BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews/30 August) — Reading comics was among my childhood habits and the most memorable comics story to me was about a polluted river producing a mutant monster wreaking havoc and destruction in the city.
Now that the comics industry is dead, I feel sorry for this generation because the opportunity of creative imagination is lost.
Then I got a call from Bobby Cielo, an artist and creative consultant.
“How would you like to write a story on marine life situation?” he asked.
Three days later, I joined a three-person brainstorming session composed of Bob, myself and Virginia Pacunio-Guanzon, production in-charge of Coseram (Conflict Sensitive Resource and Asset Management), a program of German Development Cooperation (GIZ).
We came up with a travelogue type of story but no definite characters and outline. I had yet to crack my head to conceive the final story material. It took me a week (or a month) to nail the story down. This either after an early morning walk, a regular meal alone or a yoga session.
But Joey Ayala’s song “Manong Pawikan” was at the back of my head and I thought the wisdom and humility of the turtle was needed. Then Molmol came, a shallow-type fish. I hardly know how it looks like until I learned it was a parrot fish. I thought it looks naive, shy but colorful and attractive. I decided she will be my lead star.
In general, the story concerns the importance of putting up a fish sanctuary as the answer to the survival and protection of coral reef and coastlines and as a sustainable community-based fishing practice.
The other consideration was for it to be stimulating and useful to the children and youth of the coastal villages.
But first things first: the title. So it can in a way guide me to push the story forward. I came up with a tentative, “Ang Kalibutan ni Molmol” (Molmol’s world).
The story began with Molmol bonding with her friends in their habitat when a landslide struck, destroying the village and displacing them.
Molmol floated unconscious and Manong Pawikan (Old turtle) found and saved her. He brought her to a safe spot and planned their escape. Molmol wanted to go back but Manong Pawikan patiently explained and encouraged her to pursue the trip to safety.
Molmol did’nt have a choice and the journey afforded her the knowledge of the cause and effect of the landslide. They traveled many distances away, meeting several marine characters, each sharing stories, mostly sad but promising and inspiring towards the end.
Molmol was finally glad to reach a fish sanctuary where she is safe and feels at home. She befriended two children who in turn learned to appreciate the bounty and relevance of a marine refuge.
Award-winning cartoonist Omar Arellano did the illustration and Bobby himself worked on graphics enhancement and lay-out. Paconio-Guanzon proof-read, edited and did the press work.
All told, Molmol’s encounter to a second chance of life unfolded in 28 pages. It’s final title: “Ang Dangpanan ni Molmol” or Molmol’s Refuge. (Ramon Jorge B. Sarabosing / MindaNews)