FOR THIS young Thomasian artist, putting down his pens for his brushes paid off.

Jap Mikel, an advertising alumnus, spent his freshman year in the Faculty of Arts and Letters’ Journalism program, before discovering his desire to study advertising in the College of Fine Arts and Design.

“I took up Journalism for two years and then I realized that drawing illustrations is really my first love. I needed to pass all of my subjects so I can transfer and it became my motivation,” Mikel said in an interview.

He added that he wanted to draw comics, which somehow resemble what writers do. He preferred comics because he could not write straight prose and would rather show the story.

Mikel has worked for Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. as an in-house graphic designer. He now works as a freelance artist, using his vector skills as his main tool in drawing artworks.

Some of his works include art for the book “101 Kagila-Gilalas na Nilalang” by Edgar Samar, a book about Philippine folklore. His artwork“Minsan sa Ilog Pasig/Once upon a time in River Pasig” was also listed as Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan’s “most appreciated artwork” on Behance, an online database for artists’ portfolios.

Mikel drew his version of the colonial era in his “Illustrado” series, a collection of paintings that depict the Filipino elite as members of a secret society as wizards.

Reimagining Philippine history

Last year, Mikel was tapped to do artwork for “Bagumbayan,” a Spanish colonial era-themed novel by Reg Tolentino.

Mikel and Tolentino described their collaboration as a way of “reimaging history” as the storyline would be focusing on the events that “could have happened.”

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“What if we can look at history na ‘If this happened, would things have happened differently’ or ‘If Rizal wasn’t shot,’ let’s say, or ‘If he was shot but not killed,’ would we have turned out any different? What would have happened to Rizal? Would he still be the national hero?” Tolentino said.

Their research for the collaboration included visiting the University for research on the pre-colonial and colonial period.

“It will have the same elements in history but different enough that we could see things in a different way. For example, what if we won against Spain?” Tolentino said. “It’s like history is one whole timeline and the textbooks choose to shine a light on one spot. That leaves everything else in the dark,” he added.

Mikel and Tolentino’s collaboration will be released later this year. Maria Corazon A. Inay

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