Sunday, November 13, 2005

Francisco Reyes' Kulafu

The fabled world of the Philippine Jungle-lord comic strip was created by Francisco Reyes, one of the pioneer Filipino comic illustrators.
Prior to his career as a comic artist, Reyes was a student at the UP School of Fine Arts, where his artworks greatly impressed his teacher Fernando Amorsolo. He won several awards in many art competitions.
Upon graduation in 1932, Reyes joined the Liwayway, where he served as a junior artist under Tony Velasquez. Later on, Reyes became the first art teacher of the young Francisco V. Coching.
On July 7, 1933, Reyes, in collaboration with writer Pedrito Reyes, created Kulafu, which was the first colored adventure strip, as well as the first two-page comic strip in the Philippines.
Heavily influenced by Edgar Rice Borrough's Tarzan, Kulafu's jungle-kingdom was set in the deep jungles of the southern Philippines, where he battled dragons, siukoy (mermen), and other mythical creatures.
Like Tarzan, Kulafu was reared by the great apes. He was not born there though. Early in the adventure, young Kulafu's parents hiked in the jungles. While stopping on a brook to drink water, the young boy was snatched by a gigantic bird, which dropped him in the bird's nest as food for her young. The young boy fell accidentally, and into the arms of the apes, who took the boy into their care since.
The boy grew up as a strong young man. Later in the adventure, he saved a civilized woman from being devoured by a cayman. Upon being asked his name, the young man replied "Kulafu, Kulafu". The woman thought that it was his name but it's supposedly a meaningless grunt he learned from the apes.
Kulafu became one of the most popular comic strips in the Philippines. It was translated into Bisaya, Bikolnon, Ilokano, and later, in Spanish in a South American magazine.
Kulafu became a household name. It had become so popular that a local wine company even purchased the right to make "Kulafu" as their brand name. Up to now, some 70 years after, Vino Kulafu is still selling well in the market.
In 1936, Pedrito Reyes was unfortunately disabled. The task of bringing the weekly story fell on Francisco, who managed to develop further the plot originally scripted by Pedrito. Francisco even made a sequel in 1940 called "Anak ni Kulafu".
During the Japanese Occupation, Reyes discontinued Kulafu, and instead worked as an artist for Shin-Seiki a Tagalog-Nippongo publication.
After the war, Reyes joined the Halakhak Komiks where he created another Kulafu-like character, Talahib.
Some of Reyes' later comic strips were Kilabot, Joe Safari, and Buhawi in 1947, Mahiwagang Sinulid in 1949, Ogganda in 1964,Dagog in 1967, Sphinx in 1969, all of which were written by Clodualdo del Mundo.
In 1991, a retrospective art exhibit was held at the Philamlife Theater, as a tribute to this great Filipino comic artist. Featured in the exhibit were his paintings, and of course, Kulafu original comic art.
The art featured above is one of the most special pieces in my collection of original Filipino comic art. It is from a 1935 issue of the Liwayway, in an episode called "Kulafu sa Ibang Daigdig". I have purchased this art some years ago from an art dealer who managed to purchase a great number of Reyes' artworks in the 1991 exhibit.
Francisco Reyes passed away in 1992.

16 comments:

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Anonymous said...

is he the father of Franc Reyes???

Gerry Alanguilan said...

I asked Franc at ang sabi nya hindi raw sya anak ni Francisco Reyes.

Dennis said...

Yes,that's right Gerry. I don't think they're even related. Likewise, Pedrito and Francisco were also not related to each other. Pedrito was the son of Don Severino Reyes (Lola Basyang), the original editor of the Liwayway.

BURAOT said...

i was searching for long forgotten words,one of them is kulapo, and I happen to see your blog. wow! me anak ni kulafu pala talaga!

anyway, can i have your permission to write another post on my Anak ni Kulapo blog relative to this particular post? i will link it of course.

thanks.

Mabel said...

hi, i was researching on kulafu for a book i'm helping produce and a friend forwarded your blog to me. it's a big help. anyway, i emailed you in your skydsl address. hope you can email me back. thanks!
mabel

airagailreyes said...

hello po!! my name is Aira Gail l. Reyes, granddaughter po ako ni francisco kikoy reyes.. i noticed that my grandfathers death of date is wrong and his date of birth is also missing!! so im just clearing and correcting that my grandfather is born on november of 14, 1910 and he died on nivember of 04, 1990. i told my father about this site we didnt expect that theres a site for my lolo knowing that hindi naman siya gaanong sumikat noon!! pero we are very thankful that you honor my grandfathers name and memory!! we appreciate it! thank you!!! heres my friendster add. rallyvincent_13@war.com i will try to scan some pictures of my lolo so that you can post alot of it!! ;.k hope to know your identity soon!!!

Franz Hanniel Reyes said...

hello Im Franz Hanniel d.L. Reyes I'm one of Francicso Reyes' grandson and one of his closest grandson, as you can see aira here is my first degree cousin, AIRA our lolo's birthday is October 4, 1910,I also paint like my lolo and my daddy if my daddy and I are combined in painting well i dont know, nut the first thing is that i inherited their talent being passed down to me so Aira i want to see you draw some ok.. mis u all..and anyway hi to all my kin.. Jah Blez u all..

Franz Hanniel d.L. Reyes said...

By the way I am son of Francisco Leonardo Reyes eldest son of lolo kikoy and Aira is the daughter of Jose Reyes his youngest son, well Lolo kikoy only has 2 offspring being and thats it..

Anonymous said...

I'm in possesion of several ORIGINAL COMIC ART of KULAFU. And I'm selling it at P 15,000.00 per piece. If you're interested send me an e-mail clarkjkent_manofsteel@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

..! ui! hahakuya henniel! warrap! medyo nonsense pa ung mga drawings qu ehh! haha! mga ANIME pa! wahahaha! but ill try! pero mas maganda kung picture c lolo d2 bd? magha2nap aqu! misz qu n din kau! regards 2 every1. MABUHAY ang LOLO NATIN! FRANCISCO "KULAFU" REYES..! may he live 4ever!

airagailreyes said...

..! ui! haha kuya henniel! warrap! medyo nonsense pa ung mga drawings qu ehh! haha! mga ANIME pa! wahahaha! but ill try! pero mas maganda kung may picture c lolo d2 db? magha2nap aqu! misz qu n din kau! regards 2 every1. MABUHAY ang LOLO NATIN! FRANCISCO "KULAFU" REYES..! may he live 4ever!

Anonymous said...

AIRAGAIL, Ano ka bang bata ka? Baki mo hinihiling na MABUHAY ang lolo Francisco Reyes mo, eh patay na nga siya eh. He cannot live forever kasi nga, patay na siya. You should have said, MAY HIS LEGACY LIVE FOREVER.

airagailreyes said...

..! ahaha! mas guzto qu un! wala nmng patayan ng dream! haha! i just misz him! un lng!

Franco Rommel Reyes said...

Hi! I'm Dr. Franco Rommel Reyes, eldest grandchild of Kiko "Kulafu" Reyes. Franz Hanniel Reyes is my brother. Aira you can find a picture of Lolo Kikoy in Wikipinas. Just FYI.