Recently, a group of students visited my house to interview me for their thesis regarding Philippine Komiks. I think this has been the fifth time I was interviewed by students to help them in their thesis on komiks.
One of the first questions I had to answer was why I collect komiks and not comics? Komiks, of course, refers to Tagalog comics, and comics--well, any english or American comics.
I collected komiks not because of my patriotism, but rather because of the reason that I enjoy reading them. I loved the Tagalog language, it is beautiful, it is poetic, and it is the language I speak and had grown up with.
I loved the stories about some old Philippine legends, myth, or period stories in old musty komiks. Of course the drawings take the second half of the credit. You can't go wrong in a komiks written by Mars Ravelo, Pablo Gomez, and Clodualdo del Mundo, and illustrated by Coching, Redondo, Alcala, or Carrillo.
I never collected American comics even though they are also magnificently illustrated. I just can't identify myself with X-Men, Superman, Batman or the Fantastic Four. I have never read a single American comic book. Even the only one I bought-The Death of Superman-had to be sold cheap in Ebay because I just did not read it. Of course, there is nothing wrong with American comics, only reading it is not just my cup of tea.
For me Tagalog Komiks is a reflection of our rich cultural heritage. Reading it is like riding a virtual Time Machine where you can choose to travel which period in Philippine history you want to go to. 1940s? Read the earliest issues of the Halakhak and Pilipino Komiks.
You want to feel what it was like to live in the 1950? Then read the Hiwaga, Mabuhay, Silangan, or Tagalog Klasiks, and there not only will you find period stories but period advertisements as well when Pepsi-Cola was just 25 centavos a bottle.
The 1960s will be the years of GASI and PSG Publishing and you can read there stories of the roaring 60s, and learn about the fashion of the period: the Beatles, the baston pants, the elevator shoes, the Elvis hairstyle. You will find it all there including past gossips of Pinoy movie stars like Amalia Fuentes, Nora Aunor, Susan Roces, Tirso Cruz and many more.
I think this is something unique to the Tagalog Komiks, that it is a microcosm of Filipino society in general as it had evolved throught the years. By reading komiks, the young ones can experience the years gone by, while the older ones can reminisce the good old days.
That is only one of the reasons why I enjoy reading Tagalog Komiks.