Church Turns To Comics To Teach Catholic Social Concerns
ILOILO CITY, Philippines (UCAN) — A laughing demon standing above planet earth, engulfed in flames, caught Cathy Caniogan’s attention as she flipped through the pages of a comic book during a lull at work.
The 25-year-old cashier at a restaurant in Iloilo City “got interested” in reading Barangay RP (Republic of the Philippines village) comics, published by local artist Ding Logibis, after previously seeing a customer read one.
Logibis’ popular comics tackle social, political, health and other issues.
Speaking to UCA News on Jan. 11 in Iloilo City, 450 kilometers southeast of Manila, Caniogan said she came across words such as “global warming” and “greenhouse emissions” in the comics.
The high-school graduate admitted she had heard those words often but did not understand them.
“With these comics, I came to understand the need to act to prevent the effects of global warming and see in the drawings concrete actions to take in the office, streets, school or at home to prevent greenhouse emissions that cause climate
change,” she said.
Because of the popularity of Logibis’ comics, Jaro Archdiocesan Social Action Center (JASAC) commissioned the artist to produce in comic book form the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.
The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace compiled the compendium from papal encyclicals, statements of the first and second Vatican Councils and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It presented the compilation in Rome in October 2004. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) launched a local edition in 2006.
Ang Pinakatatagong Lihim ng Simbahan (Church’s best kept secret) was published a few months ago. The full-color comic magazine has about 105 pages of illustrations and some text in Filipino.
Monsignor Meliton Oso, JASAC director, told UCA News on Jan. 8 that the center, in cooperation with the CBCP media office, had produced 5,000 copies of the magazine.
It sent five copies each to 50 Church social action centers, The rest it sent to the CBCP headquarters in Manila last November, and the CBCP has distributed these to various people and groups.
Monsignor Oso said JASAC is waiting for people to place orders through the social action centers. The comics sell for 25 pesos (US$0.61) each.
The monsignor expressed hope they would “bring to the grassroots” the Church’s teachings on human rights, the rights of the poor, politics and other social concerns. The comics could “arm them with knowledge to positively and responsibly act when confronted by evil in society,” he said.
The Church official recalled project leaders turned to comics after realizing that “the original book could look boring to certain target audiences.”
Jaro archdiocese covers the provinces of Iloilo and nearby Guimaras, where 92 percent of 2.29 million people are Catholics, according to the latest Church directory.
Logibis, the 29-year-old illustrator, is among those Catholics. He was born in Iloilo City.
On Jan. 10, he told UCA News he started producing comic books partly because he earned little as an editorial cartoonist in a regional daily newspaper.
Recalling his futile search for funding for his enterprise, he said he started to produce his monthly Barangay RP last June for 100 pesos each. “I wanted them to reach the young and more people, but the price was not affordable for them,” he acknowledged.
He explained that he had to sell at a high price because he could afford to make only 100 copies per issue. After initially featuring editorial cartoons in the books, he eventually switched to an illustrated comics format after receiving feedback from readers.
Church people, who came to know about his work later invited him to be part of the Ang Pinakatatagong Lihim ng Simbahan project. Logibis said he completed the magazine in two months.
Father Ryan Teves of Jaro, a patron of Barangay RP, told UCA News he buys three copies of each issue and places them in his office for visitors to read, “because many newspapers today contain boring text with only a few photos.”
Logibis’ comics have tackled political issues including the killing of media people, health-related concerns and other “raging issues in society today” through pictures, Father Teves noted.