Friday, November 23, 2007

Ang Himig Natin (Juan Peso)

It's been a week of coincidences as I was about to finish a "nationalist" and nostalgic digital video (above; video multi-launched today, Bonifacio Day, November 30, 2007 in's Global Nation, YouTube, PinoyCentric, Global Filipino Nation and this blog).

Some weeks ago I was rummaging thru old photos and old comics literature when I chanced upon Bukol Magazine. I was ecstatic, it was first issue, 1978, acid-yellow newsprint nervously turning sepia along tattered edges. Something has got to be done. It's papyrus into pixels yet again. I'd prefer latter to fibrous dust clinging to staple wires. So keen was I to preserve mementos I could be charged of scanner-abuse:) All are then saved in my external hard drive.

Inside Bukol Magazine was a comic character I've created - Juan, a young man who lived in Manila in the 70's under Martial Law and felt hopelessness with state of affairs wherein most of his creative efforts were stifled by depravity of money as symbolised by peso coin.

Ironically he lost last coin in his pocket, into the gutter; but yearned to retrieve coin. It was a thin line between determination and desperation.

Incidentally I was just polishing an old silver Philippine peso coin issued in 1907 (gifted me by a Michinburian Filipino) and is among prized collection of rare coins. Last year I toyed with macrophotography and took some real close-up shots of it. Silver is awesome, it has a blue-greenish sheen even unpolished; and clinked on the table with a sharp and crystalline quality. I've included images in the video.

Still excited with ©Vista Windows MovieMaker I thought I'd drop each comic frame in storyboard which then was start of a tedious process of animation and editing.

I usually work with music on, just like Nonoy Marcelo in his studio in Ermita where I worked amidst his various and synchronous projects (there's daily editorial drawing on his board, next to where his animation storyboard sits side by side a printmaking plate pressed down hard on a pile of documents precariously leaning on neatly-shelved vinyl records of Bob Dylan, The RollingStones and The Who).

Working in Ninong Nonoy’s animation studio in Scout Limbaga in QC back in ’78 gave me rudimentary animation skills using hand-drawn images. Also during this time Nonoy published Bukol Magazine where I was one of his editors. It was Pinoy version of Mad Magazine and involved cartoonists, writers and serious Filipino painters who willingly tried their hand on comics genre.

I’ve rebirthed Juan to Juan Peso in this video, which is kind of a visual narrative using ©WMM effects and metamorphosing digital still images ( I’d like to think of it as a short film with an analogue attitude and a digital rush;-)

In WMM, each 50 x 38 cm size photo at 72 res. will normally run for 2.5 seconds. For it to just flash briefly in finished video, one has to drastically clip 90% of photo span (in timeline mode). Then add 23 more of these thin slices of different images and make it run within a second and it will give you idea of number of images required to complete, let's say, a purely animation 3-minute film.

Back then editing alone was so time-consuming and delicately dangerous (imagine if one actually handled celluloid film rolls just after eating sticky rice-pudding;-).

There's splicing and tweening film over lightbox for days, cels everywhere (pieces of celluloid where drawings and colors are painted on). A prosaic mosaic of images frozen in time, almost Godly process, as they can only come alive through the Light. Darkened rooms proffered anxiety as camera on rostrum panned laboriously.

No easy task “synching” images with soundtrack that seemed to squeak fast-forward-rewind forever as the lever was cranked to move the film roll under the tapehead.

Amazingly patient and tenacious artists, these animators, I take a bow.

Back to us this time frame.. I was then listening to Noel Cabangon's beautiful and emotional adaptation of Ang Himig Natin by Juan dela Cruz (originally sung by Jose "Pepe" Smith). Eureka! I thought, this would be most appropriate soundtrack for video of Juan Peso. But there was apprehension, I need to ask permission from concerned.

With glint in eye, I was raring to do an experimental ©WMM digital video using scanned images of Juan Peso comics and mix it up with my ultra-violet paintings plus a bit of digital animation and liquify tricks in Photoshop and moviemaker.

I then asked around for Noel's contact email and hoped to get permission. Ben Razon offered some email bridges but it was Sylvia Mayuga who quickly homed in Mr. Cabangon's email. She passed it on to me, wrote Mr. Cabangon and promptly got a positive reply. I was rhapsodic about whole thing especially when Ms. Mayuga offered to multi-launch video in time for Bonifacio Day, November 30. Yes! What a swell idea...and so I worked on to include images of Filipino proletarian hero aside from one I did of him in ultra-violet reactive paint; and did some more quick animation of flags and birds made easier by the watery effects of WMM.

Likewise I got delightful permission from Wally Gonzalez of Juan dela Cruz Band who holds copyright of this classic song sung by Filipinos everywhere (even in Muntinlupa!). I could have probably sung and played guitar myself but why ruin a good video?;-) (Maraming salamat po, Sylvia Mayuga, PinoyCentric, Ka Noel, Ka Wally at Ka Pepe, sa pagpapaunlak).

Fission or fusion, under a drowning spell of “watery” movie special effects, I ‘ve considered images streaming as single hydrogen molecule and twice life-giving oxygen molecules embodied by Cabangon’s rendition and Juan dela Cruz classic compositon to complete it.

Sensitive to everyday news via the net and Filipino tv here in Sydney, I feel fluidity might save the day for a lot of Filipinos, an eddy of power to change shape and reform under various political temperatures.

Maybe, too like water nationalism is fluid, penetrating tiniest veins where Filipino blood runs warm, slowly breaching indifference thru osmosis; evaporating to join heavens and return to an ocean of hope where an almost Utopian transparency of water shall allow majority to see the beauty and watch grow a healthy coral of a democratic nation.

Thanks for watching video guys!

– edd aragon, Sydney, 2007



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