The Saturday Mirror Magazine
Filipino artists were soon proficient in the new art of social satire by cartoon. The propaganda newspapers and pamphlets of the revolutionary period carried no drawings, but by the first decade of the American regime, cartooning was a major occupation in the Manila newspapers, which carried not only material distributed from American manufacturers but cartoons drawn by Filipino artists on Filipino subjects, on such subjects as fashion, husband-wife relations, politics, gossip.
Since then, Gat has been happily chronicling the follies of high society and its peripheral characters: the social climber, the comb debutante and her scheming mother who hopes to marry her off to the ratch of the mating season; the wolf. (who might in spots be more - than faintly autobiographical), and the playboy who, too, wants to marry above his .station and thus live in idle happiness ever after. Gat has circulated in
Not so are his recent series on man and woman in a cartoon named "Henry." That is every bit as sharp -at its best-as the" famous men and women in Thurber's battles between the sexes. Thurber is defeatist,but 'Henry" never says die. "Henry" is a little man possessed of a termagant-wife who surely summarizes all the malevolent women the cartoonist has known. But there is little meekness of spirit, little humility of heart, in "Henry." Though his little heart is seldom pure, Henry's strength of spirit is the strength of ten. Indeed, "Henry" often carries the battle into the enemy camp. Between "Henry" and Thurber's little man cowering before a huge, evil woman whose figure merges into a housein the famous cartoon called "Home-there is very little in common. In Gat's considered judgment, man is winning the eternal battle of the sexes, althoqgh the separate little skirmishes may indicate otherwise. "Henry" strikes a blow for the hen-pecked husband every time the strip comes out in the Chronicle.
Thus, Bindoy becomes fall-guy and soft-touch for such as Senador Bigat, the politician, and his own Tata Kardo, whose surname is Galang-Galang. Galang-Galang, I suspect, is Aguilar-Cruz's own favorite character. He must typify a great number of the personages his creator has met in fact and in fancy. Galang-Galang is a precious scoundrel. He is drunken, domineering, scheming. He is quick to imitate his betters, he is a gregarious confidence-man, a joiner. When Galang-Galang becomes rich (Bindoy happens upon a magic typewriter which runs unguided - purely sustained by his pure heart-and his scheming uncle speedily has it printing thousands of copies of the Pampango pasion, which he sells at great profit) what splendid fun Aguilar Cruz (who lives in an upper-middle class housing project, among the nouveau-riche) must have had, chronicling the transplanting of the Galang-Galang family from the slums of Palomar to the sham-swank of 'Porks Park!' This is part of the mission the Filipino cartoonisti-- he is good enough, and true---continues to fulfill: to put down in drawings and balloons the manners and morals of the society he lives in. This was the way men like Antonio Velasquez ("Kenkoy" and "Ponyang"), Juan M. Perez ("Pamboy at Osang," and "Akong"), and J. Zabala Santos ("Lukas Malakas", "Sianong Sano," and "Popoy") Deo C. Gonzales ("Sarion g Arbulario") used to do in their prime. Today, looking over old copies of the "Liwayway" of the 'thirties and the late 'twenties is an undertaking, if not nostalgic, at least informative. Their cartoons are the most accurate records now available of the manners of dressing, of hair-style, of general living of those times. Of these artists, only Zabala-Santos is even remotely active. Occasionally, he stirs from retirement to draw the lives of men, women, and dogs in his native Malabon:
Liberato Abrena, who signed himself Lib Abrena, was the first cartoonist to start working again after the war's end. Abrena had been quite an unknown artist in the early 'forties. He contributed little, anonymous cartoons for the special issues of the Liwayway, besides
doing a strip about a guperman-like character in the vernacular Bulaklak. But his That's Life in the first issues of the post-war Sunday Times Magazine made him famous.
Abrena was then a quiet young man in his late 'twenties. Half-blind, (he wore at all times a pair of dark glasses) addicted to the movies, he drew observant little cartoons upon middle-class life in the city, of the life of the poor in his native Pangasinan, and of the fisher-folk in Malabon, where he then lived. To That's Life, the Times devoted a full page each Sunday. Each page was taken up by a more or less timely topic: if it was the rainy season, Abrena made cartoons about what life was in the rainy season. The cartoons revealed a kindly, gentle disposition. When Abrena died, a few years afterward, the Times tried several substitutes, but none could quite approximate Abrena's soft satire.
"Kenkoy" quietly passed away last year, after having graced the "Liwayway" for the better part of three decades. Few marked the passing of the flamboyant folk-hero of the Filipino urban society of a generation ago. Kenkoy was weak, loud, smart, vain. He affected American slang, popularized what has become known as "bamboo English," followed the extremist fashions, lived beyond his means, plucked his eye-brows, and fancied himself a ladies' man. In short, he was a caricature of every little white-collar clerk, of every 'kanto-boy' in that, untroubled era between the wars. "Kenkoy" was a long, and great, success. Velasquez tried to pick up his pieces together again after the Liberation, but could not quite do as well, and" soon gave it up.
The post-war cartoonists all of them look young enough to have been literally born upon their drawingboards. Their drawings are generally well-made, their brand of humor heavily linked to the American type best seen in the Post and the New Yorker.
Yonzon is more of painter than cartoonist. He is one of the country's most facile modern painters. With E. P. Patanne, he does "Sakay and'Moy", a strip that chronicles the lives of two of
Another cartoon which draws its inspiration from the jeepney.is "Gorio and his Jeepney," which is done by Ben Alcantara. Alcantara is a quiet man in his late twenties. He works for the Sunday Times Magazine art department.
Other young cartoonists who deserve attention include Danny Villanueva, who is a free-lancer and who seems to be a good draughtsman, Bert Gallardo, who is with the Herald magazine, and Jess Sunga, who is another of the regular contributors to this magazine. All of these artists are in their early or middle 'twenties. Although their works still seem largely derivaative. They all promise good works.