Peeking through The Lost Journal of Alejandro Pardo

09 July 2016

Weather forecasts said the typhoon has left the Philippine Area of Responsibility, but the sky continued to be relentless and unforgiving today. I was supposed to go out but I stayed home instead.

Not that I'm complaining.

They say you don't have to leave the comforts of your house to visit other places, so long as you have a book with you. And oh boy, what [dark and perilous] places I visited today, thanks to this book.

From the creators of the award-winning graphic novels Trese, Seroks, Tabi Po, and Mikey Recio and The Secret of The Demon Dungeon comes The Lost Journal of Alejandro Pardo: Creatures & Beasts of Philippine Folklore, an imaginative book by Budjette Tan, Kajo Baldisimo, David Hontiveros, Bow Guerrero, and Mervin Malonzo that seeks to divulge the deepest, darkest secrets of Philippine lower mythology.

I grew up on local komiks thanks to my Grandma, so I've always been interested in local folklore, fairy tales, and mythology. This book panders to that interest, and flipping through its pages was such a treat to my seven year old-self! In this book, we read riveting details about the many monsters and mysteries that abound in local folklore, purportedly based on documents written by a character named Alejandro Pardo.

In The Lost Journal of Alejandro Pardo, the titular character was a Spanish explorer who came to the Philippines in the early 19th century during the Spanish colonization. Pardo studied the creatures of local folklore—among them the aswang, kapre, bakunawa, duwende, tikbalang, tiyanak, and manananggal—and chronicled his eyewitness observations in a journal which also contained hair-raising illustrations of its subject matter. Pardo’s writings, which were gone from the light of day for two centuries, ends up in the hands of one of his modern-day descendants and a colleague—and the result is this book, a chilling look into the world of Philippine folklore’s ghastly beings.

The photos I shared here are just some of the beings I am already familiar with, thanks to the stories that made me cower under my blanket I heard and read when I was a kid, but there are a lot more I do not know about yet, mostly because stories about them circulated in just a few regions in the country. You learn something new every day, and I'm glad this book taught me a lot.

Aside from detailing popular creatures from Philippine folklore, this book also teaches how you can defend yourself from these creatures when you come across them.

The chapter "Defending Against the Dark" emphasizes the need to always be ready and identifies which weapons are the most effective.

As you can see, creating this book took a lot of effort and research. I was floored by the illustrations found inside and bemoan the fact that they might have taken permanent residence in my nightmares starting today.

If you are familiar with J.K. Rowling's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander, I daresay this is the Filipino version of that, so the beasts and creatures are more familiar, making them seem more real.

And really, who ever said they aren't real?

The Lost Journal of Alejandro Pardo: Creatures & Beasts of Philippine Folklore is published by Summit Books and is out now in bookstores, newsstands, supermarkets, and convenience stores nationwide for P295. 

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