Whilce Portacio, Pinoy ‘Superhero’ » Manila Bulletin Entertainment


If you are a graphic novel lover, chances are you know Whilce Portacio.

Whilce Portacio

After more than 30 years of drawing colorful-costumed heroes for Marvel and DC, among others, Whilce is considered by many locals as their own Pinoy Superhero.

With his success, Whilce proved yet again that Filipinos can make a name for themselves globally in any field.

In a recent interview, we asked Whilce what brought him to where he is and he said, “You know what, in America, when people there hear the word ‘Pinoy,’ the only thing they could think of is that we are partygoers and we love to eat lumpia.”

“As much as I love lumpia, as a Filipino, I don’t want to be simply known as lumpia (eater). I know that there are so much more to us. That is why I really worked hard, to prove to the world that we Pinoys are more than what they think of us.”

The Cavite-born artist started his career as an inker, eventually moving on to become penciler, working on Marvel’s resident sociopath, The Punisher.

Whilce has since worked on other legendary characters including Superman, Batman, the X-Men, and the Incredible Hulk. He would go on to be one of the founders of Image Comics, the publisher behind “Spawn,” “Witchblade” and “The Walking Dead.”

According to Whilce, most Filipinos are naturally talented especially in the creative sphere. Some of them lack confidence, however.

“Mahiyain ang Pinoy eh,” he said. “Actually we have yet to taken our original stories and bring it to the world.”

Some of Whilce work (mb.com.ph)

Some of Whilce work

The 54-year-old artist is out to change that, relating he is now making an effort to promote not only homegrown superheroes but Filipino myths all around the globe, including the mananangal, a personal favorite.
He hopes more Pinoys would join his cause.

“There are so much to know about Filipinos talaga,” he noted. “Alam niyo ba na there are five million professionals (in the field of arts) ngayon na nasa ibang bansa? In fact, you could literally name it an entertainment property.”

“In the United States, every American has a Filipino friend. So you could see the connections eh. I’m hoping one of these days talented Filipino artists would come up with a character, and stories with global adventures,” the artist added.

Home is where the heart is

Though he resides in California and for decades now, Whilce still considers the Philippines his “number one” home.
“I could say a lot why I love dito sa atin but ang masasabi ko lang, it’s all about the people eh,” he said.

He describes the true-blue Pinoy as someone who is excellent in “pakikisama.”

“Abroad, when you are too close to a person that’s sipsip already eh,” he said, laughing. “But dito, it’s not. Pakikisama is part of our culture because we really love hanging out with each other.”

Which is why Whilce advises fellow Filipino artists who are making a name abroad to return to the Philippines from time to time and, if possible, pursue their craft in their homeland.

“I told them to still come back here. Keep the connections. Iba parin ang Pinas, iba parin kapag nasa bahay mo talaga,” he maintained.

Whilce is in the country as guests in this year’s AsiaPOP Comicon.

“I feel blessed. It’s a good opportunity to be home,” he said. “I do go around the world but being here is such a wonderful thing. Iba ang energy and response ng mga tao dito.”

Geekier, poppier

Speaking of which, AsiaPOP Comicon is enjoying a good turnout this year.

Wolverine as penciled by Whilce (mb.com.ph)

Wolverine as penciled by Whilce

Ongoing until today at the SMX Convention Center, the three-day event already saw the annual CAGE cosplay competition – with guests Alodia Gosiengfiao, Myrtle Sarrosa, Pion Kim, Jin (behindinfinity), Canvas Cosplay, and Haiden Hazard.

This year’s comicon also brought back Marvel’s “super-exclusive and limited” showcase at Hall M.

Fans got the opportunity to enter the world of Netflix at Hall N, with several cast members of the hit series “Stranger Things” dropping by.

There was a talk on toy design with industry names Simone Legno, Jason Freeny, and Quiccs participating.

More, ABS-CBN’s loveteam Julia Barretto and Joshua Garcia as well as “La Luna Sangre” lead stars Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla graced the convention.

“We wanted to make this convention a platform not only just for international artists and Hollywood stars, but also a platform for the Filipino talent, creative artists in which they will be able to showcase their creative content,” Abdulla Mahmood, event organizers Al AhliHolding Group’s (AAHG) director of marketing and international business development said. (Photos from Instagram and Twitter)

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