By Jade Pangilinan
I have always been a big fan of fantasy books and games. From JRR Tolkien’s Middle-earth to CS Lewis’s Narnia; from Magic the Gathering cards to Dungeons and Dragons role-playing; from Harry Potter movies to Arnold Arre’s Mythology Class.
And coming soon in Pampanga is an urban fantasy made for tv series that is the first of its kind: Kalam. Kalam, which means “gift” in the vernacular, is something that should be close to a Kapampangan’s heart as this telenovela will tackle the supernatural and mythological in the context of contemporary times.
I have seen the sample clips of this Kapampanganovela on Youtube where they have been generating a lot of views, interesting feedbacks and comments, especially among the Kapampangan youth. Kalam is set to revolutionize Kapampangan tv.
It helps that the cast in itself is stellar as it brings together the freshest faces and most promising talents in Pampanga, such as the pretty and witty beauty queen and model Niket Henson and versatile theater actor Alex Tiotuico to name a few. I take pride in the Fernandinos who are part of the cast of characters, such as Reachel Mucho, Edith Chu (grew up in Guagua), KC Aldana (already replaced by Magalang's Peter Danganan; see Kalam blog for news) and Jayvie Dizon (grew up in Angeles City). More than the face value, more consideration was given to talent and Kapampangan language skills.
Add to this the continuing advocacy of Infomax 8 in producing Kapampangan shows that give us the heightened sense of belongingness and community spirit.
Knowing director Jason Laxamana and his passion for preserving Kapampangan heritage, especially in the linguistic and literary fields, expect Kalam to be well-researched and authentic. The fantastic characters we will meet will be straight out of the wealth of folkloric tradition that our noble Kapampangan ancestors have passed on through generations. For those who grew up in rural Pampanga, I am pretty sure that the characters will be very familiar although the story takes place in the urban setting.
Jason, at a very young age, exhibits an uncommonly keen understanding of Kapampangan culture and uses popular media such as rock music (for the breakthrough Rockapampangan project) and the telenovela to promote our often peripheralized intangible heritage in the mainstream and inculcate among the people, young and old alike, vestiges of our culture which we do not want to fade away or die.
Kalam shows promise to bring back into Kapampangan consciousness the nearly forgotten lore of old: mythical creatures of our ancestor’s imagination (e,g, elementals such as laman labuad) and folk beliefs that have been set aside as hear say and unscientific in these post-modern times, but are vital ingredients of what makes our culture truly Kapampangan.
Kalam gives us something to look forward to. It is a good way for non – Kapampangans to see for themselves and understand Kapampangan culture. More importantly, in this day and age when the use of the Kapampangan language is decreasing, Kalam just might be a gift that will give us a better sense of appreciation of what we have as a people before we totally lose it.
Check the Kalam sample sequences on youtube or visit their blog at http://kalamtv.blogspot.com. Watch out for Kalam at Infomax 8 this coming August.