A Survey of Filipino Comics and its Quest for Cultural Legitimacy
by Emil M. Flores
The Illegitimate Medium
"It's great to be a comics fan!" This line has been echoed in numerous conversations whether verbal or online about the major Hollywood "comic book movies" that have proven to be very successful. Sony's Spider-Man has been called a phenomenon for breaking the 100 million dollar mark in gross ticket sales on its first weekend of release. Other films such as X-Men , Blade and the Superman and Batman movies have also been very successful and more superhero films are on the way. American mainstream media is slowly changing its condescending perception of the comic book with the releases of non-superhero films such as Ghost World , From Hell, Road to Perdition, and American Splendor. In the world scene, European producers have also made comics based films such as the Asterix films, Blueberryand Michel Valiant . The Stormriders , based on the popular Chinese comic series, helped save the Hong Kong action film industry before The Matrix (a film greatly influenced by comics) brought global attention to kung fu action movies. Manga based films, animated and live action, are as popular as ever in Japan. And after years of absence, the Mars Ravelo komiks characters Lastikman, Captain Barbell and Darna have successfully returned to the Filipino silver screen and even the small screen for the latter.
While movie trends tend to be cyclical, it is curious to note that the current popularity of American comics (or graphic novels, if you will) as a mining ground for both Hollywood blockbusters and independent films has given the medium, as well as its loyal fans, some form of mainstream acceptance or even respectability. As artist Randy Duburke has pointed out about Tim Burton's Batman movie, ". these people [fans] felt like film legitimizes the character- that if it was done on celluloid.you can say to your friends.who are telling you that comics are crap, "well, see it can't be bad, it's up on film."" (quoted in Bacon-Smith 1991: 112). In the same vein, it can be viewed that the comics medium itself finds legitimacy in film. Indeed, for a medium that has been viewed as disposable reading for children or illiterates, it helps to be noticed by the creators of America's chief form of mass entertainment and the nation's "proudest and most exciting cultural export" (Stein 2002:40).
As an American cultural export, comic books were introduced to the Philippines in World War II. While there were already comic strips such as "Kenkoy" by Tony Velasquez, published in magazines like Liwayway during the late 1920s, the idea of comics in booklet form came from the comic books that the American G.I.s brought with them in the 1940s. While most American comic books featured one story or a number of stories with the same character, the Filipino comic book was anthological and was thus called a "komiks magasin." Even though the first comic book (or comic magazine) was a "funny book" called Halakhak , Filipino comics (or simply komiks) would eventually be known for featuring melodramatic soap operas aimed at adult readers and not children. This development presents a marked difference from the way American comics have been perceived (although this has changed since the mid-1980s). While the komiks were intended for adults, they were still viewed as a cheap and low form of literature. Indeed, creators such as Francisco Coching, Mars Ravelo, Alfredo Alcala and Nestor Redondo have yet to be recognized as "artists" by the mainstream critics.
While the booklet format is basically American in origin, the most visible art "style" found in current komiks, specifically Culture Crash , comes from Japan. Interestingly enough, the manga (Japanese comics) and anime (Japanese animation) influenced komiks are mostly being read by young people (teens and pre-teens) rather than adults. This shift in cultural influence has opened an interesting debate about Philippine culture as expressed in komiks. Borrowing the format seems to be more palatable than borrowing styles. Indeed, as Japanese comic art developed with few outside influences, the "manga style" seems to be unique and immediately identifiable as Japanese as opposed to the supposedly "universal" American and European styles. The uniqueness of the Japanese manga look has caused a number of komiks readers and critics to go back to the question of cultural identity. What is Filipino about the new Japanese style? Why do we have to copy another country's art style? Why can't we have a distinctly Filipino style? These questions seemingly reveal a desire for cultural identity in terms of Filipino-ness and cultural legitimization for the komiks.
But what form of legitimacy are we speaking of here? In examining the issues involving mass culture (where American comics originates from and where Japanese comics eventually found itself in), Dominic Strinati points out particular aspects of this field of study, namely the commercial and the ideological. The first aspect focuses on the marketability of a cultural artifact, morphing it into a cultural product. The second one deals with the ideas and concepts espoused, reinforced or subverted by the cultural artifact (1995: 3). In both cases, various questions about komiks emerge. Within the commercial arena, can the komiks find acceptance in the form of profitability in the local market flooded with foreign comics? Does it have commercial viability in the international market? In the ideological ring, the concept of identity stands in the forefront of this examination. Do the komiks represent Filipino-ness, whether in a pure, hybrid, or mutated form? Do komiks involve postmodern pastiche or mere fanboy rip-offs? Do they represent the dreams and desires of the so-called Filipino masses or the diluted angst of contemporary cyber-savvy youth? While this examination cannot ignore the commercial origins of the komiks, intrinsically, the medium does reflect, whether in format or content, the Filipino experience from the re-imagined past (Francisco Coching's "Hagibis " and "Lapu Lapu " , for example) to the extrapolated future (Arnold Arre's Trip to Tagaytay ). Thus, komiks is a cultural mass produced product that has been, once upon a time, commercially successful and can be viewed as a medium for communication, entertainment and even study, all this within the context of Philippine culture. The widespread acceptance of komiks as a distinct medium of Philippine culture signals its legitimacy.
One agent of legitimization that American comics creator and theorist Scott McCloud mentions is the academe. While movies may give comics mass commercial acceptance and visibility, the actual study of the medium, it seems, can lead to more respectability. However, it seems that McCloud would rather look at comics' "intrinsic worth" and visionary value rather than view them as cultural artifacts (Reinventing Comics 2000: 94). Alas, for the purposes of this paper, it is the cultural aspect of the comics and manga influenced komiks that will be examined and discussed. Taking from Simon During's definition of what cultural studies does, this examination of komiks will mostly focus on how a group "with least power" (Filipinos in relation to Americans and Japanese comic producers) creates or develops its own use for "cultural products- in fun, in resistance, or to articulate their own identity" (1993:7).
The Irony of Manga
American manga critic Frederik Schodt seems to take pride in the assertion that manga artists have diverse art styles as opposed to the ideal Grecian images that proliferate Western comics (1996:26). This statement can indeed be fully supported by the wide range of styles employed by Japanese creators from Katsuhiro Otomo's intricate cyberpunk worlds to Murasaki Yamada's minimalist "home" themed comics (Schodt 1996: 156-157). Scott McCloud also comments on how different the paneling techniques in manga are. So much so that he places a Zen-like mysticism into the Japanese comic medium ( Understanding Comics 1994: 80-81). Indeed, manga as it is currently perceived, basically stands for "Japanese comics" rather than simply "comics." The Japanese use the term to differentiate their comics from those of the rest of the world. In fact, the term "amekomi" is used for American comics.
However manga is perceived, it is first and foremost a medium for communication and entertainment. And with this medium, manga artists employ a variety of art techniques and styles that make them look different from the their Western counterparts. It is curious to note then that manga is now presented and copied as a "style." There are now books, released by both Japanese and American publishers, that show would-be creators how to draw in the manga way. American comics publisher Marvel has released titles set in the "Mangaverse" featuring characters and themes done in the "manga style." This style apparently involves big eyes, wild multi-colored hair, and hyper kinetic speed lines; the style developed by the "god of manga" Osamu Tezuka.
While admittedly, a number of manga works seem to have the style that Tezuka employed (which ironically, was heavily influenced by Walt Disney, the American animator), it is unfortunate that the medium with a multitude of unique artistic expressions has been crystallized into one particular look. In an American magazine for comics, artist Kia Asamiya, an artist for the very popular American comic bookUncanny X-Men , expressed his concern about how his art would be perceived. In the article, he states: "I'm afraid fans will look at my initial work in X-Men and give it that blanket 'manga' tag. Americans tend to think [all] manga has the same style when nothing can be further from the truth. That's like saying all American comics look the same" (qtd. in Cotton 2002: 34). Apparently, it is not only Americans that have this perception of manga.
Pinoy Komiks, meet Pinoy Manga
In the Philippines, possibly the most popular komiks magasin these days would beCulture Crash, an anthology book that has manga as its primary influence. Japanese comics are also anthologies that come out weekly in thick, phone book sized, black and white (with gray tones) volumes. The popular titles are then collected in pocket -sized books. Culture Crash is different in the sense that the comic books are printed in full color, are booklet sized and do not come out weekly (the schedule is highly erratic in fact).
Culture Crash includes game, music and technology reviews in each issue. Its forerunners, the earlier komiks such as Pilipino, Hiwaga and Superstar , also included articles on different topics. Superstar (named after Nora Aunor) focused on movie celebrities. Thus, in format, Culture Crash firmly fits in the komiks magasin tradition. The reasons for the popularity of the magasin format may be due to economical realities. Filipinos want more for their money. It can also be due the Filipinos' penchant for variety, which is evident in the noontime television shows and the "chop suey" comedy-musical films. It should be noted that this format is not uniquely Filipino as other countries like the United States, France, Italy and Malaysia have comic magazines in one form or another. In the Philippines, however, the anthology is the primary format for comics.
In content, however, Culture Crash deviates from the komiks tradition. One characteristic of the comic is its use of language. The comics sections are in Filipino while the articles are written in English. It can be inferred that the use of Filipino is done on a conversational or colloquial level while English is used for the more discursive material. In one of the stories called "Solstice Butterfly," the technical language or "tech speak" is in English. Perhaps this shows that the creators have not yet intellectualized Filipino. Interestingly enough, the use of Filipino is one of the qualities that make the comics uniquely Filipino. This is not an indictment of Culture Crash , but it does demonstrate the language issues that are still present in Philippine society. Indeed, has Filipino been intellectualized? Is the language used in the scientific and technical areas of Philippine society? These are questions that still need to be addressed in the larger scheme of things.
The most striking point of departure of Culture Crash from the komiks tradition is the art. The illustrators employ what is ironically called the "manga style." Whereas the past komiks have been influenced by Western artists, Culture Crash takes its cue from the Japanese artists, or rather the popularized form of manga art. Popularized seems to be the key word here. In an article found in the fifth issue, the publisher states that their (the creators')"preferred art style" is the "popularized art style of the Japanese" and that this adaptation has made them "much easier to be singled out as copycats" (Palabay 2001: 55). It is this use of the Japanese art style that has led to the current debate about Filipino culture and art styles in komiks.
On one hand, the use of the Japanese art style can be viewed merely as a manifestation of the hybridity of Filipino culture. The title of the comic book itself,Culture Crash , implies a fusion of cultures. The art style is Japanese, the coloring technique is American, and the language is Filipino. The creators also claim that it is not only the language that is Filipino but various aspects such the use of Pasig as the setting for a futuristic cyberpunk type of world in "Pasig" and the use of the diwata in "One Day, Isang Diwa." However, one can argue that these manifestations of Filipino culture are merely superficial. The Pasig in "Pasig" can be any futuristic city in decay and the diwata curiously looks like a Western elf found in fantasy anime. The comic does have a uniquely Filipino mascot called Tammy Tamaraw, based on the water buffalo that is found only in the Philippines. In terms of language, if the comics were translated into English what would identify Culture Crash as Filipino? Should it even be identifiable as Filipino? Why not simply view it as manga made in the Philippines?
Manga, or rather its popularized form, is quickly identifiable as Japanese even because of its unique look even when they are translated or artists of other nationalities employ the style. Visually, however, it can be argued that the manga characters do not look Japanese at all with their multi-colored hair and eyes and tiny mouths that warp into huge craters of teeth. It can also be argued that the art style merely represents reality without necessarily creating a photorealistic copy of it. French film director Christophe Gans has observed that manga is the visual language of today's youth and thus, it can be said that manga now transcends national borders. Thus, there are numerous comics around the word that employ the popular manga visual art style such as W.I.T.C.H . from Italy, the aforementioned MarvelMangaverse and Tsunami titles from the United States and the various manhwa (Chinese comics) series such as The Adventures of Wisely written by Chinese Hong Kong-based writer Ni Kuang and drawn by Singaporean artist Wee Tian Beng. Just like Culture Crash , there are announcements for manga and anime conventions in some of the Wisely books.
Culture Crash is by no means the only Filipino publication influenced by the manga style. The anime magazine Questor has included a Pinoy manga section and a series called CHIPS has been released. Both look even more Japanese than Culture Crash . The Questor manga for example features girls who wear school uniforms with short skirts. While school uniforms are basically Western in origin, the short skirts are common in Japan and not in the Philippines. Komiks magasin titles for children such as Jolly Kid and Funny Komiks have also "turned manga." It is quite obvious that the publishers of Funny Komiks , which began in the early 1980s with stories featuring the unique artwork of Larry Alcala, Tenny Henson and Ronie Santiago, figured that the Japanese look was now popular with the kids and thus changed its overall design and artwork. The stories in Funny Komiks thus became generically Japanese in appearance. Looking at the current crop of new komiks (Cast, Jam, etc.) one can readily see the ubiquitous manga look.
Still, Filipino creators are merely one of many creators from different countries that utilize this style. Perhaps "utilize" is a key word in this debate. Is the style merely a tool to express ideas and tell stories? If so, the utilization of any style should still express the cultural background of the creator. Ironically, it is the popularized form of manga's distinctiveness that makes its utilization troublesome for a number of critics. It is distinctly Japanese and yet applicable to any country because of its representational or iconic quality. Also, perhaps it is not the use of the style that is put into question, but the blatant use of it. When is one merely influenced by a particular and when is one totally "ripping off" a style? In my perception, when the individual creator, shaped by his or her culture, disappears into the foreign style, then one has ripped off the style and has ripped himself or herself into unseen pieces.
In a curious twist, a review of Yukinobu Hoshino's 2001 Nights: Children of Earthmanga in Culture Crash number 5, the reviewer states the artwork "at first glance, .looked like something by traditional Pinoy comic book artists!" (Taga-Ilog 2001:26). At least one of the creators of Culture Crash then is aware of the traditional komiks art style. The question that comes to mind then is, if a Japanese manga artist can draw in a style that is similar to the so-called Pinoy style, then why can't Pinoy artists do the same? Is the manga style (which now, because of the reviewers question, becomes a misnomer), the "new" way of drawing as opposed to the traditional Pinoy style? Now, the whole idea of the manga style and its application in the komiks becomes even more intriguing.
The Western Pinoy Style
The traditional Pinoy style finds its origins in the West, particularly the United States. According to Frederik Schodt, there are "two predominant and most distinctive forms of comics.those from America and Japan; minor variations on both are found in Europe, Latin America, and Asia" (1996:22). In contrast to comics from China, Korea, and other Asian countries, the Philippines adopted the Japanese form only recently. It can even be asserted that the rise in popularity of anime worldwide (even in the United States) was the cause of this adoption. Before manga and anime came into the scene, it was the American form that was dominant in komiks.
As was mentioned earlier, the Americans brought the comic book form itself in the 1940s. With the adoption of the format came the adoption of the art style. American comics artists such as Alex Raymond, Al Capp, Alex Toth among others influenced local komiks creators. Because of the American influence, the characters in the komiks have Western features like fair skin and high-bridged noses. The Filipino superheroes were based on their American counterparts. Mars Ravelo's characters Darna and Captain Barbell were based on Wonder Woman and Caption Marvel respectively. While the characters may look American, the stories were definitely Filipino. Indeed, it was the melodrama rather than superheroes that proved to be the popular genre in komiks. Komiks also had a wide range in terms of genres, many of them based on Philippine history ("Lapu Lapu"), folklore ("Pedro Penduko"), and social issues ("God.Save Me"). Even the superheroes were Filipino not just in nationality but also in terms of origin. Darna, Captain Barbell, and Panday all belong to the working class and receive their powers from magical objects handed down to them because of their humility and purity of heart. American heroes either inherently possess their skills and powers such as Superman, Wonder Woman or even Batman who trains himself to peak human perfection, or get their powers through scientific means such as the Flash, Spider-Man and the Hulk. These superhero origins demonstrate valued American qualities such as individualism and pragmatism. The Filipino heroes, on the other hand, tend to display fatalism and religiosity. Indeed, even the psuedo-scientific origins of characters such as Lastikman (a meteor hits a rubber tree which gives a simple boy powers) are attributed to God.
In terms of the art style, while American comics visually influenced the komiks, a distinctive Filipino style emerged. Artists such as Francisco Coching ("Lapu Lapu," "Pedro Penduko," "Hagibis"), Nestor Redondo ("Darna") and Alfredo Alcala ("Voltar") developed unique and yet similar styles. Unlike the European "clean line" style, the Filipino komiks artists used thick ink strokes to create very ornate images and landscapes. The style has been described as baroque, which can be found in numerous Filipino cultural creations from paintings to jeepneys. The style was quite distinct that even if the story's setting and characters were foreign such as Alcala's Viking epic "Voltar," the look and feel of the piece was still Filipino. Thus visually and textually (the language used has always been Filipino), the komiks were indeed Filipino. Even when Filipino artists such as Alex Nino, Sonny Trinidad, and Danny Bulanadi work on American titles, their Filipino style is quite apparent. Thus, even with the strong American influence, the Filipino creators managed to appropriate the comics medium and make it their own.
With the popularity of Whilce Portacio on Uncanny X-men and the speculator boom in comics, a new wave of American influenced komiks emerged in the 1990s. By this time, the Filipino traditional komiks magasin had lost much of its artistic merit. Over the years, the komiks became more and disposable in production and content. Overtly American-looking titles such as Flashpoint , Exodus , and Memento Moriwere published. In format and art style, these titles were definitely more comics (in the American sense) than komiks. Even the language was American as the titles were in English with very few Filipino phrases included, usually reserved for expressions. During this time, there were some voices that lamented the lack of Filipino-ness in the Filipino comics of the nineties. Memento Mori , while keeping to the anthology format, featured stories set in Paris and New York with no Filipino character in sight. While the artwork was hailed as "avant garde," the works looked suspiciously similar to the Vertigo Comics look and feel popularized in comics such as Sandman andHellblazer . Flashpoint to its credit featured Filipino superheroes albeit with an American look. The storyline also tackled distinctly Filipino issues involving religion and the cult of celebrity. Exodus involved numerous regional heroes (all looking especially tough and angry) demonstrating the diversity of Filipino culture even if they were drawn in the American "military" look popularized by the Image Comics publications. Alas, the book was too cluttered with heroes to make any narrative sense. Thus, to a certain degree, a few comics komiks of the nineties still displayed aspects of Philippine culture.
In recent years, various Filipino graphic novels have been published. Taking their cue from the Americans who in turn, took the format from the European graphic album, the Filipino graphic novels were more individualistic in art style, burrowing from diverse cultures such as Japan, Europe and the United States. With the styles may be a mix of various comic forms, the settings and content were distinctly Filipino. Arnold Arre's Trip to Tagaytay , popular cartoonist Pol Medina's Pirata and Gil D. Paguio's Hinagap all feature settings, characters, and concepts grounded in Philippine culture. Hinagap is a feminist story of revenge and honor set in a mythical pre-Hispanic Philippines. Pirata is a serious story featuring the popular Pugad Baboy characters that captures the feel of a Filipino action film where justice is not necessarily found within the system. Trip to Tagaytay is a story of hope set in a dystopic future . It is interesting to note that these three examples of Filipino graphic novels are set in the past, present and future respectively. In a generalized way, Filipino comics history can be viewed in three periods: the komiks magasin, comics komiks, and manga komiks. These komiks periods are divided in terms of influence, format and art styles. What does the future hold for komiks? Legitimacy in the local and international cultural scene perhaps?
Particularity, Universality and Legitimacy
The publisher of Culture Crash , James Palabay, states "Every artist starts out by emulating someone else's style. Slowly but surely the artist comes to his/her own" (2001:55). It can be said then that everyone, no matter what cultural background is influenced by someone else. And although one wants or needs to be viewed as unique, there is also a need or desire to be recognized and accepted by others. It is in this dynamic that Georg Hegel's ideas on particularity and universality can be applied. Particularity according to Hegel "refers to the individual agent" while universality "refers to the social aspect of [human] existence" and that "it is in and by the universal recognition of human particularity that individuality realizes and manifests itself" (Sarup 1993: 190-191). Thus, in terms of comics art styles an artist is initially influenced by his or her culture and then by particular artists. Through the course of artistic development, ideally a particular style emerges. Then, when this particular style is recognized the artist achieves some form of acceptance and legitimacy. As other individuals influence individuals, cultures influence other cultures. Both American and Japanese cultures have influenced Filipino comics, and within the American comics form, Filipinos, as a group and as individuals, have been able to form their own variation of the comics medium in format and graphics. Perhaps in time, the Japanese influenced creators will do so as well. Hopefully, they will be able to hurdle the narrow view of manga and demonstrate more diversity as the manga artists have.
In terms of the legitimacy of the medium, comics have been recognized and accepted in most parts of Europe and Asia, most notably Japan and China, as simply another means of communication and entertainment that can either be considered trash or art. In the United States, which is ironically the originator of the modern comics form, the medium is slowly gaining acceptance, mostly, as noted earlier, through the translation of comics into film. In the Philippines, komiks has been known as the cheapest form of entertainment. In the literal sense of the word "cheap", komiks have been accepted if not embraced by the Filipino people. Numerous films have been based on komiks stories since the 1950s. In the art scene, an exhibit of the works of Francisco Coching was held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The Vargas Museum in the University of the Philippines featured a Mars Ravelo exhibit. However, since the medium failed to develop and evolve (some say it has devolved since the days of Coching), the komiks eventually began to be perceived as cheap in the derogatory way. Aside from Coching, creators such as Alfredo Alcala and Nestor Redondo are hardly recognized in the Philippine cultural scene. Ironically, it is the Americans who paid tribute to Alcala and Redondo when the artists passed away. Currently, the komiks seem to be losing to the pocket romance books in terms of sales.
There have been some small comics conventions in the Philippines but these were mostly part of collectors' conventions that focus on comics' monetary value and collectivity. The creators of Culture Crash have Comic Book, Anime and Gaming Conventions. While it was a good venue for various comics creators to gather and present their work, the conventions were more of anime shows where very few Filipino creations are involved (unless one counts the uncredited animators who work on Japanese animation). While it may argue that anime is part of Philippine popular culture, it was quite sad to see creators and creations of traditional komiks get virtually ignored amidst the din of cosplay (costume play) and J-pop (Japanese pop).
In the academe, the emergence of Popular Culture studies has brought comics into the classrooms as cultural artifacts. However, the content of comics as art or literature deserves to be studied as well. Art Spiegelman's Maus has been taken up in an ethics class and La Pacifica , published by Paradox Press, has been studied in postmodern literature class. In the United States, I have used the Batman graphic novel Arkham Asylum as part of my body of discourse for an English composition class focusing on the journey theme in literature. In the Philippines, I have taught the Creative Writing for Comics class for a number of years. The course focuses on the technical aspects of writing a comic book employing the theories of Scott McCloud, Will Eisner and others. In the process of learning comic book writing, the students become exposed to the unique qualities of the medium. In the College English class, I have used the popularity of comics and anime, to discuss cultural differences enroute to making the students more aware of the Philippines' rich culture. Komiks becomes an integral part of this discussion.
In the recent international comics scene, Filipino comics have remained invisible. However, the individual artists have become famous for their work in American comics. From Nestor Redondo in the 70s to current stars like Leinil Yu, and Wilson Tortosa, the Philippines has been a rich source for artistic talent for American publishers. With this set up, current Filipino readers get to chuckle at minor inside jokes that the Filipino artists would insert in their work like placing the University of Santo Tomas as a background building in Battle of the Planets or the use of the word "Makulit" in Uncanny X-Men . Hardly a grand presentation of Filipino culture. Indeed, as artist Gerry Alanguilan laments, the American publishers could care less about Filipino comics. Just as in different areas of the capitalist world, the Philippines merely provides the talent or the workforce for foreign companies.
This bleak situation has not stopped Filipino creators from trying to break into the international market. In the past, Alfredo Alcala's Voltar was published internationally to great acclaim although it being a Viking epic did not really portray Filipino culture even if the art style was Filipino. Whilce Portacio attempted to showcase Philippine lower mythology to international comic readers with Stone . Alas, the unique creatures such as the tikbalang and manananggal were treated as "universal" creatures not unique to the Philippines and Philippine culture was glossed over. Cats Studios released Aster in the United States and proudly boasted that it was totally Philippine made. As the story was about a cosmic being in the vein of the Silver Surfer, it had nothing that was distinctly Filipino about it. Hopefully, the release of Mars Ravelo's Darna and Lastikman to both the local and international markets will give Filipino talent and culture a chance to be known. Indeed, once upon a time, the international comics community praised the works of Francisco Coching without him even releasing a single comic abroad. Hopefully, one day Filipino comics as a whole will be recognized. Then, cultural influence would not be so lopsided.
In an increasingly globalized world, is cultural distinction still important? Why is it important to be known as a Filipino creator? Shouldn't the individual creators be recognized for their work and not their nationalities? Why should Filipino culture be known to the world? Perhaps because of our history as a people who were colonized before there was any sense of nationhood, cultural identity has always been an important and many times elusive part of our lives. Perhaps it all boils down to pride, not just in showing that something good can come out of our country but that something good is already in it.
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