Forgotten Pinoy Superheroes

Panday, Darna, and Captain Barbell are some the Filipino superheroes that we know. But did you know even during the Japanese period, the Philippines has already published some comic book superheroes. 

Here are some of the few

Siopawman (literally, "Small Bun Man") is the comical or funny Filipino superhero and first comic strip created by Filipino cartoonist Lauro "Larry" Zarate Alcala after World War II . Siopawman first appeared in Halaklak Komiks (Halakhak means laughter in Tagalog) in 1947. Siopawman was described as a “Superman-parody”. After Halakhak, Siopawman became a feature series in the pages of Daily Express from 1972 to 1983. Siopawman reappeared in the Dail Express in 2002. Siopawman was described by Karl Gillespie as an “ugly”, big-nosed, fat-bodied, and bald-headed superhero. His costume had an “S” mark on the chest. The super-abilities of Siopawman included being bulletproof and “immune from normal humans”. Siopawman has a sidekick named Okboy who often called with the short version of his name, “Siops”. Although Siopawman’s real identity is unknown, his enemies include Jelloman, Man-Hid, She-Mangot, She-Pilyo, She-Bat, She-Pon, She-Feet, and Chopperman. Siopawman is regarded as the first humorouos superhero in the Philippines, but not as the "first true Filipino superhero".

Ipo-ipo (meaning "whirlwind" or "tornado") is regarded as the first costumed and first true Filipino comic book superhero. Ipo-ipo was created by Lib Abrena and Oscar del Rosario in April 1947 as a reaction against Japanese military invaders who occupied the Philippines in World War II and refused to surrender even after the admission of defeat by Japan in 1945.

Ipo-ipo was featured in Magasin ng Pagsilang (literally "Magazine of Birth").

Ipo-ipo derived his superpowers from the whirlwind. His superpowers included being as fast as the "speed of the wind" and bullets just pass through his body once fired upon from guns.


Lagim (meaning "dread" or "terror" in Tagalog) is one of the first Filipino superhero characters in the Philippines. He was created by Filipino artist Cris CaGuintuan. Lagim’s first appearance was in the pages of Pilipino Komiks #1 (ACE Publications) in 1947 or 1949. His sidekick was a boy named Levy, a young lad he saved in the past, and wore a costume similar to the uniform worn by Robin, the sidekick of the American superhero Batman.

In fighting Japanese soldiers during World War II in the Philippines, Lagim wore a headgear that provided him with superstrength. The headgear came from Dr. Malasakit (literally "Dr. Car[ing]" or "Dr. Concerned", a scientist. Because of the headgear, Lagim became twice stronger than a normal human being. Lagim had a vulnerability, he can be injured by bullets.

Filipinos in the 60s were already swooning and rooting for a local Pinoy superhero even before Marvel legendary comic superhero Spiderman and another Pinoy superhero Captain Barbell came into being. The character, Gagamba, created by Virgilio and Nestor Redondo was first serialized in Tagalog Klasiks in 1962. It was introduced into the silver screen the same year in the movie titled Bakas ng Gagamba. Action star Bernard Bonnin, after a successful stint as Alyas Palosportrayed the role of Alyas Gagamba. It was followed by three sequels: Palos Kontra Gagamba (1963), Ang Lihim ni Gagamba (1964) and Gagamba at si Scorpio(1969).  


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