It was around 5 o’clock in the afternoon when people started gathering around Salcedo Park for an anticipated night full of art and music.
Students, faculty, parents, and even children were at the venue, socializing and grooving at the sound of music, as booths and stalls from student clubs surrounded the area for all audiences to enjoy.
Short films and animated shorts from students were also featured in-between the live performances. A group of students rocked the stage with a few OPM rock songs that are Karaoke favorites. It was the student band named Raelight, iACADEMY’s champion for their Battle of the Bands.
The band really did a great job in hyping up the audiences, acting as a front act before the most awaited performances from some of the most esteemed OPM bands and artists—Autotelic, Reese Lansangan, She’s Only Sixteen, and Up Dharma Down.
Autotelic then followed onstage and played some danceable tunes. The audiences bopped to every rhythm, as the synth, guitars, and beats made a euphonious pairing with Kai Honasan and Josh Villena’s harmonized vocals.
It was a marvelous set. The band really got the audiences danced and jumped to their feet with Autotelic’s Laro as their last song.
When Reese Lansangan played her acoustic set, her voice echoed around Salcedo Park and it gave the venue some kind of a serene ambiance for a while. Her sweet-sounding voice together with her acoustic guitar and Josh Villena’s electric guitar were a great combo—and it’s like people kind of took a rest for a while after an energetic set from Autotelic. Some couples were even displaying affection as Reese serenaded the crowd.
She’s Only Sixteen, on the other hand, brought full-toned and headbanging melodies on-stage. It was some kind of performance that’s worth jumping and headbanging for.
The lead vocalist of the band, Roberto Seña, impressed the audience with his powerful vocals and guitar riffs despite the technical difficulties.
Though switching from microphone to microphone, he still managed to wow the audience with his mildly raspy and rich timbre. The whole band really rocked the venue with their incredible set.
Last but not least, of course, Up Dharma Down. The event’s hosts interacted with members of the audience before the lineup even started. They asked the audiences who they were looking forward to and guess what, almost everyone said “UDD!”
It was getting late already but everyone remained at their places to see Up Dharma Down perform live. As Armi Millare got up on stage, the crowd went even wilder. The band played their set and fans were very satisfied. It was worth the wait—and all the standing and muscle cramps!
Truly, though, UDD never fails to give their fans a lazy performance. Armi also never fails to show her impressive vocal abilities with her vocal runs and some of her incredible belting power.
All these performances and gathering of people were all part of iACADEMY’s anniversary event.
Dubbed as iACADEMY’s Onward @ 17, the IT, design, and arts school’s 17th anniversary was definitely a fun-filled OPM musical night. Moreover, everyone was still in a great mood because Toon Boom had recently awarded iACADEMY as its first Center for Excellence in Asia.
The academic institution is known to foster in its students with the knowledge of both arts and technology. Indeed, the anniversary event was a night celebration, passion, and appreciation of various art forms.
Insights from the artists
To the bands and artists who played, being part of iACADEMY’s game-changing celebration was an honor to represent every artist by heart—not only musicians but performing artists and visual artists as well.
“Parang maraming schools na usually nag-e-emphasize sa STEM—sa Science and Technology. Oo, nagbibigay buhay siya. Pero you live talaga kapag may creativity at may art eh. Kasi hindi ka lang naman nabubuhay para lang mabuhay. Nabubuhay ka to appreciate everything—and art intensifies that,” said Gep Macaraeg of Autotelic.
Meanwhile, as a Fine Arts major herself, Reese Lansangan said that she’s glad a lot of new schools and new courses are being offered to those who like to pursue art for a living.
“I think the creative arts is just as important as any other profession because it always breeds inspiration and art is just a necessity for me,” Reese expressed.
She added that she definitely believes more schools like iACADEMY should be opened for students with artistic and creative strengths.
“I feel like everybody needs to see beautiful things and experience well-designed things. So schools like iACADEMY have fostered that and I’m really happy that I’m part of this [event] that’s really focused on building those [youth’s] creative minds,” Reese expressed.
Armi Millare of Up Dharma Down also agreed. She explained, “Traditional schools are great but we also have different kinds of people and different kinds of intelligence. I think to hone a person’s strength and skill and the ones that they really feel comfortable using would be a good thing not just for the kids themselves, you know, but also the country.”
As artists themselves, they all believe that the journey to success is never hitch-free. That’s what they all want to tell those are still struggling to find their creative voice.
“Keep making mistakes. Huwag kang matatakot na magkamali kasi hindi mo malalaman kung saan ka malakas kung hindi ka muna magkamali,” Josh Villena adviced.
Gep Macaraeg seconded Josh with a statement: “Find your own pace in discovering your own creativity. Hindi porket napapaligiran ka ng sobrang galing sa visual arts, kailangan ikaw rin magaling. Pwede naman iba ‘yung pagka-creative mo. Huwag kang ma-pressure sa iba kasi do’n babagsak ‘yung frustration na, ‘Bakit sila ang gagaling mag-drawing ako hindi?’”
Reese Lansangan also believes that mistakes and experiments are what make an artist’s success story.
She even added, “Always make time for your craft and don’t worry if you still don’t know what to do. It’s very natural. It’s very natural to change your interests as you grow. So don’t worry if you’re interested in painting the next day, and then the next you’re interested in music.”
As an artist who practices a lot of creative stuff, she believes every person is free to hone all their creative strengths for growth.
She explained, “I mean, you are an evolving person and that reflects on your tastes and your hobbies. So don’t worry. Just try everything, try what you want. Be yourself and do your best.”
Meanwhile, Armi believes time and practice are also requirements. “It takes many, many years. Like, it’s really a skill that you have to keep on practicing. Anything from five to ten years, that’s really the commitment that you have to make so you can try different things. Just know what you really feel you can do your best in.”
Being an artist on whatever field a person chooses—may it be on visual arts or performing arts—it’s never enough that you have immense skills and knowledge in what you do.
“Be a good person. That’s the most underrated advice. There’s a lot of really horrible people in our industry and the creative field. And if you know you have a little bit of an attitude, check yourself, fix yourself, and go back then do it. Because maybe it’s your attitude that’s getting in the way,” Kai Honasan pointed out.
Overall, their message deserves to be heard and shared: be kind, practice, and create more. In this tech-dominated world, go make the most out of your passion through a well-guiding institution like iACADEMY, one that’s founded to hone your creative strengths.
Words from the president
In honing a creative’s mind, it is essential that they get the proper training and education that could prepare them for real-life jobs. However, there aren’t so many schools that are ready to offer courses that are inclined to arts.
Fortunately, iACADEMY is one of the few schools that offer future creatives a choice to pursue their creative passions. In the school’s 17th anniversary, Ms. Vanessa Tanco gave an insight about the school’s beginnings, particularly on slowly introducing the creative courses in the institution.
iACADEMY initially started as a school that offers information technology and business courses. It then saw the opportunity to start offering creative courses as it saw the strength of Filipinos in the creative industry.
“We did this because iACADEMY, when we started, it was very strong in IT and business courses–so mostly tech courses. But then I saw that the Filipinos are very strong in design and arts. So we were thinking, why not blend both our strength in our technology and the talents of the Filipinos in design and arts and come up with programs like multimedia and animation that cater to the skills and talents of the Filipinos,” Ms. Tanco said.
When asked what pushed them to continue offering the program, she said that they are “looking in the strength of the Filipinos which is in design and arts.”
“I do not know any animation film, that was produced in the U.S., that does not have any single Filipino touch,” she added.
Among the Filipino animators that are now successful in the animation industry in Hollywood are Nelson Bohol, Ruben Aquino, Armand Serrano, Mars Cabrera, Josie Trinidad, Bobby Pontillas, Virginia Cruz-Santos, Ronnie del Carmen, Anthony Ocampo, and Cesar Velasquez.
Ms. Tanco gave an encouraging message to young creatives out there looking for the right path to take:
“Come to iACADEMY. We’re the best. Do what you’re passionate about. A lot of people feel like they can’t do what they love and they can’t work in the field that they love. But that’s not true. There are so much opportunities in the animation, multimedia arts, fashion design, and game design. There are so many opportunities to do what you want and make a living out of it.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly tagged Roberto Seña as his father, Miss Saigon veteran Mr. Robert Seña. This story has been edited to correct this information.