THE DAY I MET MANG JUN
When I decided to make a blog, the first thing I asked myself was... what would I put in it? To start with, I'm no writer, secondly, my interests are so wide and varied that I do not know what to write about and where to start.
I guess the second reason is a good excuse to start writing. So, here I am.. for my first post, I thought of sharing with you my first encounter with JUN LOFAMIA.. si Mang Jun.
This story starts when sometime ago, some original comics art being offered at eBay by a dealer-friend caught my attention. Being a collector of "traditional" collectibles ( coins, medals, stamps, documents, autographs, etc. ), I suddenly felt the urge to explore this another field of collecting.. which I've been reading about in the past. I am always fascinated by things old, such as old coins and documents. I just love the look and feel of old printed paper... and being an artist myself, makes the connection. Why not collect original comic art? these are ORIGINAL ART. They may not be a MALANG, JOYA, ANG KIUKOK, BLANCO or MAGSAYSAY HO, but they too are works of art.. one of a kind works of art.
So, I scoured the net.. absorbing as much info as I could get. From there I've learned about Filipino talents who've made names not only here but even worldwide. I've read about Whilce Portacio, Gerry Alanguilan, Ernie Chan, Randy Valiente, etc. I also learned about the "old masters". The names Francisco V. Coching, Nestor Redondo, Emil Rodriguez, Ruben Yandoc, Alex Nino, Fred Carillo, Alfredo Alcala, Romeo Tanghal, Hal Santiago, Sonny Trinidad, Rico Rival.. suddenly seemed to become household names to me.
Then slowly, I started to acquire pieces from these great names, most from eBay, some from
friends I met along the way. All these started only last September. So we can say that my collection is still in its infancy.
Just recently, my interest focused on Liwayway Magazine, one of the oldest continuing publications in the country. This magazine is distantly registered in my memory bank.. I remember my dad used to tell me that this is where I learned my first ABCs.. that I've started reading Liwayway at age 4, even before I could enter school and get formal education in reading.
I thought of contacting the publishers and ask if they have existing original arts that they are willing to sell or dispose of. I was able to contact their Circulation department and ended up buying back copies.. no original art.. none as yet. I happened to bring one copy to the office ( of which a picture you'll see below ). One of my officemates, a fellow artist saw it and said "Hey, gawa ng Papa ko 'to ah!" ( Hey, this is my Dad's work! ). It turned out, as fate would have it, this lady is the daughter of Jun Lofamia, the cover artist of that particular Liwayway issue... what a coincidence and stroke of luck. I have been looking for ways to meet these artists and here's one person next to me, who has been working with me for a long time.. the daughter of Jun Lofamia. Of course there's no way for me to know her relations to Mang Jun.. she's already married, and naturally, she's using her married name. It took one cover art to jumpstart it all!
So, we made arrangements for a schedule to meet her father. My whole staff, all the artists in my department thought of going too, wanting to meet this man. The thing is, its not that easy, our very busy schedule in the office and the numerous commitments of Mr. Lofamia, made it difficult to meet with him. Finally, on January 30, after office hours, and after many postponements, we went to his house in Pasig.
He was not in the house yet when we came, but we had a good time exchanging sories with his amiable wife, the former Remedios Lana, ( Aling Remy, as how she wants us to call her ).Then Mang Jun suddenly showed up at the door. Finally, we're face to face with the man. After some exchange of pleasantries and warm handshakes, he went to show us his numerous works.. his paintings, portfolios and illustrations.. all of a sudden, we have our hands full of his works, each one a visual feast. Over dinner prepared by Aling Remy and Lyn, their daughter and my artist officemate, Mang Jun started telling us his story...
We learned that his roots were from Bicol, but their family moved to Manila. Eventhough he has the inclination to the arts, he took a different course, taking up Business Administration. But his inner yearnings for the arts made him take a correspondence art course from ICS. He also told us that as early as 1967, he was already illustrating for Liwayway. In the 1980s, he got some commissions illustrating for EERIE and VAMPIRELLA comics of Warren Publishing Co. of New York. ( I have another story about this, maybe I can share it with you next time ) From 1996 to 1999, he had some stints with Fox Animation Studios in Phoenix Arizona. He was the visual concept artist for Anastacia and Titan A.E.
Mang Jun is so amiable, down to earth and jolly. He is full of advice to the present crop of artists.. as he says... artists should always strive to improve their craft.. to never stop learning.. to always give their best to whatever they're doing.. That honing their God-given talents, is one way artists can give thanks to the Lord. Creativity is one of God's powerful attributes that he shared with artists.
In the brief time we spent in his residence, just a little short of 3 hours to be exact, we learned a lot about Mang Jun. His views, his aspirations, his visions.. Indeed, that short time spent with JUN LOFAMIA is an experience worth writing about.. The day I met Mang Jun, one of the best talents in the comics illustrating field.. ONE OF THE LEAST RECOGNIZED MASTERS OF OUR TIMES.
THE COVER THAT STARTED IT ALL. This is the Liwayway Magazine issue of November 07, 2005. This is where my friendship with Mang Jun started.
The original cover art of the above Liwayway magazine issue, now a part of my collection. It features the creatures of the dark of Filipino Folklore.. the mangkukulam, the tikbalang, the tiyanak, the duwende or engkanto, and some ghoulish images..
The DARNA pin-up Mang Jun did for me. It is rather big, about 15"x20". My problem is where to hang it once I had it framed. ( I'm running out of walls for my art... hehe )
Mang Jun showing off his painting of a mountain maiden. One of a number of exquisitely executed paintings hanging in his living room.
An ink and watercolor art given to me by Mang Jun. This is one of the best pieces in my collection. It is the only published art personally signed for me by the artist.
Okay.. okay... one more shot before we leave the house.. from left : Josie, one of my staff, the very hospitable Aling Remy, yours truly, Anna the artist, Tere, and Mang Jun. Sitting in front is Lyn, Mang Jun's daughter and his poging apo. The numerous paintings hanging in their house serve as our backdrop.
Photo taken at the 1st Philippine Art Jamboree held last February 24-25, 2006 at U.P. Diliman. with us is Mr. Orvy Jundis, noted writer and komiks historian. You may be wondering why the wide space between me and Mang Jun? It is because we wanted to show the lady behind us. Her poster behind us is a blown up version of the image done by Mang Jun and used for the invites of the said affair.