Netflix's Hayop Ka! Is a Trove of Pinoy-Inspired Puns

Plus, "pusa-pusaan" with Angelica Panganiban and what the film's statement is.

(SPOT.ph) You know you’re in for a ride when the official trailer starts off with a warning—well, a parody of the MTRCB advisory—with all the things “na hindi angkop sa mga kawawang bata.” It’s a good thing we’re all old enough to enjoy Rocketsheep Studio and Spring Films’ Netflix original, Hayop Ka! The Nimfa Dimaano Story. It revolves around the lives of pretty perfume sales kitty Nimfa Dimaano (voiced by Angelica Panganiban), who is torn between her boyfriend, macho mongrel janitor Roger (voiced by Robin Padilla) and rich business-dog Iñigo Villanueva (voiced by Sam Milby). 

The plot sounds like your typical teleserye but we are talking about anthropomorphic animals caught in a love triangle. It's set in a gritty yet colorful version of the city called Animanila, too. Those things alone make it a must-watch to see how it all goes down. SPOT.ph got the chance to hear some stories about the movie straight from Panganiban and Liongoren themselves in a virtual press conference, and here's what they have to say about their latest project.

Fun facts about Hayop Ka! The Nimfa Dimaano Story on Netflix:

Hayop Ka! is inspired by those late-night radio dramas.

PHOTO Courtesy of Netflix
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Liongoren sets up the scene for us, almost in one breath during Hayop Ka!’s virtual roundtable. “Alam mo 'yong sumasakay ka ng taxi at 11 p.m. tapos may mga taong tatawag sa radyo para i-kwento yung mga problema nila in life tapos papagalitan lang sila ng DJ?” Yes, direk, the scene in our heads is as clear as day.

It’s Panganiban’s first time to be a voice actor.

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Panganiban began her showbiz career at such a young age—we practically watched her grow up—so it’s surprising to find out that Hayop Ka! marks the first time that she’s lending her voice to a character. “Tinake ko na lang siya as a challenge,” she says, and adds that it is important to enjoy the process. “Mahirap nga siya kasi kulang ka sa tools. Wala kang facial expression, hindi tumutulo ang luha mo. Very challenging kung paano mo mapaparating sa audience kung ano talaga 'yong nararamdaman no'ng character.” For scenes with Milby’s character, Liongoren made it a point for the two to record their lines together for crucial scenes. “Naging malaking tulong siya, kasi talagang naririnig mo kung paano niya dine-deliver. Iba siya dun sa ikaw lang talaga mag-isa 'yong nagsasalita buong araw.” 

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You’d never guess what Panganiban did to prepare for her role.

 
PHOTO Courtesy of Netflix

Ano, nag pusa-pusaan muna ako sa bahay,” she says with a laugh. “Hindi, kasi may pusa ako, so alam ko ‘yong mga, kung paano sila mag-purr, kung paano naglalambing 'yong mga pusa, di ba?” Panganiban notes though that since the characters in Nimfa’s world act like they’re humans, there isn’t much adjustment to do, except in terms of how to adapt her voice to the scenes. “Dapat ba hinaan ko, landian ko pa, o baka sobra? So mas doon ako nahihirapan. Pero pagdating sa pusa-pusaan, kayang-kaya naman.” She then adds in jest, “Mas kaya kong maging pusa kaysa maging tao.

There’s a bit of a Sanrio-inspired take in the early stages of Hayop Ka!

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Liongoren credits art director Jether Amar for Hayop Ka!’s overall look. “We took an episode of Papa Jack's story...and we put the cute little cats on it, so very Sanrio 'yong original na approach.” From there, they upgraded the look to what it is now. Liongoren shares that it took them a year of “just trying out different ways to do the film.”

The film was four years in the making.

 
PHOTO Courtesy of Netflix

“If you include writing and failing...and failing and...securing money, that is four years,” recalls Liongoren. He takes us back to the beginnings of Hayop Ka! when they joined a festival to win a grant and, as a semi-finalist, had to present the teaser to what the director describes as “smart, academic people.” “So they were on board until they asked us, 'So, what is your statement?' What is your advocacy?' Naloka kami kasi gusto lang naming magpatawa,” says Liongoren. It took them another year to get their act together. The movie entailed three years of steady production.

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They have a “master list of stupid animal puns.”

For folks who haven’t seen the film yet, this is more of a tip than a spoiler: Keep your eyes peeled for a lot of witty puns—whether a sign, a brand, or a fast-food joint you've encountered in real life—from start to finish. We asked Liongoren if peppering the film with puns was intentional; he says it’s their artists’ doing and can be considered as easter eggs. “It's their joy to put silly things and their fandoms. Our artists are K-Pop fans, may mga JoJo, may mga anime fans,” he explains. “Since these things take so long to make, pang-aliw na rin 'yan ng mga gumagawa,” Liongoren says. And by “take so long to make,” he means two weeks for one background painting, which is on the screen for three seconds. Remember to pause to take it all in!

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The titular pussycat is a relatable character; even Panganiban thinks so.

 
PHOTO Courtesy of Netflix

In Nimfa is a dreamer, someone who wants something better for her future. “Lahat tayo may mga pangarap along the way na parang, gusto ko rin naman ng ganito, gusto ko rin ng ganyan. 'Yon siguro, naiintindihan ko 'yong character niya, and 'yong proseso para matuto siya,” Panganiban says. “Gano'n naman talaga sa life, di ba? You learn the hard way. I’m sure gano'n ako no'ng kabataan ko. I’m sure ang dami ko ring ginawang mga kalokohan para maabot ko kung nasaan ako ngayon.”

Panganiban’s advice to her character is something we could all apply in our lives.

 
PHOTO Courtesy of Netflix
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When we asked Panganiban what advice she could offer Nimfa, she only had kind words for her character. “Okay lang 'yan, ganyan lang talaga ang life. Nadadapa, pero kailangan mong bumangon. Basta 'wag mong kakalimutan yung pinanggalingan mo, kung bakit ka nadapa, para hindi ka na madapa ulit,” she says, almost comfortingly. “Hindi ko naman siya iju-judge kasi kaibigan ko siya e...So ibig sabihin parehas lang kami,” she laughs.

Hayop Ka! The Nimfa Dimaano Story is now streaming on Netflix. Photos courtesy of Netflix.

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