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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Friday, September 10, 2004

entry arrow8:32 PM | Another National Book Award Controversy

This is another National Book Award-related "question mark," something I broached to my Philippine literature class the other day when we were discussing Philippine graphic literature. The class was giving comments about Gerry Alanguilan's Wasted, when I told them that the Darna comics I had shown them earlier (and which I had proclaimed as something ho-hum) had just won the National Book Award, tying with the Vic Simbulan and Dean Alfar-edited graphic anthology Siglo: Freedom.

Luis Joaquin Katigbak says, "This seems to be the year for questioning the Manila Critics Circle's relevance and decision-making process, as the questionable verdicts aren't limited to the Young Adult category. I for one was aghast that they would award anything to Mango Comics' Darna, which was mediocre at best. That it should tie with Siglo just makes my brain want to commit hara-kiri, because what standards are they using?"

Later, he says: "Of course, one can argue that Siglo has its own flaws, but its ambition, its scope, its willingness to reach for and achieve more than your run-of-the-mill slab of sequential lit -- these are undeniable. Meanwhile, Darna offers stilted writing, hackneyed superheroics, and gratuitous T&A, which can hardly be deemed an accomplishment, much less award-worthy. Amidst the flurry of congratulations from the local comics mailing lists and weblogs, very few people have chosen to express concern -- at least in writing -- about the discrepancy in quality between the two supposed winners. Hey, we're Pinoys. We're like that. But if word of mouth is anything to go by, I'm far from the only person disturbed by this decision. I'm not looking to diss Mango Comics as a company -- I am very much looking forward to future releases from them, from talents such as Gerry Alanguilan and Arnold Arre (and besides, it seems that so many of my friends work for Mango these days) -- but hey, bad comics are bad comics. To pretend otherwise is to be stupid."

My friend Shirley nods, and says, "And hey, with those boobs, how can this Darna fly?"

"Yeah," Luis adds, "I don't think breasts the size of one's head help make one aerodynamic. ;p Adam's theory is that the prize is really for Mars Ravelo, the original creator. If that's the case, they might as well just award some lifetime achievement type thing, and not honor the substandard 'update'."


Meanwhile, Angas ng Kurimaw rants about Krip Yuson ...

[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich