Digmaang Salinlahi: A Hidden Gem in the Sea of High Fantasy

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High fantasy in pop culture is pretty dominating especially in novels and games (be it virtual or tangible e.g., tabletop and other role playing games). In fact, this genre alludes to its progenitors. Think of a high fantasy novel - yes, The Lord of the Rings. How about a video game? Same here - The Elder Scrolls. T.V. series? Game of Thrones perhaps? 

With all these titles in the high fantasy industry, it's difficult to make a name for the new players. One should be extremely unique and not under the sun. However, with creativity, one can still stand-out amidst the common themes of high fantasy. 

A couple of Komikon (the Philippine version of the San Diego comic-con) conventions ago, I managed to get myself a copy of Digmaang Salinlahi comics. I've heard this comics way, way before and it was only last April that I got one. Not only that, I was lucky to score an omnibus edition! I had a shut-up-and-take-my-money moment as I picked the last copy and had it signed by the author.

Digmaang Salinlahi is written by Jon Zamar and features the various art of Wenz "Cheese" Chua, Gabriel Dela Cruz, Jhomar Soriano, Franklin Ouano, JM Valenzuela, Judd Abinuman, Renie Palo, Armand Roy Canlas and Mel Casipit. Published by Jon Zamar and Point Zero Komiks, Digmaang Salinlahi was nominated for Best Graphic Novel Komikon Awards in 2009.


This awesome softbound graphic novel is truly worth it!! Almost everything is already in here and I'm pretty sure I didn't miss anything in the story.

Story


Set in the mystical region of Kahimanawari, Digmaang Salinlahi chronicled the after-events of the human-elf alliance against the evil horde of malignos. The malignos, after suffering a crushing defeat, were vanquished to the caves of Hagala. As peace was restored, a treaty was then made by the humans and the elves to rule the lands as divided appropriately among the two races.

The ten kingdoms of men were severely damaged and for this reason, the Council of Maea was formed and headed by the Prime Speaker.

The Supreme Assembly of the Heaven was formed to embody the elves. This congregation was ruled by Warrior Leaders that survived the great war. The rulers honored the surviving men from their old kingdoms by making them members of this assembly.

Under the laws of the alliance, the Ampay were formed and ruled by the Tinangi (The Finest). The Ampay were a group of human and elven warriors set to carry out the regulations of the alliance.

Peace didn't last as the alliance engage in a power struggle. Men got greedy and accused the elves of treason as men believed that the division of land was not in their favor. Conflict arose from old friends and the region was divided. Men took the southern part while the elves took the north.

As the alliance start to dwindle down, there seemed to be another force at work. Some old enemies may be back.

Characters

Digmaang Salinlahi has a lot of major characters. Here are some of them:

  • Gat Habagat - Member of the Ampay. A warrior-judge
  • Gat Idaranggian - An elven prince of the Kahilwayon. Trained to be a Warrior Leader
  • Baylan Mayumi - A sage and an oracle from the island of Manangkiling
  • Naslan Mar - The Prime Speaker of the Council of Maea
  • Kaptan Kamaong Banal - Head Ampay of the warrior-judges
  • Gat Suleiman VII - the eldest son and heir to the throne of Datu Indarapatra X, leader of the Komara Mantapoli
  • Sali - Heir to the throne of Iladnion
  • Lumauig - A Tinangi. Lost his memories


Thoughts

I'm still drunk from the Lord of the Rings saga when I read this graphic novel and I felt bad as I unconsciously found LOTR themes in this. However, setting that aside, what I really like in Digmaang Salinlahi is the way it is written in deep Filipino. Yes, it is deep but understandable. Another astonishing thing is how the entire post-war story arc, with all the simultaneous events, dozens of characters and their backstories, genealogies and lay of the region fit in this seventy or more pages. In fact, Jon had created a whole new world (complete with a map of the different parts of the region) with its diverse inhabitants (aside from humans and elves, there are also tree-folks). I admire how Jon Zamar wrote the comics, especially with the pacing and character development. 

To add, each of the characters are well written, having their own motives and aspirations. Considering the number of characters in this graphic novel, I can only imagine how tough it is to stay true  to their personalities and not mixing it up with another character. 

Verdict

With all those considered above, I guess the only thing lacking in the entire universe of Digmaang Salinlahi is its own language or dialect. However, the way that it is written in deep Filipino actually compensates for this lacking feature. It's not everyday that we hear the words paramisuan or pamamatnugot.

I strongly believe that this graphic novel is a hidden gem. I feel that it is underrated for all that's inside of it. If one will have a chance to read this, I'm pretty sure that person will get hooked and will want more of Digmaang Salinlahi.

Overall score: 4.8/5

Cover Image Source: Artwork by Gilbert Monsanto and colored by Erek. Shared in Digmaang Salinlahi FB page



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