it ‘til you make it, parang don’t quit. If you have a dream, don’t quit,” the lawyer said.

“Whatever comes your way, it will make you better din naman, so just learn from those adversities kasi those are the things that will make you stronger and prepare you for your dream,” she added.

Xander Ceballos
Stories Writer | + posts

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Kobe Dayao’s shot towards the UAAP Season 84 roster of anchors

“It feels almost like a dream to an extent kasi siyempre nung bata pa lang ako, I’m [already] listening to these guys,” the journalism major shared when asked what it feels like working with veteran analysts.

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Photo courtesy of Kobe Dayao

It was a few days before Christmas when Kobe Dayao, a Faculty of Arts and Letters senior, got the call from notable sports journalist Mico Halili. 

Dayao recalled Halili’s words offering him a tryout to be an anchor for the upcoming UAAP Season 84. 

“I obviously said yes. Really quickly, I tried out, and then a couple [of] weeks later, he messaged me and said, ‘okay let’s continue training in January,’” Dayao told TomasinoWeb in an online interview. 

Dayao began his training in January. In the same month, he got confirmation from Halili that he was accepted into the broadcast panel. Wasting no time, he trudged through the preparation by doing virtual simulations with the analysts.

“It feels almost like a dream to an extent kasi siyempre nung bata pa lang ako, I’m [already] listening to these guys,” the journalism major shared when asked what it feels like working with veteran analysts.

Dayao said the entire juncture was like a “pinch me” kind of situation because he still couldn’t believe it.

“At this point, I think I’ve passed my fanboy phase of getting in the same room with everyone, seeing all of these analysts, seeing all of these anchors in the same boat as I am,” he said, further stating he’s focused on doing well in the games and delivering the job. 

Dayao said he still feels pressured, and there’s even more pressure knowing that he’s the youngest anchor in the UAAP Season 84 roster. 

“I’m the only one in school. From everyone in there, ako na lang yung nagth-thesis pa,” he jokingly said. 

Despite feeling the pressure, Dayao knew that it was normal to feel the jitters because it would denote how much he wished to do a good job. Hence, the intensity surged in knowing that doing great is a way of giving justice to the people who gave him this opportunity, especially in his first games. 

He would be doing a solo play-by-play for one full quarter of gameplay, applying his own recording so it’d feel second nature come game time. Researching the players was also a part of his practice. Since some teams have a lot of rookies coming in, Dayao said they needed to do background checks, so they have something to talk about while they’re on the panel during the games.

“It’s a new experience for us, and we’re gonna have some learning curves, [but] I think that’s normal,” he said, emphasizing the need for having the right mindset in acknowledging that not everything will go smoothly and there could be instances when they would flop a little bit, but he’s fervently hoping it won’t be too much or not at all. What’s important is focusing on the job at hand. 

“We’re not there to boost our ego, build our own brand, or whatever. We’re there to tell stories, and we’re there to highlight the action. That’s our main job, that’s our goal, and if we deliver that, then that’s a job well done,” Dayao said. 

For Dayao, the commonality between the anchors of this generation from the ones before are telling stories and elevating the players to show they’re more than their jerseys — that there’s more to players and the game. 

When asked about what the audience should look out for this UAAP season, he said, “I’ll definitely look out for all the talent that’s coming through — [the] talent on the court [and the] talent off the court,” pertaining to the talents of the players and the set of correspondents bursting with different personalities and talents.

“I think the fans will learn to enjoy the reports, learn to appreciate them, especially the ones representing their school.”

Ada Pelonia
Stories Writer | + posts

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“This is what my four years prepared me to do”: Mayuyu and his bid for Secretary seat

In the midst of the University elections season, Mayuyu encouraged the Thomasian community to scrutinize the candidates running for positions on both the central and local level. He believes that, if the University picks the rightful leaders for such positions, this will have a big impact in the years to come.

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Photo courtesy of Francisco Mayuyu

DISCLAIMER: TomasinoWeb remains to be a non-partisan media organization that does not campaign for any candidate.

One Saturday morning, TomasinoWeb spoke with Nutrition and Dietetics sophomore Francisco Mayuyu. The candidate, also known as “Kiko” among his peers and colleagues, is running as Secretary for this year’s University elections.

Hours before the annual miting de avance for the Central Student Council, Mayuyu felt a mix of emotions.

“It’s a mix of excitement and nervous[ness] as well,” he said. “I’m really glad na for the past weeks, we were able to reach a lot of students when it comes to our credentials and plans for the following academic year.”

Mayuyu, who has previously been elected to a post in a University student council, expressed his anxiety due to the responsibility of the role he is running for, granted if the Thomasian community seats him in this year’s elections. 

He mentioned that nervousness is part of the process. When asked about what he looks forward to after the annual miting de avance, Mayuyu expressed enthusiasm to hear the ideas of his fellow candidates.

On student leadership and the Covid-19 pandemic

Mayuyu’s track record of student leadership has been significant in his stay in the University. In his term as the former Senior High School secretary in 2019, he has handled and participated in a handful of projects. Now sitting as the executive coordinator to the Secretary of CESC and CSC, he has been involved in ten projects which commonly align with social issues, empowerment, and mental health.

He said that one of the reasons he wanted to run is his willingness to help ease the work of students. 

“Cliche as it may sound but that’s […] among the several reasons kung bakit ako tumatakbo as CSC secretary,” he told TomasinoWeb.

“I believe this is what my four years prepared me to do and […] I believe that this is where I will serve best,” he added.

The online setup has compelled many students in the country to adjust to the “new normal”. Mayuyu acknowledges that many student leaders are burned out due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Marami talaga na student leaders na kahit gusto man nilang mag-rise up to the call, nahihirapan talaga sila ma-balance yung time nila,” he attests. “We are in [an] online set-up and mahirap mag-serve.”

However, despite the consequences, Mayuyu said that student leaders should relentlessly fight for their advocacies while continuing what they have started. 

“The good thing in this current status of student leadership in UST is their ability to inspire others to become leaders as well,” he said.

In his leadership stint in the University, he was involved in projects that tackled social issues. YOUthDecides, a voter’s registration and education campaign for Thomasians was one of them. 

He shares: “It’s a really pressing issue in the country, [especially] this time na makapit na yung national elections.”

On regrets and the next resolve

Despite his numerous contributions and high level of involvement in the Thomasian community, he says he still has regrets. According to Mayuyu, many students are unaware of the platforms and projects held by the University’s student councils. 

“Siguro one thing […] that could’ve been improved on is the part that we could’ve involved more students in making of the projects,” he admits.

“It’s understandable kasi ‘yun nga, may mental strains ngayong pandemic,” he added, saying that it is a “big wall” to conquer in reaching much of the student body.

To involve more Thomasians on a proactive level on the events in the University, Mayuyu believes that informing the community is the “best” approach. He referenced his platform, “POLARIS,” the creation of a centralized calendar to update Thomasians about the events happening in the University. 

On involvement to the Thomasian community and the country

While Mayuyu shows his side as a student leader, he also shared his sentiments and nostalgia as a regular student hoping for the return of the  face-to-face setup.

“It’s more of the people talaga kung bakit natin gusto bumalik sa face-to-face setup,” he said. “Nakikita natin na it’s [a] warm [feeling] to experience the Thomasian community.”

In spite of the heavy workload of the academic year, Mayuyu sees the importance of having a good support system of friends that you can trust. He claims that this is the secret to coping well with the “new” normal today. 

“I make sure that these people are [those] who I can trust,” he said. “I think that goes for a lot of students kung paano sila makakapag-cope dito sa online setup.”

In the midst of the University elections season, Mayuyu encouraged the Thomasian community to scrutinize the candidates running for positions on both the central and local level. He believes that, if the University picks the rightful leaders for such positions, this will have a big impact in the years to come.

“We are really giving the students […] to choose the right student leaders to serve in these positions.”

Mayuyu called students to raise their voice not just on social media but also on the streets. He stressed on the issue of misinformation and believes that it is the duty of Thomasians to uphold and help the country by making the right decisions.

Brin Isaac
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Blogs Writer (2017 - 2019), Blogs Editor (2019), Managing Editor (2019-2020), Executive Editor (2020 - 2021), President (2020 - 2022)

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