Two Thumbs Up for Urduja

If there’s one thing I had looked forward to all week, it was the opportunity to watch Urduja, the first full-length animation feature to be producedvoiced in Filipino. I certainly agree with all the hype that yes, this is certainly a milestone for the country.

I have always been a fan of disney classics, and it certainly felt good to hear our vernacular coming out synchronized from the mouths of the characters — unlike the dubbed Japanese cartoons shown on local television.

Urduja, of course, is the story of a legendary pre-hispanic warrior princess, believed to be from what is now Pangasinan.

Technically speaking, I give Urduja a two thumbs up. Animation was decent, if not smooth. At least, it wasn’t like the animated budget-deprived Panday on tv way back in the 1980’s, where characters’ movements skipped incessantly. There was one part though where the computer generated drawings didn’t blend well with the rest of the animation.

The story was certainly refreshing. Not much is known about Philippine mythology and folklore and although the way the story was presented may not be exactly accurate, it should, at the very least, spark more discussion in the aacademe. Some of the film’s historical details and portrayals may also not be 100% accurate — particularly those of the early Chinese and the Badjao tribe. Did the Badjaos ever reside in Luzon at any point in history? Interestingly, the film underscores one known detail in Philippine history. And that is the respect and better treatment of women during those times, compared to the west. It has been said that pre-hispanic Philippine society was largely matriarchal.

Urduja was entertaining enough. I presume that in considering the commercial viability of the production, very Disney elements were injected — the use of song and dance, side characters in the form of animals like the tarsier and rat, voiced by Allan K and Michael V respectively. The language also was very modern, and even included some English lines.

The film’s central conflict did not stand out as much as I had expected, and could have been reinforced more. There were quite a number of comic reliefs provided by the animal characters, but for me, because there was too much of it, it tended to diffuse the presentation of the film’s conflict.

Urduja was characterized very well, at least. And Regine Velasquez, I believe, did justice to the character, especially when it came to the singing part. The same, however, could not be said for Cesar Montano’s singing the songs of Lim Hung, the leading man. Lim Hung was also given too much singing parts. His character’s development also wasn’t explained very well.

Despite its shortcomings, I give Urduja a two thumbs up, both for the story itself, and the audacity to produce such a film at a time when the film industry isn’t exactly rosy. I just wish that the film is shown in more theaters. I had a little difficulty looking for theaters showing it, and I observe that the more upscale theaters did not carry the film. Hmmm… did these theaters snub Urduja?

I am saddened by the criticism of many people (most of whom have not even seen the film), who say that Urduja is the poor imitation of Pocahontas and Mulan. Yes, Urduja has the Disney flavor in it, but the film’s story is unique. Hay naku, crab mentality strikes again.

In retrospect, Urduja made me proud to be a Filipino. and Films like this really should be supported to encourage more endeacvors like this — and better productions in the future. I also hope to see the day when our country would have animated tv series that we could be proud of. After all, our country has so much talent, and many of the animators abroad are actually Pinoy.

2 Replies to “Two Thumbs Up for Urduja”

  1. Hi kuya ralph, Maganda raw nga ng Urduja. At least kahit medyo low ang budget, at least nais pa rin ipakita ng Filipino na kaya nating gumawa ng film na ganito. Watch me nyan pag-uwi namin ng Pinas. Galing talaga ng mga Filipino. Also want to let you know that Johanna’s Christening will be on July 6 (Sunday) I’ts final. I emailed you 3 or 4 days ago about this and just want to make sure na nabasa u ung email ko. Salamat at sana lagi u okey. Elmer

  2. Theres one coming out which i really want to watch. Its entitled Dayo. sometime december ang palabas. Im hoping the story is as good as mythology class by arnold arre which is a graphic novel.

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