I’m leaving school again.
I’ve decided on this almost a month ago and I’ve been thinking if I should write about it here, as in open to everyone and anyone. After all, there’s still this stigma on people who don’t do well at school, or who choose to leave school, or both. But hey, here I am and the reason you’re reading this is because I decided to post it anyway.
Last year, I was hit with this strong desire to create an animated film or two. After all, this fascination with animated films was what lead me to a further fascination with film. Frustrated with my lack of skills and the lack of course offerings that would allow me to get those skills at the university, I decided to go on my own way and teach myself. I went on leave from school for a year and started animating.
I found the experience of having to manage myself and my schedule more stimulating and challenging. I was able to create more films than I’ve been able to when I was in school. It is worth noting that I’ve had experience in something similar to this: I was on home-study from my second to fourth year in high school and it was a humbling experience that made me self-reliant with regards to learning. In the span of those years I discovered TEDTalks, Seth Godin, Malcolm Gladwell. I explored my interests in the science involved in cooking and baking, I discovered new ways of thinking about education itself, I voraciously began to read Brainpickings. Moreover, because I managed my own time, I created and found time to watch all of Michael Jackson’s music videos and all of Studio Ghibli’s films at that time - care of pirated DVDs. Some sort of early film school, maybe.
By some stroke of luck, the works I created during my leave from UPFI gained some recognition from friends and some circles in the filmmaking community: Sad Kitty was screened in front of people from the industry - some even from Pixar - during a symposium at the college; Gangnam Cat was well-received and I had fun doing it - unaware that Gangnam Style was going to be a big thing; a random animation that I made while there was no electricity in the neighborhood - aptly titled Brownout Animation - won Honorable Mention at the 24th Gawad CCP. Then there’s Ube Jam which recently won Second Place at the 1st National Digital Arts Awards. I noted that this doesn’t just apply on animating, but on every aspect of my life - I do things better out of the usual “confines” of school. (Just a note: I do think that the point of creating something - anything - should not be for any honor or award, but to share a story or emotion and hopefully move another person.)
I’d like to say sorry to my professors this last sem - sorry for the absences, sorry for my shortcomings as a student. I’d also like to say sorry to my classmates and group-mates whom I’ve inconvenienced with my on-off participation in group projects and activities. I was interested but it was also dawning on me that going to school doesn’t work for me anymore. At least not as much as going on my own pace and managing myself and my education does. This is not to say that all those days that I’ve spent in UPFI were useless and wasted. On the contrary, I learned a LOT, but now comes the point where I’ve pinpointed where I would like to focus on and the university just doesn’t have anyone whom I can turn to for some sort of mentorship or fellowship. This ass of mine can’t stay still anymore. It’s also a sad fact but animation is not given much attention nor dedication in the institute. Maybe, someday…
I admit it was wrong on my part to go back to school only to leave things messier than I would have found tasteful. But I needed that too to confirm my decisions. There’s still the possibility of coming back - and coming back to finish my degree in Film. I’m not closing the door to that. Rather, I’m exploring and opening up another door - a door which I find more enticing, more interesting, more challenging.
If I ever come back, I want to be responsible with the privilege of being able to study at UP. I don’t want to squander my parents’ resources, or to put to waste the subsidy that I am entitled to - that subsidy comes from the people, the people who pay taxes, the people who work hard every day of their lives.
I’m going to focus more on animation for now. I am doing this because I feel the need to do so, because I love animation, because most of the time, it’s how I want to express myself, and because I give a shit about it. One can argue that maybe I’m just being lazy and I just don’t want to find a way to make things work. Maybe I can study during daylight, do homework at breaks and animate at nights? Theoretically I should be able to do so, but this is also a question of time, energy, resources and timing.
Animation is a process that takes so much time. So much energy. If I were to attend school, I would need to get proper sleep and rest because otherwise I won’t be able to absorb anything that’s being taught. Actually, that applies whether or not one is attending school - sleep is a necessity. Add to that, I need to rest properly if I want to keep on animating and doing films till I’m old and wrinkly. But mix in the assignments and add the time it takes to do the daily commute and I’m left with no more time to animate, or no more time to sleep, or I oversleep and miss my classes. This has been the case last semester.
Animation takes up resources. While the gear needed - camera, editing software and such - are now more accessible than it has ever been since the dawn of film-making, this is still the third world and I’m not so well-off that I can buy these things easily.
Timing. I’m excited to create animation now. So I’m seizing it and I’m going to make the best use of this excitement NOW.
Anyway, let’s get on with it. Expect more activity, expect more output as I embark in what I hope is going to be a lifelong series of experiments.
I am leaving UPFI because it is not (yet) the place for me to do my work. I am quitting UPFI but I am not quitting my education.
I’ve always been interested in the idea of unschooling, self-directed learning and alternative education. I am my own guinea pig. I want to further my exploration of these ideas and I want to deepen and expand my practice of animation. Maybe in my own little way, in this project of mine to see how to make self-organized learning work for me, I can come up with ways that other people - especially children - can do it too. Maybe it can open up avenues that can lead to lessening the gap between those who have access to the tools and the resources and those who don’t. Big stuff, but why not.
Let my work speak for itself. Let my work speak for the things I believe in.