Animation Thesis Secures 1M Prize at DTI’s Young Creative Challenge


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“Ang kampanilya,” an animated film thesis created by Ma. Christina Isis Gunsay, Franchesca Nicole Marcelino, and Joshua France Saligumba using the banner Meep Production, clinched the top spot in the Animation Category of the Young Creative Challenge (YC2). Their outstanding achievement earned them a coveted 1 million cash prize at the grand finals and awarding ceremony held in March 2024 at Samsung Hall, SM Aura, Taguig.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) led the YC2 initiative to bolster the Philippine Creative Industries Development Act (PCIDA). With 579 entries nationwide, the competition showcased Filipino talent in various fields, including Songwriting, Screenwriting, Playwriting, Graphic Novel, Animation, and Game Development.

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Grace Dimaranan, CEO of Top Peg Animation and a member of the board of judges for the animation category, acknowledged that choosing the final winners was a tough decision, “I am glad that the animation entries submitted are getting better and have good stories that touch the heart.”

“Ang Kampanilya” tells the story of Katrina, a girl who tries to forge a meaningful connection with her grandmother amidst the latter’s death anxiety. The story also incorporates the magical character of a spirit cat, representing Filipino superstitions. It is recalled that the group finished their thesis later than their peers due to repeated disapproval of their original story.

Makers of “Ang kampanilya” and “Free” / Photo source: Leonard Ipan

Even during their thesis defense at the College of Arts and Letters, panelists found certain aspects of their revised narrative loose and did not hold ground. However, the group transcended these setbacks by successfully defending their story during the competition’s panel review. One notable feature of the project is its background design, inspired by the rural landscape of Nueva Ecija, the hometown of its director.

In addition, “Free,” a thesis film by Empanada Productions—consisting of Leonard Eli Ipan, Kerwin Gerald Revilla, and Mhiara Angelu Padilla—earned the second honorable mention and a 300,000 cash prize. “Free” portrays a young man’s emotional journey as he copes with the loss of his beloved cat, resonating with audiences through its heartfelt storyline.

Makers of “Ang Kamanilya” and Free during courtesy meeting with MANCOM / Photo source: Chrizzle Anne Guintu

During a courtesy call with the University of Makati Management Committee on March 26, Umak President Elyzxur Ramos encouraged the winners to explore entrepreneurial opportunities with the prize money they would receive. Having graduated in August 2023, the animators are now trying to find their niche in the creative industry as full-time artists and freelancers.


Written by: MAD German