Cordillera mythical creatures get visual portrayal in new comics

GAYANG-- A comic book of 132 pages written and illustrated by senior high students featuring Cordillera mythical creatures which finally now have visual representations. Majic Asbucan (center) and Tor Sagud (left) of Gripo Comics, with apprentice artist Mary Grace Butil (right), hold a copy of the comic book. It will be launched on June 22. **PNA photo by Pigeon M. Lobien

BAGUIO CITY — Cordillera mythical creatures can now be visualized with a comic book published by two Baguio-based Igorot artists, who got help from senior high arts students and will be launched on June 22 here.
Gripo Comics will launch Gayang (Cordillera spear) on June 22 featuring seven Cordillera mythical creatures, which the two artists pieced together based from researches and artworks of senior high students of the Arts and Design track of the Baguio College of Technology.
“There has been no visual presentation of Cordillera mythical creatures, unlike, say the ‘manananggal’, ‘kapre’ or ‘tikbalang’,” said Majic Asbucan, founder of the Baguio-based Gripo Comics.
In the 132-page comic book, Asbucan and colleague Tor Sagud explore creatures that their ancestors believed in, like the “Pinading”, “Bana”, “Gatui”, “Pili”, “Lampong”, “Bingil” and “Inlablabbuut”.
The two describe the “Pinading” as “benevolent guardians of nature – like normal humans.”
These dryad-like creatures of Ifugao and Kankanaey origin can be found in boulders, rocks or sacred trees called “patpatayan”.
The “Bana” of the Kalinga and sang in the epic Ullalim is a “dashing young man born with superhuman abilities,” said Asbucan, a Kalinga of the Lubo stock. He added that even trees and other plants bow down to the “Bana” when he passes by.
The “Gatui” is a chimera-like creature of the builders of the eighth wonder of the world, the Ifugao rice terraces. It is believed to be a dreadful creature that they feast on the souls of people, especially unborn children. This creature, similar to the “Manananggal”, looks like a winged dog with a human face.
The Ifugao also believe in the “Pili”, guardian spirits that guard against thieves.
Asbucan said that a Pili’s bite may only be cured through a ritual that involves the sacrifice of a chicken.
The dwarf-like or “dwende-like” “Lampong” is a two feet tall forest spirit that are guardians to animals. It is said that the creature can transform into a white one-eyed deer and lure hunters away from their original target.
Asbucan said that anyone who wounds a “Lampong” will fall ill and eventually die.
The Kalinga and the Gaddangs believe in the zombie-like “Bingil”, who are misshapen, that have large eyes that glow in the dark. A touch of the “Bingil” is lethal.
The “Inlablabbuut” is a shape-shifting, man-eating giant humanoid that lives in the mountains. This creature that has long hair, long claws, ape-like teeth, long claws and tough skin lures its victims by taking on the form of their friends or relatives.
In his introduction, Asbucan, who acted as editor, said that the works were that of the nine students, whom they coached in coming up with the comic book.
He wrote: “This is not a professional book by any stretch of imagination, but the level of creativity in design is nothing short of inspiring! The kids produced images which I believe in,” he said adding that “these designs that may get us burned at the stakes but will continue to defend them.”
The Gayang
The comic book has eight subtitles, each one created by the senior high students.
The “Dawn of the Bingils” was written and layout by Eddie Harrison Peckley with Sagud’s help.
“Lampong, the Forest Guardian” is a story and art of Angelica Mae Olli and Alwen Juson.
Genesis Eve Badad and Louie Dacca penned and drew “Scar of the Chicken Thief and all about the Lampong”.
“The Gatui” was written and illustrated by Keith Graenne Pablo with Christian Briones assisting.
Sagud wrote and illustrated “Umali ka kadi” while Asbucan had an original story when he went back to the origins of his award-winning Big Fat Ben, “who is a Bana”.
The “Legend of the Pinading” was written by Winnie Claire Gotana, who also did the background art, with layout by Carlos Florendo.
“Inlablabuut” had Divine Grace Angagca as writer and inker, with Joshua Julio doing the ink and pencil.
Veteran comic illustrator Danny Acuña, who was pretty much around during the golden age of “komiks” in the 70s and 80s, made the cover layout with finishes by Asbucan with Dacca, Juson, Badad and Pablo assisting.
“We know that comics has vanished from the local scene pero alam ko ito ang isa sa mga bumuo sa kabataan natin noon (but I know that it was one of the things that shaped our youth),” Asbucan said in his post on the Facebook group Uncles and Aunties of Baguio.
He added: “Sana po ay ipasyal ninyo ang inyong mga anak sa ating masayang memory lane at damhin nila ang kasiyahang dulot ng komiks sa ating kamalayan! (Hopefully, bring your kids down our happy memory lane, so they too can experience the happiness komiks can bring to our consciousness)”.
Asbucan and Sagud are members of the Pasakalye Group of Artists. They have joined arts exhibit with the group and they were also organizers of past Comics Convention here. **Pigeon M. Lobien/ PNA

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