Monday, October 30, 2006

Philippine Vintage Cartoon Strips

I have a liking for vintage cartoons and have spent a lot of time hunting for them in vintage magazines and newspapers, where they usually reisde prior to the birth of the komiks form. IThrough the years , I have acquired hundreds of interesting titles and I would like to share some with you from time to time (or if my time would permit me).

Here are some vintage cartoon strips from the early 1920s. Published in an obscure news-magazine called "Telembang" these strips are entitled "Si Kiko at Si Angge", a husband and wife comedy which antedates Kenkoy at Rosing for about seven years.

A cartoon strip which satirized the political issues of its era, the "Kiko and Angge" comic strip was written by Tagalog novelist Inigo Ed Regalado, and hilariously illustrated by the young Fernando Amorsolo, National Artist for the Fine Arts. it also reflected the life of the Filipinos during that era when the Philippines was still occupied by the United States.

Here are some of the earliest ones found in my collection:

You can see here that even at that early time of Philippine politics, many politicians are already making into campaign "fever" for their respective candidates against their opponents. Some Filipinos, however, like Kiko, are too naive to even notice this. (It should be noted that Filipinos were allowed then to vote only for Senators and Representatives. The country was still ruled then by the American Governor General)

To understand this period cartoon, one must first know the context of socio-political background of the 1920s era. During that time, the Filipinos longed to have the United States grant Philippine independence. The Filipino leaders at that time, such as Quezon, Osmena and Aguinaldo, were sent to the United States to discuss hilippine independence from the the U.S. with the American PresidentHarding. Funded by public donations, these travels of Filipino leaders to the United States were known as "The Philippine Mission", the mission to acquire our independence. Yet, as this cartoon shows, some Filipinos believed that it would just be a waste of time, and that the "mission" will just spend the public fund for their personal luxuries and sightseeing.

This is a typical cartoon cover of the Telembang, a biting satirical Tagalog newsmagazine of the 1920s. No wonder it was hounded by libel suits so that a few years later, it was forced to close down.

Friday, October 27, 2006

BEMBOY: Ravelo's First Comic Strip, 1939

I recently purchased an old 1939 magazine called MABUHAY EXTRA from my local antique dealer, and while I was reading the magazine, I was stunned to see this:

All the while everyone thought that Mars Ravelo started cartooning in Bulaklak magazine in 1947, with his supposedly "first" comic strip Rita Kasinghot. He had applied earlier that year in Ace Publications but then Ace editor Clodualdo del Mundo rejected him.

It was a bruise on the confidence of the young Ravelo, but being a fighter(as he always say he was), he shrugged his shoulder and went straight to Dona Bating, publisher of Bulaklak Publications. Maybe Ravelo was lucky, since he found Dona Bating in a serene mood: she was lazily seated on one of the steps of the stair, her hair being removed of lice.

The old lady liked Rita Kasinghot, and there and then hired Ravelo as a regular cartoonist of Bulaklak. Ravelo's Rita Kasinghot comic strip gave a new life to Bulaklak which was until then a no match to the popularity of Ace's komiks-magazines. For Ravelo, it was a sweet success, because afterwards, it was Del Mundo who wanted to recruit him back to Ace. He did, and the rest was history.

I re-read the classic "History of Komiks in the Philippines", and there it definitely says that Ravelo's first comic strip was Rita Kasinghot. I suppose R.R. Marcelino interviewed Ravelo and it could be possible that Ravelo himself confirmed this.

Now, a rewriting of this portion of history is needed. It was not Bulaklak who gave Mars Ravelo his first job as cartoonist, it was Mabuhay.

I can therefore safely say that Bemboy, and not Rita Kasinghot, is the very first cartoon strip of the great Mars Ravelo.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


I was fortunate to have a free afternoon last Saturday (october 21), to attend the 2nd annual KOMIKON, a local mini version of the San Diego Comics Convention.
I really did plan to set a booth there to sell some old komiks and original arts but at the last minute i decided to just be a spectator, so I can visit my friends' respective booths and give support to their comics creations.
I arrived almost 3 O'clock in the afternoon, so I already missed some activities in the morning. But I was glad to see some of my friends there like Erwin Cruz(Cruzifix), Gerry Alanguilan, Randy Valiente, and the illustrator Mario Macalindong.
I also purchased several new comic books like Alanguilan's ELMER, Manix Abrera's KIKO MACHINE 2, KC Cordero's Filipino Komiks #1, as well as some indie comics by young comics creators. It is important for me to support their efforts to continue the tradition of comics making in the Philippines.
I am very impressed with the enthusiasm and the energy manifested by these people when it comes to local comics. With them leading the way, it would come as no surprise if the once glorious era of Philippine comics will be revived, which is a sort of Renaissance.
I am very enthusiastic with Gerry's Elmer, a modern fable about chickens freely interacting, living, and even marrying with humans. Whoa..if you haven't read it yet, go buy one from your local comics dealer (ComicQuest or Filbars), and you'll certainly like the poignancy of the story(even if it's not yet 3 and 4 are still in the making).
I salute Gerry for having the courage to come out with his own publishing company at a time when the comics industry is at its ebb. Will it take a chicken to revive the industry? Hehe that is a great great possibility since Elmer is a great great comic book.
I also commend the efforts of former Atlas Editor KC Cordero for spearheading the publication of Filipino Komiks#1, an attempt to revive the comics industry from its very roots. Some of the contributors to this comics are veterans of the Philippine comics industry like writer Joemari Lee, and illustrators Randy Valiente, Carl Comendador, Gibert Monsanto, Dante Barreno, Rico Rival, Nar Castro, and many others.
I am also very pleasantly surprised to find out that once again the ALCALA LEGACY has an exhibit of Alfredo Alcala's original works. I marvelled at the artworks of Voltar, Ukala, Yamato, and some other very rare pieces of comic art from the master's personal collection. What a great collection it is and deserves a permanent place in a museum devoted to comic art.
I didn't have enough time though to visit everyone like Reno Maniquis, who is managing the Mars Ravelo booth, Gilbert Monsanto, and Carlo Vergara. I have wanted to see them but it was already getting late, and I know they're very busy, too.
Lastly, I was very pleased to meet some of the veterans from the Golden Age of Philippine comics. It is very heartwarming that they went there to show that the love for comics is always in their blood. I didn't want to go without a picture of all of it's here:

Left to Right: Nar Castro, Yong Montano, Jess Jodloman(Alex Nino's teacher!), Mar Macalindong, Me(as in, me), and collector and comics archivist Orvy Jundis (Thanks to Erwin Cruz for this photo)