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Bayan ng Ginhaw by Rodel Tapaya (Hardcover)

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Novel in Pictures by Rodel Tapaya


Bayan ng Ginhaw: Origins of a Fictional  Atlas  

The fictional Bayan ng Ginhaw first appeared in Rodel Tapaya’s  eponymous painting in the 2005 exhibition Lunan (Place) held in  Boston Gallery. In the work, Ginhaw is seen from a deconstructed  map of roads and buildings over a distorted grid. The coordinates  flicker like stars in the night that wrap around vignettes of the  town’s institutions: the church, the school, the factory, and the  tower inhabited by characters such as Pitang Tsismosa, Emong  Manlalakbay, Mang Bel, and Don Miguel. These characters serve as  allegories for typical personalities found in a Filipino town. 

Inspired by Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Macondo, a fictional town in  the novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, Ginhaw initially drew from  the neighborhood and personalities of Tapaya’s childhood in  Montalban, Rizal Province. Located at the foothills of Luzon’s Sierra  Madre Mountain Range, Montalban is the setting of many Filipino  legends that have appeared in a refracted form in Tapaya’s series of  works over many years. 

The name Ginhaw is derived from Maginhawa, a street in Quezon  City, now a bustling restaurant belt, which used to be a quiet hub  for students and teachers who live off the University of the  Philippines campus. This was the site of Tapaya’s first studio,  which he shared with wife Marina Cruz-Garcia in 2004.

The etymology of Tapaya’s fictional town is worth examining. The  word Ginhawa is from the Proto-Philippine “nihawa” (breath) which  was used by Philippine revolutionaries to convey the aspirations of  the Katipunan movement. Early dictionaries take Ginhaw to refer to  bodily comfort often caused by good health. In colloquial use, the  word often means “to improve”. Unlike kasaganaan, which refers to  material wealth, kaginhawaan was specifically defined in the 1613  San Buenaventura Dictionary as the feeling of being delivered from  sickness or suffering. It is in this understanding that ginhawa takes  on a socio-political meaning that is beyond bodily comfort.

In the poem Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa (Love for the Motherland),  the Katipunan leader Andres Bonifacio, bid the masses to seek  ginhawa for the bayan because the nation’s well-being meant  ginhawa for all people. Tapaya’s Bayan ng Ginhaw exhorts us to do  the same via an aggregate of personal experience and an  appreciation of Philippine history. As a setting for his graphic novel  about physical and moral crippling, Bayan ng Ginhaw bears the  painter’s clearest statement and sentiment about the fate of the  country.