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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Can’t Pinoys be famous for anything else?

We always laud Pinoys who make it big with their talents and capabilities and not with their corruption and mistakes. There’s Lea Salonga who’s an internationally renowned singer. Charice Pempengco is yet another singer. Same with APL of Black Eyed Peas and Jasmine Trias. Of course, there’s Manny Pacquiao in boxing, and Bata Reyes and Django Bustamante in billiards. The latest is Efren Penaflorida, whose CNN award can be considered controversial, but Pinoys make a fiesta of it nonetheless. But besides this, we hear little of other Filipinos who are lauded abroad… and rarely are other achievements mentioned than these.

Isn’t there anything else the Filipino can be known positively for? It’s always a boxer, singer, dancer, actor, sportsman or similar who becomes known. We have not heard of a Filipino biotechnologist, nuclear physicist, sci-fi writer, fantasy writer, manga artist or anything else. Of course, one can say that the Philippine science and technology field is so neglected. But who cares in this country? Most Filipinos want to be famous entertaining or punching somebody while raking in the money, instead of finding a cure for AIDS or submitting a program for solving poverty in his home country. And those Filipinos who are trying to find a cure for AIDS or solving poverty, seem to be pushed into the background or out of the country.

This seems like shameless plugging, but I’d like to use myself as an example. Back in 2002, I joined a sci-fi Yahoo group where I later found a publisher calling for submissions. I dropped in some of my short stores, and thus Gate Way Publishers came out with my short story collection, SFRP2003. I’m not really earning much from this. But it is one achievement I feel proud of. And it’s something different from being a singer or boxer. But it hasn’t created waves in the world.

Thus, from my case, I wonder if there are any Filipinos who have tried sci-fi writing like mine. So far, a Filipino sci-fi writer is unheard of. Can someone else worth mentioning step up to the challenge and be famous for something else than being a singer, boxer or kariton book-pusher (or anything as common as those)? But then again, I mean that this person should only be doing their job right, and not just trying to draw attention to themselves. It’s most likely the fellow Filipino’s fault for lauding someone else. They will go for the pretty-faced entertainer or sportsman who's always the object of bets.

Finding other renowned Filipinos around is sadly marred by some hoaxes. That Flores invented the fluorescent lamp is a hoax. I searched and found Irene Mora, supposedly the first Filipino astronaut, but even this was declared a hoax. Tsk. Even in such a thing, deceit is used to try and make Pinoys famous. Nothing surprising, but still sad.

I would like to draw attention to Pinoy artists Fred Carillos and Whilce Portacio, who excelled in comic book drawing, drawing He-Man and X-Men. Even Rex Navarette (maker of “Maritess and the Superfiends”) became a stand-up comedian and seems pretty laudable. There’s a Filipina F-16 fighter pilot in the U.S. named Monessa Catuncan, and there’s General Edward Soriano in the U.S. Army. But I wonder if these guys are well known compared to Efren, Lea or Pacquiao.

Thus, I believe the void is big for Pinoys to be known for something else than the usual. But it’s an even bigger void for the people who believe that Filipinos should excel more in singing, dancing and boxing, and less in manga art, science or being a fighter pilot, or anything else.


  1. Floro Dery is a Philipino artist whose model sheets for the 1980s Transformers animated TV series were a formative experience for millions of my generation worldwide.

  2. Yeah! I had forgotten that! Thanks for pointing it out.

  3. Ms. Walker, a little perspective please. Not to downgrade the graphic talents of Floro Dery, but what does one artist from (more than) two decades ago add to the value of the nation in the here and now? Sure, I thought the Transformers were pretty cool back in the day - it's something people grow out of. And unless you mean "formative experience" in a sense wherein it inspired you to become a successful animator, or even better, teach the skills to new generations (if that is the case, then the following does not apply), I think you ought to be hitching your wagon to a higher star, at this age.

  4. As pointed out in BenK's blog - Heroes by the Busload

    "Apart from the people listed by BT, and a paragraph naming a dozen or so historical figures from Jose Rizal to Cory Aquino, there are about 140 others on Batang Tondo’s list, which can be divided into broad categories:

    55 Actors
    29 Musicians
    21 Authors & Journalists
    12 Comic book & Animation Artists
    7 Models
    5 Business Executives & Entrepreneurs
    4 Filmmakers, Directors, & Producers
    3 Scientists & Engineers
    1 Jurist (A member of the State Supreme Court of Hawaii)

    It pretty much reflect Pinoy society's sense of priorities. It also shows the representative diversity (or lack thereof) of the talent pool and talent mix.

  5. Megumi Nakajima is a half-Japanese, half-Filipina voice actress who became famous for her role in the anime Macross Frontier as Ranka Lee.

    I'm saying this as an anime fan, and because she didn't get any local coverage whatsoever.

  6. You forgot filmmaker Brillante Mendoza who won as best director at Cannes, the most prestigious film festival on the planet.

    Guess what event overshadowed his historic victory and return back home? An American Idol tour........

  7. I think this dude, Floro Dery, I google him, is the only pinoy among the artists/animators who teaches his artistic philosophical thoughts and unusual ideas in comics illustration which are very useful and a great inspirations to probably present and future generations of artists worldwide. I hope he publishes his writings into a book. Here's the link to his blog.

    - Gene -

  8. Thanks for the comments. But I agree with Ben and Bong above. Time for a new area where Pinoys can shine in. At least other than politics and entertainment (which are indistinguishable at the moment, hehe).