There’s a new general in town

With a spaceship landing on Earth, an alien leader planning for domination, and chaos brewing in a small town—it seems the world is about to meet its doom. Sounds like a good plot straight out of a graphic novel, right? But what we are about to witness involves no man of super strength from a distant planet like Superman. Neither does it have mega killing machines ala “Wars of the World.” Instead, it centers on a rather unassuming extraterrestrial, a soldier who is about to uncover our planet’s secrets. So is it time to panic? Well, not exactly, especially when the invader looks as adorable as the ultimate social media star—cats.

Magiting na Heneral (Photo from the NCCA)

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) presents an unlikely scenario for a planetary invasion with its upcoming educational animated miniseries titled “Heneral Tuna.” The show follows the scar-faced feline-looking alien as he discovers the life and culture of Filipinos in the fictional Barangay Hiraya. He presents his mean talent for dancing to capture the hearts of Pinoys and distract them as he proceeds with his top-secret mission, with a few food trips on the side.

Manila Bulletin Lifestyle chats with Yael Esperat, public and media relations manager of Filipino Values Program – Heneral Tuna Project, to tell us more about the cute pancit-loving marauder, the inspiration behind the character, and the adventures and values it will bring to our screens.

What is the story behind ‘Heneral Tuna’? How did the project start?

“Heneral Tuna” is an animated mini-series that follows the story of its titular character, a renowned hero of Planet Mingming who was assigned to take over planet Earth. The devious alien cat accidentally crash landed in the Philippines and decided to use the opportunity as a reconnaissance mission to observe the locals in preparation for his planned invasion.

Unfortunately, he is too cute to be taken seriously and ends up learning about Filipino culture and values in his conquest. His experience in Barangay Hiraya teaches him more about himself and how to live his life to the fullest.

The series is commissioned by the NCCA for its Filipino Values Program. Production began in August 2020 and was completed in August 2021.

Barangay Hiraya in ‘Heneral Tuna’ (Photo from the NCCA)

Who are the people behind the project and the artists/animators NCCA partnered with?

“Heneral Tuna” is created by Rocketsheep Studio, with Avid Liongoren director of animated fim “Hayop Ka: The Nimfa Dimaano Story”) as director; Rob Cham, Charlene Sawit, Kevin Raymundo, and Geri Kristen Cruz as concept development team; Carlo Vergara (creator of graphic novel “Ang Kagilagilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni Zsazsa Zaturnnah”) as scriptwriter; and Manny Angeles as the voice of the lead character.

Though Heneral Tuna is an alien, why make the central character look like a cat?

For the team that created the series, the main style peg that got everyone on board was a YouTube video of a cat talking about his day and how miserable he is with humans. This diary of a grumpy cat was what they needed to develop the character.

What can viewers expect from the show?

Viewers can expect to be entertained by Heneral Tuna’s attempts at conquering planet Earth while seeing him learn about the earthlings’ way of life. They will see how this smart, brave soldier transforms his ways while investigating Barangay Hiraya.

Heneral Tuna entertaining Earthlings (Photo from the NCCA)

What are your goals for the show?

“Heneral Tuna” aims to be an impactful showcase of Filipino values in a modern, entertaining, and engaging way. The series shows how these values can be adopted in our daily lives by showing how the characters embrace them in their relationships with family, friends, and community.

When and where can our readers see it?

The miniseries is composed of seven episodes that will premiere on its official channels on Facebook, YouTube, Kumu, and the FDCP Channel starting Oct. 15, 2021. Audiences can also interact with Heneral Tuna on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.

Watch the trailer of “Heneral Tuna” below.

Source: Manila Bulletin (