Saturday, January 07, 2006

I've been bugging Lico for the longest time to hold another food-and-video-fest (dubbed "Licofest" by the instigator himself) and when he finally had one I had to up and go halfway through the gathering. I had my reasons for doing so, I had to meet a couple of very good friends coming over for a short visit from the U.S. This actually marked the first time we met each other after corresponding online over a number of years, which also marked their first visit to the country in a long, long time. I know we're supposed to meet tomorrow but that's an E.B. with the rest of our online friends but I scheduled an earlier meeting with them so we could catch up and talk about a lot of things we probably wouldn't be able to do tomorrow.

After confirming their location through text messaging, I rode the MRT towards Megamall where I first met up with Jireh (his name was taken from one of God's given titles meaning "Provider," isn't it cool?). He was waiting for his sister and her friend to finish getting their hair done. I asked about their itinerary, their arrival last Christmas, his life back in San Diego, his studies and his work in a fastfood chain. In a deliberate, measured tone he describes how life back there and here are different, his ministry among the youth, those he helped get into church, and how much he missed living here. We talked about his studies and the contrast between high school and college life.

We were about to go around the mall as he said he hasn't been able to go around that much when his sister, Abby and her friend came out of the salon. It was such a blast seeing her in person as she was a lot better looking than in her pictures and a lot more fun than I imagined. They were watching a performance of MYMP later at Bagaberde but we still had time for dinner. We waited for her other friend to arrive before we hied over to Burgoo in Podium where I treated them to dinner before their show.

Jireh, me, Abby and her friend, Len

It's worth mentioning that I based the look of comic strip character, Jay (West Side) on this friend of mine. Like the other characters I created, I based his name on Jireh's nick. The story goes I was in a frenzy back then looking for a real person I could model a character on when I was tasked with coming up with a comic strip involving Fil-Ams as soon as possible. I asked around looking for a potential candidate (personally, comic characters are a lot easier to create if they're based on real people) but finding nobody I asked permission from Jay if I could use his likeness in the strip. I'm not sure if I was already aware of the eldest brother, then a sister, then Jay being the youngest set-up in real life. Anyway, he gave me his permission, I showed him the first sketches I made based on the pictures he had online and the rest is history.

Click the panels to read each individual strips

My homie and I

It's worth noting that I took a lot of liberties with the character since then. If the comic strip Jay is brash, impulsive, temperamental, pretentious, loud, and rebellious the real Jay is quite the opposite, which was quite a surprise for me considering people tend to be their opposite selves online. He's a quiet, soft-spoken, born leader, humble, mature for his age but still plagued by self-doubts and melancholy normal for his age. He's thinking of being a teacher or a child pyschologist after college. At the present age of 18, he's also tall for his age (I based the character on him when he was 16). He's also a great fan of the strip and wished he could regularly avail of the newspaper around their area. We went a bit overboard with the alloted time because of the stories and we went our separate ways some three hours later.

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