Keribels lang, sis
For years, the Philippines’ gayspeak or commonly known as beki lingo has sparked numerous funny moments in modern Filipino discourse. It has produced terms such as “charot” and “jowa” that became so famous that they are now natural fillers in conversations, even by heterosexual Pinoys.
Its popularity still prevails until our pandemic time today with the creation of Yani, an AI chatbot developed by the University of the Philippines COVID-19 Pandemic Response Teams in 2020. It offers an option to search for hospitals, therapy and counseling, and pandemic-related reports in gayspeak.
Beki lingo is fun to hear due to its borrowed terms that are used for a different purpose (for example, “Tom Jones” and “thunders”), not to mention its added flair to some (“Julanis Morrisette” and “Jinit Jackson”, among others).
But, as Henry Gleason said, “ang wika ay nagbabago.” That goes as well with beki lingo. Now, if you need a little refresher, Filipino illustrator Richard Mercado created a 30-day guide to learning a few beki terms and how you can easily incorporate them in your everyday discourse.
Inspired by fellow artist Danielle Chuatico’s 30-day Tagalog Challenge, Richard’s quirky guide presents classic beki terms such as the “bels,” “gorabels,” “keribels,” and “huhubels.” Kinky adjectives like “daks” and “borta.” And how phrases “shuta ka” and “ang dami mong hanash” could lead to a possible “warla.”
Drawing inspiration from the life and culture of the LGBTQIA+ community is not new to Richard. In fact, his coming-of-age graphic novel “Nang Mainlove Ako Sa Isang Sakristan” even pre-dates the BL craze happening in the country’s streaming scene.
In a conversation with Manila Bulletin Lifestyle, Richard shares stories about his early days as a comic book creator and illustrator and the purpose behind his queer artworks.
How long have you been doing comics? What inspired you to pursue this creative path?
I’ve always loved comics and manga since I was a kid. I read the usual stuff teenagers would read like “Naruto” and “Bleach,” but what I really got hooked on more is reading shojo/josei/romance manga like “Honey and Clover” or “Kimi ni Todoke.” I think those and that really steered the direction in what kind of comics I want to make which are slice-of-life, romantic, and fun.
I started making comics from third year high school when I realized that you can sell comics at conventions, and I sold my first comic at Komikon back in 2012. Seeing that there were so many other komikeros like me who want to tell stories was a huge inspiration to me [and it] became my drive to continue making and selling comics!
Can you tell us the story behind your creation ‘Nang Ma-in Love Ako Sa Isang Sakristan’?
I initially just thought that everyone would probably be able to relate to a premise of sitting during mass, staring at the altar, and finding one of the sakristans cute, and I developed the plot from that premise.
I do feel there’s a general lack of LGBTQIA+ comics in the Philippines, which drove me to really advocate [for] being able to publish this comic. I wanted to write a wholesome story that dealt with issues that a gay person would normally think about but still make it fun and cute.
Why is it important to have LGBTQIA+ characters and plot depicted in comics?
I sincerely believe that there is a need for more LGBTQIA+ narratives for Filipino young adults and I think comics can be a useful platform to showcase these stories. While gay people are commonly shown in Filipino media, it’s usually mixed with really bad stereotypes or R-rated content. These stereotypes and content persist because that’s what people have come to expect.
As a creator, I want to make stories that are wholesome and show a more realistic angle to how gay people are, and I believe that in making more stories like these, we get people to realize that gay people are more than just what’s commonly shown on film or TV!
What are your favorite comics?
“Honey and Clover” by Chica Umino, “Nodame Cantabile” by Tomoko Ninomiya, “This One Summer” by Jillian Tamaki, “My Brother’s Husband” by Gengoroh Tagame, and “Umma’s Table” by Yeon-sik Hong.
Do you have any advice to other illustrators and writers who would like to make their own comics, particularly for those who want to develop one around an LGBTQIA+ narrative?
Create a short comic that has a complete beginning and ending. If you have a really large, epic story in mind or want to tackle a million issues and themes in your comic, it’s best to just choose a small doable portion of those things. Focus on telling a small story and nail all the beats of it. In doing so, you will find that you’re able to tell more with something less but complete.
For LGBTQIA+ creators, my advice is to just do stories that you want to do and don’t be scared of what other people may think. People are surely discovering now (with the rise of webcomic platforms like Penlab, Webtoon, Tapas, etc.) that there is a big space for LGBTQIA+ stories and people are craving to read them!
Learn the difference between “gaga” and “shunga” and more with “30 Days of Bekimon” at @richardmercz on Instagram.