By Edwin D. Arceo

Noong unang panahon
ang mundo
ay kilala  sa pangalang MA-I

Daan-daang isla ang pinagsasama-sama
ng isang malaking ilog na nagngangalang
Pasig at inuugnay ang magkakaibang buhay
ng bawat lahi sa isang di matinag
na agos ng kapayapaan.
Ang lahat ay namuhay nang magkakasundo…

…hanggang winasak ito ng isang
makapangyarihang nilalang
na nagngangalang Ka’lila.

Tunay nga ba na si Ka’Lila
ang ugat ng mga kaguluhan
at kadiliman? O baka naman
ang bawat isa ay may itinatagong
kadiliman sa sulok ng kanyang puso?
Ikaw ang humusga…

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Click to enlarge.

Ganito ang pagkakalarawan ng mundo ng Ma-I, isang bagong series ng komiks na tiyak na kagigiliwan ng mga kabataan, mula sa panulat ni Arya Chelabian at guhit ni Faye Villanueva.

Inilathala ng Kawangis Komiks (an imprint of CSM Publishing) mayroong limang aklat ang unang labas ng Ma-I at base sa reaksyon ng aking mga anak ay tiyak na papatok sa takilya. Nabasa ko na din ang unang libro na pinamagatang “Si Lakan” at ang masasabi ko lamang ay dapat nating suportahan ang seryeng ito dahil napakaganda ng mensaheng isinasalaysay bukod pa sa guhit na talagang pwedeng ihanay sa mga sikat.

Habang binabasa ko ang una at pangalawang libro habang papasok ako sa opisina ay di ko napigilan ang maluha dahil sa mensaheng alam ko na ipinahahayag ng komiks. Hindi po ako nagsisinungaling–anointed at may kapangyarihan ang pagkakagawa! Ang maganda pa nito, mayroong mga totoong reference sa Filipino culture na ating matututunan, galing!

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Ma-i is classified under the Shounen (young boys), Action, Fantasy, Comedy genre with its primary target audience being boys from 13-19 years old.  It also aims to capture girls, as well as younger and older comic book readers.

MA-I: An emerging manga series that is uniquely Pinoy

Adventure stories in comics form used to occupy a secure niche in Pinoy literature. But for decades now, Filipino comic readers have been more fascinated with foreign publications rather than indigenous ones, and our original Pinoy comics have been relegated to the background.

Written in a uniquely Pinoy manga style, MA-I aims to recapture the interest of today’s generation and to reintroduce Filipino youth to the richness of our own culture and history while promoting positive values using Filipino mythology and legends—which puts the material on a par with mainstream comics series that feature Western or Japanese culture.

About MA-I

MA-I is about a fictional world called MA-I, where harmony among the land and its mystical creatures had been marred by a dark being named Ka’lila, and a young boy named Lakan, together with his friends, must take on the quest to defeat this darkness which is larger than themselves.

The initial release has five books (chapters) entitled “Si Lakan,” “Palaboy,” “Si Malakas at Si Maganda,” “Ang Alitaptap,” and “Aman at Makaka,” focusing on the main characters in the series and their initial forays into the epic struggle between good and evil. Each book also features a trivia page about the Filipino culture and items (such as crafts and weapons) common during the Philippine pre-colonial era.

Each book contains more than 50 pages and will be sold for less than P100 when it
comes out in the market. The whole series is planned to have 60 books when completed.

About the authors:

Arya Chelabian grew up learning valuable lessons from local folklore and novels as well as Eastern (manga) and Western comics. He is a graduate of Industrial Engineering at Mapua Institute of Technology where he spent his vacant time at the fire exit with friends, playing Hunter and Legend of the Five Rings, and sharing stories written by both famous and unknown authors. His love for values found in the Bible and the beauty of the Filipino ethnic culture drove him to write this story. He believes that stories can influence the next generation with important life lessons the way stories of old have influenced him. He is an engineer by profession.

Faye Villanueva has been creating stories and drawing since she was a toddler. Her influences are classic and Christian novels, Japanese and Western comics. She attended intensive story writing workshops (mostly for film) during her college and working years (as a Communications graduate and practitioner). For the past decade, she has contributed her designs and illustrations to various published books in the Philippines. She now desires to bridge the gap between otakus (manga and anime fans) and God. Follow her at Instagram @spatialchild.

Like MA-I on Facebook for updates: http://www.facebook.com/maikomiks

EDITOR’S NOTE: Parts of this article came from a write-up from http://narutocosplayers.com/csm-publishing-partners-with-ncph-for-ma-i/ with credits to Riza Rivera and Dave D’Angelo