Monday, May 14, 2007

Monkey Connections…

Monkey connections and influences, from childhood to present as immortalized in my notebook


I remember I had a Monchhichi doll before. Better be strict with the spelling, it's spelled Monchhichi. Not Monnchichi. Not Moncchichi. But Monchhichi, with the double H… so that it can be prounounced Monch-hi-chi… These cute monkeys were created by Koichi Sekiguchi in 1974 to inspire respect and love in the young Japanese children. The dolls became a worldwide phenomenon (as anything from Japan would be) and my mom bought one. A Monchhichi girl would be my companion from birth, and to my great relief she's still around… this time with Sigrid. I thought she had already been thrown away (not expecting that this doll would last 30 years!) but Sigrid told me she had her kept safe in her doll cabinet. Apparently, Monchhichi became each of my brother's and sister's childhood friend. She looks old, but still very much in one piece… except for her tail and ponytail which detached through years of cuddling. I've always wondered why she is crying and smiling at the same time. Maybe she bit on her thumb too much.

Jose Rizal's Ang Pagong at ang Matsing

Jose Rizal actually wrote a parable about a turtle/tortoise (do you know the difference between a turtle and a tortoise?) and a monkey. It depicts how deceiving and selfish the monkey can get, always taking advantage of the turtle, but the turtle always manages to spin the situation around for his benefit. It was originally written in Spanish, but has been translated in various languages and formats. PilipinoKomiks provides a funny translation of this parable in Rizal's "Monkey and the Tortoise" Cartoons. I just discovered that this illustration by Rizal is considered as one of the earliest (if not the earliest) Filipino comic strip! The characters of the turtle and monkey would also inspire the creation of two of our most beloved icons from childhood: Pong Pagong and Kiko Matsing!

Batibot's Pong Pagong and Kiko Matsing

Who could ever forget Pong Pagong from Batibot fame? I feel saddened when younger generations fail to recognize these two characters that have greatly molded our childhood years. It's so refreshing to hear the cheerful sound of Pong Pagong's "WIIIIIIIII!" as his neck extends to 3 feet! (I am exaggerating). Take note, his neck will only elongate when he's excited, wink wink. Question: Ever wondered why Pong Pagong's other arm/hand doesn't move as if he had a stroke or something? Answer: The limits of one-man puppetry! (Refer to the detail of my Moleskine illustration below).

Who could also ever forget the forever husky voice of Pong Pagong's trusty bestfriend, Kiko Matsing? I always fail to ask speech pathologists about his voice… do all monkeys have to sound like that? And come to think of it, what's the difference between a matsing, an unggoy, and a tsonggo? A friend of mine as a kid always thought the eyes of Kiko Matsing were made from real eggs…

Too bad, both of them were taken away from us by the evil people from Sesame Street, huhu. When will we ever see these two beloved characters from my generation again? If I become rich enough, I would buy the rights for these two.

King Kong

We loved King Kong so much that my brother and I invested on the tin-boxed DVD collection which included the classic original versions of King Kong, Son of Kong and Mighty Joe Young. The latest adaptation of Peter Jackson is a worthy tribute to this wonderful story about a beast falling in love with beauty, "And lo, the beast looked upon the face of beauty, and beauty stayed his hand. And from that day forward, he was as one dead." The last line in the original movie would still be retained in the new version, "It was beauty killed the beast." Of all the characters I could relate to in that film, it would be King Kong.

King Kong Matsing

I received a free doll from Dad's buffet, and I specifically asked them if I could have the monkey one(among pig, cow, parrot versions). I fondly named him King Kong Matsing… as a tribute to a hilarious slip of my tongue (I was discussing about King Kong with a friend, when all of a sudden I blurted out King Kong Matsing. It stuck!) By the way, King Kong Matsing's arms can supernaturally move on its own. No one could explain how:

There's something about monkeys I really love and enjoy. They're naughty but intelligent and creative creatures. They're lovable and cute… but they can be very shy and silent at times. For sure, they love at most with the purest of hearts.


The above is another scan from my Moleskine, clickable for zoomed view.

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