Cartoons is one of the world’s most popular art forms. The cartoon strip does not only provide entertainment, it can also express social and political views as well as nationalist sentiments.
The Philippines is one of the oldest countries in Asia to produce comic strips, stretching back to the 1880s when our National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal illustrated the comic strip “Monkey and Tortoise” cartoons. Juan Luna, another national hero and Rizal’s friend, also drew cartoons but never published them.
Cartoons During the Philippine Revolution —
The beginning of the 20th century saw the emergence of the cartoon strip as a vehicle to express criticism and dissatisfaction with the American regime. The uncertain chaotic events of the 1898-1901 Philippine revolution saw the chance to publish independent magazines that were virtually censor-free. These magazines like Te Con Leche and Miao carried satirical cartoons. Presumably, these magazines were influenced by Puck and Judge magazines possibly brought to the islands by American volunteer armies. These short-lived periodicals carried cartoons mocking the remaining Spanish friars, the defunct Guardia Civil, and the Spanish officials. They also attacked the American government when it became clear that the Americans had the intention of colonizing us.
Telembang at Lipang Kalabaw —
The cartoon art form further developed in the early 1920s with the appearance of two important Tagalog magazines, Telembang and Bagong Lipang Kalabaw. The cartoons not only expressed entertainment but social, political and nationalist sentiments. The cartoons were of the highest quality, drawn by skilled hands. Although they didn’t carry the names of the original cartoonists, they were nevertheless unmistakeably done by Fernando Amorsolo and Jorge Pineda, then the country’s leading cartoonists.
Liwayway Cartoons 1929-1941 —
The 1930s saw the proliferation of cartoon strips as the most important source of entertainment of the Filipino people. There were very important cartoons during this time: Kenkoy, Ponyang Halobaybay, and Huwapelo. These cartoon strips offered the Filipinos to see themselves in the microcosm of the cartoon strip as a mirrored society. For adventure entertainment, Francisco Reyes created the Tarzan-like hero Kulafu, a male-dominant adventure theme cartoons. Others followed in its path like Francisco V. Coching’s Hagibis.
Political Cartoons —
While the Liwayway offered cartoons mainly for entertainment,other magazines feature cartoons as a form of editorial. The Philippines’ Free Press and The Independent were two magazines that carried editorial cartoons. Most of these editorial cartoons were drawn by Jose V. Pereira and E.Z. Izon, and some by Amorsolo (who now concentrated on painting), Jorge Pineda, and Ireneo Miranda.
Japanese Occupation —
The cartoon strip was also put to significant use during the Japanese occupation- by voicing some of the educational policies of the puppet government. Although heavily censored by the Japanese Military Administration, the cartoon strips of Tony S. Velasquez – Kalibapi Family and Kenkoy – nevertheless avoided being controlled. They only voiced the educational and health campaigns of the puppet government.
Cartoons in the Republic —
The end of the Second World War saw the emergence of the comics-magazine form, the first of which was the Halakhak Komiks in 1946. This was followed by Pilipino Komiks in 1947. The contents of both were mostly cartoons. The more drama-adventure genre komiks serials eventually took over the cartoons as the main feature of komiks-magazines. Yet, the cartoons never lost their presence even if they were regarded as page-fillers rather than main features. Some of the great cartoonists who emerged during this time was Larry Alcala, Ben Maniclang and Menny Martin.
To this day, cartoons are still an interesting part of Philippine culture, mostly giving fun while others deliver subtle social and political messages. The country has a healthy number of talented cartoonists even to this day, proving that the cartoon strip is a tradition that Filipinos truly treasure.
- Abilitat sa Akong
- Album ng Kabalbalan ni Kenkoy
- Aldong Kuba
- Ang Buhay nga Naman
- Ang Kalabog
- Asiong Aksaya
- Sagatok, Inc.
- Si Gorio at si Tekla
- Si Pamboy at si Osang
- Si Siopawman!!
- Si Tolong at si Busia
- Sumasainyo, Bb. Brigoncia Bantutay
- Sweet & Lovely Melodee