By: Patricia Yap
Home to a melting pot of cultures, immensely rich histories, and divers of whimsical legends, the Philippines offers plenty of creative inspiration to independent artists. However, it does not offer the same bounty of platforms for its artists to express and share their talents—especially for the Filipino komikeros or comic book writers and artists.
Fortunately, just a few months ago, the creative content group Kalabaw Kolektib launched Penlab, an all-encompassing website that’s made exclusively for Filipino komiks—where fans could read, and writers and artists could publish for free.
Since its launch, the inclusive space has already reached 200,000 hits and continues to grow to this day. Now graced with over 100 komikeros and titles, the big question for new site visitors is where to start their Penlab journey.
Don’t fret because SEA Wave has got your back! Here are our High Five Filipino komik picks on Penlab.
Undoubtedly one of the most read komiks on Penlab with 47,000 views, Katipunera Warrior is set in a re-imaged colonial Philippines where monsters and demons wreak havoc. Only the Katipuneros have the power to save everyone, but one unsuspecting village girl might just be destined as the strongest Katipunero warrior of them all.
Life in Orange
Far from the realm of monsters and a warped Philippines, Life in Orange is a slice-of-life komik about two boys, where one has always followed social norms while the other is a little different. Apart from its charming story, students and just about anyone missing simpler high school days will surely fall for this komik due to its familiar Filipino school setting and nostalgic backdrop.
The Mythology Class
Merging the supernatural with the real world, Mythology Class is an immensely interesting and captivating read for all fantasy lovers out there. In this komik, a group of students become friends in a mythology class in the University of the Philippines. The catch? They have to capture actual engkantos (supernatural creatures) roaming the world of the living.
Nagmamahal, Maria Clara
No Filipino student’s high school life is ever complete without reading the national hero Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere. Everyone knows about The Noli, but what could possibly happen if one of its characters, the gentlest of them all, appears in modern 21st-century Manila? Yes, this komik is about Maria Clara, now apparently becoming an actress, in our real life stage.
Nang Mainlove Ako sa Isang Sakristan
Last but definitely not the least, Nang Mainlove Ako sa Isang Sakristan is a magical take on boys’ love, youth and growth. The story follows Francis and Didoy, who, after being caught kissing outside a subdivision chapel, dives into an unexpected and unforgettable journey.
When you’re done with these titles, there are more komiks on the site, so you won’t run out of things to read anytime soon. And worry not because more titles are already slated to be released on the website.
Certainly, Penlab is just the beginning for Filipino independent komikeros. As curious Filipino fans who always crave for more local content, we have the power to let the platform and Filipino komiks become more known and grow into something bigger than it is.
With our support, let’s jump right into Penlab and explore the Philippines like we’ve never seen before.