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Veteran director, comics king, Pangasinan icon Carlo J. Caparas dies, 80

Veteran director and comic strip creator Carlo J. Caparas, who was best known for putting life into iconic Filipino superheroes and comic book characters, has died, his family announced Saturday night.

He was 80 years old.

Caparas’ daughter, Peach Caparas, wrote an ode to her father to announce his passing in a Facebook post.

“Sa larangan ng komiks siya ang naghari, naging bahagi ng kultura, naging yaman ng lahi. Umabot sa lona ng pinilakang tabing, hinangaan, pinalakpakan ng bayang magiting (In the field of comics he reigned, became part of the culture, became the treasure of the race. Reached the canvas of the silver screen, admired, applauded by this brave nation),” Peach wrote.

“Subalit buhay ay sadyang may wakas… ‘Pack up na Direk’. Oras na ng uwian (But life has an end… ‘It’s pack up time, Director’. It’s time to go home).”

“Hayaang kasaysayan ang humusga sa iyong mga obra. Salamat Direk Carlo J. sa mga dibuho at istorya. Mga istoryang nabuo sa bawat tipa ng iyong makinilya (Let history judge your works. Thank you, Director Carlo J, for the drawings and stories. Stories created with every stroke of your typewriter),” she went on.

Caparas is behind some of the country’s iconic comics and movies such as “Ang Panday”, “Bakekang,” “Pieta” and “Totoy Bato.” 

_________

By Alfred Gabot

CARLO J. CAPARAS: NATIONAL ARTIST OF FILIPINOS, COMICS KING, FOLK HERO OF PANGASINAN. IT GRIEVES TO LEARN that a very good friend, supporter and cabalayen, Direk Carlo J. Caparas, passed away at age 80.

Not many know that Carlo was born in Pozorrubio, Pangasinan and not in Pampanga. This is the reason why Carlo married actress and eventual successful movie producer Donna Villa, whose real name is Marian Patalinjug of Lapu-lapu City in Cebu, 15 years younger, in Pozorrubio, a town next to my hometown Binalonan on way to Baguio City.

Carlo confided details of his lowly beginnings and the Carlo-Donna “love story” to me and journalist, publisher and poet Jose Lad. Santos in many long talk with him in Alabang Village and elsewhere. Joelad, a comics writer and editor like Carlo, appeared fascinated with Carlo and Donna’s love story that he would often volunteer to write its script for a movie, pleasing the couple no end. Aside from the Carlo-Donna love story which he was very proud of, Direk Carlo had wanted to do a historical movie on San Carlos City, Pangasinan, formerly Binalatongan, and its hero, Pantaleon Perez, more widely known as Juan dela Cruz or Palaris who led a revolt against the Spanish authorities.

Knowing that the late Fernando Poe Sr., whose real name was Allan Fernando Reyes Poe (Pou), a native of San Carlos, had produced (Palaris Pictures) and appeared in the movies “Palaris” in 1941 and “Awit ni Palaris” in 1946, Direk Carlo was furthered inspired to do a new perspective movie on Palaris after I gave him two books on Pangasinan history by Dr. Rosario Mendoza Cortes. Joelad Santos and I also encouraged him to do a movie on another Pangasinan stalwart, Carlos S. Bulosan, who became famous in the United States as a writer and union organizer and minority and labor rights fighter, and gave him a copy of his best selling book, “America is in the Heart.”

As a Director of the Philippine Postal Corporation and later promoted by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as Chairman of its Board of Directors, I spearheaded the issuance of special stamps on Carlo and his many famous works. The launching of the Carlo Caparas special stamps was star-studded with former President Fidel V. Ramos leading the guests. Other special guests to witness the event were Manuel Morato, Cecil Guidote Alvarez, Rosa Rosal, lawyer Pete Principe, Joe Lad. Santos, among others.

The last time we met and had a quick chat with Direk Carlo was at the launching of the book, “Venceremos,” of Joe Lad. Santos which was attended also by former Senators Jose Lina Jr., Eduardo “Eddie” Ilarde and Heherson Alvarez, National Artist Francisco Sionel Jose, would-be National Artist Ricky Lee and Dr. Efren Abueg, among others.

It was a rare public appearance of Direk Carlo following the untimely passing of his wife Donna Villa after which he went into recluse in Cebu where Donna hailed. In an unexpected announcement, he disclosed he was finally returning to television and movies after his solitary leave.

Known as the country’s “Komiks King,” Caparas recalled how he was to be proclaimed as National Artist like Cecile Guidote Alvarez in 2008 drawing controversy and later withdrawn by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo due to criticisms by some sectors.

“Nakakaawa ang mga taga komiks lalo na pag nanominate sa National Artist, Urian at ibang awards,” Direk Carlo bewailed. “Tingin ng mga ‘marunong’ ang komiks ay mababang uri.”

He explained that comics is different from other forms of literature because “ang komiks hindi lang sinusulat, dino-drawing din. Magkasama ang sulat at drawing.”

Direk Carlo said that in Brazil, comics is regarded as a special form of media. “It is considered the illustrated theatre of the world,” he said.

National Artist Nick Joaquin, he said, considered literature, comics included, as part of culture.

Direk Carlo stayed after the actual Venceremos book launching program where welcome remarks was done by the author’s son Jose Raphael Santos and co-emceed by his daughter Anna Lourdes Simeon, to autograph the books together with Joe Lad Santos.

With strong endorsement by the Direk Carlo and literature and filmaking giants and members of the academe, “Venceremos” was sold out during the book launch. That is not surprising because like the characters in the novel, they overcame difficulties.

“Venceremos! We will win!’ author Joe Lad. Santos proclaimed at the program.

The life of Direk Carlo Caparas itself is one for the books. It is one shining proof that one can rise from the quagmire of poverty no matter how hard the path is. One of nine children of a laundrywoman and an unemployed father, Direk Carlo got enured to hardships and difficulties as he slowly climbed up the ladder of success in comics, movie and television production and directing. Early on, he had odd jobs to support his family included being a water carrier, boatman, construction laborer, and factory worker.

At age 19, Carlo recalled to me and Joelad that he became a security guard at the Carmelo and Bauerman Publishing, a pioneering printing and publishing company in Makati, working mainly in the graveyard shift. Deprived of schooling, he continued reading books and others there. One day, he was hit by a stray bull during a company strike, forcing him to take a rest. The rest gave him time to draw comic strips and hone his mastery of the arts to express his anger towards what he said were his oppressors. He became the most prolific comics writer, producing two dozen or more short stories and novels in a week, especially when comics was considered the bible of knowledge and learning to Filipinos.

Surely, we will miss you Direk Carlo as you now join Donna in God’s loving arms. Our sincere condolences to his children and family.

Paalam aming Idol.

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