★ National Book Awardee for Graphic Literature (Filipino) ★
Isang lalake ang bigla na lamang nagising sa loob ng isang puno sa gitna ng kagubatan na walang alaala kung sino siya at saan siya nagmula. Ang tanging alaala lang niya ay isang imahe ng babae na nakikita niya sa kanyang panaginip, at ang tanging nararamdaman niya ay isang matinding gutom na mabilis na namumuo sa kanyang walang pusod na sikmura. Isang gutom na mapapawi lamang ng laman…at dugo.
Tabi Po Isyu 1 by Mervin Malonzo is a beautifully crafted book that ignites provoking thoughts after reading a series of pages. I would have never imagined, really reading, a book about supernatural – or in this case, books (or comics) about the native monsters in the Philippines called “Aswang”.
Aswang depicts many forms in the Philippines. It could be a shapeshifter or a witch or something scary that you wouldn’t expect. If I remember the tales correctly, there are stories that Aswangs are one of those beings who eat human flesh. There are also some stories said that the Aswangs are the ones who eat the baby while the mother is having a pregnancy. They left the mother there dying. In any way, those beings could have different names and forms and entities but the bottom line of this book is: Mervin Malonzo was able to capture brilliantly the depiction of how Aswangs came to be in the first issue of Tabi Po.
Regardless, I believe the first chapter of Tabi Po successfully made the readers interested of what is in it in the story and will keep on browsing and reading until you fully immersed in the story of our protagonist, Elias.
This book solely focuses on the nature of the “Aswangs” and how were they born. The book also provides some context on how the word, “Aswang” derived from how it is called today. Reading the book feels like I am exploring the historical and cultural myths of the Filipino or at least the cultural beliefs in the Philippines. Don’t get me wrong. I’m proud of this artwork. I’m proud of the comic books. But I think, there’s this eerie essence or at least discomfort of reading a book about the tales that you will hear when you were young to scare you and yet the possibility of these creatures, of these beings to be true is not improbable. Which is magnificently and intricately crafted by Malonzo.
And that’s what I would like to point out. Mervin Malonzo was able to capture the realistic depiction of “Aswangs” into his own art and make a story worthy of its praise. The comic book is a delightful read. Terrifying and yet intriguing. It is an art in the form of a comic book that dwells between fiction and reality.
Also, I want to point out how Malonzo has masterfully hidden some meanings behind his book. What I am excited about this book is how these creatures evolved into different types of monsters that people would be afraid of. How a creature that seems so human could dwell with us and at the same they have the same rational and logical thinking which is way scarier. I know I put up a lot of expectations with this review but I never been so enthusiastic to support and follow a local creator. Hopefully, you will give this comic book a chance. It is a fictional treat to read a book that can challenge your imagination.
MY RATINGS: 5 STARS.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mervin Malonzo wrote and drew the National Book Award-winning comic TABI PO. He also worked with writer Adam David on another title called ANG SUBERSIBO, a comic adaptation of Rizal’s NOLI and FILI. He graduated magna cum laude in UP Fine Arts. When he is not creating comics, he is creating websites, animations, and illustrations for other people and entities.