Alben meng manyaman, boy!

April 29, 2008

Infomax interested to produce 'Kalam'

Last Wednesday, Diego Dobles (Asthma band / Academy of Performing Arts), Alex Tiotuico (APA), Jon Tanganco (5 Against The Wall) and I went to the office of Infomax to pitch our TV series concept, Kalam. Aside from that, we also expressed our advocacy for the Kapampangan people and culture, that Kalam is not merely a TV series, but a project spawned by our big ambitions for our balen.

These were our five-fold advocacies:

Broadcasting. To place a mark in the ongoing history of Philippine broadcasting by introducing the first ever regionally-produced Kapampangan TV series and, in so doing, make Kapampangans prouder of their ethnicity

Amanung Sisuan. To further intellectualize the Kapampangan language by showing to people, especially the urban youth, that it is an equally competent language appropriate for use in other forms of TV shows.

Kalalangan. To further showcase and develop what the Kapampangans can offer in fields linked with TV series production—direction, acting, production design, music, and scriptwriting for television. (A lot of Kapampangans boast of their seemingly inborn artistry; but why can't we showcase these wonderful gifts? Because we have not a lot of venues.)

Kultura at Turismu. To subtly promote Kapampangan culture and the province itself by incorporating local customs and traditions, by featuring places and other popular landmarks, and by showing cultural products like Kapampangan dishes and crafts in the episodes. (Read: Kimchi was made more popular by the Korean entertainment wave).

Pambansa at Pang-Yatu. To make an attempt in showing to the rest of the Philippines and of the world, if reachable, that Kapampangan culture—both traditional and pop—is a potential player in the rising culture industry.

Our concept:

Like other Philippine regional communities, Kapampangans possess a rich and colorful collection of folklore. We, at some point in our lives, especially during our younger years, have heard of stories about the magkukutud, the Kapampangan equivalent of the Tagalog manananggal; the kapri, tree-dwelling ogre-like elementals; the patianak, miniature elementals that dwell on earth mounds; the maglalage, the untamed and unsatisfied ghosts of the deceased; and other supernatural characters.

Also, without most modern Kapampangans knowing, we have a wide range of healers and sorcerers apart from the popular magkukulam and mambabarang, each with their own functions, methods, and specialties. There is the magkukusim, who can project his soul from his body to bewitch people across distances. There is the katulunan, who can directly contact the spirits and elementals. We also have the uple (illusion makers), manlalasun (venom experts), ukluban (equivalent of the Tagalog hukluban), mamalian (spirit channels), manggagawe (herbal experts), and many other strange, magical characters that continuously add color to our local culture, but are sadly being forgotten, being replaced by foreign monsters like the Bogeyman, vampires, and mummies.

In Kalam, we wish to propagate once more in detail our local folklore, which, although in the brink of dying from the minds of the people, still rings a bell for people who spent their childhood listening to the rural legends of Apu.

However, instead of portraying these magical characters in their conventional barrio setting, we will be portraying them in the modern, urban world, dissolving the gap between science and superstition, technology and magic, the contemporary and folklore, and the traditional and the modern.

Imagine mangkukulam, magbantala, and mangguguna living with us in the city as seemingly normal people who dress up like us, listen to the same songs we patronize, watch the latest rock concerts, occupy seats in the government, attend in well-known schools in the province, fall in love with the heartthrob next door, and occupy normal jobs in banks and malls.

This is the conceptual world of Kalam, where contemporary drama meets folkloric fantasy. END

They were impressed with our concept and sample videos (see previous entry). They said they are more than willing to produce it. According to them, they have long been dreaming of making a Kapampangan TV series, but they were just waiting for the right concept/story and people to come along, and Kalam seems to be interesting enough.

Like any other television production, the challenge here will be, as you might have guessed, money. Budget. Capital. Calculating the least possible amount, at least 50,000 pesos will be needed for every episode's production to make them appear decent in spite of their being low budget (yes, 50K is still low budget). Much of the cost will go to the talent fees of the cast and crew, food, transportation expenses, production design, and probably location-related contracts.

Infomax might not be able to sustain our budget per episode, so I guess we have to look for corporate sponsors in order to be able to tape.

I, who used to be a media practitioner in Quezon City, feel like an astronomer, in that I have to know a lot of things simultaneously in order to deliver. This roots from the lack of "media creatives" in Pampanga.

You'll find a small number, if not zero, lighting directors, screen writers, professional actors of diverse ages, production designers, etc. That's one challenge. I hope Kalam will start the ball rolling and convince Kapampangans to consider Kapampangan broadcast media, especially TV, as a possible career path.

An immediate problem right now is the unestablished pool of Central Luzon-based Kapampangan actors. The circle of zarzuela actors of old had not been sustained, so what we have today is an emerging circle of teenage actors such as members of the Academy of Performing Arts and ArtiSta. Rita. We don't have adult/old Kapampangan actors like Caridad Sanchez, Lorna Tolentino, and Eddie Garcia.

For commercial viability, we also lack "perfect actors." That is, actors having them all: good looks, impressive acting skills, professionalism, and most importantly, fluency in Kapampangan. Let's not deny that they are essential in making the TV show more pang-masa. The whole cast doesn't have to be all pretty and gorgeous; but at least, the main protagonists.

It's not wrong to look for actors with these qualities; what is pathetic is relying on such actors to pull the ratings up without looking at the quality of the story, script, direction, and even the acting of the talents, and this often happens in Manila TV.

I don't want the first ever Kapampangan TV series to resemble the Visayanovelas (search "Kapalaran ABS-CBN Cebu" on YouTube). No offense to Visayans; I admire their ethnic fervor, but they should really strive for global quality in their media-related cultural products. That is how we, the subordinate regions, can challenge the media-related cultural products of Imperial Manila.

Actually, I don't want Kalam to resemble even the Manila teleseryes we see on TV every evening (where fantaserye characters look like children's party mascots). I want Kalam to be locally appreciated and at the same time, globally exportable. I want Kalam to take part in the global cultural industry, and it's not impossible.

The Kapampangan stereotype of being mapanyisti (mean critics) will be a challenge here. I don't see it as something negative. It somehow pressures us to do our best in everything we do. Imagine if we make a mediocre Kapampangan TV series. Not only will Kapampangan children hate and feel inferior with their ethnicity, Kapampangan screen actors, being newbies in the field, will also be traumatized. If the TV series turns out to be corny or baduy, these actors probably won't ever want to be known in public for a long time, and we have to find a new set of actors again!

I know not if it's the same with other regions but Kapampangans don't necessarily support everything that is Kapampangan. If a Tagalog or Visayan TV series is better, they will choose to support those instead of that of Kapampangan.

That's how mean and hard-to-please most Kapampangans are, but I have learned to turn that seemingly negative trait into something positive and productive.

Will Kalam--if ever, the first ever Kapampangan TV series--create a shift in the long-existing Kapampangan culture of Tagalog and foreign TV series patronage, even just for a small number of people? That, we have to look out for.

These are our main characters. Who will take the roles once we start producing Kalam? (If you know Kapampangan people based in Central Luzon who have had acting experience, or are bibo enough to pursue acting for TV, have them submit their biodata/resume and photos through email: ).

Yubs, the Nursing student who discovers that he has healing skills (positive kulam).

Dette, the smart, wealthy, and feminist photographer/filmmaker who can see supernatural entities (lagayan) through the camera lens.

Kulubasa a.k.a. Kool, the comic and punky Kularyut (tree elemental) who serves as Yubs' guide in the cryptic world of people with Kalam.

Albina, the more than a hundred year old ukluban who seeks to regain the buried glory of witches; maintains her youth through magic and human sacrifice

John Joy, the mangguguna who makes a living out of selling potions and charms; his suave moves and cool personality make Yubs insecure, especially since Dette has a huge crush on him

Rhodskie, Dette's non-magical ex-boyfriend (a Kapampangan who grew up in Germany) who loves hiphop and street dancing; sees Yubs as Dette's reason why she broke up with him

April 24, 2008

Universe of Kapampangan Witches

To make Kalam -- that TV series we are planning to pitch to local TV executives (see previous entry for video samples) -- more culturally rooted, we researched on the different classifications of witches, classified them according to function, and added our own creative touch to make them more interesting and nuanced. Here's a list we made:

The Healers

Magkukulam (+) - can spiritually cure people in his immediate surroundings within his radius of sight; Mágbantala - has the ability to create prayers which people can use to protect or cure themselves even without the presence of the magbantala; Magkukusim (-) - Has the ability to send his spirit out of his body in order to heal people regardless of geographic distance

The Sorcerers

Magkukulam (-) - Can spiritually damage people in his immediate surroundings within his radius of sight; Mambabarang - has the ability to command insects to bring harm to his target; Magkukusim (-) - Has the ability to send his spirit out of his body in order to harm people regardless of geographic distance

The Spirit Channels

Lágáyan - can sense the presence of supernatural entities; Mámalian - has the ability to embody supernatural entities and their powers; Katulunan -can directly interact with spirits

The Deceivers

Mánuple - can create tagibulag or illusions of objects and individuals; Manlilingu - can create false realities in the minds of the people they bewitch

The Prophets

Mánula - has the ability to see multiple probabilities of the future but cannot detect which is most likely to happen; Siak - mind has direct access to the future

The Herbologists

Manggagawe - uses plants to cast spells; Mangguguna - has skill in using and mixing plants and extracts in order to make potions, teas, charms, and artifacts, each with specific functions


Mánawas - psychic detectives and investigators; mixture of healing/sorcery abilities and spirit channeling; Tawak - antidote makers, snake bite healers, and serpent charmers; mixture of healing abilities and herbology; Manlalasun - stealthy venom makers; mixture of skills in sorcery and herbology; Mambabanis - uses body fluids like saliva and sweat to improve health or cure any form of ailments, especially those who were meyasug; a tawak with exposure to basic sorcery, or a manlalasun with exposure to basic healing

The Masters

Ukluban - a witch that has mastered all disciplines; he can either be on the good, bad, or neutral side; Ustuang - a highly spiritual and skillful witch who has the ability to sacrifice his life and kaladua to cause a huge, destructive explosion of fire; so rare is their existence in that they are sometimes considered by the witches themselves to be mythical

April 22, 2008

Kapampangan version of Matsuura's message

My Kapampangan translation of the message of Koïchiro Matsuura, Director General of UNESCO in the celebration of the International Year of Languages 2008, was officially used by the Komisyon Sa Wikang Filipino and UNESCO in their blog. Check it out keni.

It was a challenge translating an English piece containing lots of social-scientific sentences into Kapampangan. It just goes to show that Kapampangan is not yet that intellectualized, as it still finds it hard to walk in the path of the social sciences. Eventually though, it will get the hang of it.

Cultural diversity in Kapampangan, anyone?

April 18, 2008

Kapampangan urban fantaserye

A friend and I are dreaming of creating our own Kapampangan TV series -- an urban action fantasy type that would make modern Kapampangans proud of their ethnicity.

Here are three sample videos we made for pitching to TV executives.

We used actors from the Academy of Performing Arts in Angeles City.

April 17, 2008

Pampanga's "Sisig Queen" murdered

By Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon

ANGELES CITY--Local culinary legend Lucia "Lucing" Cunanan, who brought the traditional "sisig" to fame, was stabbed and killed by unknown attackers on Wednesday in her home on C. M. Recto St. here, police said.

The suspects stabbed Cunanan at least 10 times in different parts of the body, Chief Insp. Jaime Villamil, chief of the Angeles City police's Station 6, said, citing initial police findings. The instrument, probably a knife, was not found in the bedroom where Cunanan, 80, was killed. Her white bag, gold necklace and ring were missing, it was learned.

Zeny, Cunanan's eldest daughter, said her father Victorino, 85, left the house at 4:30 a.m. to buy breakfast. When he returned home at about 5 a.m., he found Cunanan bloodied and dead while slumped on a chair in their bedroom. Zeny told reporters that the suspects might have used a hammer to smash her mother's face.

Villamil said a hammer was not found in the bedroom and the multiple wounds indicated that the suspects used a sharp object. Barangay Capt. Valentino Lagman said a neighbor of the Cunanans saw a man in red shirt walking several times in front of the house a few minutes before the murder.

Zeny said some relatives had a quarrel with Cunanan over money matters.

But she refused to link that incident to the murder. "We are very sad that this had happened. Our mother was kind and she had no enemy as far as we knew," Zeny told reporters.

Cunanan began her sisig business in 1974 on a small stall along Crossing, a strip of rickety eateries and bars beside the old railroad tracks in Angeles City.

"Apung Lucing" is how that stall is called until now even it has now occupied three adjacent stalls.

April 13, 2008

RocKapampangan launching on Pep TV

The launching concert of the RocKapampangan album is being aired on Pep TV (for ACCTN subscribers only) on the following dates, every ka-9 ning bengi.

April 13 (Sun)
April 15 (Tue)
April 17 (Thu)
April 20 (Sun)

Performances by: Mental Floss, Tibuan, Asthma, 5 Against The Wall, Mernuts, Dialogo, Chilimansi, Nora Aunor Fans' Club, and Silence.

April 11, 2008

An indie film about Cockfighting and Maleldo

Jerwin Espiritu, a colleague of mine in the UP College of Mass Communication, in spite of not making it to the Finals of the 2008 Cinemalaya Film Festival Full-Length Category, pursued his entry titled Kristo.

It's a Kapampangan-themed film about the Kristos in cockfighting, paralleled with the those who play Jesus Christ during Maleldo, or the Kapampangan Holy Week. Cutud, Pampanga is the setting of the story.

The film is topbilled by Jay Manalo who plays the role of Pedring, a Kristo who is addicted to cockfighting. Lina is his live in partner, played by Katherine Luna. Pedring's two children are Magda, played by a theater actress, and Karyo, played by Christian Vasquez. Aleck Bovick plays the role of a lesbian Kristo.

During the Cutud crucifixion rite, which is held annually both for traditional and tourism purposes, the staff and crew of Kristo went really to Cutud to snatch some actual flagellation and crucifixion scenes.

Now, since Espiritu didn't make it to the Cinemalaya Finalists' roster, who produced his film? It's none other than sexy actor Carlo Maceda.

One day, while a friend and I were hanging out at the Center for Kapampangan Studies, Espiritu, along with other people, including Carlo Maceda barged in. They went to the Kapampangan Center to consult about the Maleldo traditions in Pampanga. It was at that moment we learned that Carlo Maceda actually has Kapampangan blood, if not a pure Kapampangan, and Apalit is his hometown.

According to him, he became interested in producing Espiritu's film because he wanted to somehow know more about his Kapampangan roots and, if possible, promote its uniqueness to the world.

Kristo is one of the three Kapampangan-themed films being produced simultaneously by different production groups. The other two are Serbis by Brillante Mendoza, a film about the goings on in the Family Theater of Brgy. San Nicolas, Angeles City, starring Gina Pareno and Jaclyn Jose; and Jay by Francis Xavier Pasion, a murder mystery film set in Bacolor that made it to the Cinemalaya 2008 Finals, starring Baron Geisler.

April 1, 2008

Emergence of Kapampangan digital comics

I, Justin Gatus, and Ernie Saban are so far the only Kapampangan digital comic strip makers in existence, and we're not even that matenakan when it comes to drawing. We just capitalize on our willpower and see what comes out. Below are few samples.

EmoKapampangan by Jason Paul Laxamana

Erico Dagis by Justin Gatus

Calling on other artists to make more comic strips. :)