Filipino artist reimagines suman and kakanin as badass characters

Meet the Kakanin Squad

Lapong, Buri, and Tapay

Kakanin or sweet rice cakes are among staples of a Filipino fiesta banquet. They are tasty and are always meant for sharing. These dishes also reflect Filipino culture and culinary traditions, from their sticky texture that symbolizes familial bond to rice being one of the prime produce of the country.

Filipino artist John Patrick Gañas took inspiration from the glutinous rice desserts and created badass characters fit for an online game. He calls his special group of tiny avatars the Kakanin Squad, which is loved by many netizens, it even got a seal of approval from graphic novel “Trese” creator Budjette Tan.

Kayo, Latag, and Palay

The squad features six characters with unique skills in homage to their food inspiration. First is Lapong, the puto cheese fighter and a champion of the Dinuguan War. He is clad in bahag and wears a banana leaf cape, and wields a shield that is similar to a bilao. Next is Buri, a magician and a master of the art of suman Buri wrapping. Hailing from the bibingka is Tapay, a ranger who trained under immense pressure—literally—inside a palayok. The perfect spy is Kayo, the kutsinta rogue, with her coconut meat cloak for diversion and weapon concealment. Latag is the sapin-sapin cleric, who channels blessings with her latik necklace and mace. Lastly, Palay is the rice sprite that oversees the central plains of Luzon.

A graduate of fine arts from the University of the East, Patrick has a knack for giving life to food through his art. Among his best illustrations are "We Bare Bears"-inspired ice cream art, a sushi that looks like No Face from "Spirited Away," and Jake from "Adventure Time" as a corn dog. He followed his Kakanin Squad with a counterpart series of slime mobs, inspired by Filipino terms for rice.

Rice slime mob characters

Check out more of his works here.

Images from @patrick.ganas.