As homeschooling and online learning become increasingly part of our “new normal,” what role do animations play in educating Filipino children about their culture? Ramon del Prado, born and raised in Dumaguete, bridges this gap with a new children’s show on YouTube called Miming and Friends.
Del Prado pursued his hobby of illustration surrounded by the positive energy of his parents. He continued honing his craft in De La Salle University Manila where he produced his first animated film, EGG — a story about a chicken egg misplaced in a balut egg factory. The protagonist, named EGG, is ostracized from the group, forcing them to discover their own identity while meeting new friends along the way. This film was written with his thesis groupmate Marco Danga and under the guidance of his then-advisor Vicente Groyon. EGG was recognized in local film festivals, as well as at the Imaginasion Asian American Film Festival in New York, and a children’s film festival in Egypt.
In 2007, Del Prado was selected for the Fulbright program to study 3D animation in the School of Visual Arts in New York, learning industry-standard practices from professionals working in companies like the now-defunct Blue Sky Studios, known for the Ice Age and Rio franchises. In New York, he produced his first 3D animated film Save Me, allowing Del Prado to explore and play with character archetypes. The film follows a warrior on a quest to rescue a princess from a dragon.
Del Prado always dreamed of creating an animated series that highlighted the vibrancy of his Filipino culture. For years, other projects kept him busy — that is, until the year 2020 when the pandemic grinded new productions to a halt.
This, however, gave Del Prado more time for his own personal projects. Together with his producer, writer and wife, Meryll Yan, they conceptualized and created animations for months at home. Miming and Friends was eventually born: a children’s show aimed at tapping the emerging online education landscape.
The show stars Miming, a pet cat embodying the companion of almost every Filipino household, voiced by Yan. Miming’s friends are Buboy, a flying lizard, in the voice of Del Prado, and; Anacorn, a unicorn voiced by Del Prado’s sister Anna, who is a theater actor working in Hong Kong. Much like your typical children’s show, Miming and Friends features rhymes and activities, like counting and coloring, that kids can play along with and learn from.
To Del Prado, the hardest part about producing the show was getting started: “The very first episode where Buboy is worried about how the show will be received by our target audience were real worries I had before launching the channel.” Now, he focuses on consistently producing and uploading content. “The process is similar to most productions but probably with zero bureaucracy as I'm the only one on animation.”
Del Prado grew up watching Batibot — a landmark show for Filipino kids of the television broadcast generation. By showing how each character interacts with one another, Del Prado believes these educational shows are important in shaping what values children hold in the future.
“When a child finds out these characters are Filipino, and made by Filipinos, among a sea of other animated characters made by people from lands far away, there is a more intimate sense of connection … that connection can help with their self-identity later on.”
Through Miming and Friends, Del Prado hopes to teach the value of multiculturalism to children. “We hope Miming and Friends will help normalize the multilingual nature that is inherent in us Filipinos,” he stated. “We hope as our collection of episodes increases, there will be more content for parents and children to learn about the world through a multilingual perspective.”
Miming and Friends is available to watch YouTube.