Insider's Guide - iACADEMY

Insider's Guide - iACADEMY

Whether you’re already at school, looking to find a new school or even considering moving overseas to study, nothing beats hearing from the students themselves! We spoke a group of iAcademy students about the ins and outs of studying at iAcademy in Makati, Metro Manila, in the Philippines.

Image courtesy of iACADEMY Alumnus, Betina Mascenon

Image courtesy of iACADEMY Alumnus, Betina Mascenon

Whether you’re already at school, looking to find a new school or even considering moving overseas to study, nothing beats hearing from the students themselves! We spoke to a group of iAcademy students at various stages of their education journey about the ins and outs of studying at iAcademy in Makati, Metro Manila, in the Philippines.

Founded in 2002, iACADEMY’s specialized programs in Computing, Business and Liberal Arts, and Design were developed to address the mismatch between graduates of academic institutions and the actual needs of the industry.

The Specifics

What’s the name of your school?

Simon: I am studying at iACADEMY or Information Communications and Technology and Technology Academy- School of Design and the Arts in the Philippines.

What’s the name of the neighbourhood?

Jeanne: Our Nexus Campus is located in Barangay San Antonio, Makati City.

Closest train station or public transport option?

Amiel: PNR Gil Puyat station is the nearest train station  from the campus. Here in the Philippines, Jeepneys are one of the main forms of public transportation. These are seen everywhere. Two blocks away is Gil Puyat Street. Here, you can wait for so many jeeps passing by.

How long have you been here?

Jeanne: I have been studying in iACADEMY for almost 5 years now. I enrolled there for my senior high school and took up Humanities and Social Sciences when we were still located in H.V. Dela Costa, Maktati.

Ralph: I've been at iACADEMY since Grade 11. So that’s 2017 to 2021 and that is a total of 5 years.

Hannah: iACADEMY has been my home for the past 4 years since I started Senior High there in 2017. I stayed for college because I fell in love with the community! In my previous schools, there always seemed to be this competitive atmosphere where you had to hide your ammunition or else someone would take it.

At iACADEMY, there’s this awesome, trusting openness that, surprisingly, builds up my confidence and desire to cultivate my skills even more.

We grow together as co-creators and collaborators; the sense of family is present, and I've never seen someone pull someone else down to rise.

Why did you choose to study here?

Ralph: chose to study at iACADEMY because of how diverse the school is. The school is unique and open and this includes the openness of the community of students and teachers as well. Based on my past experience in a traditional school in the Phillipines, where you are reprimanded for expressing who and what you are, I did not find this trait in iACADEMY. The traditional schools limit your potential due to the fact that they don't want you to be different and they want you to all have the same way of representing yourself. That is what made me leave my old traditional school and made me decide to stay with iACADEMY for 5 years and ongoing. iACADEMY was the first to accept me, my social status and the way I represent myself, and that has made me a happier and also better person.

Hannah: I wanted to study Multimedia Arts and Design and iACADEMY was not only the nearest to where I lived, but it was definitely the coolest. They firmly believe in “changing the game” and that includes improving the curriculum, projects, and events regularly based on the current needs of the industry and the society (since most of our major projects are always geared towards helping people and communities around us). Being an intentional artist who desires to make a change in the world around me, that definitely got me sold.

Reinald: Being a Game Developer is, in my opinion, the ultimate form of creative expression. I want to be able to create worlds and characters that can inspire the next generation to do great things and help others much like how the characters I grew up with inspired me. So, when my Mom was looking for a school to help me achieve my dream, she found iACADEMY. Fortunately by the time I graduated from High School, they had started offering game development courses!

The Scene

The first thing you see when you walk outside your school?

Simon: In front of the school, there is a take-out place called Commi Chow. They serve a variety of Filipino dishes in bowls so it’s perfect for students.

Miqaela: A busy street and during the day, you could spot taho (soy pudding) vendors, coconut juice vendors, and the occasional ice cream cart. You can also see street food vendors across from the school.

Reinald: Everyday I walk out of school after a long day of hard work and fun, I see the infamous traffic of the Philippines painting the calm night a comforting red and orange with their car lights. I walk with my friends down the calm streets as we head towards my Mom’s office for our carpool, and we talk about our day.

The closest shop to outside your school is:

Simon: There’s a small café called Metro9 Coffee just behind the school. They always play great music and the ambiance is always chill.

Jeanne: The building beside iACADEMY has a Chinese milk tea stall, a 7-11, a Ministop, an Asian Supermarket, and Asian carinderias (food stalls).

Reinald: There are many restaurants and food stops near the school. To the left of the school, when you exit, is a condo that has a Japanese restaurant, and further beyond that is a small mall. In the opposite direction, towards my Mom’s office, you’ll find more places to eat at. Halfway to my Mom’s office is another condo that has a samgyeopsal place, a Lawsons, and an ice cream shop. My Mom and I usually eat at the Ramen Kuroda or the Pizza Hut at RCBC, across from her office. There’s also this really great Italian restaurant at another condo across from that business centre. In terms of fast food, you’d be hard pressed not to find something you’d like. Most students, including myself and my friends, do group delivery orders from McDonalds, KFC, Jollibee, etc. There’s even a Tokyo Tokyo near the school.

Your school is great, but you wouldn’t mind a bit less:

Simon: Occasionally, we have to take up some subjects not related to our course. I wouldn't mind not taking those so I can spend more time honing my specialised skills.

Amiel: The building is a little small for the entirety of the student population. Over the years, there have been more and more students coming to the school because of how the environment is and how everyone is welcoming.

Miqaela: I would like the school to have an active research department. Since iACADEMY is all about innovation and changing the game for education, this will greatly benefit the school and its students as new technology and strategies can be applied to the curriculum of different fields.  

The unofficial uniform of your school is:

Amiel: Anything goes as long as the student wears something appropriate for schools. By that I mean, I have seen multiple students wear cosplays in the hallways which is still considered normal by the students’ standards.

Miqaela: College students have no uniform while the senior high school students wear blue polo shirts with the school’s logo embroidered on it. A casual outfit is mostly worn by college students such as hoodies (it could get cold inside some rooms), graphic shirts, and jeans.


A mandatory stop for anyone new to your city:

Simon: Makati is always very busy so many go to the malls to enjoy themselves. If I had to recommend a place to someone new, I’d have them go explore the Glorietta & Greenbelt Malls. They’d see plenty of shops inside and gardens outside.

Miqaela: I could recommend just strolling around the Ayala Triangle Gardens. Many people visit the area just to hang out and enjoy the grass on a cool sunny day. There are also good restaurants in it that would satisfy hunger pangs after being outside for too long.

Reinald: I live in Mandaluyong, not in Makati where iACADEMY is, so I guess I’ll answer for Mandaluyong instead. I think it would definitely be Shangri-La Plaza or SM Megamall, my two favourite malls. They’re the best places to hang out with friends. You can watch movies there, play at the arcade, check out all the toy stores, collectibles stores, and game stores, and so much more! SM Megamall in particular has an archery range, laser tag, and several VR places; and the connecting underground hall is an entire hallway full of arcades. Shangri-La on the other hand is one of the most relaxing places to be. The mall itself looks luxurious but in a way that feels like home instead of some posh place.

A common myth about your school is:

Simon: iACADEMY isn’t only for MMA & Animation students; within the three schools, students can pursue Software Engineering, Game Development, Psychology, and even Real Estate Management.

Amiel: A common myth is that iAcademy is an art school. The school’s actual name is “Information & Communications Technology Academy”. The thinking that iAcademy is an art school started is probably because of the different aesthetics that’s available in the whole school. There are even murals that were made by the students.

Ralph: One myth would be the partnership with Apple because of the i in iACADEMY. That myth could also be on account of the iMac Lab that our school has.

Reinald: The copier in the library smells like Tinola, a native Filipino chicken dish. Although that’s less of a myth and more of a true fact. Myself and many others have confirmed it ourselves. I believe this strange curiosity persists to this day but I haven’t had the chance to smell the copier in the new library yet.

A massive night out for students at your school is likely to be:

Simon: The wildest event of the school year has got to be SOAR (Student Orientation and Registration). Every year, it changes themes but there’s always an initiation for new students prepared by the school.

Ralph: A party where we all dress up as what we want to be then have a massive concert at Yakal Street then we have our local performers and famous bands and entertain us. It’s just Game Changers being Game Changers! Nothing and no one is holding us back to being who we are!

Hannah: I don’t know about the others but there’s this small, cozy jazz club down Pasong Tamo extension (a bit of a lengthy jeep ride away, but it’s only a 20-peso fare) and there are art galleries within the area as well. If you can’t afford the expensive bistro food, there’s always street food directly outside!

The Superlatives

You won’t find a better place to eat than at:

Ralph: My friends love exploring restaurants around Makati so we have a lot of favourites when it comes to different cuisines but Mexicali in Glorietta is our go-to place most times.

Hannah: The Cash&Carry food court! From affordable Filipino cuisine to buckets of tempura to healthy sandwiches to Paotsin’s heavenly 20oz Buko Pandan drink (a sweet coconut and pandan leaf drink that blows everyone’s minds), you’re up for a full stomach even on a tight budget. I haven’t even mentioned that it’s directly across the Timezone arcade (whose karaoke booths are always filled with iACADEMY students).

The strangest thing you’ve ever seen at your school is:

Simon: I once saw a group of students, all of them wearing VR headsets, just sitting in a dimly lit room and waving their controllers in the air.

Miqaela: During the welcome event entitled SOAR which stands for Student Orientation and Registration, as an iACADEMY student, we went down a makeshift water slide to the parking lot basement that made us feel like we were in a club.

Hannah: Strange and unique is a daily thing at the iACADEMY, really. Since dress codes offer us just enough freedom, you’ll see people wearing full-on cosplays, drag race clothing, dresses made out of recycled trash, and singing 2000s emo songs in the hallways.

The strangest thing I’ve probably seen, though, would be someone in the elevator wearing a hoodie and a mannequin head above his/her head, positioned as if the mannequin was...the actual head (but I guess that’s normal around the 8th floor, where the Fashion Design students are).

One thing you’d never change about your school is:

Simon: I really like how iACADEMY pushes its students to be known. We have a lot of opportunities to showcase our works through features and exhibits that the school organises.

iAcademy has plenty of industry partners, which is helpful when applying for internships and even jobs after we graduate.

Jeanne: One thing I would never change is the environment they’ve created and the project-based learning. They have created a mindset in students to be game changers in the industry and it’s been praised by a lot. With that mindset, students graduate with a fresh edge

Hannah: The hug culture! Hugs are how we greet each other in the school. You can literally just meet someone and then hug them the next time you see them. It’s so wholesome and it really cultivates iACADEMY’s trademark atmosphere of openness, love, and support.

Reinald: The culture. I love how friendly everyone is with each other, and how everyone is free to express themselves in any way. You can dress however you want, have jam sessions in the stairwells, and the school encourages us to express ourselves through the various school events like the cosplay days, that one pyjama day we had, and of course the numerous art projects spread across the school year.

But one thing you wouldn’t mind seeing changed is:

Simon: I’d like to see a proper place for us to just rest. It’s been a long issue where students don’t know where to chill, so they are found in odd places like in the middle of hallways or the lobby which can get crowded and inconvenience visitors.

Ralph: Even though it is really really great, I would still prefer to separate the college department and the senior high school department so it would be more roomy.

Reinald: As I mentioned previously, I wish that the school work we are given is a bit more manageable. I know it might be asking a lot since schedules change, unpredictable events occur, and unfortunately that means we sometimes have projects due back to back but I hope we can mitigate that somewhat as I  I am worried for the physical and mental health of my friends and my fellow students.

Someone gives you $1M to pimp out your school. You use it to:

Simon: I would like to add more commodities for students like vending machines, a lounge, more ATM options, and maybe partner up with more food franchises to round it out. The school feels a bit empty but that’s understandable since it just moved to a new campus.

Miqaela: Build an exhibit of students’ works. Build an exhibit of students’ works. There are many amazing artworks done by students under the Design and the Arts department. It could also house a mini theatre for viewing the created films of the students. Web applications, software, and games done by the Computing students could also be tested by visitors there.

Jeanne: I would use it to build a badminton court in the LP (Lower Penthouse) and on other sports equipment like volleyballs, shuttlecocks, paddles, racquets, and etc. I would also provide a space for students who have green thumbs and those who enjoy caring for plants.

Hannah: Build-up our huge vertical garden on the school roof deck. We’d probably even have enough money to make a cafe up there as well! It’s been a dream project of my organisation, VELOCiTY (iACADEMY’s Science & Sustainability org), to build one so if y’all were to put $1M in my hands you can be 100% certain where it’s going.

Reinald: I’d much rather donate the money to charity, our school is cool enough as is.

Simon Simbe is a 3rd Year BS Animation Student with a keen interest in pursuing 2D animation and visual development. Being a fan of local films and music, he is often caught speaking in movie quotes. You can find more of his work on Facebook, Twitter and his website.

Amiel Roseller II Saballo is a recent Computer Science graduate specialising in Software Engineering.

Miqaela Nicole Banguilan is a current student at iAcademy.

Jani (Jeanne Candelaro) is a 2nd year Psychology student. She loves to read books and do physical activities.

Ralph Daniel M. Torres, a 2nd Year Bachelor of Science in Accountancy student from iACADEMY.

Hannah is a 19-turning-20-year-old Multimedia Arts student. She is a passionate community servant by day and a typewriter-smashing word artist by night (or dawn).

Reinald Josef Kristjan B. Tomenes (or TJ for short) is your friendly neighbourhood Game Dev! He loves making games, drawing art, and writing raps! You can find him on Twitter, Facebook, Deviant Art and Game Jolt.