Books & Art

Tarantadong Kalbo Captures the Nation's Pulse Via Komiks

The illustrations lend a voice to the silent frustrations of Filipinos.
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Kevin Eric Raymundo, aka Tarantadong Kalbo, is a genius. He narrates an entire social issue with just an illustration of a house in a single square panel. Its caption: Nakakapagod maging resilient (It's tiring to be resilient). The panel has gone viral with thousands of positive reactions on Facebook. Without criticizing anyone, Raymundo lends a voice to the silent frustrations of Filipinos through "Tarantadong Kalbo Volume 1," a collection of panels he illustrated throughout the year. 

Currently, Raymundo is a freelance animator. He has been in the animation industry for roughly 15 years, and worked on the Netflix original film Hayop Ka by Rocketsheep studios.

"I started drawing at an early age, probably 5-ish," Raymundo tells Esquire Philippines

Nakakapagod Maging Resilient

Photo by Kevin Eric Raymundo (Tarandadong Kalbo).
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Raymundo has been illustrating panels of "TK Vol. 1" for almost a year. According to a fellow artist and comic book creator Bambi Eloriaga-Amago, Raymundo can be considered among the handful of artists who can tap into the pulse of Filipinos. "Alam na alam niya at naipapakita niya—in just a few panels—all the frustration, exasperation, incredulity, and hope that a Filipino living in these insane times is feeling," writes Eloriaga-Amago in her brief review of Raymundo's work.

Most of the panels in "TK Vol. 1" can be found on Raymundo's Facebook page, Tarantadong Kalbo, which has over 100,000 followers. Although his panels are simple and sometimes uncaptioned, they deliver powerful social commentary, like this panel depicting Angel Locsin, Catriona Gray, and Liza Soberano. 

Red Tagging

Photo by Kevin Eric Raymundo.
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Other panels poke fun at issues that dominated discussions throughout the year. 

Photo by Kevin Eric Raymundo.

Photo by Kevin Eric Raymundo.
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Photo by Kevin Eric Raymundo.

It can be remembered that Filipinos became resourceful and started their own online businesses after the pandemic cost them their jobs. One of the issues that made headlines was how the BIR wanted to go after online sellers. Raymundo summarized that issue in one strip. 

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Photo by Kevin Eric Raymundo.

He also shines a light on how Filipinos' obsession with TikTok could be their way of escaping to another reality because let's face it, this one's a shithole. 

Photo by Kevin Eric Raymundo.
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It's not just politics that Raymundo covers in "TK Vol. 1." He also teases hopeless romantics with a few panels. 

Photo by Kevin Eric Raymundo.

In one strip, Raymundo illustrates why he has been very vocal on social issues through his artwork. 

Photo by Kevin Eric Raymundo.
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Raymundo also features Jose Rizal in a strip about constructive criticism and anti-intellectualism. 

Photo by Kevin Eric Raymundo.

"Tarantadong Kalbo Volume 1 is a record of what probably will be the most hated year of our lives, 2020: the ups, the downs, the raging against the dying of the light."

Of course, Raymundo did not let Coronavirus slip his pen. 

Photo by Kevin Eric Raymundo.
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Photo by Kevin Eric Raymundo.

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Photo by Kevin Eric Raymundo.

As a Millennial, Raymundo also shares experiences from his childhood through nostalgic and hilarious panels such as these. According to him, he considers "TK Vol. 1" a loose summary of 2020 because he inserts memories of growing up during the '90s.

Photo by Kevin Eric Raymundo.
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Photo by Kevin Eric Raymundo.

Negative Reactions Toward Raymundo's Work

We asked if there were people who sent him death threats because they did not like his artwork. Raymundo answered casually, "Oh definitely. Death threats, red-tagging, the whole shebang, every day."

But for Raymundo, his comic strips are just a way for him to cope with the horrors of 2020. "It was a way for me to deal with the bad things that are happening in our country. You can say that I treat my strips as a journal of sorts. An outlet."

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In the foreword of "TK Vol. 1," Rob Cham describes the purpose of the komiks. 

"What you hold in your hands is mostly a record of what probably will be the most hated year of our lives, 2020: the ups, the downs, the raging against the dying of the light. These are, for me, some of the important komiks this year, in a journalistic sense, but also as an important wake-up call to all of us." 

Photo by Kevin Eric Raymundo.
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Purchase Tarantadong Kalbo Volume 1 Here

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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