Let’s Get Digital

 Boncan and his students at the Cordillera School of Digital Arts (Photo courtesy of Raul Boncan, Jr.)

Boncan and his students at the Cordillera School of Digital Arts (Photo courtesy of Raul Boncan, Jr.)

Baguio City is the summer capital of the Philippines because of its cool climate. Nestled in the mountain range Cordillera Central, its economy is centered on tourism and education. Students make up the majority of the city’s population.

Baguio City has always been close to Raul “Lito” Boncan, Jr.’s heart. Nanay (mother) Elsie Andaya, a distant relative who was a surrogate mother to him and his siblings, hails from Baguio City. It is also the place where he and his siblings spent many summers while their father was busy working in Makati City. And to get away from the madding crowd in metropolitan Manila, he and his wife, Donna, decided to relocate their family to Baguio City.

It is also where Boncan 2007 set up his thriving digital arts school, Cordillera School of Digital Arts (CSDA), now among the country’s premier digital arts schools.

 Session Road in Baguio City (Photo by Jovanie Cabrera)

Session Road in Baguio City (Photo by Jovanie Cabrera)

 Boncan at Paktil, Mountain Province (Photo courtesy of Raul Boncan, Jr.)

Boncan at Paktil, Mountain Province (Photo courtesy of Raul Boncan, Jr.)

Boncan is a full-blooded Bedan, having gone to San Beda College in Manila for grade school, high school and college, where he majored in management. Also, he took graphic arts classes at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.

Growing up in Makati City, all the families in the close-knit clan compound were intact, except his family. His parents separated when he was in third grade, and it affected him emotionally and academically.

“I guess one had to roll with what life serves you and just make the best of what one has,” Boncan muses. He cultivated hobbies to keep himself busy. He became interested in photography, which he does up to this day, focusing on landscape and portraiture. He is also into botany – collecting and growing orchids, especially endemic Philippine species.

On the side, he collects and restores vintage audio equipment (circa 1950-1985). But his original interest has always been going to the movies, which was his escape from his family problems when he was a child. He has always been mesmerized by Disney animated movies.


CSDA graduates were involved in the production of the first all-digital film produced in the Philippines, “Dayo sa Mundo ng Elementalya,” which is about Philippine mythological monsters interacting with people.

Boncan turned his childhood love for animation into a lifelong passion. He co-owned and served as president of Mediaboutique, Inc., which was a graphic-design, animation and advertising agency, in Makati City. It did not take long for him to realize that the digital arts in Manila were a growth industry, which started in advertising and branched out into animation for TV series, as well as video games. He envisioned a digital-arts school not in metropolitan Manila, but in Baguio City, where training opportunities could be widely disseminated.

“I wanted to be a catalyst for changing the mindset that everything in the Philippines has to be clustered in Manila,” Boncan says. I had no doubt that Baguio City is a great place for globalization trends in digital arts.”

Incorporated in 2007, the Cordillera School of Digital Arts (CSDA) is one of the premier training institutions for digital arts in the Philippines. It offers certificate courses in animation and design, creative-media arts (graphic design, video editing, and web-design development) and game development.

 CSDA Management Training at Le Monet Hotel (Photo by Raul Boncan, Jr.)

CSDA Management Training at Le Monet Hotel (Photo by Raul Boncan, Jr.)

 Basic Drawing Face Study with instructor Rey Kristoffer Sapin (Photo by Raul Boncan, Jr.)

Basic Drawing Face Study with instructor Rey Kristoffer Sapin (Photo by Raul Boncan, Jr.)

 Student Mark Chan working on the computer (Photo by Raul Boncan, Jr.)

Student Mark Chan working on the computer (Photo by Raul Boncan, Jr.)

 Students Ron Alvarado and Kristine Felipe working on their demo reel (Photo by Raul Boncan, Jr.)

Students Ron Alvarado and Kristine Felipe working on their demo reel (Photo by Raul Boncan, Jr.)

In 2008, CSDA graduates were involved in the production of the first all-digital film produced in the Philippines, Dayo sa Mundo ng Elementalya, which is about Philippine mythological monsters interacting with people. In 2010, CSDA became a finalist in the Animihenasyon Film Festival held at the Ateneo de Naga in Naga, Camarines Sur.

Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), a Philippine government agency that provides scholarships and training in various employment skills, has accredited CSDA for animation, and web design and development.

Career placement is important at CSDA, which has its own studio: CSDA Graphics & Animation, Inc. It is shown in the program C2C, that is, Curriculum to Career. As such, CSDA can train students based on the needs of its studio, which currently has animation projects from Canada, India and the Philippines.

Sunshine Licudo Carpio, CSDA’s marketing officer, explains, “We hire from our large pool of students who are driven, hardworking, passionate and talented. They no longer have to look for jobs elsewhere.”

The digital-arts industry is as exciting as when Raul “Lito” Boncan, Jr., started in 1982. But there are more opportunities for artists now because of the global market and new careers are developed. Staying current is a must in the digital-arts industry. “Never tire of acquiring more knowledge. And hard work beats talent!” he stresses.

Students' Portfolio

Lupang Hinirang

A traditional animation made by CSDA team of animators. This clip shows a beautiful illustration of Cordilleran culture, lifestyle and pride. 

Tofl's Tale

A demo reel made by Josephine Brilliantes, one of CSDA's 2D Digital Animation students. 

Ay! Apo!

Ay! Apo! revives two of the most renowned comic characters of the 60's, Mang Nano and Bentot . From the movie Nukso ng Nukso, the duo return to bring you more laughs in today's modern world.

Cordillera School of Digital Arts, Inc.
Unit D-303 Lopez Building D
Assumption Road cor. Session Road
2600 Baguio City, Philippines

Tel. (074) 442-5098
Website: csdabaguio.com
E-mail address: csda.animation@gmail.com


 Rey de la Cruz

Rey de la Cruz

Rey E. de la Cruz, Ed.D., writes from Chicagoland when he is not busy traveling and loving the arts.


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