One of the feelings I have for the congress at this point in time is exhilaration. Reading through the newspapers, and watching the coverage komiks has been having on local TV has been very exciting. It’s great seeing all this attention being given to komiks and to those who create them. I feel very proud seeing such great artists like Jess Jodloman, Jun Lofamia, Abe Ocampo and lots more, get much attention, after working silently and in obscurity for many years.
This is one of things I’ve wanted to see for a long time, for the Filipinos to be made aware of these artists, their work, and the enormous history of legacy of komiks this country has.
Another thing I want to see is the return of komiks into the mainstream, where these artists, and a whole new generation of writers and artists, get to contribute. Although I have some real issues about how such efforts are being conducted, as I mention in my previous entries on the Komiks Congress, I remain hopeful and optimistic that this attention, and the efforts of the people involved, will result in a huge revival of a once great and popular komiks industry.
I also feel a considerable bit of disappointment, reading through the numerous newspaper and TV reports echoing the statements of prominent people of the congress, that the efforts of the younger generation of writers and artists are being disregarded. They speak of “reviving” a dead industry, ignoring the fact that there IS a new industry that the younger generation have cultivated through patience, hard work and persistence, sweating blood and tears for the past 15 years. This is an industry that has grown while the old industry was on the wane, when komiks was at its lowest.
Although it was gracious of them to invite participation from the younger generation, I feel disappointed that they are not so gracious in other things. There is hardly any exhibit entries for the younger artists, and we are not qualified to participate in the competition with the cash prizes, offering trophies instead for us “amateurs”. I can hardly call many of us “amateurs”, having worked in comics both here in the Philippines and abroad for more than a decade. This is not about the money, and this is not about pride. This is about professional respect.
I feel personally hurt by this, because I have so much respect for our older generation, and I would have wanted them to be proud of us and our accomplishments. I feel that we’ve done some pretty good work. To welcome us with one hand and shut us out with the other is confusing and frustrating.
Of course, I’m not talking about all of them. I feel that many of them know about us and accept us wholeheartedly, people like Tony DeZuniga, Jess Jodloman, Dell Barras, Jun Lofamia, Alex Niño, Rico Rival, Nestor Malgapo, Yong Montano, Jesse Santos, Romeo Tanghal, Abe Ocampo, Hal Santiago, Steve Gan, and many many more. I feel grateful and honored to be accepted by them.
I also feel very uneasy about how “komiks” is being boxed in within certain limitations. They seem to only highly regard comics written in Tagalog/Pilipino. In fact, the reasons why they want komiks to be revived is because it’s the “cheapest” and most effective way of teaching the national language, and it is the “cheapest” form of entertainment. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that of course, but nowhere in all the coverage have I heard that they consider comics could be anything else but that. I don’t even think that it’s even within their radar to consider that comics could be so much more. That comics is a true art form, that it is possible within this art form to achieve literature. That comics can be an art form where works of great artistic significance like Juan Luna’s Spoliarium and F. Sionil Jose’s The Pretenders can be created.
It’s an idea that I am hoping that the younger generation can share at the congress, and I hope that it’s something that they consider seriously.
As I have mentioned earlier in this post, I’m still very optimistic about this process. I just hope they could be more open and receptive to us than they have so far been.
Thanks to Randy Valiente and Mario Macalindong, our representatives at the congress, I expect an influx of traffic to http://www.komikero.com, as it’s been mentioned and flashed in the couple of TV programs on the Komiks Congress. I thought I’d update the main site so it shows a prominent link to the comics museum, as well as the message board.
The first day of Congress is today! Good luck to everyone who will be going.