Skyworld, created by Mervin Ignacio and Ian Sta. Maria, is a two-book komiks published in 2012. Like Budjette and Kajo’s Trese, Skyworld blurs the line of Philippine history, pop culture and current events. Skyworld presents its own creation story. It reinvigorates creatures of lower – higher and everything in between – mythology and allows them to walk the streets of Manila. It rewrites histories of Rizal, Lapu-Lapu, and the Japanese occupation in the Philippines. It makes the Filipino reader rethink what he knows about what written history claims happened. It does all these believing that every legend hides a lie.
But if I were to peel Skyworld, I’d say it’s also hiding something.
Back at the university, my proposal to write a fantasy story with angels in Filipino got turned down by a professor because he said that those winged creatures are not Filipino; they are fantasy elements of the West. I understand where he’s coming from. As such, many fantasy stories considered to be truly Filipino are those that highlight their use of aswang, tikbalang, manananggal, sigbin, etcetera, etcetera. Nothing of Angel Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, Lucifer, the Nephilim, the Watchers.
But the paper is a world of possibilities. It literally is a blank canvas. And on my second reading of the Skyworld books, I found out that aswang, tikbalang, Bathala, gods, and angels are terms that can be quite limiting, terms that might not transcend geographical borders, terms that might not be existent in one language but is true in another. They are terms that can be inconsistent, but that’s ok because it gives the reader a more magical experience. It leaves the reader a leeway to see the story from a different perspective. And it gives the story another reading.
The way I see it, Skyworld is donned with angels.
And it’s not just the wings. Story says that mortals believed Kaptan to be a god that must be appeased. But in the second book, Kaptan was considered the greatest of Skyworld creatures called the Watchers, young skygods according to the komiks.
For someone who wants to try and make sense of angels in local Fiction, I knew I had to read foreign books that feature angels. In the process, I stumbled across Danielle Trussoni’s Angelology and Angelopolis and a dictionary of angels archived in the university library – and later, from homegrown Naermyth by Karen Francisco. From what I got, the Watchers is actually a term referring to Nephilim or the half-breed spawn of an angel and a mortal. More research also reveals that the Nephilim are believed to be gigantic. Converted to local mythology, they could be considered higante. Pictured below might be a personal easter egg. Can you find the two times this epic-sized skeleton appears?
And to make things more spazz-ome, Philippine creation story-history gets an alternative retelling. The image of Kaptan and a mortal, Maguayen, resembles the iconic Malakas and Maganda. What if!
This reading might be a stretch for some, but how can I not see it that way when scattered in the komiks are Biblical references – even beginning Book Two: Testament with a passage from the apocryphal Book of Enoch – and the constant reminder that Kaptan’s fall is a sin and not simply a mistake.
Here’s to Skyworld and to beautiful lies that eventually get uncovered!