Monday, March 12, 2007

Mga Kuwento Ni Lola Basyang: Classic Tagalog Tales in Komiks

I have been re-reading old issues of the Liwayway recently, the oldest existing Tagalog magazine in the Philippines. I am a big fan of the Liwayway, especially the older issues from the prewar up to the early 1970s.

It's really hard nowadays to find vintage copies of old Liwayway. Like Tagalog komiks, Liwayway was very popular back then, but very few Filipinos managed to collect them; the old Liwayway copies have suffered the same fate of the old komiks: pambalot ng tinapa (dried fish wrapper).

I liked the Liwayway not only because I enjoyed the stories in it, but also because I learn so much from it, the most important of which is my understanding of the Tagalog language. I have a deep admiration for the Tagalog language, and by reading Liwayway, my own Tagalog communication skills are enriched.
Yesterday, while browsing an old copy of Liwayway, I found one of the classic anthologies in Tagalog literature: "Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang".
Don Severino Reyes, the famous Tagalog playwright of the early 1900s-who wrote the immortal "Walang Sugat" play- was the man behind the Lola Basyang stories.

"Ang Hari sa Bundok na Ginto" Tagalog Klasiks #7. Written by Severino Reyes, comics adaptation by Pedrito Reyes, illustrations by Jesus Ramos. Cover art by Maning De Leon.

Popularly known as Mang Binoy, Don Severino Reyes, was also the co-founder and editor of the Liwayway in 1923. The very first years of the Liwayway was a struggle, and there was scarcity of literature to include in its contents, so Mang Binoy created the "Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang" in 1925 as filler. He did not sign it with his name though because he thought it was unethical, while still serving as editor of the magazine.

And so Mang Binoy used the byline "Lola Basyang" after a friend's neighbor named Gervacia Guzman de Zamora, who was known as "Tandang Basyang". It was from her where Mang Binoy took the inspiration to create"Lola Basyang".

In real life, Tandang Basyang was described as an old bespectacled woman in baro't saya, seated in her famous silyon, and reading her timeless classic stories- dug from her ancient baul- to her fascinated grandchildren.

The grandchildren were more than eager to hear stories about faraway castles, heroic princes, lovely maidens, giants, and elves. Always, at the end of each story is a moral lesson to be learned.
The first story of the "Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang" was entitled ang "Plautin ni Periking", a wonderful story of a kindhearted kid who has a magical flute and flying carpet.

It was the first of the more than 400 "Lola Basyang" stories to have graced the Liwayway, and only discontinued because of Mang Binoy's death in 1942.

Ang Sirena sa Ilog Pasig. Tagalog Klasiks #5.

In 1949, Mang Binoy's son, Pedrito Reyes, decided to revive the "Lola Basyang" stories. Working on the original scripts of his father, Pedrito transformed Lola Basyang's stories into komiks form, appearing in the earliest isuues of the Tagalog Klasiks. The illustrations were done by Maning De Leon, Jesus Ramos, and later on Ruben Yandoc and Jess Jodloman.

Ang Sinsing na Tanso. Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang. Illustrated by Jess Jodloman.

The "Lola Basyang" stories became more popular with its komiks versions, because now, Filipinos can visualize the stories by means of the illustrations. Later on, in the early 1950s, based on the komiks versions, a succesful movie adaptation was created. Now, GMA Channel 7 is adapting the stories into a television series.

Well, that's just goes on to say that a classic never goes out of style.
And the Liwayway and "Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang" never will.

Haring Tulisan. Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang. Illustrated by Ruben Yandoc.

Ang Prinsipeng Unggoy.Tagalog Klasiks #3.1949. Author's collection.


Jomari Lee said...

Wow! You're a true collector, Dennis. These Tagalog Klasiks look so well-preserved! Are they in MINT condition? Without these, we won't even know they exist. Wonderful.

Dennis said...

Hi JM: Yes these komiks are in mint condition, I take extra effort to care for them because I may be just one of the very few people to have them :)

dado said...

Really amazing! I guess you're the only one having such kind of comics now. I wish I could see and read them too.

evEr said...

i was in grade III in 1979 when we moved to my uncle's abandoned house, among my finds there was an old book compilation of Mga Kuwento Ni Lola Basyang, i devoured it like a staple food, the best for me was about a likable conman Ciriaco in "Akong Ekit," i wonder how such a gem of a book got lost like innocence in my fleeting boyhood

karenmiles23 said...


I am doing research on the Filipino comic book industry. I am having a hard time getting the information I need. Would you be able to answer a few questions?

1. How do the biggest comic books in the Philippines get published? Are there one or two main publishers in the Philippines? What are their names?
2.What are the names of the biggest comic book stores in the Philippines?
3. Do you have any suggestions about who I can talk to to learn more about the industry?

Thank you!! (my email address is

Karen Miles

la baraque à Fritz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
IEMI said...

Hi! May we please know your email address? Don't worry, it's for official reasons. :) Thank you very much.

Faye, IEMI

Chris said...

Sir Dennis,

Good day to you sir!

I am also a beginner in collecting vintage Pinoy komiks. I would like to ask where did you bought your comics? I really appreciate your help.

chris :)
chris.watchon at

bert said...

Hi! your collection is great! you know, I want also to collect vintage komiks and magazines but not this time because I don't have job to support my plan. Anyway, why don't you try to collect all Lola Basyang Komiks strip and make an anthology then reprint it like what you did in reprinting of Kenkoy so anyone can enjoy it. the reason why i suggest it is that because now this day, Lola Basyang stories are being revive, it make a stage musical play by PETA, publishing it on an Aklat Adarna form for children and republishing a book. I hope you will grant my wish, tnx!

bert said...

um, can i also ask what happen to Rico Rival? Why he not already make an illustration in Liwayway and why he give the illustration of his Komiks strip Lukresia to Rod Lofamia? tnx for the answer :)

Toni said...

hi! i'm just wondering, do you have a complete list of all the pilipino komiks then and now? Or just list of your collections only? Thanks! ^_^

Coji said...

Hi, Dennis!

I remember my auntie giving us ripped up komiks pages of Liwayway since my mom really only read the komiks section and they would usually throw out the nobelas. Can you post some of my favorite Liwayway komiks series such as Phantom Manok and Benedicta. When I was still working at Star City, I would sometimes go to the CCP library where they have these old Liwayway copies bookbound. Hope you can accommodate my request.

Anonymous said...

Vintage Pilipino Comics in the market. Here's the link:

Jasmine said...

wow dennis, your collection is very enviable =)


TRACY said...

hi dennis! i'm only 12 years old and i am so amazed with your collection! i was never that interested in comic books but having a collection is way cool. i've never heard of this though... i didn't even know that this comic existed! i hope that more people would do these things to help the Philippines be more patriotic of their country. =) -tracy

hope you can reply!

Elmer Domingo said...

Do you still have a copy of "Ang Sirena sa Ilog Pasig"? I'm very much interested in that story. Please contact me: elmerdomingo(at)

Elmer Domingo said...

Do you still have a copy of "Ang Sirena sa Ilog Pasig"? I'm very interested in that story. Please contact me: elmerdomingo(at)

Robert Marrel Dela Vega said...

Hi, I have a 1929 issue of both Liwayway and Manila Bulletin... It would be my pleasure to show this preserved issue since your a very good collector po..:)

Author said...

Naalala ko ang mga kwento ni lola basyang si Chuchay as lola basyang tapos sila Manilyn Reynes etc.. meron pa nga nuon yung Querobin si Chucky Dreyfus.. hayzz.. ansarap balikan yung mga palabas nun. Ewan ko ba kung bakit iba na ata ang mga palabas ngayon. Nuon yung mga nakakatakot madadala ka eh. ngayon errr.. wala na.. puro gaya gaya nalang sa foreign movies nakakabagot na.