Last July 10, 2010, I was invited to attend the freshmen initiation at the St. Paul University in Manila. The theme of their initiation was “Pinoy Komiks”, and I had been invited to give a talk on the history and the state of the Philippine comics industry.
I did not hesitate to agree because more and more I try and grab the opportunity to talk about Philippine comics to those who may not be completely aware of its history, its significance to Filipino culture, and the state of the industry now.
I was glad that the organizers of the freshman initiation at St. Paul this year decided on “Pinoy Komiks”. This speaks to me of how much komiks is still very much ingrained into our culture, whether komiks is around or not.
The theme was reflected through costumes the freshmen were be required to wear.
What I wasn’t prepared for was that the freshmen of the Nursing Department paraded in costumes based on characters that I had created. There was a group that dressed up as chickens, like on Elmer. There was a group that dressed like Apolaki Warriors in Timawa. There was a group that dressed like the characters in Humanis Rex! There were several Johnny Balbonas and an Eric (from Wasted). There were several Lastikmen (I wrote Lastikman for Mango in 2004). Even those comics that haven’t been published yet like The Marvelous Adventures of the Amazing Doctor Rizal, and the Adventures of Miko and Jec-jec were well represented.
For the first time perhaps in San Pablo City history, someone actually dressed up as the statue of the woman carrying a bilao located at Doña Leonila Park in San Pablo (as she is drawn in a Miko and Jec-jec illustration).
I was so surprised that for a long time I didn’t know how to react. I absolutely had no idea that they were going to do this, and I have to admit that it touched me deeply. I found myself shedding tears, no matter how hard I tried to fight it back. It had been so unexpected. I came in there with no expectations other than to give a talk on comics. What I saw was more than I could have imagined.
I wish to thank Michelle Sto. Tomas and all of those in the Nursing Department who gave life to my characters. I wish to thank all the students and teachers and administrators of St. Paul who organized the event as a love letter to Philippine comics.
Thanks to Jan Philippe Carpio for recommending me to the organizers in the first place. Hope to meet you soon, buddy!
For the rest of the photo gallery, click on the slideshow below:
And of course, here’s the inevitable video!
Once again, thanks to St. Paul University, Manila! That was truly a memorable day for me.