Disney’s newest holiday advertisement crosses generational and international lines, shining a bright light on Filipino culture. Earlier this month, Disney released “From Our Family to Yours,” a short film advertisement in support of the Make-A-Wish foundation. The heartfelt advertisement features a different Christmas experience — a story told through the lens of a Filipino family.
The "From Our Family to Yours” project was led by Angela Affinta, and it was developed and produced by Walt Disney Company Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Affinta said she used her experiences with her Filipino grandmother as inspiration for the storyline, and she tried to translate that bond with the characters. She credited the theme of family importance to her childhood experiences.
Filipino culture prides itself on the importance of being family-oriented, so this advertisement navigated the relationship of a lola and her granddaughter.
Here are the cultural moments in “From Our Family to Yours”:
(Picture from Disney)
The short film begins with a greeting between the child and the elder. Mano in the Philippines is a respectful gesture where a younger person asks for a blessing by touching the back of the elder’s hand to their head.
(Picture from Disney)
Lola is a term that is unique to the culture and is used for grandmother in the Philippines. However, it is a detail that some viewers may overlook, but Disney stays true to the authenticity of the term as it used in the culture.
(Pictures from Disney)
The parol is the most prevalent Filipino tradition that is showcased in the advertisement. While it may have looked like the grandmother was simply teaching her granddaughter how to make paper lanterns, the passing down of cultural and religious tradition is ceremonial.
This tradition is heavily based on and inspired by religion. These lanterns were made to light up communities during the night masses, or the Simbang Gabi, that some Filipinos attend during Christmas time. A parol captures the craftsmanship of Filipino culture, and it marks a person’s readiness to join the procession toward the church.
While Disney Pixar has given Filipinos a nod in the past with the short film “Float,” this three-minute advertisement dives deeper into Filipino culture. While “Float” introduced Filipino characters to the world of Disney, “From Our Family to Yours ”shares the culture behind the character.
The representation this provided was groundbreaking considering Filipinos are yet to be portrayed as Disney characters. Bobby Rubio, the creator of “Float” said he used his family as inspiration to ensure that his family would see people who looked like them on Disney.
Affinta’s leadership ensured the authenticity of the short film. While Disney has dealt with scandals surrounding authenticity in the past, this is a right step toward avoiding another fiasco, like the 2020 version of “Mulan.”
Finally, Disney paid respect to a culture tastefully while promoting a message that everyone can get behind. Family, culture and traditions are pillars of who we are. While the granddaughter strayed away from these, she was brought back to them when she saw how important they were to her grandmother.
“From Our Family to Yours” was made in support of Make-A-Wish’ 40th anniversary. Disney released a limited edition Mickey Mouse stuffed animal just like the one found in the ad. Twenty-five percent of each purchase will go to Make-A-Wish children in hopes of lighting up their holidays, like the parol in the ad.
Disney is moving in the right direction by making sure that Disney magic is there for everyone, not just the audience that they have catered to for a while. These mini-projects are opening doors to more diverse projects featuring different cultures. Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon” is an upcoming film that appears to have various Asian cultures and is set to release in 2021.