My favorite area in the school library is the Filipiniana section where books written by Filipino writers are shelved. In the huge literary sanctuary, this particular space is heavenly every Saturday mornings. Yesterday, though, it was not a heavenly experience. The rain was erratic and I was stuck in a crazy traffic flow with a crazy taxi driver who drove me through flooded streets. So I ended up going through a mad 20-minute dash of returning and borrowing books inside the school library before closing time.
But I should say, the gods were good to me. In the Filipiniana section, I “accidentally” stumbled upon (and, of course, borrowed) a graphic novel, “The MythologyClass” (1999), by Filipino comic book artist and writer Arnold Arre. It is a 350-page black and white masterpiece about the adventures of a hilarious group of teenagers who have been selected to bring escaped enkantos (supernatural creatures) back to their worlds by hook or by crook.
The group is led by Nicole Lacson, an anthropology student from the
with, thanks to her grandfather, a love for anything about Filipino myths. Her
companions include Lane the telepath; Lisa the cool bike rider; hackers Angie,
Edward, and Bob; the lonely Gina; Misha the noisy but helpful one; and
modern-day protectors Gio, Rey, and Sam who are haunted by a tragic incident
some years ago (I hope I did not miss one). They are supported by historical
and mythological Filipino heroes—Datimbang, Kubin, Sulayman, Aili, Tala, and
Lam-ang. University of San Carlos
As I have not yet read my copy of the graphic novel, Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage adapted by Wayne Vansant, The Mythology Class is my first graphic novel. I’m glad it is, for the characters, supernatural or otherwise, are close to my heart. Like Nicole in the story, I grew up hearing stories about tikbalang (demon horse), manananggal (a winged half-bodied female vampire), kapre or agta (tree demon with human-like characteristics), duwende (goblin), aswang (evil ghoul), and diwata (nymph), among many others. And I’m fascinated by them (we still hear hordes of dogs loudly barking at 3 a.m., by the way), though I am pretty sure I will freak out if I get to meet them in person.
I thoroughly enjoyed the graphic novel. The artwork and the flow of the story are amazing; the fusion of supernatural beings in the modern world quite convincing—which shows the great talent of Arre as an artist and a writer. This particular work is in itself a “mythology class” for readers like me who are not so familiar with the gory details about the Philippine’s supernatural creatures. Of course, there is always room for further research, but the graphic novel is enough to spur one to want to read more about the not-so-human characters.
Very sadly, though, when I checked online, The Mythology Class is now out of print. It is originally published as a series in four issues in 1999 and collected into a special edition by Anino Books (Adarna House) in September 2005. The series won Arre a Manila Critics Circle National Book Awards in September 11, 2000. His other graphic novels, “Trip to Tagaytay”, “After Eden”, and “Ang Mundo ni Andong Agimat”, are also out of print. His “Martial Law Babies” is still available.
Here are some favorite lines from The Mythology Class:
“But who are we to judge the workings of the gods? The future was not made for our eyes to see.” –Mrs. Enkanta a.k.a. Datimbang
“You instill fear in the minds of the people and disturb a world you barely know about! You enkantos never learn, do you?” –Kubin, a warrior and Nicole’s love interest
“We had just saved this age from unearthly strangers, but then again, maybe it is them we saved from being trapped in our world.” –Nicole
“Sometimes I wish the gods could turn just one pleasant moment into something that can last forever.” –Nicole and Kubin, separately said
“I will be leaving soon, hija. Don’t forget the stories I’ve told you. Can you do that for Lolo? That’s a good girl. For who knows maybe someday you might find yourself in one of them.” –Nicole’s grandfather to the young version of Nicole on his deathbed
Below are a few snapshots of the pages:
|The portal to the other worlds|
|That's a tikbalang on the far left--a tamed one, too!|
|And that's the santuary of Pedro Penduko, a Filipino comic book superhero|
|Who would not love to literally "ride" on air?|
I’ve read this graphic novel and savored every page from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. straight. Thank gods for the literary intervention! :)
Are you fond of mythology? Have you enrolled in a mythology class? Who is your favorite mythological character?