Kuha-kuhang ng komiks na ito ang panlasa ng Pinoy, pati na ang kabaduyan. Uy, enjoy kaya maging baduy!
You never know where you will encounter emotions or higher principles that rock cultural and social boundaries. They may be lying under a pile of curlers, in the bottles of makeup and coloring agents, within the pages of a superhero comic book, or right from the hilarious antics existing inside Ada’s Beauty Salon, home of Ada, a gay beautician, a person just like us…..
But who also happens to transform into the very buxom and powerful Zsa Zsah Zaturnnah, defender of the weak, protector of the oppressed, kick-ass champion against zombies and kitschy pop icons-turned-amazon warriors (Nora, Dina, Vilma, Sharon, and, queen of all, Femina, with the body of a goddess, secretly a chauvinist pig).
Written and illustrated by Carlo Vergara, Ang Kagila-Gilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni ZsaZsa Zaturnnah has captured the hearts of Filipinos’ extremely discriminating tastes for reading material (so discriminating that local publishing is pitiful from lack of patronage). Since it was first published in 2003, this graphic novel, or, simply, comics, has been adapted into a stage musical (by Tanghalang Pilipino) and movie (by Regal Films), in 2006.
The movie starred Zsa Zsa Padilla as Zaturnnah and Rustom Padilla as Ada. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I did catch the musical. Eula Valdez was fabulous as the red haired super heroine, Tuxc Rutaquio refined even through the crazier scenes, but just like in the comics, Didi, portrayed by Joey Paras, stole the thunder from everyone.
This pear-shaped character has impeccable comedic timing wherever she goes, pulped or croaking on stage, I see.
I enjoyed both comics and theater. My reading palate is usually receptive only to edgy urban fantasy and historical mysteries these days, while the staging encountered a few technical snags, but, I know now, I am not immune from slapstick fun that inadvertently piggy-backs a few profound insights along the way, and I’m not overly critical about light and sound as long as I see and hear well enough what is going on.
When Carlo Vergara graced one of my book club’s discussions, someone asked him who reads his comics. To our surprise, he said (if he were to conclude based on readers who approach him about the book), all sorts and all ages, from teenagers to seniors, from shy ladies to straight guys, from masa to intellectuals. With a gay beautician for the hero-heroine, what would guys from a macho-oriented society like about it, I wondered. Carver (author’s nickname) explained that, apparently, girls felt titillated with the love story angle and the guys found the antics makulit.
In between our half-joking commentaries (wickedly meant to bring on nosebleed to unsuspecting authors) on the deeper meanings behind some of the scenes and elements from the book…
“are you trying to convey an ecological critique, protesting against the insensitive handling of non-human life forms?,” on the attacking-giant-frog-born-from-volcano…
“did you deliberately use stereotypes to call attention to shameful facts of society, such as homophobia and messianic complex (waiting for someone to save them instead of actually doing something themselves)?”
“don’t you think the extreme feminism represented by the Planet Women was self-defeating, and that it affirmed the the stereotype of radical feminism, instead of breaking it?”
“what can you say about your critics’ claims that your work is campy and derivative?
… I pondered on the universal appeal of the comics, thinking maybe it had something to do with how we can all relate to a character simply wishing to be happy, to love, and be loved. That he tries to achieves this through the campy world of Pinoy Superhero is simply the bait that made us bite into his world.
True, ZZZ is at heart a pastiche of stereotypes and pop culture references. So what? There’s nothing original anymore in the world. But good timing is timeless, which let’s us introduce and accept rehash as if it were new. It’s pure genius if it succeeds. It’s priceless if it gets people laughing, feeling, and thinking.
And I’m thinking, even if Ada is a baklang babae at heart, with Dodong the way he is, a hunk, but not so bright, Ada may yet realize she’s better off as the man of the family.
More ZZZ discussion here…
baduy – campy, corny, off, not tasteful but fun
masa – the general population, the simple folks
macho – manly, muscular, all that a real guy should be
kakulitan – outrageous, crazy, unbelievably dumb that it’s so funny
baklang babae – a woman who acts like a loud and flamboyant gay