Trivia about Great Filipino Cartoonists
Antonio Santos Velasquez (Tony Velasquez) was born in Paco, Manila on October 29, 1910. He is known as the “Father of Tagalog Komiks.” In -1926, while a boy of 16 in high school, he worked as a photo-engraver at the Banaag Press in Santa Cruz, Manila, which was later bought by Ramon Roces of Liwayway. Velasquez took courses in Cartooning and Advertising at the Federal School of Arts of America. In 1935, he was promoted to chief artist for the six sister magazines: Liwayway, Graphic, Bannawag, Bisaya, Hiligaynon, and Bikolnon. On 11 January 1929 the first issue of his comic creation Kenkoy appeared in Liwayway. Except in Graphic, Kenkoy appeared in all the magazines either in Tagalog or translated into the regional languages. The comic strip survived the Japanese occupation and continued after the war, appearing twice weekly in the Pilipino Komik. In 1993, he received the “Gawad CCP para sa Sining” from the Cultural Center of the Philippines. His earlier awards include Best Komiks of the Year from Graphic Arts Service, Inc. (1963); Special Award from the Citizens Council for Mass Media (1971); Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan sa Larangan ng Makasining na Komiks from the City of Manila (1974). He died April 22, 1997 and in 1998 received posthumously, the Life Achievement Award from Komiks Operation Brotherhood.
Nonoy Santos Marcelo was born on January 22, 1939 in Malabon, then province of Rizal. He was an AB student at the Far Eastern University when Alejandro Roces, the FEU dean, spotted his talent and encouraged him to create a regular strip for the Manila Times. He was critically acclaimed almost from the beginning, and especially after 1963 when he created “Tisoy”, still a high-water mark in the history of Philippine comics. A cartoonist of political satire, Marcelo’s works evoke the funny and oftentimes harsh realities that make up the nation and its search for a cohesive identity. His cartoon series Ikabod provided a social commentary on the Marcos dictatorship at a time when media was under the dictatorship’s control. Marcelo’s sketches provide a glimpse into Philippine life. Endowed with great sensitivity, intelligence, and humor, his highly popular works draw on the everyday realities of political and social life, reflecting the unsaid national sentiment of the times. His most popular works are the comic strips Plain Folks (Daily Mirror), Tisoy (Manila Times), and Ikabod (Bulletin Today). Marcelo’s works merge political issues with popular forms in drawing a commentary on Filipino society, especially during a period of heightened state oppression. On February 2, 1999, he received the Parangal Sentenyal sa Sining at Kultura Award.
Hugo C. Yonzon, Jr. was born on May 24, 1924. He spent a semester at the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts and Architecture – under the Ramon
Roces Scholarship when he decided to plunge headlong into his passion for the visual arts. He started his career as an advertising artist, photographer and cartoonist. His most famous cartoon strip, “Sakay N’ Moy”, ran in the old Manila Times for more than 18 years starting in the mid-50’s until he devoted most of his time to painting, mostly oils of Philippine bucolic scenes. Yonzon garnered major awards in painting (then categorized as modern and realistic), photography, and caricature. He successfully explored with neo-realist style, phased into cubism, and settled back into realistic renditions of his favorite subject of farmers and fishermen. He was part of the so-called “The Triumvirate” with Malang and Ang Kiukok, holding three-man shows several times. Together with four others, they established Gallery Seven, a trailblazing’ artist-owned and managed art gallery that showcased new works in the early 60s.
Larry Alcala was born in Daraga, Albay on August 18, 1926. He had a degree in Fine Arts from the University of the Philippines and served as chair of the Visual Arts Department of U.P. College of Fine Arts until he retired in mid-1995. As UP professor, Alcala introduced the degree course in commercial design and the s-rnm film production of animated cartoons. Larry Alcala made over 500 characters, 20 comic strips, 6 movies, 2 murals, and 15,000 published pages in 50 years of cartooning. Through Mang Ambo, Kalabog en Bosyo, Asyong Aksaya, Siopawman, and many others, he entertained readers while injecting social commentary. His favorite was Asyong Aksaya, the detestable, wasteful character spawned by the oil crisis of the late ’60s and whom he once said in an interview “we can all see ourselves, especially that part of us we don’t want to acknowledge”. His most popular regular piece ‘Slice of Life”, where he challenged readers to spot caricature of himself within the cartoon that depicted situations in the lives of typical Filipino families. From his home here, he drew the cartoon weekly for the Philippine Star and the Sunday Times magazine until his death, along with the daily comic strip, “Siopawman”. Alcala received numerous awards and citations here and abroad for his cartoons. Among them were the Araw ng Maynila Award in 1994, Pamana Award for cartooning in 1991, Catholic Press Award for Best in Humor in 1998, the MOPC-SPIC Excellence in Cartooning, and the UP Alumni Association Professional Award in Fine Arts. Founder of the Samahan ng Kartonista ng Pilipinas, Alcala worked to give Filipino cartoonists wider exposure, observing that local comics often took a backseat to syndicated and cheaper foreign strips.
Rodolfo Y. Ragodon was born on July 27, 1929 in Manila. He got his degree of Bachelor in Fine Arts (BFA) from the University of the Philippines in 1952. Since 1962, he has held several one-man and group exhibitions, including a one-man show in New York, USA in 1991. In 1954, he created the “Footnotes in Philippine History”, which appeared in the Daily Mirror every Sunday between 1954 and 1972. In 1958, he created the famous comic strip “Hugo the Sidewalk Vendor”, which appeared in the Manila Times daily between 1958 and 1972. In 1960 and 1962, he received the Manila Overseas Press Club – Society of Philippine Illustrators and Cartoonists Award for Best Cartoon – given by the Cartoonist Association of the Philippines. He was the pioneer painter of Philippine churches, ancestral homes and old Manila. In 1964, he received the “10 Outstanding Young Men Award” in Painting. In 1967-68, he was a UNESCO scholar for studies of colonial churches in Europe and Mexico. He was commissioned by Imelda Marcos to do 2 paintings as gifts of the Filipino nation to Popes; one for the late Pope John Paul VI on his first visit to the country in 1970, and the other for Pope John Paul lion his coronation day. Since 1997, he became a member of the Art Authentication Panel of the National eum. He died on April 28, 2001 in Quezon City.