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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.



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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Mark Henrich Go: Lines and photos

“Growing up in a family of engineers, Mark Henrich Go always thought he will tread the same path.” Get to know the Thomasian who topped the January 2018 architecture boards.



To be able to say that you are making a good living out of something you are passionate of is rare; we are often taught that we simply cannot have one with the other— another must be sacrificed, and such is often the case with the sciences and the arts.  

Growing up in a family of engineers, Mark Henrich Go always thought he will tread the same path since at such a young age, he was already exposed to engineering’s technicalities and he was also immersed in construction sites.

And this 2018, Mark topped the board exams. Not for engineering, but for architecture.

“I realised that I was also inclined to the artistic aspects as much as the technical portions. Since architecture tackles both the arts and sciences, I felt and still feel that it’s a good fit for me. Now, I am the first architect in the family, and I am very happy because of that,” the new architect shared to an interview with TomasinoWeb.

His love for the arts manifested itself early on. While in high school, Go took it upon himself to be their family’s official photographer during trips, and he would often find himself capturing the scenery via his mobile phone. Upon graduation, his parents gifted him with his first camera, and this started his journey as a photographer for Vision Magazine, the official collegiate publication of the College of Architecture.

From there, he took photography more seriously and would later on establish, along with fellow alum Paul Quiambao, Fotomasino, and later on becoming the guild’s president. It was after meeting photographers like Quiambao and other lensmen such as Jilson Tiu, Ezra Acayan, Christian de Leon, and many more during his senior year when he contemplated on the concept of a group dedicated to the art of photography.

“I thought to myself, ‘if we have this much talent and potential in the University working on our own, what more could we achieve if we have a group wherein like-minded photographers share and learn from one another?’ That was the reason Paul Quiambao and I founded Fotomasino: To create an environment conducive to creativity, learning, and inspiration in the field of photography,” Go said.

He credits being a good architect for having photography skills. This complements how he believes that his training and discipline in architecture is what honed his eye for photography. The goal for him now is to pursue both side by side.

Having to balance both while he was in the University, however, proved to be a challenge since both required tremendous time and effort. UST’s College of Architecture features rigorous training meant to keep their students on their toes. They are given mock board exams during their third and fifth years, which they are required to pass if they want to move up to the next level.

“During our actual review, the lessons would have been more familiar, and we would already have had created our personal system on how to tackle the load,” Go recalled. In his case, that system he created for himself triumphed despite already having a loaded schedule. As they always say, you end up doing everything you can for the things you are passionate about.

Now, Go is planning to continue his work with Budji + Royal Architecture + Design firm of which he has spent the past two years with and has grown with personally. He has done work for Drs. Vicki Belo and Hayden Kho, two fellow Thomasian alumni whom he was actually with upon finding out he had topped the boards.

“We were in a wedding of a common friend where I was asked to do the photographs of the welcome dinner in Tagaytay,” Go recounted. “I noticed a call from a batchmate of mine; she called me up to congratulate me. I was very excited to check if I passed the exam, and was officially an architect. But to my biggest surprise, she told me I was a top notcher, and the top 1 nonetheless! I wouldn’t believe her because the list might be edited! I had to check several sources before I actually believed it.”

He further reminisced by saying that the groom and bride actually told him to stop shooting for a while to savor the moment.

When asked if he was expecting to top the boards, the architect explained how every person probably begins their journey hoping to finish the exams in first place. As the load got heavier, however, he found himself doubtful. It was time to be realistic, he eventually thought. The goal went from topping the board to simply passing, but that did not stop him from pushing himself.

“I reviewed day and night, only stopping to sleep, eat, use the toilet with the more achievable goal of just passing the exams in mind,” Go added, “but something at the back or my mind was always pushing myself to do better. If you do your best then you will always find contentment no matter the result. I think topping was just a bonus to passing the exam.”

And a bonus it was. Go graduated back in 2014, nearly exiting the Arch of the Centuries with every college student’s much coveted label: Cum laude. He missed the required grade point average by just 0.1 percent, but it motivated him to go the extra mile.

To every aspiring architect out there currently enduring a sleepless night filled with plates, Go had this to say: “Don’t let your past disappointments determine your future successes. Make them stepping stones to achieving your full potential.”


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Why Ayo chose the Tigers

Get to know more about the Growling Tigers’ new coach.



Photo by Darryl Lance Limpin/TomasinoWeb

After leading the De La Salle University Green Archers to two consecutive UAAP Finals appearances and a championship last season, Coach Aldin Ayo is now set to replace Boy Sablan as the new head coach of the Growling Tigers.

In an exclusive interview with TomasinoWeb, Ayo said that choosing to coach the España-based squad is one of his personal milestones.

“For me, [I chose to coach UST] for personal growth. Gusto kong mag-grow pa as a coach, as a person, [and yung] overall na pagkatao [ko]. I believe na makukuha ko ‘yun dito sa UST,” Ayo said.

Hailing from Sorsogon City, Ayo studied at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran, UST’s sister school, where he played for the Letran Knights as point guard, winning back-to-back championships in the NCAA in 1998 and 1999.

Ayo was instrumental in securing Letran’s championship title in 1999 when he scored the go-ahead layup in Letran’s first game against the Jose Rizal College Heavy Bombers during the finals round.

He continued to play for the Knights until his graduation in 2001, earning a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy.

Ayo would first venture into coaching in 2008, mentoring the basketball team of Aemilianum College from his hometown—leading the once-underdog team to a championship title in Sorsogon—and the varsity team of his high school alma mater, the Our Lady of Peñafrancia Seminary.

After his coaching stint with Aemilianum, he established the Ayo Basketball Clinic – Information, Demonstration, Explanation, and Application of Skills—or ABC IDEAS—where he taught basketball to children for free. Ayo continued to run the clinic even while serving as the city councilor of Sorsogon City in 2010.

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Ayo would work again with the Knights in 2014. He would lead the team to a championship title against the San Beda College Red Lions and win the NCAA’s Coach of the Year Award the following year.

During his coaching stint with Letran, Ayo said he formed personal bonds with Thomasian managers and Dominican priests, which led him to eventually choose to move to UST and lead the Tigers as head coach after his contract with the Green Archers ended last year.

“I’m close with the people who were involved in running the team. They’re my personal friends,” he said, specifically mentioning the University’s current Athletics Director Jannel Abogado, O.P.

“Father Jannel is from Sorsogon, and lots of priests are Bicolanos. Almost the same naman, Letran tapos UST. Actually, ‘yung mga pari na nandun sa Letran before, noong nandoon ako, nandito [na din] sila ngayon,” Ayo added.

by Lanz Nathan Hernandez


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#TWenty: The 2017 TomasinoWeb Year-ender

2016 was a merely a teaser for​ more terrible things to come—but 2017 was also the year we fought back.



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A letter from the editor

To say that 2017 was a challenging year is an understatement: 2017 was a terrible year—which is honestly funny, considering how just exactly a year ago, we were all probably tweeting how 2016 was the #WorstYearEver (it’s Twitter; sharper expletives are welcome).

If anything, the past year was merely a teaser for worse things to come, and it seems that 2017 picked up where 2016 left off: The Growling Tigers continued their dismal performance in the UAAP, securing only a single win this season; the government’s brutal crackdown on illegal drugs continue to claim the lives of thousands, even teenagers; and hazing has killed another student, and this time, it’s a Thomasian—all while the Dutertes enjoy lavish photoshoots in the Malacañang.

Mocha Uson is now an actual government official (which, more or less, gives legitimacy to her blatant misinformation frenzy), martial law is in full swing in Mindanao after a series of terror attacks, and candidates who lost to abstentions in the student council elections have threatened to take over the vacant posts.

It was a terrible year, but it was also the year we fought back.

A hashtag has given sexual harassment victims a voice to decry and expose abusers. Thousands marched in the streets of Manila last Sept. 21 to protest the government’s inhumane drug operations and harassment of farmer and indigenous communities. Mental health advocates also fought the stigma surrounding mental health conditions with a hashtag and Ariana Grande showed the world that we could respond to terrorism with love and solidarity.

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It’s undeniable that we are living in dangerous times—and that we are facing even more challenging times ahead. Despite all the things we hated this year, we are here, on the last day of the year, hoping that we could fight our way through 2018 like we did this 2017.

With that, I now present to you the top 20 people, issues, events, and trends that defined the spirit of 2017.

My comrades, Thomasians, Filipinos, netizens: Here is #TWenty.

The fight continues,
Philip Jamilla

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