Filipino-founded Sinag Animation Studios (SAS) will be releasing an anime-styled series based on Kamagong, director Carlo J. Caparas’ comic series about the Filipino martial art of arnis, which was made into a motion picture in 1986.
Kamagong: The Animation is in production and there’s no definite release date yet, but SAS president and CEO Dex Villamin said that they are looking to release the anime series in 2019.
Fans of the komik will remember its original Kamagong film adaptation, shown in theaters in 1986. Caparas himself wrote and directed the film, with Lito Lapid and JC Bonnin as lead stars. This time, more than three decades later, Kamagong: The Animation would owe its existence to writers Christian Mark Vidallo, Crisanto King Cortez, and Dex Villamin.
“Kamagong deserves its near-legendary status in Philippine cinema for making the nation aware of one of its greatest cultural treasures, the art of arnis,” Villamin said. “We at Sinag Animation Studios are proud to introduce Mr. Caparas’s work to a new generation of Filipinos.”
Bringing Kamagong To A New Generation
The original Kamagong comics began as a weekly komiks series in Super Action Pocketkomiks. Caparas wrote the story for each release, with Rudy Villanueva handling the art.
The 1986 Kamagong film follows the “Kamagong,” a sacred and legendary pair of arnis sticks. Ariel (Bonnin) vows vengeance against Lorenzo after the latter had killed Ariel’s brother in a duel, just after stealing the sacred Kamagong. Manuel (Lapid) and his Grandmaster decide to train Ariel in preparation for his match. The film ended with a climactic battle, where both Ariel and Lorenzo dish it out with a double stick battle.
So what’s different in the animation?
A New Journey
The animated series follows the story of protagonist Bagtas, the heir to Namayan, a kingdom enslaved by a foreign empire. His goal is to find the eight bulawans of Bathala to unleash the true power of the titular weapon, Kamagong.
Moreover, during Toycon 2018 in Pasay City, SAS has announced three other characters to aid Bagtas in his journey. The first is Kinari, a female guardian of Amang Puno, the source of origin of Arnis Kamagong. Next is Bagsay, a gunslinger who returned to his homeland to avenge his family. Finally, we have Otto, a fighter who uses his inhuman strength against Namayan’s enemies.
“Apart from featuring the Philippines’ own martial art and national sport, the animated series may benefit local tourism as Bagtas’s quests take him to different locations around the country,” Villamin said.
Moreover, Teddy Corpuz of Rocksteady performs his own version of JC Bonnin’s “Ako’y Magwawagi”, the soundtrack from the 1986 film.
A Living Art
Arnis, also known as eskrima or kali, is a weapon-based martial art practiced in the Philippines. While its exact origin remains unknown, a few arnis practitioners attribute its creation to pre-Hispanic Filipinos, particularly Mactan’s hero-chieftain, Lapu-Lapu.
However, in 2007, authors Celestino Macachor and Dr. Ned Nepangue argued against these claims in their book Cebuano Eskrima: Beyond the Myth. Macachor and Nepangue argued, through the book, that Filipinos did, in fact, create the martial arts during the Spanish period. Their new hypothesis, based on surviving evidence, stated that the local militia created the martial arts against Moro pirates and slave traders.
Regardless of the ongoing debate on its origins, the art continues to enjoy a following among martial artists, military forces and law enforcement agencies around the world, and Hollywood.
More information about Kamagong: The Animation can be found on its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/KamagongTheAnimation. A lore teaser can be found in their page as well: