Early Years

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Komiks is the Tagalog term for comics created or produced in the Philippines. It is simply the English word "comics", adapted to fit the orthography of native Filipino languages such as Tagalog.

While the first indigenous cartoons may be traced to José Rizal's 1887 fable "The Monkey and the Tortoise", the origins of the mainstream komiks industry would not arise until after the Spanish-American War.

During the period of 1896-98, when the Philippines was in the throes of revolution, certain magazines appeared in Manila that carried cartoons. Two of these were Miao and Teh Con Leche. Presumably these were influenced by the American magazines Puck and Judge, possibly brought to the islands by American volunteer soldiers.

After the defeat of the Philippine Revolutionary forces, the anti-colonialist struggle shifted to the free press. Unbeknownst to American colonial administrators, Filipino nationalists had shifted their revolutionary struggle to the satirical press, in which they denounced American slights and injustices.

Many of these magazines or newspapers were published only in Tagalog or Spanish, the two languages that the English-speaking colonialists could not understand. In 1907, Lipang Kalabaw, a magazine owned and edited by Lope K. Santos was published. This magazine was in Tagalog, and it carried satirical cartoons directed at American officials or Filipinos the editors thought to be pro-Americans. However it did not have any paneled cartoon strips, only editorial ones. The magazine died in 1909.

Other newspapers and magazines began including editorial cartoons in their pages, most notably, The Philippines' Free Press in 1907, and The Independent in 1908. Like Lipang Kalabaw, these news-magazines feature editorial cartoons on their front pages, mostly illustrated by Jorge Pineda and the young Fernando Amorsolo.


  • Marcelino, Ramon, ed. A History of Komiks in the Philippines, Manila: Islas Filipinas Publishing, Inc., 1985.
  • Matienzo, Ross, ed., Philippine Comics Review, Manila: Tikbalang Publications, 1980.