MERVIN MALONZO never expected that a comic he came up with in high school would eventually come alive in a TV series.

What started as a web comic series in 2010, went on to be published as a three-volume graphic novel – the first two volumes in 2014, and the third in 2017. In 2015, Tabi Po won the National Book Award for Graphic Literature.

Now the comic series on Philippine folklore will come to life on the small screen when it starts to air on the Sari-Sari Channel on Oct. 27.

“Since I was a child, I really wanted to make comics. We were a generation who read comics. Then, [the comics trend] died down. I am one of the people who would like to help bring back the comics trend.),” Tabi Po creator Mervin Malonzo told BusinessWorld in the vernacular during the show’s launch party on Oct. 20 in URBN, Quezon City.

Mr. Malonzo merged his passion for comics and interest in Philippine horror – specifically aswang folklore – in Tabi Po.

“I thought of creating something Pinoy… And I thought that a nice Pinoy concept was our own mythology. Many have done that before, but I noticed that there is still more that could be done,” he said in Filipino.

While Mr. Malonzo started conceptualizing his story back in the 1990s when he was in high school, it was only in 2010 that he finally decided to show it publicly as a web comics series.

“At that time, the story was kind of for children, matching my age. As I developed in 2010, the story became darker,” he said.

Tabi Po revolves around Elias, a neophyte aswang who is born during the Spanish Colonial era. He then journeys with two older aswangs, Tasyo and Sabel, in order to understand their true nature. As the story progresses, Elias meets Salome, a friar’s sex slave, with whom he falls in love. Elias then battles between his love for Salome, his hunger for flesh, and the social stigma against aswangs.

The TV adaptation stars AJ Mulach as Elias, Luis Alandy as Tasyo, Phoebe Walker as Sabel, and Jourdanne Castillo as Salome.

Award-winning director Paul Castillo said of the show during the launch, “Hindi ito mangyayari sa isang ordinaryong network, (this would not happen in an ordinary network) because of limitations. [But I think], being bold, being brave nowadays, takes a lot of guts. We are trying to set the standard for content.”

Tabi Po premieres on Oct. 27, and will air every Friday at 8 p.m. on the Sari-Sari Channel on Cignal TV. – Michelle Anne P. Soliman