It has been a while since I had my folklore fix.
Although I’ve had this book for a while, I was never really compelled to read it. People who know me personally would count that I easily devour legends and myths as fast as I could. I usually would. And while I revel in the retelling by Reginald and be awed by the art of the company, there are a few things that I find off about this.
First of all, this compilation credits Gilbert Monsanto and Romeo Remalante, Jr. as colorists. The only colored parts are the front and back covers. So the intended rendition does not get the full realization it claims to have. I feel bad for this. Wonder what Monsanto and Remalante have to say about this. A friend even said that I should feel cheated, since it should’ve been colored. Maybe.
Well, since I have a B&W copy, I dealt with it. From the varied faces and expressions of characters to the fight sequences, most of the art is heavily influenced by modern Japanese manga and anime series. And having a company of artists showcases different treatments, ranging from fine and light to rough and dark.
Personally, I am curious how much liberty and research were taken for this endeavor, especially with the story lines. While I am all for preserving the original tale, the question remains: what was the original tale? One legend may have many versions and all could claim that they hold the truth. Or most of it.
Yes, the origins are stated when possible. Although no specific times were mentioned, the clothes the characters wore and the work plus other activities the people did suggest the time when the story happened.
Many people can get so easily drawn into a story, no matter how simple the narrative is. But one detail out of place—like an unintended anachronism or a misplaced expression—and the reader is yanked out of the book and back to reality.
- Bernardo Carpio: a tale of the folkloric hero from San Mateo, Rizal. With the mere use of the word “hacienda” I wondered if this happened during the Spanish era. And did people really carve alibata on big wooden boards then put up along the roads?
- Maria Makiling: the two male leads of the story look like twins! If it weren’t for the clothes, it would’ve been difficult to distinguish one from the other. One thing I found missing in this tale is the explanation about the almost physical connection between Maria and Mt. Makiling.
- Maynilad: a pre-colonial tale of the origin of the supposed namesake of Manila. This alone made me question if this book had a target age group, since it showed a sinking severed head.
- Alat sa Dagat: the art for this old story used a stone house in one of its backdrops. Not that it’s uncommon but—someone correct me if I’m wrong—stone houses were introduced to the country by the Spaniards. And these houses had particular motifs to them! I seriously doubt Corinthian columns were included. Guess the structure reflected the taste of the ladies of the house, since they’re seen wearing what looks like Greco-Roman apparel. I’m trying not to mention the furniture and the tableware. Strange as it is, I like the homage to Lupin III, Dragonball, and the Incredible Hulk.
- Alamat ng Mais: another pre-colonial tale of which, no matter how many times I read, I couldn’t understand how the male lead died.
- Alamat ng Tatlong Prutas: legends about the makopa (bell fruit), bayabas (guava), and pinya (pineapple).
- First tale is from Ilocos and has the first grittiest art I encountered in the book. And for a tale from the north, the clothes of the characters look like they were from the south. Good to note though that this also shows some female empowerment.
- This simple tale from Masbate employs decay of a human corpse. While this unique element is a plus, I wonder the period of days it took between the accident and discovery of the body. It takes serious time and weathering for a body to be in that implied state.
- One tale that I am most familiar with is this one, thanks to Batibot. Never knew though that it originated from Iloilo. While Batibot’s version underscores the laziness of the child, this one turns her into a tragic hero. One thing I found strange though is the pull-along wooden “car.” Were they already existent during that time?
- Maria Sinukuan: a famous tale from Candaba, Pampanga—and comes with a relation to another tale included in this book. I won’t say which one though. I discovered a conflict: while it says that Maria lives in a palace (which I find absurd but I could let that pass), the art shows a castle. While palace and castle are both residences, they have a difference: only castles have towers. And there are parallels between this tale and that of Circe of Greece.
- Alamat ni Aponibolinayen at ang Araw: this story from Abra is incredible in the way that the time passes and the collective reaction of the people. Plus how easily they fall in love with each other is seriously crazy. I do see tones of Phaeton’s fate in this tale. And the humor of the author has gotten better.
- Tigbauan at Lamokon (Official translation: Jar of Peebles): Kalipayan (presently Panay) has this tale but I am disturbed by the seemingly misplaced albeit cute super-deformed characters and castle towers with flags. And since when did a princess of ancient times know about zippers, electric fans, and clowns with make-up? It also mentions Hamtik (Antique), Irong-irong (Ilo-ilo), and Aklan. Although there is a lot lovey-dovey stuff here, it is balanced by what may be the best fight sequences in the whole book.
- Ang Alamat ng Unang Pating: This tale from Palawan is possibly one of the better tales. It has an impoverished couple who had true love, a scheming rich antagonist, and a disguised and powerful deity, all found in a rural seaside setting. All that complemented by the rough art.
This book is wanting in some aspects that I easily find in other myth compilations. For Filipino comics about legends gathered from different provinces, effort, the art, and the stories are good enough to while away the time. Maybe next time that they come out with the next volume, they’d improve the book.