Of promises and Pixar



I couldn’t remember what year it was, but I knew it was I was still in college. I was talking with my cousin Kuya Romar over the phone, and he made a promise to me. I haven’t seen Kuya Romar in a long time – I was maybe three of four years old when I last saw him and his sister Ate Girlie.

He told me that if ever we would visit them in the States in the future, he would take me to anywhere I wanted to go. The first thing on top of my mind was the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida, but that was on the opposite coast of where they lived!

I was beyond thankful for Kuya Romar’s promise that time. I felt so touched, because I haven’t seen them and the most of my cousins since our childhood days in Subic.  He was so kind and thoughtful to even make that commitment.

And that little hope stayed within me until the right time came for his promise to be fulfilled.

Last 2014, God answered one of my prayers that I have been asking of Him since I was young, and that was for my Mom and Dad to see and be with our family again. Through His provision and His faithfulness, I was able to get a tourist visa to the US! It was my ticket, the answer to the prayer that the younger Arli had been praying for for a long time.

My Mom has been to the US back in 2007 for the wake and funeral of my Tito Cesar… I wish I could have known Tito Cesar more besides just seeing him in our old family photos and hearing about him from my Mom, Tito’s, Tita’s, and cousins Ate Leanne and Kuya John C.

So last December 2014, my Mom and I were able to finally come together! Thank You, Lord. 🙂

While Mima and I stayed with Tito Pads in the airport, waiting for our connecting flight to Vegas, he called Kuya Romar.

I don’t remember exactly anymore how the whole conversation went, probably because I was still overwhelmed with the trip! Kuya Romar asked if I wanted to go to Pixar.



If I wanted… to go to Pixar?



Mima and me with Sulley and Mike!


It was January 9, 2015 that my Mom, Tito Pads, Ate Erline, Ate Girlie, and I have set upon Pixar Animation Studios together. Mr. Niño Ellington, one of Kuya Romar’s childhood friends worked in Pixar, so my cousin was able to ask for a tour for us! I cannot say thank you enough to Mr. Niño and Kuya Romar, and my Mom, Tito Pads, Ate Erline, and Ate Girlie for the chance to visit the place that I have been dreaming of working at since I was in my last years in high school. Up to now, I would still pour over the process of the films, the stories, the visual development, character development…

I was trying to save Marlin and Dory, but Bruce would bump into me, for sure. 😦
Pixar shorts! You can see Lava, one of their recent ones, there at the bottom. 🙂
Large scale color scripts of The Incredibles


Pixar movies have a special place in my heart. They would remind me of my childhood and the dreams I have. They would be a beacon for me to always believe in the goodness of others and show that in whatever art I will create. Their stories and the passion they inject in their work reflect the creativity, collaborations, and love of the people there. Their animated films teach us important life lessons and values that we could only learn best from the perspective of toys, bugs, emotions, cars, monsters behind our closets, and rats.

I distinctly remember I tried to find a photo of Daisuke “Dice” Tsutsumi here. And I did! He is one of my favorite artists. 🙂
Even the Pixar campus has its own Easter eggs!
“Squirrel!” Imitating Dug here! 🙂



Walking inside this place was like a dream, to be honest. Up to now, it still hasn’t sunk in! I’m trying to remember all that our host Mr. Niño told us during the tour. But I find that emotion (particularly Joy!) took control during that time.

There were only selected areas where we could take photos in in Steve Jobs Building. We were also able to visit the location where the animators worked, but we had to go through there quietly.

The Pixar campus also has a gym, swimming pool, and courts. I think there are many more recreational areas too, so everyone can unwind whenever work gets too hectic.



What I only saw through documentaries and videos, read in articles, and saw in pictures, we got to see personally, and that’s something that I would always have God, my family, and Mr. Niño to be thankful for.




Not many people could ever get this opportunity to glimpse Pixar or even visit the studio itself. I felt both guilty and humbled for even being there. I wished that others could have the same chance that I did while we were there, to share in the inspiration and surge of creativity by walking around the place where beloved classic films were made. If it is in God’s will that I work here someday, I will definitely share everything I can learn to those who also want to bring light to this world through animated films, whichever field they are in that could contribute to the completion and success of a movie. I think it’s important that we invest more in building the animation industry in the Philippines, because there are many talented modelers and animators here in our country. One of them is my classmate and close friend in college, Carla!

Isn’t inspiration a give and take thing? Once you receive it, you have to pass it onwards. Inspire someone. Pass on the knowledge to those who will also share good stories. With every article or video I’ve poured over and art blog of a Pixar artist I’ve seen, I would always walk away motivated and with more faith in my own abilities too.

I loved that in Pixar, everyone had a voice to speak with, and there were people who would listen. If you’ve got an idea and you’re not from the Story Department, they’ll hear it and see if it will serve the story better. We absolutely need more collaborative efforts than competition nowadays. I do not like how people would pull others down. I want to keep working hard at being the modern Filipino that our boss in work said in our last Christmas Party: “The modern Filipino lifts others up and not pull others down.” And Pixar has that collaborative culture that we need to draw inspiration from.

Besides the culture there, Pixar movies will always serve as a reminder for me whenever I hear bad news happening around us. We need movies, art, books, stories, poetry, writings to point us that beauty, hope, joy, family, friendship, understanding, acceptance, and love can still thrive today. We need more people creating in service of others, in service of a message of hope to humanity and nature, in service of a greater purpose together with many other people we meet along the way. One film may not save the world entirely, but it can encourage a person, lift a person, motivate a person, save a person.

When you gradually collect everybody’s efforts who put their heart, soul, and sacrifice to the things that they do,

when you count each person who cried during the time Woody, Buzz, and the other toys faced a furnace, – afraid of never seeing Andy again,

when you count each person who related to Andy growing up, leaving home for college,

when you count each person who cried when Merida and her mother Queen Eleanor fought,

when you count each person who cried when Carl lost Ellie,

when you count each person who loved Lightning McQueen’s friendship with Mater,

when you count each person who related to Riley and her emotions and her moving out of what was familiar and comfortable to an unknown place,

you’d find that these people, Pixar, and everybody else who invest their whole lives and love in what they are best at are saving the world, but not just with superhero capes or magnificent flying sequences or dramatic climactic soundtracks.

In the movie houses, we are moved. We are saved during those moments.

They saved me, made me believe in what I can do if I put my heart into it. My family and friends have been incredibly supportive of my art and my dreams. Because they believed in me, maybe I have enough reason to believe in myself as well.

And you should believe in yourself too.

Mr. Niño Ellington – thank you!!!!! And a hundred more exclamation points.
With Ate Erline and Ate Girlie! The ball was supposed to be there with Luxo Jr., but we were told it was on-tour somewhere. Shhhh.
Cue the Incredibles theme song. Tito Pads is with us in the photo!
I bought a… sketchbook from the Pixar store! Mr. Niño remarked non-verbatim when he found out what I bought, “Of course, a sketchbook!” I put my name tag on the first page, along with his message to me! Keep drawing will always be one of the best advices one can give and apply. I will, Mr. Niño, I will be drawing always.
Aaaaaand of course, thank you to my cousin, Kuya Romar! This was taken when he also took me to watch an LA Clippers and Miami Heat game!

Kuya Romar fulfilled one of the biggest dreams I’ve always had. I love you, Kuya Romar – thank you so much!

God fulfilled one of the biggest prayers I’ve always prayed to Him, and that was for my Mom, Dad, and I to spend time with our families in the States.

Ah, Lord… Thank You so much. Thank You for this opportunity. Thank You for family. Thank You for You.

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