Monday, December 05, 2005
Carlos "Botong" Francisco's Siete Infantes de Lara
At last, I have found a copy of one of the most important comic strips in the history of Philippine komiks: Carlos "Botong" Francsico's Siete Infantes de Lara!
Serendipity indeed plays a major part in the building of my komiks collection, just as when the times I rediscovered the original first issue of Varga/Darna, (now happily enshrined in the Darna Website), the first issues of Kenkoy (now happily reprinted), Coching's Alamid, or Lib Abrena's Ipu-Ipo.
Now comes the Siete Infantes de Lara comic strip by our National Artist Botong Francisco. I kept hearing about this from my old komiks mentors like Virgilio Redondo (who once owned several of the original pages! He sold them to an unknown Botong admirer for 1000 pesos each during the 1970s!), Tony Tenorio, and Pablo Gomez.
I had been searching for it for the longest time, but could not find any copy: not in the National Library, not even in the Lopez Museum, which is a treasure trove of early Philippine magazines.
Then yesterday, as I was going through my usual rounds of my friends' antique shops in Ermita I saw by chance old copies of Bulaklak magazines stacked in the new arrival inventory. Since I know in the first place that Siete Infantes appeared in Bulaklak from 1948-49, I looked for the magazine corresponding to that year. Luckily, there was one copy for the year 1948, and upon checking the inside pages, uereka! The first issue of Siete Infantes is right in front of me. Botong's komiks nickname was right there: "Boots"
As a komiks collector, a Pinoy movie geek, and a fan of Botong, this find is doubly important for me. Now I am a little closer in making a partial catalogueing of komiks strips by the great masters of the glorious days of komiks.
Being a Pinoy movie fan, I can also relate to Siete Infantes, since it was later made into a movie directed by the great Manuel Conde. During my childhood years, I distinctly remember its numerous reruns in a local TV station during lazy afternoons. Back then, our TV set was a wooden encased 25 inch black and white Zenith with a dial knob to switch channels, and a screen that had a sliding door to boot!
Anyway, I love those Filipino movies about kings, princes and castles like Apat na Alas, Prinsipe Amante, and of course, Siete Infantes de lara.
I still remember that one of the Siete Infantes was Eddie Garcia in his first starring role. The other Infantes were Jaime Castelvi, George Sanderson, Albert Madison, Gil de Leon (dad of Christopher de Leon), Mario Montenegro, and Johnny Monteiro. It also was the first film appearance of Nida Blanca who was cast as a young girl in the movie (she would later get a full starring role in the film Korea, 1952).
Siete Infantes de Lara by Botong Francisco. A comic strip by one of our great National Artists. Next time around, I shall feature comic strips by Vicente Manasala and Fernando Amorsolo. Now, no foolish art critic would say that komiks is an inferior artists' trade, right?
Posted by Dennis Villegas at 7:15 AM