Saturday, August 30, 2008

Photos: Primerung Pasinag ning 'Kalam'

News about the Grand Premiere soon. For the mean time, check out some photos from the event.
Infomax. 8 team

Dr. Ricardo Nolasco, Head of the Komisyon Sa Wikang Filipino (KWF)

Asst. Dir. Diego Dobles, Jayvie Dizon (Kenneth), Reachel Mucho (Dette), Nicolette Henson (Albina), Alex Tiotuico (Kool), Peter Danganan (Joy)

The main cast minus Alex Tiotuico. L-R: Jayvie, Reachel, Nicolette, Peter, Aries Yap (Yubs), Raco Del Rosario (Rhodskie), Edith Chu (Puring)

Marketing Director Jomel Cruz and wife, Nicolette, Reachel, Executive Producer Mau Aquino, and co-host Rey Yumang

Monday, August 25, 2008

Having a Kapampangan TV drama and what it implies

Jason Paul Laxamana
Central Luzon Daily

This Wednesday, Infomax-8, a Kapampangan cable channel based in the City of San Fernando, and Kalalangan Kamaru, a creative team of multidisciplinary Kapampangan youth, will be presenting to the public the latest offering of Kapampangans to the rest of the world—Kalam, the first ever Kapampanganovela (Kapampangan television drama) in the history of Philippine broadcasting. It will take place at the Event Center of SM City Pampanga, 5 PM, and is bound to be a grand Kapampangan event as it will feature not only various Kapampangan performances, but also the public screening of the pilot episode.

Making the Kapampangan youth as its target audience, Kalam tackles the life and adventures of a new generation of witches and healers (gifted people, or in Kapampangan, ding ating kalam) born in urban Pampanga and how they struggle to fit in a skeptical, discriminating, and fearful society. It will be an exciting mix of urban fantasy, action, romantic comedy, drama, and social relevance, while using Kapampangan culture—both past and present, folk and modern, rural and urban—as canvass.

A clear history of the development of Kapampangan mass media is not yet available, albeit, inspired by the so-called Kapampangan cultural renaissance happening in the province, several mass communication students in and out of the province are beginning to take interest in outlining our media history as their thesis. Nevertheless, the production of Kalam is certainly a milestone.

Just what does having a Kapampangan TV drama imply?

Panyulung Pangkultura (Cultural Development)

First of all, we see a huge leap in what we call cultural development, as having a Kapampanganovela means that Kapampangans now officially know how to make a TV series, the process of which requires diverse skills from a well-coordinated team of people.

These skills include: research, story conceptualization, scriptwriting, directing, camera operation, cinematography, acting, talent management, production design, makeup and costume design, audio editing, and video editing. But television is more than a creative effort. Production management, location management, marketing, programming, publicity (which involves graphic design and large-scale printing, coordination with the press, and public relations), sales, advertising, financial management, budgeting, broadcasting, to name some more, are also involved, and Kalam boasts of an all-Kapampangan staff, cast, and crew. This means that all the skills I've mentioned and have failed to mention are now part of the growing Kapampangan culture.

Whether Kapampangans are bound to excel in the field of TV drama production and cause a “Kapampangan wave” (synonymous to the recent “Korean wave” phenomenon) is something to look forward to. Looking at our past achievements, however, we can conclude—not necessarily meaning we can be complacent—we can excel. Look at our lanterns compared to the rest of the Filipinos'.

Sagisag Kapampangan (Kapampangan Symbol)

Second implication is the growing awareness of Kapampangans that they, indeed, are a people who have their own identity apart from their Filipino and Asian brothers, and this road to cultural self-determination has extended to the field of TV drama production.

Kapampangans used to and still rely on the Tagalogs, the Koreans, the Taiwanese, the Mexicans, the Japanese, and the Americans when it comes to satisfying their television entertainment needs. If a Kapampangan wants to watch a TV drama, he tunes in to ABS-CBN, GMA-7, TV-5 or other channels. Or perhaps, he would run to the nearest bangketa to find the vast array of pirated DVDs of Korean, Japanese, and Chinese TV series. But what do we see in these foreign productions but foreign culture where Kapampangan is nowhere to be found, except probably in lousy cases like the Kapampangans in ABS-CBN's Kokey (where Kapampangans are exaggeratedly portrayed as letter H-deficient people) and the divine character Sinukuan in Dyosa (where Sinukuan is an Arabian-looking princess).

Such lack of Kapampangan symbols cause the alienation—inferiority complex, even—of the Kapampangans, particularly the youth who are heavy media consumers, to their own culture, including language, and identity. Now that we have a TV drama of our own, expect familiarity, as various symbols are bound to make Kapampangans see themselves more in the boob tube—not as “colored people,” but as diverse people who think, feel, face problems, come up with solutions, excel, fail, cook, eat, photograph, love, hate, philosophize, obey the law, break it, dream big, dream small, etc.

It's time to determine who we really are using television instead of relying on others to portray us, for if we remained in the level of dependence on Manila media, we will forever be H-deficient, gegege people who excel only in domestic work and pamagmais. We will never be portrayed as lawyers, philosophers, scientists, matinee idols, modern activists, political leaders, doctors, etc.

The presence of Kalam, however, is a symbol itself. It is an addition to the symbols that unify us as a separate ethnolinguistic community, which include the Kapampangan language, Kapampangan cuisine, Kapampangan literature, Kapampangan heroes, Kapampangan history, Kapampangan landmarks, Kapampangan icons, and Kapampangan songs and hymns.

I wonder when the time will come when Kapampangans cease importing entertainment from outsiders (including territories outside the Kapampangan region) and start making their own media products for export in other parts of the world.

Primerung Pasinag (Grand Premiere)

Given these two big implications, we hope you would support Kalam, as its success will be the success of Kapampangans. It's also a nice way to celebrate the Bulan Na Ning Amanung Sisuan (Language Month). Please review the first paragraph for the event details. Visit for more information about the series.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

'Kalam' on KWF website

The Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (Commission on the Filipino Language) or KWF acknowledges Kalam and its national significance. Taken from their official website:

Inaasahang dadagsain ng mga Kapampangan ang naka-iskedyul na Engrandeng Pagbubukas ng Kalam, ang kauna-unahang Kapampanganobela na gaganapin sa SM City, Lungsod ng San Fernando, Pampanga sa darating na Agosto 27, 2008.

Binigyang-diin ng mga producer ng Kalam na ito’y higit pa sa isang palabas pantelebisyon lamang. Ito anila ay isang advocacy project na naghahangad na itaguyod ang kultura at wikang Kapampangan sa ibang panig ng mundo, habang ipinamamalas at pinagbubuti ang kaugnay na mga kasanayang pang-media ng mga Kapampangan. Pinapangarap nila ang araw na ang iba-ibang mga grupong etnolingguwistiko ay magsimulang magpalitan ng mga teleserye sa isa’t isa sa halip na umangkat pa ng mga palabas sa ibayong dagat. Ang gayong palitang kultural sa pamamagitan ng broadcast media ay mag-aambag sa malaon nang pagkaantala sa pagsasakatuparan ng pambansang pagkakaisa para sa mga Pilipino.

Ang lahat, mula sa mga artista hanggang sa mga producer, mula sa mga camera man hanggang sa mga production designer, mula sa mga production assistant hanggang sa mga technical director – na sangkot sa produksyon ng telenobelang Kalam ay pawang Kapampangan lahat mula sa pinakamataas hanggang sa pinakamababa. Ang Kalam ay isasahimpapawid gabi-gabi maliban sa araw ng linggo sa Infomax-8, isang cable channel sa Pampanga bagamat wala pang eksaktong araw at oras kung kailan ito isasahimpapawid.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

'Kalam' visits UP Diliman, wows audience

Last Thursday, Kalalangan Kamaru, a creative group of Kapampangan youth behind productions such as the RocKapampangan album and GVFM's weekly youth-oriented Kapampangan show Frequency K; and Infomax 8, the sole Kapampangan cable channel existing in the province, visited the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman to deliver a lecture, in line with the school's occasional Alternative Classroom Learning Experience or ACLE, where regular classes are suspended in order to give way to various workshops and symposia.

UP Aguman, an organization of Kapampangans in UP, decided to invite the people behind Kalam, the first Kapampanganovela (Kapampangan telenovela), to discuss about the emergence and challenges of regional broadcast media, particularly those of Kapampangan.

Jason Paul Laxamana of Kalalangan Kamaru, writer and director of Kalam, spoke about the ideology of uniting the Philippines through respect for its cultural diversity (not uniting the country by imposing one culture or language over another), while Mau Aquino, General Manager of Infomax 8, together with Marketing Director Jomel Cruz, told the story of how and why their station decided to package themselves as a Kapampangan channel employing the use of the Kapampangan language.

Present also were Diego Marx Dobles, Asst. Director of Kalam; Nhoel Austria, Set Designer; Aries Yap, Reachel Mucho, and Peter Danganan, main actors; and the technical team of Infomax, who covered the lecture for its daily news program, I-Max News. Approximately 60 people, Kapampangans and non-Kapampangans, attended the lecture, including fellow Kapampangan Prof. Nilo Ocampo, a Filipino teacher in UP Diliman.

Members of UP Aguman with Kalam's Dette (Reachel Mucho)

Members of UP Aguman with Kalam's hero Yubs (Aries Yap)

The issue of language preservation and development versus nationalism through the Filipino language—which Laxamana, using the test of Linguistics, called just a mere dialect of Tagalog—was raised and the issue, as usual, was left unresolved.

As Aquino and Laxamana kept stressing, people should learn as much languages as they can. Kapampangans and non-Tagalogs alike are not asked to un-learn Tagalog (after all, trilingualism is their advantage over Tagalogs who are mostly only bilingual); they are asked to master their native languages—to love them with pride—and not feel inferior upon using it. What should be battled is the phenomenon of language shift, when people abandon their native languages in favor of the national language or the English language.

In spite of the heat of the argument, after the English-subtitled screening of the first episode of Kalam, which prides itself for being culturally rooted and for being in the Kapampangan language, not one person was left dissatisfied, to the point of some even claiming they prefer to patronize it over the mainstream Pinoy TV dramas.

Kalam tackles the life and adventures of a new generation of witches and healers (gifted people, or in Kapampangan, ding ating kalam) born in urban Pampanga and how they struggle to fit in a skeptical, discriminating, and fearful society. It will be an exciting mix of urban fantasy, action, romantic comedy, drama, and social relevance, while using Kapampangan culture—both past and present, folk and modern, rural and urban—as canvass.

Catch the Primerung Pasinag (Grand Premiere) of Kalam in Pampanga. It will take place on the 27th of August, 5 PM, SM Pampanga Entertainment Plaza. Aside from the screening of the first episode, various Kapampangan groups will also be performing.

UP Aguman members, Nhoel Austria, and three of the main actors

Friday, August 15, 2008

Kapampangan Theme Songs for a Kapampangan TV Series

Another press release.

Infomax.8, a Kapampangan cable channel based in the City of San Fernando, and Kalalangan Kamaru, a group of multidisciplinary Kapampangan youth cultural workers, are seeking to revolutionize Kapampangan mass media by crafting the first ever Kapampanganovela (Kapampangan telenovela) in the history of Philippine broadcasting.

"Kalam" tackles the life and adventures of a new generation of witches and healers (gifted people, or in Kapampangan, ding ating kalam) born in urban Pampanga and how they struggle to fit in a skeptical, discriminating, and fearful society. It will be an exciting mix of urban fantasy, action, romantic comedy, drama, and social relevance, while using Kapampangan culture—both past and present, folk and modern, rural and urban—as canvass.

The dialogues in "Kalam" are in the Kapampangan language, except in special cases where English and Tagalog are realistically the fitting languages. With that mentioned, it will be a sin to not get Kapampangan songs to serve as as the opening and closing theme songs of "Kalam," which were recorded at Kid's Place Recording Studio in Salapungan, Angeles City.

Pamuklat a Dalit (Opening Song)

Ing likuan mu kanaku
E ne agyu ning nanu mang panulu

Four members of 2007 Angeles City San Miguel Beer Battle of the Bands champion 5 Against The Wall (Jon Tanganco, bass; Jaynard Bengo, drums; Nhoel Austria, guitar; Arnold Espino, vocals), the vocalist of Guagua-based Red Horse Muziklaban finalist rock band Nora Aunor Fans' Club (Ramcos Nulud), and a Mabalacat-residing teenage violinist John Canlas collaborate to create the opening theme song of "Kalam." 5 Against The Wall and Nora Aunor Fans' Club were both participating bands in Kalalangan Kamaru's and Holy Angel University Center for Kapampangan Studies' RocKapampangan project, with the former doing a reggae version of 'Sibul Na Ning Arayat' and the latter composing a blues version of a hilarious Kapampangan children's song they titled 'Kaplas.'

The lyrics written by "Kalam" writer and director Jason Paul Laxamana, the title of the song is Alang Anggang Sugat (Eternal Wound) and it talks about the dark betrayal of a person whom one used to trust deeply. Such betrayal causes one a traumatic and deep wound bound to last for eternity. To give the song a spin, the genre of the song is metal—in spite of 5 Against The Wall known locally for its reggae sound—fused with a bit of classical, thanks to the violin of Canlas, who is a college senior from the Holy Angel University and a member of its Theater Guild.

To honor two of the great Kapampangan poets, the song used excerpts of poems by Jose Gallardo (one of his Malikwatas or 'Magic Poems' and 'Ing Biye Alang Bakas') and Mariano Sigua ('Aduang Curan') in its rap parts.

Panyarang Dalit (Closing Song)

Mibalik na ka kaku / uling e ku agyu
Ibalik ta ing oras / na ning pamiyabe tamu

Tarlac City-based Kapampangan band Mernuts—popular through YouTube for rendering Kapampangan translations of songs such as Rihanna's 'Umbrella' and Beyonce's 'Irreplaceable'—made their original composition 'Oras' to serve as the closing song of "Kalam."

The song, penned by vocalist Jhaye Arzaga, is their second original Kapampangan composition after 'Aliwa Kang Talaga,' their contribution in the RocKapampangan album released last February. 'Oras' is a love song of longing, inviting a loved one after a serious fight to turn back time, when love was still pure.

Music Videos: Fusion of pop and local culture

The Kapampangan youth, who have been part of the so-called MTV generation, will not be disappointed when they see the music videos created for the theme songs, which are regularly aired on the Infomax channel. They may also be viewed by checking out the YouTube account of 'sisigman.'

In spite of the pop culture theme of the music videos, Kapampangan culture enthusiasts will not be disappointed as well, as the creative team made it a point to fuse pop culture and local culture.

Shot in the City of San Fernando, the music video of 'Oras' features not only a number of the main cast of "Kalam," but also Roland Quiambao, Pampanga's giant lantern master, and some of his beautiful works.

Shot in the Henson-Hizon heritage mansion care of Corito Panlilio-Lim, the music video of 'Alang Anggang Sugat' could serve as an independent short film, as it boldly shows the experience of a girl raped by her trusted male friends and how the loss of her virginity caused social stigma, until she decided to end her torment by committing suicide. The non-conservative treatment of the video has caused some to brand it "too dark and gory," while some reacted in awe and called it a "piece of art" and "at par with international music videos." Maleldo (Holy Week) icons were used as well to poetically show emotions of regret and suffering.

Yubs, the lead character in "Kalam" played by Aries Yap, and his Kularyut sidekick, Kool, albeit played by a different person, are also in the video.

Both videos were directed by Laxamana, with the aid of Kalalangan Kamaru members Diego Marx Dobles (Asst. Director), Jon Tanganco and Nhoel Austria (Set Designers), and the technical team of Infomax. 8 including Joven Mallari (Technical Director), Ashly Nunag (Camera Man), Martin Reyes (Asst. Camera Man), and Teri Dela Pena (Production Assistant). Editors: Laxamana and Dobles.

Catch the bands behind the theme songs, together with the public screening of their music videos, on the 27th of August at the Entertainment Plaza of SM City Pampanga. It will be the Primerung Pasinag or Grand Premiere of "Kalam," where the first full episode of "Kalam" will be screened in advance. Visit for more info and text 09186992459 for inquiries.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Episode 1 Preview

Watch this mini trailer of the first episode of "Kalam."

Don't you wish to be there on the 27th of August at the SM Pampanga Entertainment Plaza to watch the first episode? :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A new Pinoy TV series and its seven catches

Press release ya ini para keng Punto.

There is a new Pinoy TV series that tackles the lives of kulam practitioners, gayuma makers, and people who casually contact with local horror characters like the kapri and the tikbalang. As children, we have often heard and imagined their adventures happen in the rural areas, in places where nightlife belongs to characters of horror and diseases are believed to be caused by bewitchment or elf-made magic. Not in the upcoming fantaserye (if you're a Kapamilya) or telefantasya (if you're a Kapuso) aptly titled Kalam.

Below, we present seven major catches why Kalam is something to watch out for.

It's set in the city

Even though its genre is fantasy, it's urban fantasy. Imagine the local witches, monsters, and elementals living with us in the city as seemingly normal people who dress up like us, listen to the same songs we patronize, watch the latest concerts, keep Friendster accounts, occupy seats in the government, and acquire jobs in call centers and malls. This is the universe of Kalam, where folkloric fantasy meets contemporary drama. Which brings us to the costumes and special effects. If you're a fan of the mascot-like characters you see in the primetime fantasy TV dramas, which range from mermaids to humanoid horses, Kalam could serve as an alternative, as the characters, in spite of holding magical abilities and some being innately supernatural like the aswang, do not sport out-of-this-world clothes. Witches come in school uniforms, corporate attires, tees, and jeans.

It's intellectual and entertaining

Gender, cultural, racial, moral, intellectual, and sociological sensitivity -- how much of these have you found in your local soap operas? In between the entertaining waves of action and fantasy, Kalam either subtly or aggressively tackles gender issues, cultural and philosophical issues, and social problems the youth most likely encounter everyday but fail to sense because they have been greatly institutionalized in the society to the point of blindly accepting them as "normal" already. Take for example the lead female character, Dette, who, aside from having an opened third eye (she is able to see ghostly images through the lenses of her cameras), is also a feminist. One of the main characters is the potions chemist John Joy, who is a single father proudly declaring his "greed" for money amidst the Filipino's bad (and hypocritical) attitude toward wealth. Them, and more.

It's weekly, it's one-hour

Unlike the mainstream Pinoy TV dramas, Kalam will be shown weekly in one full hour. Even though it is a series, every episode has its own subplot that generally ends within that episode as well. Each episode is distinct enough to leave the viewers something to remember, which is something not usually practiced by your favorite primetime TV dramas. If you are to be asked what happened in the sixteenth episode of Marimar, will you recall? How about the fifth episode of Kampanerang Kuba? Do you have a favorite episode, or just favorite scenes?

It's filled with new faces

If you're the typical person whose TV viewing is dictated by the popularity of the cast (e.g. "I shall watch Iisa Pa Lamang because Gabby Concepcion and Claudine Baretto are in it"), then Kalam could either disappoint you or serve as an alternative. It boasts of the appropriateness of the actors in and their ability to give life to the roles, as the story and characters were imagined first, and then the auditions. No role was created just to boost the career of a certain cast member. Aries Yap, Reachel Mucho, Alex Tiotuico, Nicolette Henson, Jayvie Dizon, Peter Danganan, Edith Chu, Raco Del Rosario -- do you know them? You might not, but we're sure you'll love their colorful characterizations. Watch out for a feature on the main cast of Kalam and the characters they animate.

It's set in Pampanga

Dyesebel and Asero shoot often in Pampanga, but you probably don't know that. Why? Because they don't mention that fact. They do not boast of it and it doesn't help the province when it comes to tourism. Kalam on the other hand is set in Pampanga and presents Pampanga proudly as a complex and developing province worth of interest. You'll see the Holy Rosary Church, the Holy Angel University, and other places in the episodes. And with the place comes the culture of the province itself with its customs and traditions -- both contemporary and folk -- Kapampangan dishes, crafts, etc. Remember: kimchi, along with other elements of Korean culture, was made popular by the Korean entertainment wave.

It's in the Kapampangan language

To the knowledge of most Filipinos, Tagalog and English are the sole languages of mass media in the Philippines. But did you know that in Cebu, they have a genre called the Cebuanovela or the Visayanovela which employs their native language (no, they're not dialects; they're languages)? With the cultural and linguistic fervor sweeping the regions, one could only be reminded that the Philippines is, indeed, a diverse country, and that its diversity is bound to extend even to the field of TV dramas. The news: Kalam, being set in Pampanga, will naturally be in the Kapampangan language. More than the me keni's and o jo, kaluguran da ka's, every episode will be in Kapampangan, some fluent, some balid, some gegege, and some in pidgin. Characters will be discussing, arguing, emoting, etc. in our Amanung Sisuan Kapampangan. As the lead antagonist, Albina, said in the first episode, Abayan mu ku at apalyari tamu ita! (Join me and we'll make it happen!)

It's a Kapampangan production

Infomax. 8, a Kapampangan cable channel based in San Fernando, and Kalalangan Kamaru, a multidisciplinary team of creative Kapampangan youth, are behind the production of Kalam, in line with their advocacy of revolutionizing Kapampangan media and living up with how we, Kapampangans, tag ourselves: excellent. The actors, if you were able to tell by their surnames, are all Kapampangan. The writer and director is Kapampangan. The producers are Kapampangan. The crew members are Kapampangan. The creative staff is Kapampangan.

What's still a lack is you, a fellow Kapampangan, who must have been used to patronizing Tagalog and foreign TV shows. Now that we have a teleserye of our own, we ask you to support this endeavor by being witness to the Primerung Pasinag or Grand Premiere of Kalam, the first ever "Kapampanganovela" in the history of Philippine broadcasting, where the first episode will be screened. It will take place at the 27th of August (the Language Month) at the Entertainment Plaza of SM Pampanga, 5 PM. Admission is free. For more information about Kalam, visit

Friday, August 1, 2008

Official Kalam MTVs now out!

The music videos for the opening and closing theme songs of Kalam are finished! They were screened at the Francis De Javier Theater of Holy Angel University yesterday before the technical preview of the Cinemalaya 2008 Best Picture, Jay (Francis Pasion), but are aired regularly at Infomax-8.

You may also view them in YouTube:

Official music video of ALANG ANGGANG SUGAT by 5 Against the Wall featuring Ramcos Nulud (vocalist of Nora Aunor Fans' Club band) and violinist John Canlas of Mabalacat. Song written by Jason Paul Laxamana, with excerpts from poems of Jose Gallardo (Malikwatas, Biye Alang Bakas) and Mariano Sigua (Aduang Curan). DIRECTOR: Jason Laxamana, ASST. DIRECTOR: Diego Dobles, TECHNICAL DIRECTOR: Joven Mallari, EDITOR: Jason Laxamana, Diego Dobles, PRODUCTION DESIGNERS: Jon Tanganco, Nhoel Austria

Official music video of Mernuts' original Kapampangan composition, Oras. Used as closing theme song. DIRECTOR: Jason Laxamana, ASST. DIRECTOR: Diego Dobles, TECHNICAL DIRECTOR: Joven Mallari, EDITOR: Jason Laxamana, PRODUCTION DESIGN: Roland Quiambao, SET MAN: Jon Tanganco