Ang Bulwagan ng Hiwaga ay mayaman sa kababalaghan at pinuputakte ng mga katanungang walang kasagutan. Sa Bulwagan ng Hiwaga iyong mahahanap ang katotohanan at ang kasinungalingan; dito ay mabubuhay ang iyong hiraya sa kalawakan ng pag-iral. Ang Bulwagan ng Hiwaga ay tinatawag ka upang hamunin ang tunay. Sa Bulwagan ng Hiwaga ika’y aming inaanyayahan.

As the Pearl of the Orient Seas basks in all its beaded glory, the world rejoices for its presence in the Pacific. We have come many miles in understanding what history tells us about colonizers and mistakes made by our sires, we still have yet to identify what truly is ours. We often look beyond what pulled in the nations that swept our lands dry and drained our seas almost obsolete. Before all these had happened, we were a nation at war with ourselves and with stories that harness the pages of our contemporary storybooks. We looked at night sky thinking that the scars were creatures of light and hope from the gods and traveled the grounds with respect to the deities we have borrowed it from. When it didn’t rain, we prayed and offered all that’s left of what we could have dined to wish for a few drops that would nourish our crops. The Filipino culture is more than just the all the Datu written in history, or that Diwata by the river that was told would pull us to the rock bottom if we ever swam in it. We are damned with culture and in the contemporary context, we skip all these to observe what isn’t ours. In Bulwagan ng Hiwaga, Manix Abrera goes beyond his usual comic book strips and embraces the esoteric nature of our culture, melding both themes into one mystical adventure.

Having grown up in fascination with weird and mysterious stories and beliefs, Abrera has been adding a dash of mysticism and mythology to his comic strips. The elements include that of our own including the mystery of the anting-anting, the supernatural stories from white ladies at Balete Drive to your typical run of the mill ghosts. To Abrera, these creatures tell a lot about our societal landscape. Perhaps it’s in the way we hang on to these superstitious beliefs in difficult times. In days we are to woe and mourn, we kneel and pray, hoping for some kind of divine intervention. It is also perhaps the only explanation we can find for inexplicable occurrences. We have been brought up with ideas that seem true when we were kids and sometimes those ideas carry over to our adulthood, only less fascinating than before. This is what Abrera challenges through Bulwagan ng Hiwaga. We have all been caught up with the reality of life that we have forgotten to enjoy the little mysteries that make up our day. The universe works in mysteries and those mysteries and in the tinies of our decisions. In his Kiko Machine and News Hardcore comics, we find relatability. There is a character for everyone who reads his creations. This time, Manix goes beyond realities and magnifies the little enigmas that riddle everyday scenarios. The characters in his creations will be nameless thus giving the audience the freedom to put themselves in the shoes of each character. And it is the truth that Abrera narrates with each frame, we are the little people he creates and it takes a keen eye to see beyond the mundane life we live and see the perplexity of our existence.

by Francesca Testa