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Pelikulang Komiks: Toward a Theory of Filipino Film Adaptation

Abstract and Figures

This paper tackles the major assumptions of a proposed/emergent Filipino komiks-to-film adaptation theory based on archival texts from the 1950s. An inventory of extant texts has led to the identification of twelve komiks-to-film adaptations representing Filipinized genres such as the korido film, fantasy/folklore, family drama, woman's film, personality comedy, and historical film. Textual analysis of uncovered texts has been complemented by a social film history based on unstructured interviews with ten komiks and film scholars and retrieval of archival film journalism pieces. The main concern of this paper is to present the concepts and assumptions about komiks-to-film adaptation that will constitute the proposed Filipino film adaptation theory. The main arguments of the prospective theory follow either one or all the definitions/phases of contextualization, namely: indigenization, localization, vernacularization, and hybridization. The prospective theory will be referred to as Pelikulang Komiks.
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is paper tackles the major assumptions of a proposed/emergent Filipino komiks-to-film
adaptation theory based on archival texts from the 1950s. An inventory of extant texts has
led to the identification of twelve komiks-to-film adaptations representing Filipinized genres
such as the korido film, fantasy/folklore, family drama, woman’s film, personality comedy, and
historical film. Textual analysis of uncovered texts has been complemented by a social film
history based on unstructured interviews with ten komiks and film scholars and retrieval of
archival film journalism pieces. e main concern of this paper is to present the concepts and
assumptions about komiks-to-film adaptation that will constitute the proposed Filipino film
adaptation theory. e main arguments of the prospective theory follow either one or all the
definitions/phases of contextualization, namely: indigenization, localization, vernacularization,
and hybridization. e prospective theory will be referred to as Pelikulang Komiks.
Filipino film adaptation, Filipino source texts, hybridization, indigenization, localization,
pelikulang komiks, vernacularization
About the Author
Joyce L. Arriola is a Professor of literature and communication at the University of Santo
Tomas, Manila. Currently, she is the Director of the UST Research Center for Culture, Arts
and Humanities. Her book titled Postmodern Filming of Literature: Sources, Contexts and
Adaptations won the National Book Award for Film/Film Criticism in 2007. Her research
interests include postcolonial and postmodern literary, media, and cultural studies.
Toward a Theory of Filipino Film Adaptation*
Joyce L. Arriola
University of Santo Tomas
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Adaptation is a peculiar form of discourse but not an unthinkable one.
Dudley Andrew, “Adaptation
“e best kind of media theory to begin with is a historical one.
Fred Inglis, Media eory
Introduction: Background on 1950s Filipino Komiks and Film1
e last years of the Spanish colonial administration in the Philippine islands saw
the introduction of new technologies that helped usher the would-be nation into
the 20th century. e first electric plant was installed in the islands in 1895, paving
the way for widespread enjoyment of entertainment engineered through the help
of sound, film, and projection machines (Pilar, “Pelikula Incunabula”; Sotto).
e first Lumiere cinematographe was acquired by Mssrs. Leibman and Peritz,
Swiss businessmen who showed a number of Lumiere films in 1897. In 1898, a
businessman by the name of Seňor Pertierra presented his Scientific Show titled
Espetaculo Cientifico de Pertierra [Pertierra’s Scientific Show] in Escolta, Manila
after acquiring a 60mm Gaumont Chronotographe from France. Antonio Ramos
followed suit with the showing of some 30 films using a Lumiere cinematograph.
While the early cinematrografos were being brought to the country and beginning
to entertain the natives, the country was in between the Spanish and the American
empires (Deocampo; Tolentino). At the height of two colonial eras, technological
and cultural upheavals were happening too in the islands. Said events enabled the
Filipino to face the new century with modernity as prime aspiration, among other
At the turn of the century, the U.S. government sent a Philippine Commission
(initially the Schurmann Commission and later the Taft Commission)2 to collect
facts about the islands that will assist the new colonizers in deciding the fate of
the Filipinos. e Commission’s work was underway when a handful of Filipinos
tried their hands at film entrepreneurship. Carunungan reports the year 1912 as
the beginning of the Filipino film industry with the showing of two films. One was
Edward Meyer Gross’s La Vida de Rizal [Life of Rizal] and the other was Albert
Yearsley’s Life of Doctor Rizal.
Fresh from his apprenticeship abroad, the enterprising Jose Nepomuceno was
among the first group of Filipino filmmakers who produced the early silent movies in
the country. His first feature film was Dalagang Bukid (1919), based on the sarswela
of Hermogenes Ilagan. It made use of a live musical backdrop. Aside from new
means to control lighting, Nepomuceno worked on improved cinematography and
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laboratory processing (Giron 17). Meanwhile, another pioneer of film technology
by the name of Vicente Salumbides partnered with Nepomuceno and brought into
their collaboration what he learned abroad regarding photoplay writing, acting,
editing, make-up, and close-ups. e technology for sound finally arrived in 1932.
In the years prior to the Second World War, film companies such as LVN and
Sampaguita began their operations. Alfonso refers to the 1930s and 1940s as the
“Decade of Technical Experimentations,” which set the stage for the events and
developments of the 1950s. e said decade, Alfonso continues, “was a decade
of enthusiasm, competition and awards” (112). True to form, the decade was also
crucial in the full flowering of narrative cinema, aided by developments in color
technology and cinematographic practices.
Philippine national hero, Jose Rizal, was not only a stalwart of the novel form
but also of the early prototype of komiks in the Philippines. Rizal is believed to have
written the first Filipino cartoon strip while he was paying his friend Juan Luna a
visit in Europe in 1886 (Maslog; Roxas and Arevalo, Jr.). In fact, Rizal’s cartoon
rendering of the fable “e Monkey and the Tortoise” was published in London in
By the early 1900s, magazines like Telembang [Bell; Bell Sound] and Lipang
Kalabaw [Carabao Magazine] began publishing cartoon strips that served political
ends (Maslog; Roxas and Arevalo, Jr.). As the century wore on, the first full-pledged
comic books began appearing. Lent has ascribed the beginning of komiks in the
Philippines to the early samples introduced by U.S. soldiers during the Second
World War. Halakhak [Laughter] was the first to feature komiks tackling a variety of
plots like stories about love and mythical heroes. From the 1920s up to the post-war
years, the careers of komiks writers like Antonio S. Velasquez and Francisco Reyes
shone brightly. “Kenkoy” was to be the first cartoon strip that will be serialized
beginning January 11, 1929 in the pages of Liwayway [Dawn], a popular magazine
back then (Roxas and Arevalo, Jr. 4).
e serialized comic novels, to be referred thereon in its vernacularized spelling,
“komiks,” dominated the 1950s and the 1960s. Coincidentally, the peak of the komiks
magazine took place alongside the so-called golden age of Philippine cinema in the
1950s. It would continue its popularity until the mid-1980s. Komiks’ long period of
dominance has prompted writers like Clodualdo Del Mundo, Jr. to call it a “national
book” of the Filipinos. In the 1990s, the komiks re-appeared through its variant, the
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graphic novel. e new version of the komiks elicited a considerable amount of
following that prompted some occasions for film adaptations.
e Cultural Center of the Philippines Encyclopedia Volume on Film identifies
the 1950s as the decade when the film adaptation of komiks began and flourished.
In future decades, when komiks-based films would resurrect after a hiatus of sorts,
the efflorescence of the ’50s would continue to be regarded with nostalgia and
remembered glory (76).
Reconstructing 1950s komiks-to-film adaptation through the archive
e main object of this study is to propose a Filipino film adaptation theory
wherein the retrieval of extant komiks and film archives becomes a crucial anterior
activity. e uncovering of the archive then becomes a prerequisite to theory-
construction. Corollary to this, theorizing is almost always inescapably historically-
situated and dependent on material evidence.
As research method, archival documentation helps in generating information
on (1) the provenance of the archive; (2) how the archive has been catalogued and
stored; and (3) the status of its present condition. Archival work involves proper
documentation of its manner of retrieval and its management, that is, noting down
its status of completeness, looking for a duplicate copy, and the like. In other words,
the archival researcher chronicles the archive and discusses its retrieval process
at the same time. e processed data becomes the result of analysis and meta-
analysis, that is, analysis of the data/archive/text per se and meta-analysis of its
provenance, constitution, and the like.
e 1950s was an important period in Filipino film history. Of the 90 films cited
as “Major Works” in the CCP Encyclopedia, eighteen (18) are from the 1950s. In
his list of Ten Best Films up to 1990, Joel David surveyed the opinions of critics,
filmmakers, and scholars, and determined that two (2) of the 10 films ranked as
“best” up to 1990 were released in the 1950s (134-135 ). Perhaps other cursory surveys
are purported to produce similar results that could attest to the importance of the
1950s in the whole history of Filipino cinema. For this reason alone, the state of film
archives from the era has always become a primary concern.
In her lecture titled “Archival Fragility and Anarchival Temporalities in Philippine
Cinema,” Bliss Cua Lim reveals that only 3,000 out of the almost 8,000 films
produced since the beginning of the Philippine film industry in 1919 survived. e
amount of the remaining archive is so lamentable that she refers to contemporary
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Filipino film research as a field that is suffering from an “acute temporal crisis.
Among the reasons that she cited for the loss of film archives include neglect, the
fragility of the films themselves, and the long period of time before the National
Film Archives of the Philippines was established to take charge of preserving these
cultural artifacts.
e inventory as springboard to theory-building
Any theory-building project is highly contingent on the amount of the extant
or available archives that are pertinent to the subject of inquiry. e inventory is
a prerequisite to identifying the extant films with extant komiks sources—either
printed or stored on microfilm—between the years 1950 and 1959.
In the case of komiks, doing an inventory requires scanning microfilmed copies
of magazines and doing on-site notations (i.e., while scanning specimen copies)
about the provenance of the texts such as dates, issue numbers, and pages.
Performing an inventory means consulting lists of films that were either a part
of graduate theses or produced by film-related government and private agencies.
Said lists include the following:
1. Carmen Momblanco’s 1979 thesis on the filmography of the 1950s (MA thesis)
2. Rowena Francia’s thesis on the history of Sampaguita Pictures where the
1950s filmography is appended
3. e MOWELFUND list published in Diamond Anniversary of Filipino Cinema
4. LV N unpublished list of copyrighted films courtesy of ABS-CBN
5.’s online list of extant classic films.
e lists of films were produced by the Special Film Collections librarians. ese
include the List of Copyrighted LVN films4 and the online list of Sampaguita films5
through, a website selling vintage 1950s films.
Bibliographies assist in identifying the extant copies that are deposited in
public and academic libraries. ese lists have been prepared by the library staff
of institutions such as the National Library of the Philippines, the University of
the Philippines Library-Media Services Section, the Lopez Memorial Museum and
Library, and the Manila Bulletin Print Library.
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Filmographies are the lists of works arranged according to year or according
to film companies or directors. ese have been commissioned and published by
institutions such as the Mowelfund (Movie Workers Welfare Fund) or by individual
scholars or theses and dissertation writers.
All three types of listings—lists, bibliographies and filmographies—were
consulted in order to identify extant films with extant sources.
Archival research and documentation are two of the most useful data-gathering
methods in the study of a film era. Archival and documentary research refer to the
actual retrieval, accounting, documentation, duplication, and management of the
primary sources of the study, which include the comparative assessment of various
listings of films and komiks, komiks prints, and copies of films. ese also refer
to the identification and description of the provenance of komiks sources and the
film adaptations. As regards the komiks, three microfilm collections (the National
Library of the Philippines [NLP] Collection, the Lopez Memorial Museum and
Library collection (LMML), and the UP-Diliman [UPD] Library Media Services
collection), and two print archive collections (Lopez Museum and Library [LML]
and Manila Bulletin Library [MBL])6 were consulted for the listing down and for
securing prints of the komiks in the weekly series.
e provenance of the majority of the komiks serials are mixed-format
magazines such as Liwayway and Ilang-Ilang. A mixed-format magazine features
diverse genres in each issue. Genres such as short stories, komiks series, poetry,
editorial, news bits , and feature articles about entertainment and sometimes general
knowledge were placed side by side. e said layout design of the magazines was a
strategy to expand the readership circulation of the magazine.
For the purpose of pursuing this archive-to-theory project, each extant copy
of the magazines from 1950 to 1959 is examined in order to note down the regular
appearance of each episode of a komiks series. Each episode is listed according
to date of publication, noting down the number of pages per komiks series. e
missing episodes in the komiks prints are noted down for future reference. ese
would be sourced out from other collections. e Manila Bulletin Library has the
most complete copies of the Liwayway while the Lopez Memorial Museum and
Library has kept a considerable number of the Ilang-Ilang enough to extract a
complete run for the film Kambal-Tuko.
By the time the titles of komiks stories that were featured in Liwayway and
Ilang-Ilang have been noted down, the list of extant films was also in a state of
near completion. Coincidentally too, the book format version of Lapu-Lapu, which
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was originally featured by Pilipino Komiks, was made available through the Atlas-
Coching Foundation publication.
e availability of the komiks samples from the era has been established before
constructing a definitive list of extant films. e lists of films available for copying
provided by ABS-CBN for LVN Pictures and by for Sampaguita
Pictures have been matched with extant komiks materials available for printing.
Inquiries have also been made on the completeness of the available films or their
state of preservation.
One of the major tasks performed before subjecting the sample texts to
textual analysis and contextualizing these through social history was producing a
comprehensive inventory of extant films and their extant komiks sources.
As a result of the inventory of the microfilm collections, printed sources and
film collections, twelve (12) extant films have been identified as having extant
e 1950s as a site of Filipino cinema studies proves to be challenging when
considering the state of the archive. After the war, Philippine film studios began
rebuilding and revitalizing their resources. Sampaguita, LVN, Premiere, and Lebran
would dominate film production.
In the 1950s, the four big studios produced 90% of the entire production of the
industry. Pareja reveals that a 1951 UNESCO survey listed the Philippines as the
ninth top film producing country of that year.
e following table lists down harvest of the 1950s:
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Table 1: Number of Films Produced in the 1950s by Year
Year Number of Films Produced
1950 74
1951 73
1952 77
1953 98
1954 71
1955 83
1956 83
1957 83
1958 94
1959 96
Total 832
A total of 832 films were produced from 1950 to 1959. Of the 832 films, 263
were produced by LVN and 203 by Sampaguita. e films produced by Premiere
Productions and Lebran Film Company, two others companies contemporaneous
with LVN and Sampaguita, are no longer extant.
Meanwhile, the next table presents the number of films produced by the big four
film companies in the 1950s and the status of their extancy:
Table 2: Number of Films Produced by the Big Four Production Companies of the 1950s
Production Company Number of Films Produced
(1950-1959) Number of Extant Films
LVN 263 94
Sampaguita 203 82
Premiere 31 Non-Extant
Lebran 21 Non-Extant
Of the 263 films by LVN , only 94 are extant. Of the 203 films by Sampaguita, only
82 remain. Some twelve films have been identified to be extant with extant komiks
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e texts are listed in the following matrix:
Table 3: Matrix Showing Extant Komiks with Extant Film Adaptations
Title Komiks Writer/
Title of
Year of
Company Director
Sohrab at
Nemesio Caravana/
Maning P. De Leon
and Ben Alcantara
Liwayway 1950 LVN Nemesio
Bernardo Carpio Fausto Galauran Liwayway 1951 Sampaguita Artemio
Haring Solomon
at Reyna Sheba
A.P. Laudico/
Jesus Ramos Liwayway 1952 LVN Lamberto
Rodrigo de Villa Nemesio Caravana Liwayway 1952 LVN Gregorio
Kambal-Tuko Nemesio Caravana Ilang-Ilang 1952 LVN F.H.
del Mundo/
Fred Carrillo
Liwayway 1952 Sampaguita Octavio Silos
Munting Kerubin
del Mundo/
Fred Carrillo
Liwayway 1953 Sampaguita Octavio Silos
Tulisang Pugot Gemiliano Pineda/
Alfredo Alcala Liwayway 1953 Sampaguita Octavio Silos
Lapu-Lapu Francisco Coching
Komiks (book
1953 LVN Lamberto
Nemesio Caravana
Del Mundo
A.P. Laudico
Liwayway 1954 Sampaguita Olive La
Ad Castillo/
Vir S. Mariano
Bulaklak 1954 LVN Artemio
and Nemesio
Bes Nievera
Liwayway 1955 Sampaguita Tony Cayado
e 1950s was an important film era in the Philippines. e major film studios of
the said decade drew heavily and dynamically from various sources such as radio
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dramas, novels, colonial morality plays and popular forms, traditional theater,
folklore, true events, and komiks. Alongside radio dramas, the major sources of
stories of film studios in the 1950s were the komiks content of magazine serials
such as Liwayway, Bulaklak, and Ilang-Ilang. e dynamic relationship between
the komiks industry and the film industry has become important in accounting for
the film adaptation practice and film adaptation history in the country. As it bears
implications on the adaptive practices of artists in latter-day film eras, the need to
theorize on the subject has become an urgent concern of this writer.
e subsequent parts of the article attempt to outline the major assumptions of
an emergent theory of Filipino film adaptation based on the dimensions of theory
suggested by Littlejohn and Foss, which consist of concepts and principles.7 Instead
of “principles,” this article opts for the label “assumptions” because the theory
supposedly constructed is an emergent one. e major assumptions outlined in
this paper will be supported by the data constructed from the ground and by the
concepts drawn from the literatures of contemporary adaptation discourse as well.
e uncovered archival texts and the social history of film adaptation constructed
through interviews of komiks and film scholars have been elaborated in this writer’s
previous publications.8
e following discussion will outline the major concepts and assumptions of the
proposed theory. is will be capped by an explication of a eory of Adaptation
that the study wishes to advance.
1. Filipino Source Text
Filipino source text may be defined as a story material adapted into a film. is
source text may have been derived from pre-existing materials such as a novel,
a dramatic piece, a short story, a comic book, a radio drama, among others.
Furthermore, it may also be part of a cycle of texts. e older “sources” of a source
text may either be drawn from foreign literary and non-literary materials or from
native pre-colonial narratives and may no longer be existing in their “pure state,
which means that the sources in their present form are already a composite of
various influences, borrowings, allusions, or references. us, a major assumption
of this theory may be stated as follows: A source text of Filipino film adaptation
such as a komiks series derive story materials from older sources and/or co-existing
sources that circulate as part of the Filipino narrative cycle in a given era, e.g., the
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A Filipino source text may or may not be the point of origin of a certain story.
e older source of a komiks story based on a korido, for instance, may either be
an early Spanish-inspired drama or a piece of folklore. e historical pieces (e.g.,
Sohrab at Rustum, Haring Solomon at Reyna Sheba, Rodrigo de Villa, Bernardo
Carpio) drew from the korido. One of the romances cited in this study, Tulisang
Pugot, drew from history and from the foreign gothic novel tradition as well. e
child-themed family dramas (e.g., Kerubin, Munting Koronel) drew from Spanish
colonial theater and from Hollywood melodramas as well. e romantic comedy
and the woman’s film (e.g., Aristokrata, Despatsadora) drew from both Hollywood
and Philippine romances. e fantasy films (e.g., Tulisang Pugot, Tucydides) drew
from folklore and lower mythology. e comedies (e.g., Kambal-Tuko) drew
from bodabil and radio drama. Lapu-Lapu, however, is an attempt at an original
historical film based on a komiks series.
Story cycles are prevalent in Philippine oral tradition. Eventually, this mode of
practice became widespread in cinema too. e assumption goes that as an old
narrative form bows out, it reappears in another mode. ere usually is a “transfer of
passion” or as Rafael puts it, some sort of a “migratory enthusiasm” from one cultural
form to another (Lecture). e content is fixed but the hosts vary. e arrival of
new “hosts” and sometimes the replacement of the old (such as oral tradition) may
be attributed to “changes in the belief system” and “changes in material conditions”
(Mojares 20). e first has to do with new elements being introduced from the
outside and the second with adjustments in social and economic systems. Of the
changes in belief system,” one may cite the shift of interest from religious to secular
themes. is “change” can also be inspired by the newly-acquired independence
of the Philippines in 1946, which created an appetite for freer expressions and
newer forms. Of the “changes in material conditions,” one may consider the rise
of mechanical arts that influenced the shift of focus from drama to films or from
novels to komiks.
Cultural memory or the recollections of the people of the story materials that
existed in previous eras and were handed down through various modes of narrative
transmissions play a significant role in the craving for recycling. Remembrances of
oral lore and old literature were crucial in shaping the content of cinema. Komiks
writers and screen writers were reconstructing cultural memory by going back
to the materials that have already been rendered in previous forms such as the
komedya and the sarswela. is accounts for the variations and modifications in
some details of the new renderings. As Annette Kuhn has said in Dreaming of Fred
and Ginger: Cinema and Cultural Memory:
For an understanding of cultural memory, it is important to attend to the ways in
which memory is produced in the activity of telling stories about the past, personal or
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shared; to the construction and narration of these memory stories; and in the present
instance to the ways in which cinema figures in and shapes these memories. (9)
Derivation is therefore a naturalized activity in any culture. Linda Hutcheon,
for instance, argues that “all art is derived from other art” and that the act of
referencing is an “inclination of the human imagination.” Hollywood, for instance,
has been circulating the so-called “derivative films” (Naremore 10), which accounts
for half of its total productions.
e idea of derivation is one thing; the word or symbol that signifies “derivation”
is another. Lumbera, for instance, objects to the term “derivative” as descriptor for
adaptation because “it is derogatory to cinema” (Personal Interview). He proposes
instead a label that will be respectful of both the precursor text and the update.
ere are other labels synonymous with “source text” that suggest finer
delineations of the idea. In analyzing the various adaptations of Shakespeare
on film and other media, Fischlin and Fortier references Robert Miolas’s other
substitute names for the word “source,” namely: “deep source, resource, influence,
confluence, tradition, heritage, origin, antecedent, precursor, background, milieu,
subtext, context, intertext, affinity, analogue” (qtd. in Fischlin and Fortier 10). To
this, Andrews terminologies may be added: “prior conception,” “cultural model,
and “prior text” (97). Palmer’s “pre-sold properties,” and Genette’s “anterior text”
or “hypotext” are also synonymous with “source text,” “precursor text,” and “prior
text.” A source text, as it is signified in Filipino adaptation practice, departs from
the Western definition in certain ways.
e labels offered by Miolas, Andrew, Palmer, and Genette presuppose the
perceived superiority of the original text over the copy that one may associate
with a dynamic book culture. e status conferred upon the source text reflects
the “transcendent” value that Western practitioners assign to the precursor text.
Naremore blames it on “a mixture of Kantian aesthetics and Arnoldian ideas
about society, that influences this valorization of originality and patent and the
downgrading of the copy or the work of adaptation (2). Andrew observes that this
unexamined view of the precursor text as a “pure” state of being is prejudicial and
limiting to the creative promise of a potential target text: “Adaptation delimits
representation by insisting on the cultural status of the model, on its existence in
the mode of the text or the already textualized” (97).
Gould Boyum hints that the “biases and preconceptions” against adaptations
in their early period of existence partly constitute underlying reasons for the scant
critical work on the subject. Western scholars influenced by this paradigm used
to cultivate the opinion that “great” books may be endangered by adaptation. One
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may just listen to Lindsay’s reference to cinema as “parasite,” which “prey” on works
of great literature (qtd. in Gould Boyum 6).
is disdain for a copy, for popular or for “pan-art,” has delayed the growth and
development of serious scholarship on derivative platforms such as film adaptation.
In the ’80s, a spate of contrary opinions and protests that culminated in postmodern
critics decrying the continuous exaltation of art and the condescending attitude
towards popular culture began to open doors for adaptation discourse.
Philippine adaptation practices in the 1950s did not carry that kind of baggage.
In fact, the adaptive films did not suffer that kind of violent condescension—at least
in available critical works from the era. e affinity of Filipino cinema with folk and
popular sources had always been strong (Cultural Center of the Philippines). e
practice of sourcing folk literature not only transmits the stories but also revitalizes
the said stories through cinema (Tiongson 74-74). David acknowledges folk sources’
contribution in enhancing the aesthetic value of cinema through “a distant, self-
referential manner, often expressed in the form of comic treatments” (15). is is
obvious in the film Kambal-Tuko, which makes use of physical comedy to illumine
the dichotomy between the urban and the pastoral in 1950s conception of space
and mise-en-scène. In addition, “popular sources,” says David, “have managed to
constitute a staple specifically in print-to-film crossovers” (15).
To a certain extent, folk and popular sources assisted the Filipino film industry
in the 1950s in expanding its audience. Cinema interacted with various kinds of
texts. As Naremore opines: “We need to think about how certain texts are adapted
cross-culturally” (12). Why should a Filipino director, for instance, become worried
about changing some details in a story like Bernardo Carpio when it has been
based on a komiks version, which is a version of several renditions of a Filipino
korido that was originally derived from a Spanish corrido in the 19th century? For
instance, Fausto Galauran, the komiks writer, “Filipinized” the Spanish corrido
that Jose Corazon de Jesus revised substantially in the 19th century. On account
of the above background on the Filipino source texts for cinema, one can say that
a dynamic culture of recycling is in place—a culture that does not bother with
questions of originality, copy, authorship, and patent that would have befuddled
any film industry in the West or the established cinema cultures of the world.
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2. Komiks-to-Film Adaptation Industry
e matter of sourcing is rooted in a nation’s narrative culture, but komiks
and film in the 1950s operated and circulated also within the context of mass
entertainment. Without the adaptation industry, any culture of narrative recycling
will not flourish. Adaptation industry not only influenced cinematic practices in
the ’50s but also re-configured the aesthetics and the operations of the komiks
industry. us, another assumption of the theory goes as follows: In view of the
close relationship between the komiks industry and the film industry in the 1950s,
the komiks story normally served as the “first draft” of the film version. erefore,
a source text may function as a transitional text.
e 1950s film industry worked very closely with the print industry, more
specifically the komiks. In fact, the relationship between film and komiks,
according to the CCP Encyclopedia, was “a trend that started in the 1950s” (76). It
was a convergence of two media whose combined appeal may be attributed to the
expanding sector of Filipino mass society in early 20th century that identified with
the iconographies, the narratives, and the ideologies that were inscribed in the
Prior to the 19th century, native society had been exposed to religious narratives
and devotional literatures by the Spanish colonial regime. By the late 19th
century, colonial Philippine society was consuming secular reading materials and
entertainment forms in great quantity. By the time of the Spanish-American War
in 1897, a year before the Spanish colonial government ceded the Philippines to the
United States, the technology of film was introduced to the Filipinos. ereafter,
the technology of cinema (camera and projection) would be a ubiquitous presence
in the Islands: first as a means for the colonizers to document scenes depicting the
empire, and later, to facilitate the exhibition of foreign films in downtown Manila.
e U.S. colonial government brought universal education, taught the natives
English, introduced Anglo-American literature, and solidified the practice of
journalism and printing industries that were partly responsible for the early comic
strips in Telembang and Lipang Kalabaw. e entrance of more publishers to the
scene led to newer forms of publications. By then, Filipinos have reached their
saturation point with religious and didactic materials being rammed down their
throats during the preceding Spanish century. e time was ripe for the parallel
ascendancy of film and komiks. e motion picture began to take over the prime
slot once assigned to komedya, bodabil, and sarswela.
Meanwhile, the popularity of the Tagalog novels, which ran for three decades
(1910s to 1930s) and which spun several film adaptation projects, was gradually
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giving way to komiks. Popular imagination was ready for a new form of stimulation.
As Santiago notes: “e emergence of a new literary form known as the komiks
novel, that was like the traditional serial novel but consisted of more pictures
than words—this form was very popular among the lower classes” (59). Liwayway,
established in 1926, was beginning to allot more spaces to komiks by the 1940s.
e side by side co-existence of prose works (serialized novels or tuluyan and
short stories or wakasan) and serialized komiks (tuluyan and wakasan also) was
on for several decades. Writers like Fausto Galauran would dabble in both prose
novels and komiks novels. Other writers such as Susana de Guzman and Nemesio
Caravana directed movies. Another group of komiks creators represented by
Francisco Coching, Clodualdo de Mundo, and Pablo Gomez worked closely with
the film industry.
A new type of literacy has emerged (S. Reyes. Nobelang Tagalog 2-3). A new
generation became attuned to the visual media while still hooked into their reading
habits. e merging of two literacies—word-based and image-based—became the
very basis of the dynamic interchange between film and komiks that culminated in
the 1950s.
Among the fine stalwarts of komiks culture in the 1950s were the Liwayway
Magazine, Ilang-Ilang Magazine, and Pilipino Komiks. e said magazines and
periodicals cooperated very actively with Filipino producers by spinning out a
steady supply of stories that read like transitional texts for another medium.
e beginnings of the Liwayway may be traced to the early decades of the 1900s
when the publishing scene was mostly tri-lingual. e magazine came into being
after Don Alejandro Roces bought two newspapers, La Vanguardia and Talib a,
from their original owner, Don Martin Ocampo, in 1916. By 1925, Roces has added
an English daily called Tribune to his chain of newspapers (S. Reyes, “Ang Liwayway
at ang Panitikang Tagalog”; Villegas, “A History of Liwayway Magazine”). e tri-
lingual output of his newspaper chain created three kinds of audiences based on
linguistic profile. ere were those who clung to Spanish, those who preferred
Tagalog, and those who found English a potential lingua franca.
In 1922, in between Roces’s acquisition of La Vanguardia and Ta lib a and his
founding of the Tribune, a magazine called Photo-News was released. Roces and
Severino Reyes co-edited the magazine which had three sections: English, Tagalog
and Spanish (S. Reyes, “Ang Liwayway at ang Panitikan Tagalog”). Eventually, Photo-
News floundered because its tri-lingual identity has turned into a disadvantage. Its
patrons bought the magazine to read only the section written in their preferred
language; the other sections written in languages where they are not proficient
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remained unread. e more practical readers eventually discontinued their
subscription to the magazine (Villegas, “A History of Liwayway Magazine”). Not
long after, Photo-News was scrapped.
In the next few months, Roces and Reyes would go back to the drawing board
to conceptualize a magazine that will be written in the language of the majority
of patrons: Tagalog. On November 18, 1922, Liwayway arose from the debris of
Photo-News to become the venue of popular writings in the vernacular. e aims of
the Liwayway editors were clear at the onset. ey were bent to please the masses
who read Tagalog, but this should be carried out without sacrificing the literary
inclination of the magazine (S. Reyes, “Ang Liwayway Magazine at and Panitikang
Tagalog” 200). e key to Liwayway’s success lay in its ability to combine a mixture
of forms and genres. e readers devoured these new materials for the new reading
experience being offered them. As Soledad Reyes notes:
Waring itinakda ng ganitong pormat —ang paghahalo-halo ng mga anyo—ang susunod
pang mga yugto sa kasaysayan ng Liwayway sa susunod na mga dekada. Nabuo and
pormula ng matagumpay na magasin sa unang dekada ng magasin, at ito ang muhon
sa susunod pang mga taon. [It seemed that this format—the mixing of forms—would
constitute the next chapter in the history of Liwayway in the next decades. e formula
for a successful magazine has been conceptualized in the first de cade of the magazine, and
this became its foundational strength in succeeding years.] (“Ang Liwayway Magazine at
ang Panitikang Tagalog” 200)
Liwayway’s openness to diverse forms was beneficial to the rise of komiks,
which developed from a few comics strips to the longer and episodic serialized
novels. e magazine attracted some of the best komiks writers and illustrators
whose productions were readily sought by film executives. Before they have even
completed their run in the komiks, the komiks stories would already be eyed by
film companies for translation on screen. e film producers, aware of the mass
following of certain stories, were ready to gamble into projects that they deemed
would be potential blockbusters. Movie patrons, previously hooked onto the
komiks, were enticed to re-experience the stories through the screen adaptations.
Lumbera notes this in his CCP publication titled Pelikula: An Essay on Philippine
Contemporary popular novels followed from week to week by avid readers of Liwayway
magazine were ideal materials for entertainment fare for mass consumption. As print
entertainment with their own audience following, these novels when transformed into
movies drew into the moviehouses readers interested in seeing their favourite characters
turned into almost flesh-and-blood people moving and talking on the screen. (9)
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e 1950s was perhaps one of Liwayway’s most productive decades for it was
successful in enlisting the talents and building the careers of komiks novelists
such as Francisco Coching, Clodualdo del Mundo, Larry Alcala, Pablo Gomez,
Mars Ravelo, and many more. ese talents had also foreseen the potential of
movie adaptation projects that would eventually lead to one of the most dynamic
partnerships between two media industries in recent times.
Even if Liwayway was not the only magazine that featured komiks stories in
the early years, we cannot discount its contribution to komiks history. Roxas
and Arevalo, Jr. claim in their book titled A History of Komiks of the Philippines
and Other Countries that “it was the komiks section of this magazine (Liwayway,
November 30, 1931 issue) that gave birth to the Philippine komiks industry” (12).
In spite of the impediments that came its way, Liwayway proved to be unyielding.
When magazines solely devoted to komiks were born, Liwayways komiks section
did not bow out but instead maintained its mixed format style that happily brought
in one package serialized prose novels, serialized komiks, poetry, comic strips, and
current events features in each issue into the hands of an avid weekly magazine
Similar to Liwayway, Ilang-Ilang Magazine (subtitled Ligaya’t aliw ng lahat
ng tahanan) featured komiks series. e magazine was founded by Ilang-Ilang
Publications, Inc. in 1946 with Iñigo Ed Regalado as editor. Komiks writers/
illustrators Francisco Reyes and Mauro Malang contributed to the magazine. Like
Liwayway, Ilang-Ilang is a mixed-format magazine that featured literary selections,
new articles, and entertainment news (Regalado).
Pilipino Komiks was put up by Don Ramon Roces’s Ace Publications in 1947.
Roces, who was then publisher of Liwayway Magazine, wanted to put up a komiks
magazine or a magazine solely devoted to komiks. While Liwayway regularly
featured komiks series, it has always been a mixed-format magazine. Pilipino
Komiks was the first experiment on a komiks-only reading material. Roces sought
Tony Velasquez who “did not give him chance to change his mind” (Villegas, e
Story of Ace Publications). e first issue of Pilipino Komiks came out on June 14,
1947 with a total print of 10,000 copies. In the next few decades, Pilipino Komiks
would see the publication of some of the most memorable and longest running
series. Coching’s Lapu-Lapu was published in Pilipino Komiks. Liwayway, Ilang-
Ilang, and Pilipino Komiks were only some of the reading materials that contributed
to the growth of komiks and provided a steady supply of story materials to cinema.
A number of observations regarding the relationship of komiks with cinema in
the 1950s are worthy of mention. One is the practice of buying the filming rights to
komiks stories before they even finish their run in the magazines. Another is the
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fact that komiks creators sometimes dabbled as film directors and scenarists. And
yet another noticeable practice in the 1950s was the promotion and advertising of
films in the pages of said magazines, which have also been featuring stories about
stars and films as part of regular sections.
e source text of a Filipino film adaptation—be it komiks or radio drama—has
been, in many instances, a transitional text. e komiks writer is aware that his
work is only a springboard to another text. is was made obvious by the usual
promotional footnote to the second to the last installment of a komiks story
which would bear the tagline “Kasalukuyang isinasapelikula ng LV N Productions”
[Presently being filmed by LVN Productions] or “Kasalukuyang isinasapelikula ng
Sampaguita Pictures” [Presently being filmed by Sampaguita Pictures]. e source
text as a transitional text enables a historical continuity between and among the
sources, foreign and local, that Philippine cinema builds its idiom around and
about. It also enables the Filipino filmmaker to enter into a dialogue with a text so
that he/she may create a new one. As Stam argues, “e source text forms a dense
informational network, a series of verbal cues that the adapting film text can then
take up, amplify, ignore, subvert, or transform” (68).
A film adaptation works along the technological operations unique to cinema so
that its uses for a source text may vary according to the creative vision harnessed
in the translation mode. us, another assumption of the theory may be stated in
support of this point: e komiks source of film adaptation may serve any of the
following functions: as a storyboard, as a structural guide, as an essential story, or
as a co-storyteller.
e storyboard, which bears a resemblance to a series of komiks panels, is
defined as “a series of individual drawings, or forms.... Each frame represents a
single shot or part of a shot. Captions indicate the action, dialogue, or camera
position or movement” (Withers 182).
Both the komiks and the storyboard capture sequentiality. e only difference
between the two, in Eisner’s opinion, is that the komiks is meant to be read while the
story boards “bridge the gap between the movie script and the final photography”
(146) by suggesting techniques for cinematography, staging, and lighting.
e komiks story, functioning as storyboard, may also have been dictated by the
limits of technology. e storyboard suggests the visuals that will be re-imagined in
a movie. Sometimes though, there exists a thin line dividing the komiks source as
storyboard and the komiks source as a structural guide. is was true of Bernardo
Carpio. In acting as both source and guide, the classical Hollywood narrative
structure is hewn closely to the work of adaptation, structuring the story details
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around a causal chain, which is akin to the mythical journey of the hero as Frye
would have explained. e narrative, sometimes used interchangeably with the
term story, is structured through a device called plot. e idea of the plot has been
drawn traditionally from Aristotle’s classical definition in Poetics where the events
of the story have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Other theorists like Gustav
Freytag have expanded the classical plot into five parts, namely exposition, rising
action, climax, falling action, and catastrophe/resolution/denouement (Desmond
and Hawkes 19).
e CHNC provided a template to 1950s cinema, but it did not dislodge the
influence of the episodic tendency of the films, which David thinks was “carried
over from the printed medium” (15). e komiks descended from a family of media
(dime-novels, chapbooks, newspapers, magazines) that was characterized, first and
foremost, by seriality. In addition, E. Reyes in “Form in the Filipino Film” notes the
scene-orientedness of local films, which “tend to bank heavily on individual scenes
instead of sizing them up in relation to an overall plot” (15). is so-called scene-
orientation of local films is a departure from the supposed character-driven style
of CHNC and is coming from some deep sources of the Filipino sense of episodic
and serial dramaturgy.
In certain adaptations, the source text provides the “essential story” or the
“nuclear story.” Here, the “spirit” of the story takes precedence over the “letter”
(Andrew). To accomplish this, the material undergoes a number of additions and
deletions, or expansions and condensations. e additions and deletions done
on Tulisang Pugot and Kambal-Tuko, for example, indicate that the films have
established a connection with their respective sources in terms of the “essential
story.” e structure is made secondary to the essence of the story. Expansions
and condensations were more numerous in cases where prior story content is
Finally, the source text becomes a “co-storyteller” when the film enhances both
the essence and the spirit of the prior text in a reverential manner. e prior text is
an autonomous work, but it is also served by adaptation. As a case in point, Lapu-
Lapu, the komiks, has contributed to Lapu-Lapu, the film. e komiks’ visual
iconography inspired its counterpart in motion. Flores opines that Lapu-Lapu is
an example of a komiks series whose story and illustration were done by a single
person, i.e., a compleat artist. Whilst Avellana’s film rendition is excellent, Coching
should be named as his “collaborator.” Flores adds:
Tapos yung iconography niya influenced the film e so in a way co-filmmaker siya.…
Film is a collaborative medium…. Without the iconography, wala din.
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[His iconography in a way influenced the film so he was the co-filmmaker…. Film
is a collaborative medium.… Without the iconography, there is nothing.] (Personal
erefore, the notion of a source text as co-storyteller works along the premise of
adaptation as a dialogue or a form of communication between two texts.
To illustrate the point elaborated above, the texts analyzed in previous chapters
have been grouped and identified according to their function as source text in the
following table:
Table 4: The Komiks Stories as Source Texts, in Relation to Their Target Texts
As storyboard As structural guide As essential story As co-storyteller
Sohrab at Rustum
Bernardo Carpio
Haring Solomon at
Reyna Sheba
Bernardo Carpio
Munting Koronel
Rodrigo de Villa
Tulisang Pugot
3. Filipino Film Adaptation Form and Mode
e transfer of a story material from one medium to another entails a process
called adaptation. Story elements from a source text are transposed in filmic
mode using basic and technical properties that inhere in the medium. e basic
property of film refers to its ability “to record and reveal physical reality, and hence,
gravitates toward it” (Kracauer 8). If the prior text is a komiks story, the series
of panels that constitute a segment or an episode find their equivalencies, to use
Kracauer’s terminology, in terms of moving images or the “physical reality” of the
story details. In addition to the camera being “a reproductive medium,” it is also
able to speak a language of its own. is language may be reduced to smaller units,
namely: shot, scene, and/or sequence. Following the discussion of the example of
komiks as source text taken up in the above, it can be asserted that a series of
panels may constitute a scene and in certain cases, a single shot.
e transfer process may be different if the source text is a single-track or a
symbolic/verbal medium such as the novel, the short story, and works of printed
nonfiction. In komiks, cinema has found an ally. As Horn articulates:
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e comics come closer to the movies than any other form.... Both tended to the
same end: the creation of dialectical movement, either through optical illusion (cinema)
or through kinetic suggestion (comics). (56)
Film’s technical properties refer to the elements that may be manipulated by
artists and technicians. One technical property of cinema is editing, which forms
the grammar of narrative film. It provides mechanisms for the transitions in scenes
such as cuts and dissolves. Other elements such as the mise-en-scène, sound, and
color are part of the creative vision to render a story by enlisting technical work
pertaining to staging and post-production. “It is well to point out at this juncture
that many techniques which came to be called ‘cinematic’ originated in the comics,
says Horn. “Montage,” he adds, “was the rule in the comics well before Eisenstein
came along, and the techniques of cutting, framing and panning were used by such
early practitioners as Opper, McCay and Feininger” (56). Moreover, it is only fair to
mention, Horn further says, that the illusory audio in komiks, represented through
the balloon and other dramatic suggestions and approximations implanted in the
frames, has influenced its employment in film.
e basic and technical properties of the film medium are universally applicable.
However, Filipino adaptation practice in the 1950s operated according to its own
predispositions and technological limitations. e cinema of the ’50s recreated
the visual iconography of komiks. Filipino film adaptations re-imagined komiks
materials by first approaching the narrative structure of the original. us, an
assumption of the theory that is connected to the form and mode of adaptation
is stated as follows: e practices of 1950s komiks-to-film adaptation reflected the
practitioners’ knowledge of formal elements of film as a medium in dialogue with
Certain tendencies of the Filipino komiks that have not been well-elaborated in
previous literatures have been unravelled in this study. For example, the notion that
Filipinos are more visually-oriented than literary—at least in the case of reading
komiks or komiks culture—may not be accurate at all. Valiente thinks that while
American comics thrive on visual storytelling, Filipino komiks is word-oriented or
script-dominated. In the ’50s, there was an attempt to balance the graphics and the
words in the panels and to approach the narrative through this supposed marriage
between literature and visual art. Cinema has also wrestled with the same challenge.
As the source text is used as structural guide, the filmmaker adds or deletes in
filmic terms, not in komiks terms. e same is true of the “essential story” mode.
In all types of Filipino source texts (storyboard, structural guide, essential story,
co-storyteller), an establishing shot becomes the choice to find an equivalent to
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the expository prologue in the komiks. Generally, the expository epilogue in the
komiks would be elided in the film version.
e presentational mode dictated the narrative style. According to Scholes, the
presentational form is the “immediate” dimension of utterance exemplified by
“language, gestures,” and other externalized verbalization of narration (417-433).
For instance, voice-over narrations are used only in the prologue of film and not
in the main body. is is the equivalent of the expository narrative in the komiks’
splash page. Under the presentational mode, the story details unfold in a linear
way, approximating the sequentiality of komiks panels but through cut-to-cut film
editing style. ere are no breaks from the narrative diegesis into a meta-narrative
type. In other words, the fictive mode is not interrupted to accommodate some
documentary and non-diegetic elements, except of course in the prologue and the
epilogue where the typical 1950s film tried to show a little semblance of authorial
voice or point of view. Furthermore, when two or three characters are in the frame,
the use of reaction shots became more profuse. In some instances, parallel montage
and intercutting of thematic shots were experimented on. is is exemplified in
Avellana’s Lapu-Lapu.
e long take is noticeable in art house films like Lapu-Lapu while the genre
films (the rest of the films listed above) used simpler cut-to-cut transitions. e long
take is resorted to in order to allow the viewers to find their subjective attention
within the frame, instead of the editor and a few engineering staff in the cutting
room directing focus and therefore, emphasis.
Some directors in the ’50s were obviously in dialogue with the komiks materials.
Some directors were working on their own, expanding or condensing as they saw
fit. It is noticeable that the director who was more in touch or more faithful with
the source text ended up being more original (e.g., Avellana and Caravana). e
directors who decided to make departures from the source were sometimes dictated
not by artistic choice but by either the perceived audience taste, or by the pressure
to economize on shots, or by the surveillance being carried out by the censors.
Avellana’s respect for Coching was too obvious to be missed so that he came up
with a respectable adaptation of Lapu-Lapu. Meanwhile, F. H. Constantino’s film
version of Kambal-Tuko is longer and darker than the Caravana-authored komiks
story, which has a thin storyline, fewer details, and more tendencies to cater to
the slapstick. e examples just mentioned illustrate the extent of the dialogic
relationship, which Bakhtin discoursed about articulately in his works.
e use of mid shots and close ups were utilized predominantly in the ’50s to
highlight characters and to propel their dramatic scenes, which E. Reyes calls “overt
representation” (17). e more epical scenes, where an ensemble of protagonists,
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antagonists, and extras fill up the frame, utilized the long shot, the low angle shot,
and the high angle shot to cover specific vantage points and to call attention to
the placing of actors against an exterior backdrop that consisted of artificial sound
stages and actual locations. Establishing shots showing backdrops in stasis were
conveniently used to transition from one segment to another.
Costumes and backdrops complement character exposition and projection of
atmosphere. Perhaps to compensate for the black and white photography, there
has always been an attempt to be accurate in designing and executing period
costumes, in creating backdrops, and in being more stylish as well. e mise-
en-scène, though uncomplicated in intimate scenes, were made more elaborate
in battle and assembly scenes. Moreover, musical numbers were found in almost
all films and genres (korido, fantasy, adventure, woman’s film, child-themed
family drama, historical pieces, comedy), sometimes with songs and musical
arrangements originally composed for the film and choreographed group dance
numbers, revealing a certain predilection for staged and stylized entertainment in
the courting scenes or in the climactic part.
Filipino film adaptation practices in the ’50s had been handicapped by limited
technology. Latter advances in film technology would show improvements in
cinematography, and color and sound engineering. Along with the growth of
filmmaking science was the shaping of an iconography that contributed to modern
Filipino visual culture.
Meanwhile, Filipino adaptation mode means the status of the film adaptation
in relation to its source text. e adaptation mode of the 1950s was a combination
of “borrowing” and of faithful adaptation. “Borrowing” in Andrew’s definition is an
extensive” kind of derivation where the film hopes to win anew the same audience
that has been entertained by the previous text (98). is has been true of the shared
audience following of komiks and film in the 1950s.
Adaptation in the 1950s was closely related to Andrew’s concept of fidelity of
adaptation or Gianetti’s “faithful adaptation,” where the film follows the source text
to the letter. e film is said to be faithful to the “letter” when its story details follow
the narrative structure of the essential story. Very seldom did movies in the 1950s
transform the source, except in a few parts where details have to be condensed
or expanded. e addition and deletion of details were done mostly to make the
inherent properties of cinema work to the advantage of the adaptation. e films
usually prioritized economy of details and efficiently identified performative
moments in the source text—i.e., presentational, dramatic, and externalized—and
created occasions to render these cinematically.
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4. Filipino Cycle of Genres
Filipino film genre means the types or categories of films that have been evoked
by a work of adaptation. e genre of adaptation may parallel the genre of the
source text, but it may also employ sub-genres. Filipino film genres in the ’50s
include the korido-based films, the melodrama (the domestic drama or the child-
themed drama), the romantic comedy or the woman’s film, fantasy, comedy, and
the historical fiction film, among others.
While the influence of Hollywood on Filipino film genres in the 1950s was
far-reaching, local cinema also came up with story types that were diverse and
were spin-offs from some earlier native sources. One example of multiple generic
evocation in a single film is the korido movie, which would usually employ
varieties of sub-genres such as drama, action, and musical. e success of genres
is hinged on audience formation. A genre is an embodiment of the close affinity
of the audiences with an assembly of story types and themes that were circulated,
referenced, invoked, and re-interpreted in that era. erefore, it is only fitting that
one of the assumptions of the emergent theory should delve on the “recycling” of
genres that Filipinos have been fond of. us: e genres invoked in the komiks
and are adapted in the film dictated the conventions, tropes, themes, and motifs
that were recycled by the industry.
Genres are categories of films that are made distinct by certain uses of
cinematographic language. A category of film may have its own set of conventions.
One example is the musical portion in a courtship scene in a film exemplifying the
romantic comedy. Another example is the sword fight in korido-inspired komiks
story turned into film. e said conventions have been borrowed from European
metrical romances and cloak-and-dagger or cape-and-sword genres, but these may
also be residual influences of pre-colonial heroic literatures like the ethno-epic,
where the fight sequence is a stock convention or device. e use of stock devices
in a source text is translated using the properties of film. As Tudor opines: “e
film ‘converts’ the images to its conventional language” (19).
A trope is a figurative invocation of certain themes, motifs, or patterns that are
repeated in a cluster of films evoking the same category or type. A generic trope may
be distinct to a Filipino film although it may still reveal traces of foreign influences.
One example is the “search” motif that is found in both foreign and local narratives.
A work of adaptation repeats the genre, conventions, and tropes of its source text
in an attempt to recycle a former experience pertaining to the text or to replicate
its popular success. is is in agreement with Andrew’s explanation of “borrowing”
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as a mode of adaptation: “Here the artist employs, more or less extensively, the
material, idea, or form of an earlier, generally successful text” (98).
e genres of Filipino film adaptation in the ’50s reflected both Hollywood
borrowings and native appropriations. ere are two ways by which films are
classified into genres. One is “a priori” or the identification of films based on
received criteria and the other is through “common cultural consensus” (Tudor
18). Contrary to the general perception that Filipino generic categories were
copied from Hollywood or from transhistorical genres (Moine), the local audience
of the 1950s also had a part in re-configuring those plot types according to their
preferences, confirming what Tudor has articulated: “Genre is what we collectively
believe it to be” (19).
Adaptation serves the purpose of generic mediation. Stam confirms this
interpretative role of adaptation: “e art of filmic adaptation partially consists in
choosing which generic conventions are transposable into the new medium, and
which need to be discarded, supplemented, transcoded, or replaced” (6). Korido-
based costume pieces, fantasy, and comedy reflect the interplay of the foreign and
the native. ese local genres are further demonstrated by conventions and tropes.
e generic conventions and tropes deployed in a work of adaptation are
responsible for the recurring motifs, stock characters, and recurring themes.
Lost foundlings, bastard sons, missing fathers, mistaken identities, disguises, and
warring kingdoms were recurring motifs. Commoners-turned-heroes, neglected
wives, poor single girls, wicked uncles and stepbrothers, bandits, and freaks are
stock characters. Search for identity, the eternal triangle, restoration of peace,
maintenance of harmony in the home, class conflict, agrarian problems, marriage
plot, and acceptance of freaks are recurring themes. To quote Braudy, “e genre
film lures its audience into a seemingly familiar world, filled with reassuring
stereotypes of character, action, and plot” (449).
e source text and the adaptation share common features of the genres that
audiences in the ’50s grew familiar with over the years and later became cycles of
industry formulas. Eisner, for instance, has observed that the comic’s employment
of stereotypes is “an accursed necessity” because the medium is expected to
represent “recognizable reproductions of human conduct” (11). Repeatability of
images makes immediate recall and audience identification easier. Genres therefore
second-guess audience reaction, direct it in some instances, or “remind” audiences
of their former invocations of the same conventions and tropes (Braudy 449).
Some artistic productions move beyond generic conventions and troping. Films
like Lapu-Lapu were impelled by aesthetics rather than formulaic entertainment.
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When applied to adaptation, the director adapting a komiks story translates not
only the story elements of a source text but also struggles with the genre invoked
by the material. As Naremore observes, “Some directors have been intent on
faithfully illustrating their sources, whereas others have been motivated by a desire
to interrogate or ‘read’ the prior text” (12).
Adaptation then, from the perspective of generic conventions and troping,
requires a certain dose of “genre literacy” (T. Leitch; Hutcheon). After all, a
filmmaker is situated in between two creative choices: summoning the source text
and creating a new work, what Andrew calls “a leap and a process” (97).
Generic conventions and tropes also enable the appropriation of certain stories
from diverse sources. In the long run, the “cycles” cause the return, repetition, or
reprise of old stories, which Sanders calls “a transpositional practice, casting a
specific genre into another generic mode, an act of re-vision in itself” (18). Genres
are also called cycles because they circulate and return. Nichols, in citing Griffith’s
cycles and genres,” acknowledges genre films’ “cumulative” effect on society.
Gledhill, meanwhile, reports that a number of critics “favour the concept ‘cycle’
over genre,” (226) because it points to the role of the industry in shaping particular
story categories.
5. Filipino Komiks-to-Film Characters
e characters in the komiks reprise their roles in the film screen. ey are
the protagonists of the korido who resemble the epic heroes of long ago in
their “greatness and magnanimity” (S. Reyes, “e Philippine Komiks: Text as
Containment” 158). e characters of fantasy come from the lower class, unlike
their foreign counterparts who are from the middle class (S. Reyes, “Of Borders
and Margins”). ey are defined by their struggles and their motivations and
actions drive the plot forward. In a historical genre, they are the immortal hero-
founders of the proto-nation. In the comedies, they are the clowns, or buffoons, or
characters who provide a satiric function.
e iconography of the characters/protagonists/heroes in a source text like
komiks influences their portrayal in the adaptation. e graphics in the komiks
guides the visual rendering in film, the signifier being close to the signified. ere
is the contribution of motion and sound in an illusory way. As Flores has spoken
of Coching’s example: “e graphic in reciprocations of the chance of change
in form inflects the cinematic with the iconography of the komiks, its logic of
practice” (Life and Art of Francisco Coching 22-23). e two media then shared
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in the responsibility of shaping the iconic Filipino man and woman in the 1950s.
us, another assumption of the theory is as follows: e characters in the Filipino
source text reflect their society and milieu. ey are contingent to the narrative
tradition, the komiks’ iconography, and the film adaptation process of the film era.
Filipino characters and heroes, even the extraordinary and grotesque, resonated
among the audiences. In the world of film and komiks, the grotesque and the freak,
such as Pugo and Togo in Kambal-Tuko, were accepted and embraced because
their story provided not only an escape mechanism but also an occasion for self-
identification. S. Reyes confirms this:
Within this frame of discourse, it is easy to see how the monstrous, the grotesque,
and the terrifying, bloodcurling images that occupy the road to hell, on the one hand,
and how the idyllic scenes, supernatural heroes and heroines bathed in light, eerie
configurations of paradise that shape the ascent into heaven, on the other hand, can lend
themselves to psychoanalytic readings. (From Darna to Zsa Zsa Zaturnah 13)
In other words, part of the motivation for adaptation has been the familiarity of
the audiences with the characters and heroes whose adventures they have followed
in a prior text. Sometimes, the audiences find catharsis in their heroes’ stories,
which reveal indigenous psychology and unconscious mythmaking.
Filipino heroes are not spared from archetypal interpretation. Many of them
are types, which Frye says “is as necessary to the character as a skeleton is to the
actor who plays it” (qtd. in Gould Boyum 43). Sometimes, the romance genre and
the fantastic turn in heroes such a mestizo who escapes hard labor conscription
in a galleon ship or an avenging dispossessed tenant. Heroes may also be based
on real-life figures whose heroic exploits are mythologized in a way that almost
overshadow their historical personas.
e komiks and the film introduce characters that audiences find easy to
identify with because these personalities exude a persona that are close to viewers’
conception of character types. Of komiks’ characters, S. Reyes says, “e characters
had to be instantly recognizable as ‘real’ in the sense that they embodied composite
features of familiar types found in life” (“Francisco V. Coching ” 119). Flores avers that
audience identification with characters is connected with “the whole performance
of imitation and intimacy” (Art and Life of Francisco Coching 29). e characters
have gestures and appearances that are familiar to the audience.
Genre characters inhabit a world of their own. Yet, in the same breath, characters
in komiks are complex because they are illumined by their cultural contexts. As
Horn articulates:
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e protagonists of the comics, whether by design or by necessity, go back to the
fount of our collective memories and aspirations. ey represent some emplematic
figure, some archetype linking us to the primeval drives and forces across the night of
history. It is as if the comics had taken it upon themselves to embody all our collective
longings and try to give them some channel for fulfilment. And yet at the same time, it is
asked that they toe the social line, and this dichotomy has often led to ambivalence and
frustration. (60)
When these characters are brought to the film screen, they either retain their
ambiguous stance or they are “simplified, even melodramatized” (Kline 70). In
Filipino adaptation, they may also be “enhance d by the persona of stars” or “enlivened
by the tricks of genre” (Flores, Art and Life of Francisco Coching 18). Suffice it to
say that characterizations in komiks face a new life in the film version where they
extend their tenure and circulation in the visual and literary imagination of the
Visual iconography is the instrument of komiks stories in creating appealing and
charismatic characters and heroes. Filipino expressive anatomy is a special case. It
thrives on familiarity and iconicity. It caters to the caricature in comedy, but it is
also capable of representing distinct mannerisms and making these memorable
through iconic poses. For instance, Flores notes Coching’s art illustrations that
have been translated cinematically:
e lunge, the gallop, the slap, the stretch, the bend, the counterpose, the thud –
these are marked deeds of wilful beings who read out for the impossible and return the
look with interest. us, we may say that Coching has partly crafted a Filipino manner,
so to speak, an iconography of villainy and righteousness. (Life and Art of Francisco
Coching 19)
Philippine komiks in the 1950s also depicted the human form along simple
and realistic lines, and this had an impact on the characterization and physical
rendering of heroes in the movies. e setting in the ’50s komiks cohered with
the expressive anatomies of the characters, reflecting the impulse towards realism,
with streaks of exaggeration, and an unconscious predilection for the norm and a
nostalgia for the rustic at the same time.
However, the heroes of the koridos such as Bernardo Carpio are presented in a
more stylized manner that is befitting their mythical and quasi-historical origins.
Sometimes humorous, sometimes sensual, the royals and the princesses are
portrayed as larger than life. ey are presented visually in exaggerated postures,
displaying mannerisms that go with their noble background and performing
extraordinary roles that gave them an aura of invincibility.
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European heroic characters like Bernardo Carpio have been imported during
the colonial years for the consumption of the native through the metrical romance
form and other popular narratives. As S. Reyes asserts, heroes who are indigenized
meld foreign mannerisms with those of the folk: “ese characters exuded other-
worldly air, since medieval Europe was indeed ‘another world’ to the Filipino” (“e
Philippine Komiks” 172).
Filipino historical fiction film and fantasy such as Lapu-Lapu and Tulisang
Pugot, respectively, achieve artful iconography owing to the rich imaginations of
their artists. Coching’s characters are physically beautiful, alluring, and strong.
eir gestures are complex, and they meld well with their backdrops. Alcala’s
visual rendition of Caravana’s late 19th century setting, characters, and manners
are reminiscent of the ambience of Noli, Fili, and even of Coching’s Spanish-era
stories such as El Indio. It may be assumed, therefore, that when the iconography
of the source text is an art piece, the filmic translation becomes also highly textured
in terms of mise-en-scène, art design, and costume.
Imaginative iconography in the source text translates easily into film and it
is possible too that film iconography influenced printed media in return; genres
becoming cycles in the truest sense of the word. As Sanders opines, “Texts feed off
each other and create other texts” (14).
6. Cultural Economy of Adaptation
Filipino film adaptation in the ’50s was a product of many social and cultural
contexts. e contexts of film production include the identification of formulaic
story materials, the studio system, and the star system. e cultural economy then
consisted of the people who propelled the commercial drive of the industry and the
social and cultural aspects of the creative enterprise. ese factors sustained the
industry in the 1950s. us, another assumption of the theory goes: Some of the
key components of the cultural economy of film adaptation, such as the producers,
the stars, and the fans, were implicated in the practices of Filipino komiks-to-film
adaptation in the 1950s.
e era’s popular genres were also known by another label: formulas. e
word “formula” is more operative in understanding the marriage between story
content and business strategy. It meant identifying source texts that would spawn
similar or familiar materials in a sort of an assembly line. e Fordist style of film
management in the 1950s enabled the studios to “specialize” in certain formulas and
in producing a cycle of genre films. Part of their creative function was to develop
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formulas for adaptation and ensure their repeatability and viability. e producers
play the role of “critics” in reading industry trends and in re-configuring genres and
story materials that would ensure the continuity of the production line.
e casting of actors for a film adaptation was sometimes influenced by their
images and portrayal in the source text. e iconography suggested by a source-
text would be merged with film roles and the aura of stars. Taken to their extreme,
iconographies that were memorable and became almost identifiable with the actors
who played the roles have been linked to the making of cultural icons and symbols.
In the ’50s, the role of the actor became intertwined with his/her real public image.
e producer directed the career of their contract stars and sponsored promotions,
premieres, and fans’ days to court popular appeal for their movies.
Producers’ prerogative and the image of stars were responsible for the formation
of fandom. Some fans adored the stars, but some were also fans of the komiks
material who wanted to check on their screen versions. e cultural economy of
adaptation has always been implicated in the film production process. Ideology,
the aura of stars, and the fans’ enthusiastic following made sure that story materials
were not so far-fetched from what was taking place behind the camera. As
Horkheimer and Adorno, in Dialectic of Enlightenment, have eloquently said:
e whole world is passed through the filter of the culture industry. e familiar
experience of the moviegoer, who perceives the street outside as a continuation of the
film he has just left, because the film seeks strictly to reproduce the world of everyday
perception, has become the guideline of production. (99)
e six concepts and assumptions enumerated above somehow provide texture
to the emergent theory of Filipino film adaptation theory, which is further explicated
in the following discussion.
e previous section laid down the concepts and assumptions of an emergent
theory of Filipino film adaptation. It discusses the general features of Filipino
komiks-to-film adaptation. e following discussion further crystallizes Pelikulang
Komiks as a Filipino film adaptation theory. While the section on concepts and
assumptions draws conclusions from the specific archival texts uncovered and
the issues pertaining to production and consumption of komiks and films, the
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current sub-section presents the main arguments of the supposed emergent theory.
Moreover, the flow of the discussion is guided by the following diagram:
Ideas of “native” or “indigenous” may be viewed as more contentious than what
may be apparent, especially when understood within the context of 1950s komiks-
to-film adaptation. e country’s colonial experience was a long period of exposure
to the colonizer’s imperial institutions, which were responsible for the almost total
obliteration of native culture. erefore, the Filipino native of the 1950s may have
been a product of centuries of evolution and filtration. e country then was a
Fig. 1. Theoretical Model for Pelikulang Komiks
(A Vernacular and Hybrid Theory of Filipino Film Adaptation)
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young republic and was afflicted by the nationalistic fever that hit the nation in the
aftermath of the war.
e denotative meaning of the word “indigenous” reflects the situation of the
native in relation to its opposite or contrary notion: the “foreign” or the “outsider.
Webster’s ird New International Dictionary enumerates three aspects of the
word indigenous:
native (1) not introduced directly or indirectly according to historical record or
scientific analysis into a particular land or region or environment from the outside;
(2) originating or developing or produced naturally in a particular land or region or
environment; (3) of, relating to, or designed for natives. (1151)
e above dictionary meanings of indigenous refer to three perspectives. First,
the set of meanings presents the dichotomy between the natives’ natural possession
and outside influence. Second, it makes a reference to the place of origin of a trait
as a pre-condition to what is indigenous. ird, it reflects the agency of the natives
themselves in defining who they are and what they are capable of.
In spite of the existence of denotative meanings, Hornedo notes how slippery
the term “native” can be. He says that today’s native descends from the early settlers
in the Philippines thousands of years before the Westerners arrived. ey came
from mainland Asia by boat and migrated to the islands. After some time, the early
settlers would be regarded as the first discoverers or natives of the islands. ese
early peoples eventually became indigenous to the place (17-18). For Hornedo, the
famous Frank Lynch pronouncement—“Today’s native was yesterday’s visitor” (qtd.
in Hornedo 12)—is very apt to describe the native who originally came to these
islands as a stranger.
e cinema was not indigenous to the Filipinos, and neither were the early
theatrical forms and early prototypes of the novels that have become part of their
narrative tradition. Brought from the outside through colonial encounter, these
early foreign narratives prepared the Filipinos for cinema, which they considered
both a novelty and a continuation of early narrative traditions. Before the coming of
the Spaniards in 1521, the communication forms in the country were predominantly
oral. is was true of all civilizations before the advent of writing and printing. Fang
offers that pre-literate societies were “enriching their lives and enhancing memory
with verbal and metrical patterns of epic poetry, story and song” (11).
Joaquin, in his monumental essay titled “Culture as History,” avows that we
could glean the history of a nation through its cultural developments, specifically
in the level of its adoption of “new tools, or novelties in media” (5). Influenced by
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Marshall McLuhan’s dictum, “e medium is the message,” Joaquin avers that we
have been historically transformed by our encounter with foreign colonial powers.
Lumbera agrees to this role of material history in the rise of media:
Para sa akin, history and culture ang nag-de-determine kung paano tayo kumikilos,
tumitingin, nagpapasya. [For me, history and culture determine how we act, how we see,
how we decide.] (Personal Interview)
In his study of the rise of the Filipino novel, Mojares avers that newer literary/
media forms, such as the 20th century novel, definitely took on many of the
features of early narratives that served as prototypes of the form. e ethno-epics
were already in existence in the Philippines prior to Spanish contact, and served a
number of functions in pre-colonial Philippines aside from providing amusement
and delight. In both its ritualistic and its artistic function, the epic is a key to
understanding the pre-colonial native.
e qualities of the native that found their way in the narrative forms of the 20th
century were forged in ancient times. Lumbera, in characterizing the qualities of
indigenous Tagalog poetry, observes that the native poet “was lyrical in temper,
realistic in imagery, transparent in verbal texture and simple in technique” (“e
Literary Relations of Tagalog Literature” 313). e natives who greeted the early
missionaries were predisposed to singing and to producing verses that capture the
reality of the everyday. e fictional works of early Filipinos “had a minimum of
characterization and a great amount of fantasy” (Lumbera, “e Literary Relations
of Tagalog Literature” 313). e artistic temperament that we associate with
contemporary Filipinos seems to have been rooted in their nativist past.
During the Spanish years, new narrative forms such as the pasyon and didactic
prose were introduced and became influential enough to displace the epic. In pre-
colonial times, epics were recited for days by the chanters who possessed excellent
memory and improvisational skills. ese oral forms had the fractured feel of the
episodic. When Spanish dramaturgy and storytelling devices were introduced
through religious and community rituals, the epic went into history. Some of these
Spanish narrative styles were imbibed in cinema, and some were sifted first through
the komiks medium. Hispanismo is all-embracing, a seepage on various domains
of culture. Spanish narrative forms reconfigured ancient genres and rendered these
in a new package, and the native narrative tradition was never the same again.
With the Americans, cultural narratives developed from traditional to innovative,
from didactic to secular. e English language and apprenticeship in the craft of
writing gave new impetus for the native to express his/her soul in a borrowed tongue
and a foreign idiom. Fanon reveals this as the reaction of the native—whether an
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intellectual, an artist, or a simple man—in relation to the “mother country.” Forced
to seek his colonial identity during and after the Western encounter, the native
takes the task of studying or forging national culture. His/her initial steps are
wrought by various activities of imitation and mastery of the colonizer’s narrative
forms. To understand one’s postcolonial identity, the native may mistake that being
familiar with the culture of their colonizer is the first step to knowing the enemy.
e roots of imitation, of conscious borrowing from foreign forms in the 1950s,
may be linked to a longing to acquire universal knowledge. Fanon articulates:
is is because the native intellectual has thrown himself greedily upon Western
culture. Like adopted children who only stop investigating the new family framework at
the moment when a minimum nucleus of security crystallizes in their psyche, the native
intellectual will try to make European culture his own. (218)
Bhabha, who also acknowledges Fanon’s influence on his work, ascribes this
attitude of the native to master the art of the colonizer as part of a habit of colonial
mimicry. However, Bhabha sees this mimicry as having two implications: one
favourable and another problematic. Mimicry, for Bhabha, is a site where colonial
memory and influences meant not only adopting a standard or an idea but also
subverting it: “e ambivalence of mimicry—almost but not quite—suggests that
the fetishized colonial culture is potentially and strategically an insurgent counter-
appeal” (91). Somehow, this parallels what Rafael calls “colonial uncanny” (Lecture).
What Fanon has referred to as the tendency of the native to imbibe or to
imitate foreign culture may be evident in the cycle of borrowings that the 1950s
film industry engaged in. From the koridos to the fantasy-adventures, from the
historical genre to the comedies, the influences of both Spanish and American forms
were intertwined with the sources of komiks. Del Mundo, Jr., in his book Native
Resistance: Philippine Cinema and Colonialism 1898-1941, draws a vivid picture of
how easy it was to build the local film industry from the example of the American
entrepreneurs (48). At the same time, appropriation of foreign influences has been
crucial in forging a postcolonial consciousness. As Figure 1 implies, foreign sources
and native tendencies are engaged in a circular mode and are “splitting off,” to use
Mojares’s term. e foreign and the native get entangled with each other, creating
the komiks-based cinema of the 1950s. Together, they constitute the national and
the popular.
e word “nation” is implicated in the notion of assimilating 1950s komiks-to-
film adaptation within the folds of national cinema. Prior to the rise of cinema
cultures in the Philippines, two print-based media performed the task of
implanting the idea of community, which was once assigned to the pre-colonial
communication forms. e novel and the newspaper grew alongside the spread
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of capitalist economy in urban centers. As forerunners of the narrative film and
the serial komiks, the seriality of the novel and the newspaper became crucial in
shaping a sense of community along the “homogenous empty-time” that Benjamin
(qtd. in Anderson 24) has mentioned or the notion of “meanwhile” (Anderson 25)
in the life of the nation. Conceptions of community defy time.
e novel and the newspaper were therefore responsible for the nation’s becoming.
e nation, as Anderson has elaborated, is “an imagined political community—and
imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign” (6). In other words, the nation
has only been an idea. It has only been “imagined because the members of even
the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or
even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion”
(Anderson 6). Eventually, colonized societies that imagined the nation, through the
novel and the newspaper, would soon be consumed by the desire to free themselves
from colonial oppression.
Anderson’s thoughts are relevant to the secular themes of komiks-to-film
adaptation. Departing from the predominantly religious themes during the
Spanish years, the secular themes during the period of independence bordered on
various aspects of modern life. As S. Reyes opines: “Collectively taken, they served
as indices to the nation’s varied images of itself” (“e Philippine Komiks: Text as
Containment” 11).
History books refer to the 1950s as the Decade of Philippine Nationalism. is
must have something to do with the general feeling of exuberance that the Filipinos
had following the colonial years. Flores notes that Filipinos who lived in the ’50s
would say that the atmosphere was characterized by effusiveness. e constructed
notions of nation were almost “essentialist” but were also “exhilarating.” Moreover,
Hollywood casts a huge shadow on the pervading feeling of Filipinos to express
their art in a nationalist way. e presence of Hollywood influences should not be a
problem in an era of nationalism. It is the assimilation of influences that should be
interesting to film history (Personal Interview).
e empire has answered back, which is a sort of re-enactment of a usual
postcolonial narrative. e dynamism of the decade in terms of the quantity of films
and the constant sourcing of komiks stories was perceived as something important,
if not merely novel. e young nation has created various artistic expressions that
are to be enunciated for the first time.
It was “the afterlife of the colony” and so the desire to assert one’s identity was
a very palpable reality for Filipinos (Flores, Personal Interview). Flores has labelled
three ramifications of the idea of the postcolonial Filipino: the native, the national,
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and the nationalist. e recovery of what is native by conducting an inventory of
local forms; the identification of what is national, which means understanding
collective identity” such as defining “musikang pambansa” (national music); and the
formation of nationalists, “which is about the struggle for freedom to be sovereign,
to be free from foreign intervention,” were surely reflected in the arts” (Personal
e nation is a pervading presence in pelikulang komiks, maybe not in a direct
way, but in an oblique way. One example that may be cited to prove this point is the
treatment of the past that has been sifted from komiks to film. Prior to its filtration
in the komiks, the past eludes the Filipinos because popular forms seem to be the
least likely platform for tackling what Ileto refers to as an “unfinished revolution”
(177). e past is a complex discourse to be represented in popular culture, yet it is
an undeniable staple material in ’50s komiks adaptations.
e subject of the past is perceived to be a means of constructing identity
through fiction. For S. Reyes, to look back at the war years was just too painful
to bear for the komiks writers so that they decided to avoid it (“e Philippine
Komiks: Text as Containment” 159). She adds:
is intense preoccupation with the past which began early in komiks’ history
further deepened in the early 1950s. With the economy in shambles, the infrastructure
almost completely destroyed and its people still trying to recover from three years of a
repressive Japanese regime, the country had very little to look forward to. What they
possessed were memories, but recent memories of soldiers in the “Death March,” of
children and old people dying of starvation, women raped by Japanese soldiers, mindless
violence and bloodshed, among others, were too painful to recall and utilize as materials
for fiction. (“e Philippine Komiks: Text as Containment” 159)
e films, similar to komiks, chose to depict the very remote past, not entirely
to learn from it as to maintain the status quo. ose films set in a modern setting
are reworkings of the same old themes of the conflict between a land-grabbing
haciendero and a dispossessed land owner. Yet there are other forms of domination
that rework the residual patron-client relationship in the films. While the komiks
writers and filmmakers seemed to be less critical of the old values that needed to
be further re-examined, they were however reflective of urban woes, of the chaos
wrought by industrialization, and of crass materialism that challenged family values.
If a radical critique of society in the escapist treatment of the past was almost
non-existent in the ’50s, it was sometimes the fictional take on a historical figure
that offers a potential political reading of history. e Coching-Avellana Lapu-
Lapu, in its avowed proto-nationalism, combines coherent storytelling with
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excellent photography, art design, sound, and other accoutrements of iconography
and mise-en-scène. Another text, Tulisang Pugot, may be too fantastic and evasive
of politics, but its sheer depiction of the late 19th century that evokes the eerie and
the gothic presents a possibility for critique via iconography.
e past as subject for pelikulang komiks is not only about the Spanish period.
Various periods of oral and written history of the Philippines were also tackled
by komiks stories by borrowing plots from awit and corrido (S. Reyes, “Readers
and Viewers and the League of Extraordinary Creators” 149). e distant past is
a trope by which the film story may be able to achieve a resolution of old issues.
But the indiscriminate evocation of the period film and its problematic values had
been revisited by adaptation not in a didactic mode but in a nostalgic mode. It is
not a revisitation of the past in a postmodern, “ironic” way (Eco 17). Instead, the
intention in recapturing the past may be to retrieve a sense of pride that has been
crushed by wartime experiences. ere was a need to make sense of the past, to
return to what used to be untrammelled and whole.
e past serves as a school for the honing of the visual iconography of the
1950s. It “would help endow the komiks with a certain sensibility that defined its
specificity,” says Soledad Reyes (“e Philippine Komiks: Text as Containment” 164).
is specificity does something else; it is a key to the heroic ideal of the Filipino. It
served both as a value and as a generic trope. e concept of nation penetrated
pelikulang komiks either through the use of the past as trope or by pursuing myth-
making strategies. As Horn offers:
e problem of creating a milieu at once ordinary and different is the lot of all mass
media which also aspire to becoming art forms. To answer the challenge, the comics may
resort to the wholesale creation of a mythical ontogeny. (60)
e creation of a national mythology becomes the ultimate and the most positive
work of popular forms. It is where heroes fulfil their role in the collective destiny of
the people: their stories becoming allegories for greater ideals beyond the enclave
of fiction.
But then the bright lights of criticism, of mythography, are easily dimmed by
commerce. is Janus-faced content of film adaptation can be problematic when
it surrenders politics to entertainment. As Figure 1 above shows, the confluence
of foreign borrowings and indigenous elements in pelikulang komiks reflect both
scripting the nation and fuelling a culture industry. e latter is inevitable insofar
as cinema is a technology borrowed from the West and is propelled through the
capitalist enterprise. As Armes offers: “For all ird World countries, then, film is
an imported form of communication” (35).
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All societies gave birth to oral communication forms that “are indigenous,
having grown out of specific cultures in which they are rooted historically” (Armes
35). Cinema has been a notable exception being not native to any third cinema as
the Philippines. Lumbera in “Popular Culture as Politics,” says that popular culture
such as film “refers to cultural forms and their respective content, which had been
introduced from without, before these had been assimilated into the sensibility
and value-system of the people” (155). Lumbera differentiates it from folk culture,
denotes the traditional culture that a distinct community of people has evolved
(sometimes in isolation from others) in its struggle with nature, and in the process of
accommodation and resistance experienced by each community in its multifarious
relationships with outsiders. (155)
Horkheimer and Adorno aver that the craze to access a number of entertainment
forms was a creation of the values of the bourgeoisie whose vested interest in
filmmaking has been linked to the propagation of certain ideological constructs
that will maintain the status quo or ensure the elite’s hold on the infrastructure
of thought. e result is repetition. As they argue in the chapter titled “e
Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception,” in their book Dialectic of
Enlightenment, culture today is infecting everything with sameness” (94).
Insofar as the pelikulang komiks of the 1950s engaged both the national and
the popular, we can say that colonization was only one of the factors implicated
in the complex borrowings of content and form. e growing consciousness of
the masses has also been shaped by the Enlightenment doctrine of rationalism
and a new excitement over the kind of cinema current in those days. Although
not immune from being victims of deception, the masses gave new voice to
the idea of nationalism that has been forged by or made complex by capitalism.
While negotiating an idea of nation requires looking inward and exploring “native
elements,” one could not avoid doing such under the sponsorship of capitalism and
the culture industry.
Adaptation is not exclusive to cinema. It is an artistic practice that has been
in existence as far as the known history of the Filipinos is concerned. In locating
adaptation in culture, one is not limited to any specific art form or cultural practice.
e whole of cultural tradition is implicated in understanding specific moments
of adaptive art and ways of sourcing materials from narrative lore and cultural
memory. Filipino adaptation practices in the 1950s were distinct because these
were rooted in a culture of recycling. Stories and narratives were assimilated from
various sources—foreign and local—and were rendered in the vernacular (native
language), using local color and idiom. Adaptations re-symbolized source texts
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into films. As Gould Boyum has argued, “An adaptation is always, whatever else it
may be, an interpretation” (73). In this sense, the past and the present merge in a
work of komiks-to-film adaptation.
In another sense, locating culture in adaptation allows for a broader view of
adaptation. It is about culture as a whole, the kind of stories we recycle, and the
type of materials that help explain the present. As D.M. Reyes further articulates,
“I think what was being adapted onto the screen coming from komiks was material
that was more evocative of the currency, of the recency of the experience.
Adaptation is inherently contradictory; one feet is rooted in the past, another in
the present. “e komiks mine the indigenous experience, dipping into the wealth
of powerful images and symbols for the present to see,” Soledad Reyes adds (“e
Philippine Komiks: Text as Containment” 161). Familiar colonial symbols were
instruments to understand the nation and the people, “lest they forgot who they
are,” says Reyes (158). “It is a reflection of who we are,” Yonzon adds. In fact, it is
possible that old stories with their simplistic ideological positions reflect or could
reveal “a civilization that has been buried under” and needs to be brought out in the
open. In hindsight, the 1950s’ practice of komiks-to-film adaptation was a last great
adaptation era of such kind. A great era of adaptation only proceeds from a great
era of source texts, and the komiks industry has seen major changes in decades
past. As Yonzon has added: “I don’t think we could dream of a comics creation
with wide readership. I think the only thing we could do is to provide a platform for
comics ideas to be expanded to other medium” (Personal Communication).
e values carried forth in both source texts and target text may also subvert
status quo. S. Reyes, for instance, suggests that it may be useful to search for
an “indirect correspondence” between the times and what the stories represent
(Personal Interview). One example would be the antagonists who fought the
popular superhero Darna, which according to the contention of one online analyst
Reyes cites, serves as a metaphor for the “social-economic forces that bedevilled
the Philippines after the 2nd World War” (Personal Interview). ese kinds of
interpretive leaps are what Flores calls “allegorical mediation” because the readings
may range from a more personal take to the more political and revolutionary level
(Personal Interview).
Valiente agrees. After the war, with the memory of their harrowing experience at
the hands of the Japanese, Filipinos worked towards the rejuvenation of their spirit.
e Second World War, he says, impelled Filipinos to find their moorings. ere
came a need to carve an image of a new Filipino that is ideal, chivalric, and heroic.
Regarding this, Flores cites critic Alice Guillermo’s assessment of the contribution
of komiks writer Francisco Coching and muralist Carlos “Botong” Francisco to
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modern art in general: ey “formed the visuality of the heroic Filipino of the ’50s”
(Personal Interview).
“Sourcing” in the Filipino sense is not the linear and one-way style of borrowing
or drawing elements from a prior text. It is recycling materials from various periods
of cultural development across forms, across genres, and across meanings. In the
act of updating a material, both capitalistic drive and cultural impulses are at play.
Sourcing is paean to the past—albeit in a more unconscious way. e adapter
recreates older materials into komiks and into films because he/she had memories
of various epochs that require understanding. Fanon declares the postcolonial
artist’s role in re-building national culture: “e colonized man who writes for
his people ought to use the past with the intention of opening the future, as an
invitation to action and a basis for hope” (232).
Appropriation” in the context of komiks-to-film adaptation means re-fashioning
materials, whether foreign or indigenous, into a new form, a new genre, or a new
meaning for Filipinos. Hornedo interprets appropriation as a way of adding to what
the “visitor” or the foreigner has brought to this land: “For the Filipino there is
such a thing as appropriation by extended possession” (15). ere would come a
time when traces of foreign borrowings would have already melded smoothly with
the local to be ever visible. is was the route taken by the sarswela and komedya.
Komiks-to-film adaptation has been only one point of entry in that long process
of cultural adaptation. ere is perhaps no other more articulate way to illustrate
appropriation than the example of the Bernardo Carpio story, which followed
multiple routes. From a 19th century Spanish corrido, the story became a legend
about the Filipino folk hero.
“Vernacularization” is a very powerful tool in asser ting indigenous culture through
the complicated maze of foreign borrowings and local filtrations. To vernacularize
is to express an appropriated material in the language, idiom, and metaphor of the
Filipino. Film adaptation of komiks in the 1950s, that artistic product brought about
by the merging of foreign and native materials, is a vernacular narrative. Rafael,
who articulates the concept of the vernacular discourse in his writings, opines that
the vernacular “forebears the foreign” or “hosts the foreign” and “gives it something
different,” so that “the vernacular becomes other than itself” (Lecture).
Meanwhile, there are various interpretations of the word “vernacular.” In his
work titled “Blues, Ideology, and Afro-American Literature: A Vernacular eory,
Houston A. Baker, Jr. defines the vernacular (as applied to the arts) as “native
or peculiar to a particular country” (2227). For Hornedo, the operational term
is “addition.” One may recall the example of the Willy’s jeep, an American type
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of vehicle, which was re-modelled by Filipinos to suit his need for transport and
personal comfort. Furthermore, “the Filipino addition to the jeep and the tricycle
is not appendage but identity…” (Hornedo 16).
Vernacularization as a form of adaptation in cinema works along the principle of
addition. Moreover, p elikulang komiks presents it self as a type of vernacular narrative,
alongside the Tagalog novel, epic, awit, korido, and pasyon because it delivers a
story that is exclusively retold using conventions and tropes drawn externally and
locally. is aptly parallels what Baker has commented on vernacularized forms
like blues music: “e vernacular is an expression of the popular as well as the local”
e success of pelikulang komiks in capturing the imagination of the masses in
the ’50s is not a unique case and may be traceable to older narrative forms. During
the early American period, other forms of narratives reflected traces of adaptation
practices and their popular reception. Reynaldo Ileto’s Pasyon and Revolution, for
example, chronicles the revolutionary potential of the pasyon (verse narrative
illustrating the passion of the Christ), which has been received and deconstructed
by the masses to signify their personal struggles as a colonized people. Like Ileto’s
pasyon, komiks and cinema bear great potentials for protest and change. e past
and the present, the folk and the popular, merge in the komiks and in film.
e historical roots of Filipino film adaptation practices are linked to linguistic
translation. After all, vernacular cinema and vernacular adaptation are partly about
the vernacular language that they employ or speak. If one were to trace the ability of
Filipino media forms to refer or to borrow from diverse sources, the dramatic years
of the Spanish period would come to mind. In Rafael’s Contracting Colonialism:
Translation in Early Spanish Rule, adaptation is posited to be synonymous with
translation. Natives in early Spanish rule barely spoke the Spanish language but
they took to imagining in their own Tagalog language or vernacular Christian
concepts that contain messages about freedom and justice. Rafael articulates
that these nascent concepts of vernacularization may be beneficial to present day
scholars of culture:
By looking at the translation – or, more appropriately, vernacularization – of
conversion in Tagalog culture, we can also discern native responses to the dominant and
dominating interpretation of the past. (21)
Using the template suggested by Anderson, Ileto, and Rafael, translation,
vernacularization, indigenization, and adaptation become synonymous with each
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Colonial mimicry has led to a Filipino culture of adaptation and recycling but it
also opened a chance to develop an international mind which today finds coherence
with their migratory and exilic experiences. As Flores explains:
e world is within the Filipino. Di mo na dine-decolonize kasi inaangkin na nga
ng mga Filipino. e Filipino is entitled to that world kasi kasama na tayo dun e bakit
ide-decolonize pa yun? We just re-make it, re-world it. Atin yon, kaya tignan mo at ease
naman ang mga artist natin gumawa. Hindi naman sila anxious na we are doing this
to decolonize. Halata naman na atin ito. We are in this world. [e world is within the
Filipino. You don’t decolonize because (foreign materials) were already appropriated by
the Filipinos. e Filipino is entitled to that world so why de-colonize that. It is ours.
Look, our artists were at ease with it. ey are not anxious that we are creating art to
de-colonize. It is obvious. We are in this world.] (Personal Interview)
Filipino film adaptation of komiks reflects this worldliness of the native artist.
e summoning of various texts, the mixing of heterogenous genres, and the
emulation of various effects from the audience reflect a knowledge of the world
outside and the world within. To this, Hornedo’s definition of Filipinism may be
Filipinism is the process of exorcising the alienness of the borrowed technology by
bringing into it the familiar and social marks and features of Filipinicity thus giving the
new creation a familiarity, a habitation and a name. (17)
Looking into a text such as Bernardo Carpio, the familiar is achieved by assigning
a home and a name to the legend. e Spanish hero, after more than a century,
became a Tagalog king who is asleep in a cave called Mount Tapusi. One day, he
rises again to liberate his nation from oppression. is appropriation of Bernardo
Carpio fits the criterion in Hornedo’s addendum. Filipinism, he says,
involves the eminent right of the free to name the world they create. e creative
adoption of the “visitor” in order to make it native is an assertion of freedom. It is an
affirmation of independence of spirit. (17)
In other words, the appropriation of foreign elements and their indigenization
as a key feature of the 1950s komiks-to-film adaptation were the result of a
convergence of sourcing and adaptation processes and the intervention of the
commercial aspects of filmmaking and consumption. e result is a hybrid cinema
that is probably a key to unravelling a Filipino adaptation theory.
e hybridity of Filipino film adaptation refers to the co-mingling of influences
and intertextualities in the target text. As a hybrid form, the work of adaptation
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participated in the business of the interpretation and re-cycling of borrowings,
influences, and story materials onto other forms. Moreover, adaptation serves as
evidence, not only of the Filipinos’ propensity for various textualities, but also of
their conscious referencing of various texts in circulation.
Fanon enumerates three phases by which a national culture is created during the
postcolonial period. In the first phase, “the native intellectual gives proof that he
has assimilated the culture of the occupying power” (222). is means that the artist
is literate and open to the forms, genres, plots, and motifs that were brought from
the outside. is culture should serve as template for what is possible. e komiks
looked toward for the metrical romances, the fantasy, the musical-comedy, the
family drama, and the historical genres. rough the film, the potential to recreate
the experiences in another art form is realized by adding movement, soundtrack,
music, and mise-en-scène. As cultural artifact, film extends the komiks experience
by forming audiences and transforming movie-going into a social institution.
Fanon’s second phase talks of the native now remembering his pre-colonial
Past happenings of the bygone days of his childhood will be brought up out of the
depths of his memory: old legends will be reinterpreted in the light of a borrowed
aestheticism and of a conception of the world which was discovered under other skies.
is accounts for the pervading feeling of nostalgia for an Edenic past that visits
the adapted stories. Old lore is rendered in new forms. “e storytellers who used
to relate inert episodes now bring them alive and introduce into them modifications
which are increasingly fundamental” (Fanon 240). For example, Lapu-Lapu, its
avowed nationalism through a story of a hero that was pre-national, reflects on a
ruptured past. e film interacts with the komiks version through representational
and modernist iconography that only a Coching and an Avellana could summon
and execute excellently.
Fanon’s third phase moves toward a national culture. Now, the native intellectual
or artist has turned “into an awakener of the people” (223). e native interprets
the past and brings this to the attention of the masses. While it is difficult to
undertake the role of “awakener” through the platform of mass culture, which is
commercialized and compromised, the “nation” is nevertheless present in popular
entertainment. It may not be overt or radical, but it is present nonetheless.
In shaping a vernacular and hybrid theory of Filipino film adaptation, Bhabha’s
work titled e Location of Culture is instructive. Bhabha introduces the notion of
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hybrid cultures by cautioning scholars from essentializing the status and condition
of the postcolonial subject in committing only to the notions of “the native,” “the
indigenous,” and “the national.” Bhabha looks into the encounter of the formerly
colonized with the culture of the empires as an occasion for cultural difference, not
cultural diversity. is negotiation of cultures allows for the opening up of a new
space—non-essentialized, unfixed, integrative. Bhabha adds:
To that end, we should remember that it is the ‘inter’- the cutting edge of translation
and negotiation, the in-between space – that carries the burden of meaning of culture.
It makes it possible to begin envisaging national, anti-nationalist histories of the ‘people.
And by exploring this ird Space, we may elude the politics of polarity and emerge as
the others of ourselves. (38-39)
e merging of the foreign and the native elements in pelikulang komiks creates
a new space. erefore, instead of erecting binaries between the foreign and the
native, between Hollywood and local, between European stories and native sources,
one can look at a larger world: what Bhabha refers to as “the inscription and
articulation of culture’s hybridity” (38) or better yet, what Baker terms “vernacular
expression” (2237).
Jameson considers all third world texts as national allegories. Even the most
private and mundane stories reflect notions of nation. e “nation” then comes
in many guises, and pelikulang komiks contributes its share in that programmatic
vision to reconstruct identity. As Jameson adds: “e story of the private individual
destiny is always an allegory of the embattled situation of the public third world
culture and society” (35).
Film adaptation of komiks stories in the 1950s involved the invocation and
recycling of various genres. Stories from Spanish colonial years were recast
side by side with contemporary stories, and although these were produced with
business profit in mind, these were socially important to the viewers. e task of
this theory-building enterprise is not to criticize the creative compromises done
in the 1950s or to assign greater social importance in the simplistic storylines that
were recreated in the works of adaptations. As Jameson has suggested very aptly,
cultural analysis should involve the “simultaneous recognition of the ideological
and Utopian functions of the artistic text” (299). e theorist then should be both a
positive and a negative hermeneut to have a wider latitude of acceptance in dealing
with the complex interactions between the foreign and the native in the films or
better yet, in explicating the “third space of enunciation” as Bhabha has playfully
said in explicating the instability of postcolonial identity formation (37).
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e film industry of the 1950s imported foreign technology, reprised European
story materials, employed the Classical Hollywood Narrative template, and
emulated the studio system of the Unites States. Yet, the actors spoke the vernacular.
e backdrop, though depicting ancient Jerusalem and Persia or medieval Castille,
was inhabited by “Filipinized” characters. e manner of narration was loose,
episodic, improvisational, and digressive. ese disparate elements connote
hybridization or “the mixing within a single concrete utterance, of two of more
linguistic consciousness, often widely separated in time and social space,” as Bakhtin
has defined (429). No other example could be more telling than the dialogue that
happened between komiks and cinema in the 1950s.
In a typical pelikulang komiks in the ’50s, the contour of the human form in
a mise-en-scène, the artificial backdrops, the fashionably-tailored costumes, and
accessories, the music heard and the sentiments parlayed, were unmistakably
Filipino. Collectively, they created cinematic images that eventually joined the
Filipinos’ cherished cultural memory of the era. ose memories were shaped
and visualized through vernacularization, which has entailed appropriating a
foreign technology of mechanical art; importing stories from other cultures;
mining indigenous narratives from some remembered pre-literate past; shaping
a cinematic language; installing a narrative style; and propelling both old forms
and new expressions of visuality, literariness, and performativity that cannot be
anything other than Filipino.
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* is article will be part of a forthcoming book (University of the Philippines Press)
bearing the same title.
1. e introductory part of the paper, pertaining specifically to the archival data
collected as a prerequisite to theory building, is the combined revised versions
of two international conference papers, namely: “Researching 1950s Filipino
Komiks-to-Film Adaptation: Film History as Film eory” (read at the 22nd
Asian Media Information and Communication Centre [AMIC] Conference held
in Yogyakarta, Indonesia on July 4 to 7, 2013) and “De-Westernizing Filipino Film
Adaptation eory” (read at the Asian Cultural Studies Now Conference held at
Monash University, Melbourne, Australia on November 6 and 7, 2014).
2. At the turn of the century, the U.S. government sent a Philippine Commission
(initially the Schurmann Commission and later the Taft Commission) to collect
facts about the islands that will help the new colonizers in deciding the fate of
the Filipinos. Public education was introduced and Anglo-American literature
became part of the reading lists in basic and university education.
3. “Komiks” is Tagalog for comic series or comic books. It is rendered in this study
in the vernacular, in keeping with the arguments of de-Westernization, which is
appropriation and translation of terms into the local language.
4. LVN Pictures was established in 1938. e co-founders were Narcisa Buencamino
vda De Leon, Carmen Villongco, and Eleuterio Navoa. e film production
company was considered as one of the four major producers during the studio era
(1930s to 1950s), alongside Sampaguita Pictures, Premiere, and Lebran. It stopped
making movies in 1980, but continued to maintain its film laboratory processing
unit for many more years. De Leon served as the company’s executive producer
until 1961 during which time the industry was experiencing the break-up of the
studio system. LVN has been credited for producing almost one half of the all the
films released in the 1950s. e last film it produced was Kakabakaba Ka Ba? [Are
You Nervous?], which was released in 1980.
Before the war, LVN was known to have produced classics that were spin-offs
from the traditional dramas such as the moro-moro or comedia and the sarswela
(Del Mundo, Jr., “Native Resistance: Philippine Cinema and Colonialism 1898-
1941” 69). Giliw Ko (My Love) was LVN’s first production in the ’30s. One of its
acclaimed pre-war movies was Ibong Adarna (e Adarna Bird, 1941), which the
CCP Encycopedia (CCP) has adjudged to be the “first Filipino movie with color
sequences painted frame by frame” (273).
5. Born a tad earlier than LVN Pictures, Sampaguita Pictures was a product of the
fortunate collaboration between members of the Vera family and a number of
entrepreneurs who gambled at the idea of a film producing company. Pedro Vera
proposed to his co-incorporators that they enlist the expertise of Luis Nolasco,
who had just left Luis Nepomuceno’s Parlatone Hispano-Filipino and who was
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an experienced scriptwriter and production manager. Together with actors Elsa
Oria and Rogelio dela Rosa and directors Carlos Vander Tolosa and Manuel Silos,
Nolasco joined Sampaguita, which started with a capital outlay of P20,000 and a
newly-built studio (CCP 301; Salumbides 22; Francia 94).
e first Sampaguita production was titled Butuing Marikit (Beautiful Star,
1937), the first of the musicals that the production firm would release in the next
couple of years. During the war years, Sampaguita did not produce any movie, but
by 1946, under the management of Judge Jose Vera, it released a Gerardo de Leon-
directed movie titled So Long, America. By 1951, Sampaguita will be one of the big
four studios in Philippine cinema alongside LVN, Premiere, and Lebran, only to
suffer a major setback when its studio caught fire. It was the post-fire production
titled Roberta, a true box-office success, which brought Sampaguita back in the
saddle again. e company would produce films for a number of decades more
until it finally closed down in 1995.
6. An English-language broadsheet whose owner has been able to acquire what
remained of the Roces Publications, which published the magazine Liwayway
Magazine since its beginnings before World War II.
7. is section onwards has been part of the revised paper read at the AAS-in-Asia
Conference sponsored by the Association for Asian Studies from 24 to 27 June,
2017 at Korea University in Seoul, South Korea.
8. Previous publications of this author tackle the archival texts and analyses using
various types of adaptation criticism. ese are listed below:
Arriola, Joyce. “Korido-Komiks into Film: Sourcing, Adapting, and Recycling
the Bernardo Carpio Story.Humanities Diliman: A Philippine Journal of
Humanities, vol. 11, no. 1, 2014, pp.
---. “Semiotics of Filipino Komiks-to-Film Adaptation: Decoding Lapu-Lapu (1954),
International Journal of Comic Art, Spring/May 2014, pp. 177-207.
--- “e Prevalent Cinematic Adaptation in the Woman’s Film of the 1950s.NRCP
Journal, vol. 16, no. 1., December 2016, pp. 18-29.
---. “Visual Artists as Literary Artists: Fantasy and Folklore in 1950s Komiks-to-Film
Adaptations.Plaridel: A Journal of Communication, Media, and Society, vol. 13,
no. 1., June 2016, pp. 71-96.
Arriola / Pelikulang Komiks 369
Kritika Kultura 30 (2018): 369–374 © Ateneo de Manila University
Works Cited
A. Primary Sources
a. Komiks
Ad Castillo, Dominador. “Tucydides.Bulaklak, February 25, 1953 - February 3, 1954.
Caravana, Nemesio. “Kambal-Tuko.Liwayway, May 10, 1951-December 27, 1951.
---. “Rodrigo de Villa.Liwayway, January 1, 1951 - April 7, 1952.
---. “Sohrab at Rustum.Liwayway, July 24, 1950 - December 25, 1950.
---. and A. C. Batungbacal. “Despatsadora.Liwayway, October 4, 1954 - July 18, 1955.
---. et. al. “Aristokrata.Liwayway, January 25, 1954 – November 8, 1954.
Coching, Francisco. Lapu-Lapu. Book edition, Atlas Publishing & Francisco Coching
Foundation, 2010.
Del Mundo, Clodualdo. “Kerubin.Liwayway, July 30, 1951 - May 12, 1952.
---. “Munting Koronel.Liwayway, May 19, 1952 - June 8, 1953.
Galauran, Fäusto. “Bernardo Carpio.Liwayway. November 27, 1950 - March 26, 1951.
Laudico, Alejandro P. “Haring Solomon at Reyna Sheba.” Liwayway, November 27, 1950 -
September 13, 1951.
Pineda, Gemillano. “Tulisang Pugot.Liwayway, October 2, 1950 - September 17, 1951.
b. Films
Aristokrata. Directed by Olive La Torre, Sampaguita, 1954.
Bernardo Carpio. Directed by Artemio Tecson and Bejamin Resella, Sampaguita, 1951.
Despatsadora. Directed by Tony Cayado, Sampaguita, 1955.
Kerubin. Directed by Octavio Silos, Sampaguita, 1952.
Haring Solomon at Reyna Sheba, Directed by Lamberto Avellana, LVN , 1952.
Kambal-Tuko. Directed by F.H. Constantino, LVN, 1952.
Lapu-Lapu. Directed by Lamberto Avellana, LV N, 1954.
Munting Koronel. Directed by Octavio Silos, Sampaguita, 1953.
Rodrigo de Villa. Directed by Gregorio Fernandez, LVN. 1952.
Sohrab at Rustum. Directed by Nemesio Caravana, LVN, 1954.
Tucydides. Directed by Artemio Marquez, LVN , 1954.
Tulisang Pugot. Directed by Silos, Octavio, Sampaguita, 1952.
c. Personal and Online Interviews
Flores, Patrick. Personal Interview. 14 June 2012.
Lent, John. Online Interview. 2 February 2012.
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Lumbera, Bienvenido. Personal Interview. 3 February 2012.
Pilar, Santiago. Personal Interview. 10 March 2012.
Reyes, D.M. Personal Interview. 16 April 2012.
Reyes, Soledad. Personal Interview. 25 April 2012.
Valiente, Randy. Personal Interview. 27 March 2012.
Yonzon, Boboy. Personal Interview. 28 March 2012.
---. Personal Communication. 23 September 2017.
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... In both films, her costume followed the komiks version created by Nestor Redondo: red two-piece with gold stars and a white loincloth, red helmet with a gold winged medallion and a ruby in the middle, gold bracelets and belt, and knee-high red boots. It is also assumed that Rosa del Rosario's facial features, height, and physique comes closest to what Darna looks like in the komiks since fidelity to the stories is the norm during those times (see: Arriola, 2013). The sixties produced three Darnas: Liza Moreno, Eva Montes, and Gina Pareño. ...
This paper looks at the actresses who portrayed Darna and how they are presented as spectacles in the entertainment articles that promote the film and television adaptations. This frame of inquiry comes from the notion that the visual aesthetics of Darna in komiks is largely informed by the superhero genre’s dependence on spectacle as shown in the superhero’s feats of greatness and in her actions and movements which are all larger than life and extraordinary. If this is the case for Darna in print, then how about the actresses tasked with performing her in the movies and television series? How are their bodies being turned into a spectacle in promotional materials in order to conform to the needs of the capital (entertainment industry)? In using the spectacle of the body as framework, the paper also draws on the star system and the role of producers of text in the creation of Darna as we know her today. The aim is to reveal how female bodies were made part of the construction of Darna’s image outside of its fictional universe which results in a discourse that highlights the body of the celebrities rather than Darna’s continuing relevance as a Filipino icon. This sets aside her representational power to embody the struggle and demand of Filipinos for justice and a better life as audience’s attention is diverted towards how these actresses prepared their bodies to perform Darna.
... Given the commercial aspect of most Filipino komiks, film and television series creators must feature komiks stories with audience accessibility in mind while incorporating themes that are socially relevant (Flores, 2005). Hopefully, the concepts and assumptions about komiks-to-film adaptation would help conceptualize the Filipino film adaptation theory (Arriola, 2018). ...
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This study intends to compare Filipino komiks from its film adaptation. In particular, it explores the form and content in Pedro Penduko (1954) and the film adaptation, Pedro Penduko, Episode II: The Return of the Comeback (2000) using the Formalistic Approach in literary criticism. The study highlights the elements such as characters, symbols, and themes. In brief, the characters in the komiks exemplify Filipino identity. However, the film version provides comic relief. Looking at symbols, the komiks used an amulet common to Filipino culture. The film, on the other hand, showcases a magical promotional vehicle. The theme in the komiks is concerned with issues as noteworthy as identity and culture, while the film spectacles self-interest. It was discovered that the komiks form contributes to a great sense of Filipino art. However, its film adaptation lacks the same qualities. The demand for significant visual outputs come from an audience who hope to see visual arts that are not just profitable works of art but are socially relevant and geared towards the promotion of nationalism
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The genre called the" woman's film" was transplanted from Hollywood to the Philippines during the Golden Age of Philippine Cinema in the 1950s. It may have drawn influences from Spanish colonial traditional theatre that was heavily predisposed to infusing elements of romance, music and even comedy. Although there were stories or plots that were written directly for the cinema, a number of films in the'50s were adaptations of komiks stories published in the Liwayway magazine. These productions revealed a close resemblance to the woman's film genre. This practice of generic re-articulation raises a number of concerns pertaining to the representation of the Filipino woman in popular culture, namely:(1) the embedding of the female image within the bourgeoisie ethos;(2) the female characters" subtle co-optation in maintaining the status quo; and (3) the deployment of the traditional concept of womanhood via the romantic comedy genre and the sub-genre known as the marriage plot. This paper then investigates how female roles and female-related plots were engaged, invoked, or even compromised at the height cinematic adaptation during an important era of Filipino cinema.
'Imagined Communities' examines the creation & function of the 'imagined communities' of nationality & the way these communities were in part created by the growth of the nation-state, the interaction between capitalism & printing & the birth of vernacular languages in early modern Europe.