(1940 - 2002)
Philippines lost another great cartoonist this year. Severino
“Nonoy” Marcelo, one of the country’s
foremost cartoonists, died October 22 of complications from diabetes.
He was 62.
His comic strips made Filipinos laugh back when the shadows of
Martial Law cast a long shadow on the land till his death. Marcelo,
whose strips have been carried by various publications, made people
forget their problems and focus on the bigger social questions using
wit and humor.
Marcelo, quite the precocious one, left elementary school for a
year because he did not agree with the teacher’s view on Creationist
Theory or how the world was made according to the Book of Genesis.
At such a young age, he was more akin to believe the Darwinian Theory
of Evolution and relied heavily on the merits of science. Yet, he
did not pursue the sciences. As a student of Political Science at
the Far Eastern University, Marcelo became a campus figure for his
quirky comic character of the typical student named Ptyk. This stint
caught the eyes of Anding Roces of Manila Times and the rest, as
they is, history or in Nonoy’s case, major ink blots in Pinoy
characters include Aling Otik, Tisoy, Blidit, and the character
Nonoy will be most remembered for, the irreverent tailless mouse
named Ikabod (shown on the left). In Time magazine’s
September 12, 1988 cover story entitled “Mighty Pens,”
Nonoy Marcelo was the only Asian cartoonist featured for his “oblique
technique to criticize the repressive Marcos regime.” Despite
occasional threats for his scathing commentaries, Marcelo still
went on unabated. After the EDSA revolution, Nonoy went on to win
the Catholic Mass Media Award for print journalism, a category usually
given to reporters or columnists.
Dagalandia, where Ikabod stays, is an apt mirror image for the
turbulent setting of the Philippines, then and now. From Marcos
to Macapagal-Arroyo, Ikabod Bubwit (small rodent) still went on
to burst the social tensions with punchlines and tirades of laughter.
Cartooning proved to be popular for its sheer accessibility to the
masses that once, Nonoy was told by a student that he understood
the political situation more from his strips rather than reading
the headlines. For his contributions, Marcelo earned the Cultural
Center of the Philippines' Centennial Artist Award in 1998, the
only cartoonist to do so.
His remains were cremated and put to final rest in his hometown,
Malabon. Nonoy Marcelo is survived by his children Dario, Sarita,
Ninay, Rajah, Jinoy and by the rolling laughter of the Filipino