On the afternoon of July 29, 2016, Budjette Tan was getting ready to leave on a jet plane. The long time Executive Creative Director of MRM Worldwide was leaving the comfortable surroundings of Makati and the Philippines to embark on a new adventure. It was not an easy decision, especially considering Budjette and wife Wella of Seven A.D. just had a baby in April, but he shares with adobo that the opportunity to chase a dream was too enticing for him to pass up.
"I am moving to the little town of Billund, Denmark; which is where the main office of LEGO is located.," Budjette relates. "I will be a Creative Director in their internal ad agency. Around two years ago, one of my friends and fellow comic book writer, Mervin Ignacio, applied and was accepted in LEGO. Ever since then, I’d occassionally take a look a LEGO’s job listing site to see if there was a position where I could try out."
Noting that it wasn't a quick process that led to his move, Budjette says, "I actually tried out for two other positions but did not qualify for them. Finally, the post for a Creative Director came up and I tried out again and got accepted. I applied and took a chance."
"Getting into a company like LEGO seemed as impossible a goal as breaking into Marvel and DC," says the man behind popular Filipino comics Trese, The Dark Colony Book I: Mikey Recio and the Demon Dungeon, and the recently released The Lost Journal of Alejandro Pardo. "But my fellow ad agency creatives Mervin Ignacio, Ian Sta. Maria, and Jason Drilon showed that it could be done. So, I just gave it a try."
"To be a Creative Director in LEGO’s internal ad agency will allow me to make use of my knowledge and experience from MRM//McCann and, at the same time, learn how to create campaigns for one of the most awesome and beloved brand in the world," Budjette states. "Add to the fact that LEGO is a company that values their people’s work-life balance and time with family. So, at LEGO, work starts at 9am and ends by 4pm (because that’s also the time when school ends for most children and their parents have to go and pick them up). This matters to me a lot because I just recently became a dad and now have a super baby boy (Seraph Benito) that I’ll get to spend more time with everyday!"
Even as he says that, "I’ll stay in LEGO as long as it’s fun and for as long as LEGO feels that I’m doing a a fun job with their campaigns," Budjette also shares a quote from his favorite author, Neil Gaiman, on why you should venture out to do new things: “Whenever I do things because I want to do it and because it seems fun or interesting and so on and so forth, it almost always works. And it almost always winds up more than paying for itself. Whenever I do things for the money, not only does it prove a headache and a pain in the neck and come with all sorts of awful things attached, but I normally don't wind up getting the money, either. So, after a while, you do sort of start to learn [to] just forget about the things where people come to you and dangle huge wads of cash in front of you. Go for the one that seems interesting because, even if it all falls apart, you've got something interesting out of it. Whereas, the other way, you normally wind up getting absolutely nothing out of it.”
Now that he's officially an OFW, Budjette shares the hardest thing about being away from home thus far:"It's tough to be away from my son, wife, and family. Chatting over the internet just doesn't cut it. But it's a good thing that there are now a dozen Pinoys here, so it lessens the feeling of being homesick." Happily though, he adds that wife Wella and baby Seraph will be joining him in Denmark in a couple of months.
Meanwhile, for those of us who are fans of Budjette's forays into the comics field, he narrates that, "Before I left, I met up with (Trese co-creator and illustrator) Kajo (Baldisimo) and, on a separate day, I met up with (Demon Dungeon co-creators) Bow (Guerrero) and JB (Tapia). We talked about our plans for our books. So, things will start moving forward soon. We hope to announce something new before the November 2016 Komikon. And just to clarify things, we don’t think we’ll be able to finish Trese Book 7 and Demon Dungeon 2 by November, but we’ll target to have something for the readers to see by that time!
Finally, Budjette has the following message for the MRM team that he leaves behind: "Go break the internet in half!"