Commencement Speech of Dr. RICKY LEE at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines

Full Transcript: Commencement Speech of Dr. RICKY LEE at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), when he was conferred a degree, Doctor of Humanities, Honoris Causa on 8 May 2019.
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Akala ko di na ako gagraduate. Ilang dekada ko rin itong hinintay. Masasabi ko na ngayong graduate na ako. Nakatoga pa.

Maraming salamat sa PUP na laging nakasuporta sa akin. PUP ang aking ikalawang Alma Mater. Kasama ko ngayon ang mga taong mahalaga sa buhay ko–ang anak kong si Kiko, ang best friends kong sina Chanda Romero at Rahyan Carlos, si Mayi, ang mga assistants kong sina Jerry at Ram, at ang mga workshopper kong sina Marc at Gerald.

Mahalaga sa akin ang edukasyon. Noong grumaduate ako ng high school sa Daet sa Bicol, lumayas ako sa mga nag-ampon sa akin dahil hindi nila ako kayang pag-aralin sa college dito sa Maynila.

Nakapag-aral ako sa UP Diliman ng AB English pero hindi rin ako naka-graduate. Napilitan akong tumigil dahil nag-Martial Law at pinili ko ang masangkot sa pinaniniwalaan ko.

Bata pa pangarap ko nang makapagturo. Pero hindi puwede dahil wala akong degree. Kaya nagpa-workshop ako sa bahay ko nang libre mula noong 1982. Tapos sinubukan kong mag-apply sa UP sa Filipino Department dahil naisip ko, total ginagamit naman nila ang short stories ko sa kanilang mga subject. Tatlong beses akong nag-apply. Tatlong beses akong na-reject. Noong 1986, kinuha ako ng Ateneo maski wala akong degree. Di nagtagal ay sumunod ang UP Mascom Department. Noong huli ay kinuha na rin ako ng Filipino Department sa UP.

Kaya mahalagang mahalaga sa akin ang karangalang ito na ibinibigay sa akin ng PUP. Walang katapusan ang aking pasasalamat.

Kung noon ako grumaduate sa halip na ngayon, ano ang maipapayo ko sa sarili ko bilang isang bagong graduate na haharap na sa mundo? Tatlong bagay. At iyon din ang maipapayo ko sa inyo ngayon.

Una, na laging kulang ang silya. Hayaan n’yong magpaliwanag ako.

Nang lumayas ako sa Daet noon at sumakay ng bus papuntang Maynila, may kasama akong apat na kaklaseng puro mahihirap din. Hindi namin alam kung saan kami titira, kung ano ang magiging trabaho namin, kung ano ang naghihintay na kapalaran sa amin. Ang alam lang namin, punung-puno kami ng mga pangarap.

Di nagtagal nagtrabaho sa pabrika ng payong ang tatlo sa amin. Kami naman ng isa ko pang kasama ay naging waiter sa isang pizza parlor sa Pasay. Umarkila kami ng maliit na apartment. Aapat lang ang silya namin kaya kapag kumakain kami ay laging may isang nakatayo.

Habang nakatingin ako sa kasamahan naming nakatayong kumakain, pinangako ko sa sarili ko, balang araw makokompleto ang silya.

Di nagtagal ay di nakaya ng mga kasamahan ko ang trabaho nila sa pabrika. Lagi silang nagsusuka pag-uwi dahil sa kinakain doon. Nagkahiwa-hiwalay kaming lima at kasabay ng iba pang mga gamit na naipundar namin ay ibinenta namin ang apat na silya. Bitbit namin ang maliit na kahon ko ng mga damit, inihanap nila ako ng Bikolanong puwede kong pakitirahan.

Working student ako all throughout college. Nag-salesman ako, accounting clerk, tutor, student assistant, proofreader at kung anu-ano pa. Tinanggap ko na, na sa buhay na ito ay laging hindi kompleto ang silya.
Hindi nakaabang ang mundo para ibigay sa’yo ang lahat ng kailangan mo. Hindi ka entitled. You have to be resourceful. You have to work hard. Kailangan mong pagtrabahuhan ang kulang na silya.

May panahon noon na buong araw akong nagtatrabaho sa isang factory sa Del Monte, tapos mag-aaral ako sa gabi sa Lyceum. Para makapagtipid ay hindi ako kumakain ng hapunan, at bandang mga alas nuwebe ng gabi ay nilalakad ko lang pauwi mulang Lyceum hanggang Aranque kung saan nakikitira ako doon sa mag-asawang Bikolano.

Minsan ay hinimatay ako sa gutom sa Avenida. Mga five minutes siguro akong nag-black out bago ako nagkamalay.

Maraming mga okasyong gaya noon na bumabagsak ako. Iyon bang parang madilim at wala nang pag-asa ang lahat. Iniisip ko lang ang kulang na silya sa apartment at lumalakas na uli ang loob ko, nakakabangon uli ako.

Ikalawang payo ko, hindi ka kailangang maging perpekto.

Ngayong graduate ka na, papalaot ka na sa mundo, at ii-evaluate ka ng iba. Sasalain ka, pupunahin, ikukumpara lagi sa iba pa. Mag-eexpect sila ng kung ano-ano mula sa’yo, na karamihan naman ay hindi na reasonable. Kung anu-ano ang gagawin sa’yo ng mundo upang ipakita lagi sa’yo na you don’t measure up, kulang ka.

Hayaan mo sila. Just keep working hard. Ipaglaban mo ang mga pangarap mo. Hindi baleng mabigo ka na ipinaglalaban ang mga pangarap mo, kesa nabigo ka nang hindi man lamang dahil sa mga ito.

At kahit mabigo ka, huwag kang mag-alala. Hindi iyan ang sukatan ng worth mo bilang tao. Hindi mo kailangang maging perpekto. Hindi mo kailangang labanan ang sarili mo, o pantayan ang iba. You are never worthless. Just be yourself. Langoy lang nang langoy, lipad lang. Bawat graduation ay pag-iwan kaya lumayas ka, putulin mo ang tali, iwanan mo ang nakagawian, pumalaot ka. Huwag kang matakot magkamali. Di baleng malunod. Di baleng mahulog. Kapag bumagsak ka, doon mo mas mahahanap ang sarili mo. Sa paulit-ulit na pagkabigo ay mas matututo ka. Para kang sinusulat na nobela na kailangang paulit-ulit na i-revise. Hanggang sa kuminang.

Bata pa ay may inferiority complex na ako. Maaga akong naulila, sakitin, clumsy at makakalimutin, walang sense of direction. Kanina nga nang papunta kami dito nina Chanda (Romero), tapos ang dami-dami kong nakitang graduates, ngayon lang ako nakakita ng ganito kadaming graduates, ang gulu-gulo ng sitwasyon, sabi ko sa assistant kong si Jerry, siguraduhin n’yo ‘yung papasukan nating hall, baka mamaya mag-speech ako sa maling graduation. At ang sagot ni Chanda do’n, oo nga, Ricky, I won’t be surprised kung gawin mo ‘yun! Kasi up to now I make that mistake. I enter the wrong car.

So may inferiority complex ako bata pa. Weird ang tingin nila sa akin. Lagi kong ikinukumpara ang sarili sa iba. Ba’t ang dami nilang nagagawa na hindi ko magawa? Ano ang kulang sa akin?

Lumaki akong laging gano’n. Kaya ang ginawa ko nagsikap ako. Nag-aral akong mabuti para maging First honor ako mula Grade 1 hanggang Fourth Year. Sa UP rin university scholar ako maski di ako nakatapos. Nag-aral talaga akong mabuti para labanan ang inferiority complex ko.

Later on ko na lang natutunan, na kung saan ka mahina, kung anuman ang mga depekto mo, balang araw iyon din ang magiging strength mo. Kasi ang strength, kapag nanggaling sa depekto, mas matibay. Dahil nakita mo ang ibaba, mas naiintindihan mo ang itaas. Dahil nanggaling ka sa dilim, mas natatanggap mo na ang buhay ay hindi puro liwanag.

Kung nasaan man ako ngayon, kung anumang tagumpay ang meron ako ngayon, matatag ang kinatatayuan ko kasi nakatuntong ako sa isang bundok ng mga pagkakamali at mga pagkabigo.

Ikatlo at huling maipapayo ko, makisangkot ka. Ang buhay na hindi inilaan sa kapakanan ng iba ay parang lantang gulay o bilasang isda na walang nakinabang.

Huwag kang kuripot. Ibigay mo ang buhay mo sa iba, maski na paminsan-minsan lang. Pumunta ka sa mga bukid, sa mga minahan, sa mga bundok, sa mga batang lansangan, sa mga home for the aged, sa mga inulila ng digmaan. Magtanong ka kung anong maitutulong mo.

Magkaroon ka ng boses. Ng opinyon. Mundo mo ito. Di ka parang hanging nagdaan lang. Mag-iwan ka ng marka.

‘Yang hawak mong diploma, para ‘yan sa iba, hindi ‘yan para sa’yo.

Isa sa pinakamakulay at pinakamahalagang bahagi ng buhay ko ay nang maging aktibista ako noong panahon ng Martial Law. Lahat ng mga personal na ambisyon ay kinalimutan ko. Ang buong buhay ko ay inilaan ko na para sa iba, para sa bayan. Nakulong ako nang isang taon sa Fort Bonifacio. Minsan sa gabi ay naiisip ko pa rin, paano na ang mga pangarap ko? Hindi na ba matutupad?

But in the end I realized it was all worth it. Dahil wala nang sasarap pa kaysa sa pakiramdam na hindi lahat ng ginawa mo ay para sa sarili mo lang.

Lagi nila akong tinatanong. Ba’t ka nagbibigay ng libreng workshops mula pa noong 1982? Napakahirap at madalas ay napapabayaan ko ang mga personal kong projects tuwing nagpapa-workshop ako. Pero hindi lang ang mga workshopper ko ang natututo, natututo rin ako. Nakikita ko ang sarili ko sa kanila at sa paunti-unti nilang pag-unlad ay umuunlad din ako

Naniniwala kasi ako na kapag nagbigay ka nang walang hinihintay na kapalit, ngingiti sa’yo ang mundo, ibabalik sa’yo ang ibinigay mo sa mga paraang hindi mo inaasahan.

Kagaya ng karangalang itong ibinibigay n’yo sa akin. Di ko alam kung anong nagawa kong kabutihan sa PUP para ibigay ninyo sa akin ito. Di ko alam kung paano kayo pasasalamatan.

Di ko rin alam kung paano pasasalamatan lahat ang napakaraming taong tumulong sa akin, mula doon sa matandang librarian sa Daet na lagi akong pinapahiram ng libro maski nag-iimbentaryo sila o bumabagyo, hanggang sa mga teacher ko sa high school na inihatid pa kami ng mga kaklase ko nang lumayas kami sa Bikol papuntang Maynila, hanggang sa mga kaibigan ko at katrabaho at workshoppers at pamilya na laging tumutulong sa akin. Maraming salamat sa kanila. At sa inyo ring mga garduates, maraming maraming salamat.

Para sa akin, para sa inyo, mahirap pantayan ang araw na ito.

Kaya ngayon sa pagtatapos n’yo, go out, celebrate, work hard para makompleto ang silya, make mistakes, makisangkot ka, vote wisely. Hindi lang ‘yun kinabukasan natin kundi kinabukasan din ng mga magiging anak n’yo. Ipaglaban mo ang mga karapatan mo, write a story, hug your parents. Nagpagod silang lahat para mapa-graduate kayo. Ako na working student, nakikita ko kung paano sinikap mga parents n’yo na huwag kayong maging working student at makapag-focus kayo sa pag-aaral. At kanina habang papasok ako dito, ang nakikita ko na grumaduate ay hindi kayo kundi ang mga magulang n’yo. Gusto kong maiyak para sa kanila. So hug your parents, listen to somebody else’s heartbeat, join a rally, donate to a cause, support your friend’s dream, listen to the silence in the midst of chaos, persevere.

Mangarap ka at habulin mo ang mga pangarap mo na halos hindi ka na makahinga at sabihin mo sa sarili mo, ako ito, graduate na ako at handa na ako.

Hawak mo ang sarili mo.
Hawak mo ang buhay mo.
Iyan ang totoong diploma.

Maraming maraming salamat uli sa karangalang ito, at sa pagkakataong makapagsalita sa inyo.

Congratulations!

Source: Jerry Siapoc

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“Bayoa” by Renzo Mercado and Randy Valiente

Bought this comic book because it’s about EDSA People Power that failed. Have you ever thought about it? Like what if back in February 25, 1986 all the people who rallied on the streets failed to oust the dictator president? And as a consequence of their resistance, the military killed ALL OF THEM.

Worse, the dictator president was taking a serum created by a scientist that lengthened his life almost being immortal. He’s still very much alive 40 years later since the People Power Revolution that never was, ruling the country through martial law. More vicious and cunning than ever before. It was the year 2026.

But here comes Bayoa. A 40-year old man out to avenge his parents who died defending their rights under the dictator president.

Bayoa was born in 1986 and he had been taught by his father to stick to his principles no matter what and to stand for other people’s rights regardless of who he is fighting against. But his parents were gone and all he was thinking about was revenge. So he joined the rebel army. He underwent rigorous combat training with them to accomplish what he needed to do in due time. He became one-track mind. Unbeknownst to him, the rebel army leaders became so impressed with him that they chose him to be part of Oplan Bantay Bayan. This was going to be his first battle after years and years of training. And now he was going out there and on a mission. The order was not to kill anyone and just get the target alive for questioning. But out there on the battlefield, Bayoa, with his killer instinct on the loose, fired shots and eventually killed the target. He was stunned. That was his first kill and he got blood in his hands.

Bitin sya because to be continued ang kwento. Will he be able to kill the president? The copy I got is the first issue. So I look forward to the next. Cathartic sya to read, written by Renzo Mercado. The illustration by Randy Valiente is parang cinematic.

Emily Abrera

emily abrera(Written on 21 November 2018. Sharing it here in WordPress.)

“You’re so impassioned! I like that!” says Ms. Emily Abrera when I approached her after the day one of Communications Strategy and Skills Workshop, 21 November 2018.

When I did my reporting as spokesperson of our group (I was volunteered by ms. Reinna), I was wondering if I delivered my message well. Later, Ms. Abrera praised me for my brand of reporting. Because it was based on experience, after an immersion I had with a target audience. When you’re going through some sort of inspiration starvation, kind words from Ms. Abrera meant a lot to me.

Ms. Abrera is the former chair of the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the chairman emeritus of McCann-Erickson Philippines. She’s currently the president of the Foundation of Communication Initiatives. She’s also a genuinely nice person!

Ella Arcangel, Ito ay Panganib (Tomo Una) ni Julius Villanueva at Mervin Malonzo

I like Julius Villanueva’s “Ella Arcangel, Ito ay Panganib (Tomo Una).”tomo

When I bought this, I actually had no idea what it’s about. Well, only a little, if I’m going to base it on the book cover where I was made aware already that it’s about the paranormal and the leading protagonist is a poor but brave young girl named Ella Arcangel. The comic book, by the way, was among those displayed for sale during Samahang Kartunista ng Pilipinas exhibit last September where they paid tribute to the great Larry Alcala and they breathe new life to his iconic works. Julius Villanueva is a member of SKP and I had the chance to have him sign my copy of his comic book that day. I like literature, kahit comic book pa iyan, and I’m always interested to meet and greet the creator behind it.

“Don’t judge the book by its cover” is what’s in my head right now after reading it. Malalim ang hugot ni Julius Villanueva. Obviously, he’s so affected by the war on drugs targetting the poor communities. He’s very aware about the economic rights and land rights that the marginalized have been fighting for since time immemorial. It resonates in his work, “Ella Arcangel, Ito ang Panganib (Unang Tomo).”

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A Private War

a private war(Written on 27 November 2018. Sharing it here in WordPress.)

A PRIVATE WAR starring Rosamund Pike (of the Bennet sisters from Pride and Prejudice ) is based on the true-to-life story of Marie Colvin, a celebrated war correspondent. I was gonna walk out in the middle of the film because Marie Colvin is depicted as chainsmoker, because almost in every scene, she smokes! When she’s writing, talking with someone, when she’s eating, drinking, when there are bombings, she smokes! Except when she’s in the bathroom. Is this real?! She smokes and she drinks a lot. Are alcoholism and cigarette-smoking the private war this film is talking about? So if you will ask me who Marie Colvin is, based on the film, she’s brave and she’s a smoker and an alcoholic. But, I don’t really walkout in the middle of a film. I stay. I stayed glued to my seat as the others were leaving (curfew? didn’t like it? I don’t know). If I could say two good things about A Private War, it made me focus my attention to war correspondents and photographers, risking their lives to deliver us the news from the most dangerous places in the world. I never did, until I saw this film. Because I only cared about their stories they brought to us. The film also reminded us to care. Since Marie Colvin’s death in 2012, there are around 500,000 Syrians killed because of the war.

 

12 (Silent Comics by Manix Abrera)

One word. Poignant.12

If you’re in a bad mood, or happy, or what, buy “12” (Silent Comics) by Manix Abrera.

12 stories in wordless comics that will leave you reflecting or laughing out loud. No language barrier. Warning: this is not an inspirational comic book. It’s gross, out of this world, and at times tragic. 12 changed my view about cockroaches. Nakakatuwa. This is one of the two silents comics that Manix Abrera produced. The other one, “14,” won the National Book Award. I do not have a copy of 14, I will have it, soon.

Giving you a peek. From story no. 4 of “12” by Manix Abrera.

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The Dead Heart July 16 (Gerry Alanguilan)

the dead heart1Where were you in the late afternoon of 16 July 1990, that moment when a 7.7 magnitude earthquake struck Luzon, and was felt in Metro Manila?

Me, I was in Grade 6, absent from school, I don’t know if I was sick that day I just remember I was sleeping on my parents’ bed, alone in our house in Pook Amorsolo when the bed started shaking. It was moving! I remember waking up from slumber then jumping out of the bed. Quickly I thought, as eleven-year-old, there was a monster under the bed. Impossible, because there was no space between.

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From comics creator, Gerry Alanguilan, on 16 July 1990, he was at the church, to pray for his architecture board exam when the walls of the church shook. People panicked, some screamed because of the earthquake. Later that day, heard from the radio, he was astonished to learn about the earthquake’s aftermath, particularly in Baguio, one of the hardest hit. Buildings collapsed. One that really marked with Gerry was the Hyatt Terraces Hotel that collapsed and killed employees and guests. According to reports, the concrete ground literally opened up swallowing people then it closed. People who died from, survived the earthquake did not escape Gerry Alanguilan. In 1996, he turned that trauma into a comics story. He titled it “The Dead Heart, July 16.” It’s about a couple, Mike and Ana, who were there in the middle of it all. It’s a love story. Because at that time, Gerry Alanguilan was deeply in love with someone who was an old classmate who later became his girlfriend for two years. Love is exhilarating. Love is also devastating. If you’ve been deeply in love with someone who also loved you back, truly, madly, deeply, you will understand why Mike had to do what he gotta do. Nakakabaliw talaga ang umibig.

The copy that I have, which I bought from the Komiks Convention (Komikon), is the 2018 reprint.

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The Dead Heart Book Cover

Tubaw’s Kalinow

tubaw5(Written on 22 December 2018. Sharing it here in WordPress.)

On my playlist this whole week is Tubaw’s second album, Kalinow, a Manobo word which means peace. Just can’t get enough of their songs. I kept playing their album repetitively for once is not enough. It just felt therapeutic.

Jam Bonifacio opens the album with KAPAYAPAAN, a song that yearns for a truly free country where farmers are no longer exploited, where they have their own lands to till, where decent jobs are available for every worker and not forced to leave the country. Jam sings it solemnly and full of hope.

This is followed by MISYONERYO which has a Joey Ayala-inspired sound and vibes. This is the start where I get to hear lead frontman Edge Uyanguren’s voice, singing about moving out of our comfort zone, reaching out to the marginalized, and taking action in whatever small way that we can help.

His solo, BAYANI, feels like a tribute song to a lover or a friend or a dead hero who fought the same fight for true independence.

TULOY ANG LABAN is my personal favorite. I feel my backbone straightening up whenever I listen to this track. Nakakalakas ng fighting spirit. Just hearing Edge and Jam’s emphatic and hearfelt singing, I feel the rage, I feel that there’s hope.

PAASA is another inspiring song although it does not sound like it at first. What feels like expressions of frustrations, of hopelessness, when you get to the bridge, oh god the bridge, it segued to this: “Tayo pa rin ang magtatakda sa bukas na mapagpalaya | Nasa ating mga kamay, minimithing tagumpay.”

TALA feels like a happy song. True to its name, listening to this track makes me feel optimistic about the future.

NGAYONG GABI is for me the most catchy song in the album. Maiinlove ka kahit di ka naman in love. Nakaka-LSS sya or last song syndrome. It’s the ballad song you can’t forget. A wonderful duet between Edge and Lorie Ann Cascaro.

ALAB is a different treat. With Diday Garcellano and MC Sakay on vocals, they sing lively about pushing forward despite the odds, keeping the fire within burning!

PAROLA is another duet that I like. This time Edge sings with Valerainne Lopez. Listening to this track calms my nerves.

PAGMAMAHAL, a duet by Edge and Althea Angeles, sings about teaching children with good values, showing them love not violence for they are the next in line, our hope for the future. Not doing so, we are committing injustice as well.

PAPER TIGER is the only English song in the album. The most amazing track in the album. This is the song that summarizes what this album is about. Take notice of the lyrics:

“You sit in power, a king on a rotten throne. You plunder our land, reap the fruits you haven’t sown. You weave deceptions, burn our schools and our homes.

“And those who stood up and defended their rights, opposed oppression and exploitation, clenched fist with all their might, were tagged as murderers and criminals, put behind bars, disappeared, killed in broad daylight.

“You can’t imprison freedom and keep it out of sight. You can’t gag the truth in the silence of the night. You can’t stop the struggle, pretend everything’s alright. You can’t stop the thunder, you can’t stop the blaze. No, you can’t stop the surge, you can never stop our rage!

“We will break free (with the toiling masses we unite). We will break free (reclaim our dignity and life). We will break free (’til victory we fight).”

And the melody, THE MELODY!, of Paper Tiger is so amazing it made me teary. Nakakalakas din ng fighting spirit itong kantang ito.

All eleven tracks in the album, except the bonus track, are music and lyrics by Edge Uyanguren. Arranged by Tubaw Music Collective, Onie Badiang, and Dodjie Fernandez. Art direction, layout and design by Angge Santos. Cover and inside pages art by Archie Oclos, one of Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Thirteen Artists Awardees of 2018.

Tubaw Music Collective or Tubaw are Edge Uyanguren, Jam Bonifacio, Dodel de Luna, Jun Zamora, and Aldrin Escudero.

In short, I love this album. ❤

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Callous, Braving Life One Cup at a Time (Carlos Jose San Juan, M.D.)

callous(Written on 29 December 2018. Sharing it here in WordPress.)

It was in Komikon 2016, an annual comics convention and my first Komikon, when I first saw this comic book, CALLOUS: BRAVING LIFE ONE CUP AT A TIME. Met the creator behind it, Carlos Jose San Juan, M.D., he seemed nice so I just asked for his calling card since I didn’t get to buy. I was absent in Komikon 2017 but in Komikon 2018 I was present and I saw this comic book again, talked with the creator, and we had a long small talk (if there’s such a thing), and finally bought the comic book, which turns out to be his comic strips compilation of Callous from 1996 to 2016. So this is a collector’s item.

“Callous: Braving Life One Cup at a Time” gave me a peek into the life of a middle-aged woman doctor, Dr. Rianne Nicah. She’s a brilliant doctor, kind, but when things get tough, coffee and chocolate chip cookies are her refuge. She can be annoying at times because of her idiosyncracies (which we all have, we are all annoying) but she’s blessed with a duck companion who can talk and is guiding her through life, or should I say, saving her from mental breakdown, hehe. For being a doctor is not a glamorous job. While getting entertained with every episode in Dr. Rianne’s life, I wondered why the creator, who is a male doctor aside from being a cartoonist, chose a female doctor as his main character. It was when I get to the end part of the comic book that I learned that he did start with a male lead character, his name is Ren, brother of Dr. Rianne, and it was about this boy’s life in college. And the duck? It started in high school, when he submitted his first comic strip in their student newspaper, when he drew and wrote about the misadventures of Dan the Duck. Through the years, he changed the name Dan to Cal when his first Callous comic strip was published in his college student paper to reflect the series’ name. The series’ name, Callous, did not come from a profound origin, though. The creator was pressured to come up with a name for his comic strip so when he opened the dictionary to get some help, the first word he saw was “callous.” Reminds me of how Eraserheads the iconic alternative band came out with their name. It was also out of the blue, no deep meaning. Anyway, when the creator, Carlos Jose San Juan, got to medical school, focused to reach his dream of becoming a doctor and having his own family, that’s when drawing and writing took a backseat. But talent, no matter how long you suppress it or set it aside, would eventually find its way out. Soon, Carlo Jose San Juan, MD, felt the itch and started to draw again and brought back Ren, Cal, and other characters he drew in the past, with Dr. Rianne as the lead and uploaded them in his old website. Callous the daily webcomic began. In 2012, Manila Bulletin took notice of his submitted sample Callous comic strips and lo and behold, after all the hardwork, Callous became a regular series in the national newspaper.

Here are some that I enjoyed from “Callous, Braving Life One Cup at a Time.” It’s entertaining, just light and easy. I remember laughing once, hehe.

Ella Arcangel, Awit ng Pangil at Kuko (Tomo Pangalawa) ni Julius Villanueva at Mervin Malonzo

Extrajudicial killing is the common thread that binds the book 1 and book 2 of ELLA ARCANGEL’s journey as the girl hero with magical abilities. If I like the first part “Ella Arcangel, Ito ay Panganib,” I love the second part “Ella Arcangel, Awit ng Pangil at Kuko.” The second part is the first book I finished reading for 2019.

Ella Arcangel, granddaughter of mysterious and enchanting faith healer Lola Crisanta, lives in a poor community called Barangay Masikap. Before her grandmother passed away, she was asked to take an enormous responsibility to watch out for her community that’s being targetted by police for Operation Tokhang, the killing of suspected drug pushers and addicts under the ruling president’s war on drugs. There are also dangers lurking in every corner of Barangay Masikap. Dangers that are yet to be known and each will manifest themselves like a thief in the night, and they are monsters from the underworld. And this is what Ella has to keep an eye on to prevent further infestation of killings and evil deeds in her community, with the help of Mimiw, an old cat who not just meows but can also speak the human language. But doing what is right and just is not an easy task. For Ella’s mother is frantically worried about her safety. As a child, she could die saving other people. But at such a young age, Ella Arcangel has embraced her purpose since her Lola died, to not turn her back from those who need her help.

Spoiler alert: I have a favorite scene in “Ella Arcangel, Awit ng Pangil at Kuko.” Yung part na hinati yung katawan at kinain nung monster yung mga pulis na mamamatay tao. That was cathartic for me. Was imagining all the public officials/political appointees who became abusive with their government posts, who forgot why they are there in the first place, are being eaten alive by Pangil the monster, who grew up as a good monster under the care of a woman, but because of the monstrosity he witnessed from humans, Pangil’s anger took over and became the feared monster he was perceived to be.

Reading “Ella Arcangel, Awit ng Pangil at Kuko (Tomo Pangalawa)” by Julius Villanueva and Mervin Malonzo felt like watching a movie. You know you’ve watched it but you feel like watching it again. Cathartic kasi.