Si Rizal o ang heneral, mamili ka!
Puppets are among the many forms of art that are loved not just for their design, but also for their charm and ability to entertain. According to the World Encyclopedia of Puppetry Arts, the puppet tradition in the Philippines started in the late 19th century, when carrillos or small carts roamed around Pampanga presenting shadow plays featuring cardboard figures.
As the years passed, the country saw different types of puppets, from the Muppets-like to strings ones, that outgrew their small cart origins and made it to theater and TV.
But in this digital age, are puppets still relevant? For artist Robert Alejandro, there is still a great deal of joy to be discovered and passed on from puppets.
“I think dolls or puppets have an ‘analog’ quality: You have to cut them yourself and put them together with fasteners,” he says. “They’re so not digital, which I think is a welcome change.”
Together with arts and crafts brand Papemelroti, Robert came up with designs that he hopes will enliven Filipino’s fascination with puppets once again. Months in community quarantine, he created articulated paper puppet figures of Dr. Jose Rizal and Gen. Antonio Luna.
“I thought of the project during the first days of the lockdown. We were thinking of what new products we could offer our customers and could help fund the needs of our staff. They didn’t have work, as all of our stores were closed,” Robert tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “I saw the ‘articulated dolls’ on a foreign website and I thought it would be so cool if we had a Rizal doll.”
It didn’t take long for him to draft the design. He only spent three days to draw them, and focused on the details as he “wanted them to really look like Rizal and Heneral Luna!”
“I personally enjoy Philippine culture,” he says. “The Philippines can be so cool, fun, and unique. I want to depict that in our products.”
Apart from Rizal and Luna, Robert also produced puppet figures of Picasso, Frida Khalo, Kusama, Salvador Dali, and Vincent Van Gogh.