Monday, July 11, 2005

PAGE45 reviews SIGLO
http://www.page45.couk.com

"Siglo: Freedom (£9-99, Mango) by various. A Filipino anthology of comics onthe theme of freedom, a subject dear to the people of the Philippines, forobvious reasons. It's the sort of thing I instinctively want to applaud.Straight fiction, new points of view, something to say. And the first story,"Jolo, 1913" (each title has a date, which together span the last century),definitely boasts both those two characteristics. It's told by a boy as hemoves through the alphabet in the top two-thirds of each page, being taughtEnglish. Along the bottom, he begins to talk about the school where he'slearning this new language.

"None of the Muslim children went to my school. Maybe they attended adifferent one or learned directly from their parents. At that time I didn'tunderstand why. I considered them lucky."

But then other things happen thathe doesn't understand, things he's not told, as smoke begins to rise in theMuslim districts. Soldiers are said to be arriving in great numbers. "At the end of that long week, my father told us it was all over. Things went backto normal and once again I went to school. Whatever happened suddenly seemed so distant. The Americans looked very happy. Everyone else tried to look happy."

This one worked for me, worked very well. You're never told what happened,but you don't need to be, and the juxtaposition of the underlying story with the humiliating English lesson above makes its point succinctly....by their own account, it's early days for comics in the Philippines - too much outside influence. Which is where we came in, with the first story."

Post by Dean Alfar in his blog: http://deanalfar.blogspot.com/

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