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September 5, 2008

Pedriña and his Kapampangan Comic Book Superheroes

Gener Pedriña
and his Kapampangan Comic Book Superheroes

By Jason Paul Laxamana
Urban Kamaru
Central Luzon Daily

Batman, Superman, Wolverine, the Powerpuff Girls, Spider-man, Naruto, Yusuke (Eugene), Son Gokou—who is your animated childhood superhero? From the day we were born in this country, our minds have already been imperialized by foreign superheroes that range from a photographer bitten by a radioactive spider to a Kamehameha-blasting warrior; from bug-eyed, Chemical-X-energized little girls to a delinquent Japanese student in green school uniform shooting Rei Gun from his fingertips; and from a temperamental mutant male with Adamantium bones to a rich and skillful crime fighter of Gotham City.

To counter this early imperialization of the youth by foreigners, the Tagalogs have crafted, through comic books, Darna, Capt. Barbell, Panday, and Lastikman. They have penetrated the Filipino consciousness well, albeit still on the disadvantage compared to their First World counterparts.

Now we take a look at the Kapampangan children. Who are their animated superheroes? For the relatively older Kapampangan generation, I ask the same question. Even my Ima would mention non-Kapampangans like Darna and Superman, whom she has knowledge of more on due to television and movies, not because of comic books or cartoons. More culturally-rooted Kapampangans would recount the tales of their grandparents about Sinukuan, Kargen Kargon, Pugut Negru, and Pande Pira, but the Kapampangan generation of ngeni are exposed to everything that is non-Kapampangan.

This is where Gener Pedriña comes in. Having finished BS Civil Engineering at the Angeles University Foundation (AUF) back in 1992, Pedriña is currently based in Manila doing graphic works.

Kabalen Superheroes in Pinoy Comics

Although now based in Manila and working for Tagalog/English comics, Kapampangan elements have not failed to disappear from Pedriña's consciousness, as in his collection of original Pinoy superheroes titled Sanduguan (blood compact), most of the lead protagonists are Kapampangan.

“Most of what we have [in comics] are Tagalogs and Americans,” Pedriña explains. “I want diversity so I make characters from Mindanao, Kalinga, Bohol, Ilocos, Laguna, etc. but a lot of my characters are Kapampangan.”

Basing his research from libraries and the Internet, he realized a lot of things about his roots. “Pampanga was the first province and had a very rich history, which seems to be neglected even in the history books,” Pedriña expresses. “We used to be recognized by the Chinese as the Luzon Empire [Lu Sung Guo] and our ancestors were very much respected.”

One of the concepts of Sanduguan, aside from spotlighting various creatures and characters of Philippine mythology in the new century, is the showcase and exploration of contrast between the old and new Filipino identity, which the creator personifies through the life of two characters, Supremo and Sandata, who are both of Kapampangan descent.

Supremo is a Kapampangan ortelanu (farmer). Pedriña describes him as a powerful entity trapped in the body of a boy and the living embodiment of the Filipino spirit.

Sandata, on the other hand, is a Mabalacat-residing master of Kapampangan martial arts. A practitioner of sinawali (Kapampangan arnis), Sandata is gifted with two magical batons to help him fight dark forces. Garbed with the Philippine coat of arms, he is devoted to combat evil all his life.

Aside from the two, three more are Kapampangan.

Diwata, granddaughter of Mariang Sinukuan in Sanduguan, has the typical local fairy magical powers. As a child, she was found in—where else, if you know your Kapampangan folklore—the Arayat mountain. Thus, her favorite expression, “King lagyu nang Sinukuan!”

Bato, a half-Pampango and half-Visayan lagayan (spirit seer), has adopted the ancient motto of Kapampangan fame: Qng leon, qng tigre, e cu tatacut, queca pa? A common man seeking power to help his fellow men, he acquired the one of the most powerful anting-anting in the Sanduguan universe, the mutya ning sagin. Pedriña further describes, “He now patrols the night sky, keeping us safe from malignos.”

Last, but not the least, is Sidapa of Macabebe. Although known generally in Philippine mythology as the god of death, in Pedriña's work, he is a descendant of the infamous Macabebe warriors. Denying himself the final gift of heaven, he chose the pursuit of justice. Neither living nor dead, Sidapa now walks on the thin line of death and redemption. “A dugong aso on the prowl,” Pedriña describes.

The story of Sanduguan falls under the typical good versus evil category, but no matter the redundancy of such topic, it still attracts an audience. Why? Probably because the good-versus-evil in real life is ongoing, and the final judgment is something that intrigues all of us.

Pedriña's comic book story highlights Kalayaan City as a major setting, which is actually what we know today as the Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga. Siginaguran, the Philippine god of evil, escaped his century-old imprisonment and proceeded to causing havoc. Creating monstrous automatons, he attacked and destroyed the mega city of Kalayaan. Four heroes—Diwata, Sandata, Supremo, and Sidapa—decided to band together to defeat Siginaguran and prevent further carnage by any possible future threat.

Kapampangan Komiks?

Asked if he is willing to contribute to the Kapampangan cultural renaissance through his comics-related skills, Pedriña didn't have to think twice to say “wa”.

“I really want to do a Kapampangan epic [in comics], but i haven't been really lucky with regard to reference materials,” the artist laments. “I need to know who is best suited to be turned into a comic book. Juggling work, family, and hobby already eat too much of my time.”

“I shall need all the best materials we have on the subject, and from there, pick the best story for adaptation,” he adds. “I really want to do a lot of them.”

This where the matenakan (experts) of Kapampangan folklore, literature, and history enter. If you want to get in touch with Gener Pedriña, you may email him at
If we, Kapampangans, be able to develop our own comic book industry independent of Manila and foreign countries, then that's again one step closer to cultural self-determination and another way of providing our talented artists a fulfilling graphic career without leaving the province. We now have new Kapampangan recorded music, Kapampangan TV shows, Kapampangan publications, Kapampangan films. Will Mr. Pedriña be the pioneer of the new Kapampangan comic book industry? That we have to watch out for.


Ner P said...

dacal a salamat king article!!!

kalansay said...


amimiss ku ne ing komix.

pag magbakashun ku keng porac dati lagi kung sasaling komiks keng palengki.

nyeni ala nang masyadung komiks pin. masanting kung atin ping kapampangan renasans. ;)bang mibuklud la reng kapampangan ampong sunud la reng aliwang group. ;)

Gio Paredes said...

Nice article you got here..

But do you know that there will be a crossover comics of Sandugo and Kalayaan(my character).

Ner's team will guess star in my comics Kalayaan issue #6.
It is still in production since I am just about to release issue#5 this October.

Oresama said...

Filipino creativity at its best! Too bad national networks aren't keen on great concepts such as this. Great article!

Heidi said...

pagmaragul kung capampangan ku!!

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