Filmmaker Jason Laxamana’s new project is a comic book about pre-colonial Philippines
Laxamana takes a break from directing to produce Anitu, a comic book exploring the lives of Kapampangan before the conquests
Apr 10, 2019
Much has been said about the frailties of our history. But director Jason Laxamana has something more to say, and this time, he’s saying it not through his usual medium but through a comic book portrayal of our folklore.
Lamenting the problem with Western-centric perspectives of our history, Laxamana took to Facebook last weekend to announce his venture into something that he has been very passionate about but has been putting off since because of lack of funding: fantasy, folklore, history.
“I often questioned why the Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, Europeans, even Hawaiians have a rich history to mine for their stories, whereas Filipinos only have the colonial times to turn to (Spanish, American, Japanese — you choose),” Laxamana posted on Facebook to accompany the first image of his project.
He continued saying, “But we are a colorful group of nations before we were conquered, each ethnic group bursting with lore, culture, and history. The problem with the teaching of PH history is it focuses too much on our subjugation, and not on the merits of our peoples before colonization.”
The 32-year old director, in an attempt to contribute to the solution, announced that he will be producing his own comic book series called “Anitu.”
Partnering with local artist Ruel Enoya, Laxamana reimagines the lives of Kapampangans prior to the conquests. A writer himself, he said he has done a lot of research going into the project named after ancestral spirits or nature spirits. He’s consulted historical accounts like the Boxer Codex aka the Manila Manuscript written in the 1590s and “Barangay: Sixteenth-century Philippine Culture and Society” by historian William Henry Scott.
The independently-produced comic book which is likely to be published third or fourth quarter this year follows the story of a team of skilled indios who must awaken seven great Anitu and “receive their power in order to defeat the conquistadores and friars before they turn La Pampanga into a colony of slaves.”
“I want this to be a multimedia effort. Someday, I’d want to make movies out of this [or even] video games, graphic novels, TV series, etc.,” Laxamana said on his post.
You can peek the first illustrations by Enoya of the protagonists of the series on Anitu’s Facebook page. And while Laxamana admits that the storyline is still in the works, he said they are planning to reveal the characters’ identities and descriptions, and the history of their development from conceptualization to finalization these coming weeks.
Header photo courtesy of Anitu Facebook page and Ruel Enoya
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