(click on the images to enlarge)
Who would've thought? Certainly not me.
Since 2006, the boyish-looking hunk who spends his day minding the family store has been played by seven actors, all of whom have offered (or will offer) their own interpretation of this enigmatic, thrill-inducing concept known as "Dodong."
Those who have picked up the collected edition of the Zaturnnah graphic novel know that the original name of Dodong was Zandro. Zandro, a name that had an edgy boldstar ring to it, didn't quite fit the character I had wanted to create. The name Dodong came out naturally. It was informal, non-threatening, had a strong Filipino quality to it, and suggested the traditional everyday provincial aspect I wanted the character to have. The fact that he possessed "noodles," or the "katawang pangromansa" was the edge--the surprise--I had hoped to give him.
I never imagined readers responding to him in the positive way that they did. I was glad I played my cards right as far as that character was concerned.
But how did Dodong really start?
A long, long, looooong time ago, I was in a typical neighborhood store when I chanced upon this calendar posted below the counter:
I didn't know who the guy was. But as we are wont to say, "there's something about him." After breathing a sigh, I left the store and let the image of the Calendar Guy fade away.
Little did I know, that image stayed in my subconscious until 2002, the year I was deciding on the "look and feel" of Dodong. Calendar Guy became the peg, the template.
Of course, things changed over time. Calendar Guy eventually became one of the hottest talents in local showbiz, with tons of endorsement deals, television shows and movies. He has since forayed into film producing, music, and became a poster boy for fitness and healthy living.
But Dodong will always be the Calendar Guy I first saw posted in the neighborhood store.
Still, I'd always say that when one creates a piece of art and exposes it to the world, one opens himself up to accepting interpretation. In a way, art is not created by the artist, but by the public that experiences it. So let the Dodongs in, all seven of them and maybe more. Let them make our hearts beat a little faster, and encourage our minds to wander through places meant for our lock-and-key diaries. He'll just be there, minding the store, and smiling at us when our eyes meet. As Vincent deJesus wrote in that showstopping ditty, "Braso pa lang ay ulam na," so bring out the extra rice.
Unless, of course, you'd skip rice and just have noodles.
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