Posted August 30, 2015 by GP Manalo in Comics

LET’S TALK KOMIKS: Fatima Bergonia and Adrienne Onday in Bringing The Contemporary Pinoy through Komiks

Ever had one of those elevator pitches mixed in in your everyday conversation with your friends or family?  Ever thought how far that would go if you ended up doing it? Here at Flipgeeks we were able to sit down with the duo behind the sleeper-hit, Ligaya Komiks, Fatima Bergonia and Adrienne Onday. As they are living the life of making komiks but at the same time bringing the everyday Filipino citizen in the mix of things.



FLIPGEEKS: First off! Thanks so much for doing this interview and congratulations on the success of your comic and your group so far! Do Introduce yourselves and tell us How did you get into comics?  how did you two end up collaborating to make this comic and conceptualizing “Ligaya”?  

 FATIMA BERGONIA: Hey! Thanks for taking the time to interview us! I’m Fatima Bergonia, the illustrator and co-creator of Ligaya Komiks. I have quite a long history with comics but I’ll try to shorten it. I (kind of) got into comics when I unearthed my father’s collection of Filipino Funny Komiks from the 80’s. My interest grew as I discovered his trove of western comics from the 60’s (and coveted some) and then started my own collection. I never thought of being in comics as a dream job for me back then but when I got into university, the interest slowly developed (especially after our figure drawing course). Initially, I wanted to work for western comic companies and taught myself the usual ten heads figure style but eventually I thought how cool it would be to make a komik!

ADRIENNE ONDAY: Thank you! We did not expect this at all. I’m Adrienne and I’m a third year sociology major in UP. I grew up with my dad around and he loves Marvel comics, most especially X-Men. I never got to read more than three, but I tried to follow the universes closely via leisure research. Fatima and I were really just ranting to each other about the issues of society in general, the Philippines most often. We were joking around and a late night conversation ended up in a bright idea that both gets our emotions out and helps the local independent scene. We’ve been good friends some five or so months and it seemed like a fun idea. We never planned to be actually this serious about it.

FATIMA: Yeah….and the Ligaya logo actually came from the singkamas na may bagoong  that Addie ate when we first went to Luneta.


What is Ligaya all about? The ending of issue #1 seemed open-ended, could you give us a hint at what will happen on the next issue?

FATIMA: Literally speaking, it’s about these three kids and this one ghost. HAHA sorry about that. Ligaya is basically just a retelling of everyday Filipino life (and ‘subtly’ about some sociopolitical issues that we are facing as a nation).

ADREINNE: Ligaya is all about each and every facet of Filipino life we can depict in our komiks. We wanted to feature and star the daily life of the average Filipino just so people would realize that this is about them as much as it is about Igay and her friends. We want to keep as much of it secret as possible, but the next issue will definitely be a continuation of the origin story of the crew. We just want to delve deeper into the social and cultural issues of the country so more or less that’s what people are going to see. We promise to keep it as fun and interesting as possible while also being educational at most and contemplative at the very least.

FATIMA: It’s open-ended para may suspense! HAHA pero to be honest I just wanna exclaim that two of the characters that were in Ligaya #1 aren’t just “gal pals”. ‘Di uso heteronormativity samin, sorry.


What was the collaborative process like? How did you two come with ideas whether it is for your facebook page or the comic itself?  Were there any difficulties in making this comic?


Fatima Bergonia (left), and Adrienne Onday (right) of Ligaya Komiks, with a friend and fan (middle)

ADREINNE: The only difficult aspect of collaborating with Fatima is the distance. With me living in Marikina and them living in The Deep South, we barely get to see each other or hang out. Writing and conceptualizing, however, is fun and easy on its own. We have a lot of segues and side topics and screaming as we do, and I think it’s safe to say we work very well since we’re drift compatible as hell and have the same interests and brand of humor. I mentioned that our komiks started out as a rant outlet, with this single character channeling the hatred and anger we feel for the things that cause them. Things then led to us coming up with the idea of a komiks while hanging out in Luneta after a cultural date at the National Museum in October. Fatima told one of their friends about the idea, and he liked it and pushed us to actually work on it. So we did. We started with a Facebook page to see how far we can go, and the promotional images and character sheets were inspired by Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World as well as our indie music scene influences. Mahirap din yung mismong pag-iisip kung paano namin sisimulan yung mismong komiks. There’s not much to choose from when you’re picking up a cut thread, but choosing what thread to unravel, that’s the hardest thing. We had a lot of ideas. We didn’t know what would work. So we started with what started it all: Luneta. Rizal Park.

FATIMA: To be honest, you can make a joke book from the entire process of making Ligaya! Never a dull moment. Yun nga lang, tulad ng sinabi ni Addie, sobrang hassle sa massel yung actual face-to-face collaborations kasi ang layo ng bahay namin mula sa isa’t isa. Matagal na din yung concept ng Ligaya sa totoo lang pero nung gumawa na kami ng fanpage, doon na nagsimula ang lahat.


Other than Ligaya, do you guys have any other projects happening that we should watch out for?

ADREINNE: The only other projects I’m aware of that we plan to do are a spin-off komiks based-off Ligaya and a short film that was actually supposed to start the komiks’ storyline itself. A prologue or prequel if you will. Except, disappointingly, it features less Rizal.

FATIMA: About that short film!! Dapat talaga mas mauuna naming i-proproduce yun but the actor we approached for the role of Kim Pulag turned us down because we’re not established enough. Well maybe after getting more established itutuloy na uli namin yung film project (pero hindi na namin siya lalapitan bilang Kim siguro…. “HU U KA” NGAYON). Bukod pa doon, plano din naming magpa-gig. WOOHOO!

At may komik nga pala kaming ilalalbas ni Rune Ortiz next year tungkol sa mga batang kanto! Abangan niyo yun!


When you started off the Facebook page, how much did the fans impact your work? What was it like to meet your fans for the first time in your past convention appearances?

ADREINNE: The fans actually did not influence any of this! Kasi wala kami no’n. (Tangina ang MilesExperience ng sagot na ‘to.) Our friends have been and will always be our most avid supporters, and our humor is more or less the same as and directed at them. Later on, though, we thought of how readers would take the story and the issues we will present. So we went for something relatable, easily digested, and funny and interesting to the everyday Filipino. I never really thought of having fans. Just readers. Stranger-readers. But then there’s this one–she started messaging our Tumblr first and then tweeting us. It was weird. Calls herself a fangirl? I still don’t believe it today. Our work doesn’t seem like it would garner fans of any kind. I mean, it’s just a simple stupid-humored thing that one of my bestest friends and I are working on.


FATIMA: Tulad nga ng sinabi ni Addie, di fan influenced gawa namin kaya hindi namin masyado inexpect sa una nabebenta ‘tong kagaguhan namin (pwede ba mag-mura? pa-edit na lang kung hindi). Nung magpapaprint nga kami para sa Indieket sabi ko 75 issues lang pa-print namin kasi di nga ako ganun ka-confident sa gawa namin. Sobrang kung ano lang maisip namin na funny, yun lang lalagay namin.

Masaya din na malaman na may fans pala kami!


Was the feedback helpful to bringing a full length comic to fruition? 

ADREINNE: Feedback was definitely helpful. We somehow gathered more strength and self-affirmation regarding the matter of pushing through with the project. Don’t get me wrong, I remember that we were determined to get this done even before about 2,400 likes on Facebook. But knowing that there exist people who are actually interested in what we’re doing–it helps.

FATIMA: Yes! Bukod pa sa pagpatok ng Ligaya, isa kasi akong taong sobrang insecure pagdating sa aking sariling sining so hayun, nakatulong yung mga nagsasabi na maayos daw yung art. Salamat po talaga ng napakarami sa lahat ng mga naniniwala sa aming kakayanan! (Ang cheesy na kaagad ‘di pa tapos yung interview.)


What or who influenced you guys to do what you do right now to make komiks (whether it is through art or writing)?

ADREINNE: Fatima is my #1 influence with komiks. As for writing, my essays and poems are more influenced by Haruki Murakami in the way that I tend to focus on small, mundane details. I like bringing the usually-ignored activities and objects to view and contemplation. We take things for granted a lot and I see it as my way of helping people feel content or at least less hard on themselves by giving them what they already have in a more magnified way. I’ve been writing since I was young so it wasn’t hard to get into this, but as for my komiks writing, I channel more of the Filipino humor, background, and experience in a way that’s easier to understand.

FATIMA: Well, being an avid fan of comics was the main influence on why I actually wanna draw sequential art. Super influential din sakin ng Trese dahil sobrang Filipino ng portrayal ng literally everything on that comic. Everything from the places, the narration, the characters! Sa illustration influence siguro yung pagka-chill ng style ni Zdarsky mula sa Sex Criminals at yung Filipino culture itself. Ewan ko ba, pero ang sarap magguhit ng mga bagay na relatable sa mga tao.


Time to get cheesy! A lot of artists in the past have put the people they know and even love in their work, was there anyone in your lives that you end up putting them in your comics as characters?

11099997_369481483254964_1555758825700130159_nADREINNE: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Lahat ng tauhan sa Ligaya ay nakabase sa mga totoong tao. The biggest, most unfictional character has got to be the one based on our best friends from MilesExperience. We didn’t even come up with anything original for that character. The aesthetic is literally based off the band as well. The personality, even more so. Nothing about him is originally from us. It was all them, amalgamated into one super cool super cute character. We actually have a crush on him.

FATIMA: Si Addie lang ang may crush (sa band). HAHAHA

ADREINNE: Other than that, Igay is largely based on (me) a friend of ours. Stephanie, too. Lahat talaga sila based on friends. Not even kidding.

FATIMA: Tapos si Jose Rizal nakabase kay José Protasio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda na ating pambansang bayani.

ADREINNE: But aside from friends, they are based on real Filipinos: from the traits and kaugalian, everything, we tried to make as contemporary Pinoy as possible.

FATIMA: Yup! So the characters will be really relatable or in other words, hugotable.


Are you guys planning to have other artists and/or writers contribute to the would-be komiks series soon?

ADREINNE: Secret yata sana pero–yes? We’re planning on having artist friends and acquaintances contribute for the covers of the following issues. It’s not because we’re lazy–Fatima actually offered to give them tips on how to make The Ultimate Pinoy Cover–we just want to promote local art and show that everyone can be an artist and anything is a valid art style, hindi lang yung makikita mo sa museum o yung mukhang ginuhit at ipininta ni Amorsolo.

FATIMA: Yup! Magpapa-alternate covers kami! Gusto kasi namin i-showcase ang galing ng ating mga lokal na artist! Ang galing kaya natin! As much as possible, syempre, tutulong ako sa process. We want to make covers that are so obnoxiously Filipino without using the flag, or any national symbols. Gusto din namin syempre madevelop ang appreciation ng aming mga mambabasa para sa diversity ng sining ng mga artist dito. May bias kasi minsan depende sa art style to the point na hindi na nila bibigyan ng chance basahin ang isang komik dahil lang sa style nito. We wanna help change that kahit sa maliit na pamamaraan.


So where can we find you at social media? or even any art portfolio/websites of yours that you want to plug? Future Appearances?

ADREINNE:Ako, lagi lang akong nasa UP Diliman. Even online, lagi lang akong nandoon. I have a Tumblr that’s pretty quiet lately, but it’s where I put up my writing. It’s 1872ph.tumblr.com. My Twitter is @_tapsilog and that’s where I do quick five-second poetry and a lot of sociopolitical rants (among lots of personal things that I could care more about). I used to have a WordPress but we should forget about that. We’ll be at Komiket and Komikon, definitely, but we also have a few exhibiting and panelling gigs on a few of the remaining days of August.

FATIMA: Ako naman sa bahay lang sa Laguna pero madalas nasa Saguijo ako sa Makati (naglulurk) pagweekends. Yung art tumblr ko na medyo di na active ngayon ay hellafaye.tumblr.com. Nag-aalangan ako ilagay Twitter ko kasi puro picture ng pusa pero sige na nga, @THEzubatman. Ingat lang po sa Twitter ko kasi minsan bigla bigla akong nagrarant ukol sa mga bagay-bagay. Punta kayo sa October 3 sa Komiket, kasama namin sa table doon si Joey Ellson, isang napakahusay na ilustrador. Sa November 14-15 naman nasa Komikon kami! Meron din kaming thing sa August 22 sa Uno Morato pero ‘di ako sure kung matutuloy kasi may dalawang bagyo daw na parating.


We know it’s too early to say but how do you think the future of Ligaya will be for you guys?

ADREINNE: Hindi ako sigurado kung anong mangyayari sa hinaharap ng komiks naming ‘to. But what I do know is that Fatima and I will push through with this and keep it running until we get the entire story out. We don’t aspire to go mainstream (although that would be cool for the sake of the komiks’ entire purpose), nor highly recognized. Ligaya is pretty big as is. We don’t know how much bigger it could get but hey, anything’s fine by me.

FATIMA: Nasabi na ni Addie lahat pero gusto ko sana matuloy pa rin yung short film namin!


Do you guys have any advice for aspiring komiks creators/writers and artists?

ADREINNE: Wala akong alam sa pagguhit dahil hindi ako marunong no’n. But to any and all aspiring writers–just keep writing. Anything and everything that crosses your mind–write it down. I started out writing fanfiction and little poems. Now… I write glorified versions of them. What helps in writing aside from writing itself is reading. Read a lot. Read everyday. Read as much as you can, kahit ano pa man yan: dyaryo, nobela, instructional pamphlet. Magbasa ka ng kahit ano. It’ll help in more ways than one: it helps in feigning experience (kasi ako mismo kulang no’n), in expanding vocabulary, in exposing you to different writing styles, in giving you so many ideas. Reading is one of the most important skills a person can have, and you have to appreciate and hone that skill lest it goes to waste. Don’t take it for granted. I promise you, it pays off. This doesn’t just apply to writers. Anyone who can follow this advice, should.

FATIMA: Draw everyday! Kahit doodles lang! Wag magsasawa sa kakapractice! Hindi ka pa man nasa skill level na gusto mo sa ngayon, alalahanin mo na the only way to improve is to keep on drawing! Expose yourself to various art forms! Absorb all that influence like a sponge and use them to generate your own identity in terms of art! Gusto mong maging mahusay na alagad ng sining balang araw? MAG-PRAKTIS! Sabi nga ng kumpare nating si Shia LeBouf, “Don’t let your dreams be just dreams, JUST DO IT!”.

Check out their page for more updates about their convention appearances, comic reservations, and their occasional ask.fm shenanigans.



GP Manalo

G.P. Manalo is a student by day, and a resident tortured writer by night. Writing to keep him sane from all the Business School papers and presentations piling up each week.