Knowing that Lea Salonga performs Dayo‘s theme song, I couldn’t get to the theater fast enough. This animated feature hits two birds with one stone. First is that I’ve been a fan of Lea Salonga long before I could speak (I was born listening to her sing I Am But A Small Voice). Second, I support any attempt made by our local animators — even when the odds are stacked against them.

Especially when the odds are stacked against them.

To test if this flick has hit its target market, though, I had to bring my 7-year-old little brother, Tim. The technical flaws seem to be lost on him. An OC multimedia arts/animation student or professor would’ve been highly critical of the tacky choice of typefaces (Comic Sans Serif???) or the the heavy usage of filters (bevel, texture, drop shadow combo) in the signages. To a child, however, it’s all about how you tell the story. Of course, I would have preferred brighter, crisper colors and more contrast, but that’s just me. Besides, I liked the backdrops. They seemed to be inspired by so many old school video games yet the animators managed to localize these elements pretty well. Surprisingly well-detailed. Lovely.

Though the animated 2D and 3D elements aren’t as well-developed as, say, the ones we saw in Urduja, the story more than made up for it. Dayo revolves around a young boy, Bubuy, who gets bullied all the time. One day, the bullies made him do something — I’m not spoiling what it is — that angers the supernatural beings resting in a nearby forest. Bent on vengeance, they take Bubuy’s grandparents into their world, Elementalia. Anna, a vegetarian manananggal (Filipino mythical humanoid beast, whose upper body separates itself from its lower body during hunts), volunteers to help him get his grandparents back. They then go into the underworld and enlist the aid of Lolo Nano, a wise troll, and Narsi, a vainglorious tikbalang (another Filipino mythical beast that resembles a horse). They meet other endearing characters along the way, most notable of which are the Cebuano-speaking kapre (Filipino mythical beasts that live in trees and smoke huge tobaccos).

My mom and I quickly noted that Bubuy was full of love and respect not only for his grandparents, but to everyone in general. For setting a good example, Dayo gets plus points. No mangling of our historical references here. No icky love angles that are not suitable for kids. No unnecessary breaking into irritating songs, though the soundtrack was amazingly pleasant (thanks to the talented genius, Gerard Salonga). They even leave a moral lesson at the end: Bubuy realizes that the antagonists’ actions are a result of his irresponsible behavior, for which he makes amends. I find the use of our mythical creatures very creative, yet not overly ambitious. They came up with good and bad engkantos, simplified the RPG experience and stuck to the linear storyline. It is a tale for kids, after all. And though I felt that Dayo was taking a bit too long, my mom and I were surprised to find little Tim glued to his seat, laughing at all the characters’ antics. Tim is a very restless boy, not even those fancy 3D movies could get him to sit still after 45 minutes of exposure. That he behaved all throughout the viewing is by no means an easy feat — well worth the P150.

Additional Tidbit: I’ve been to the Dayo website and it seems to be a nice mix of multimedia goodness. They have a lot of useful information, downloads, games (although I can’t get past the fact that they’re peppered with Comic Sans Serif), and other “interactivities” that kids might find entertaining.

Rating: 8/10

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