A Cartoonist's Note

(or a long-winded Love Letter to fellow Filipinos and Canadians)

. . .

The urban civic landscape within WESTERN CANADA is the setting for the English-Filipino bilingual comic-strip Bodjie; its particular geography quite close to the very heart of North America.

Its main characters are Filipino-Canadians who've been friends for more than a decade, each with their own 'somewhat unique' stories to share. Such is the premise and essence of the strip as a whole, perhaps.

. . .

Bodjie was created in late-2019 (written, pencilled, lettered, inked) by Gilbert Trillana, a cartoonist residing in Canada for a decade and a half. Born and raised in the Philippines, Gilbert moved to North America to further his career in Graphic Arts, despite a pre-Med background and considerable training in both Music and Illustration. It is his shared experiences living amongst Canadians and Filipinos for years that inspired him to develop his very-own comic-strip.

It's with such novel an idea that compelled Gilbert, from the start, to make the strip visually-bilingual by using English and/or Filipino subtitles; an element quite rarely, if not ever, employed in comics. **Though obviously inspired by Canada's history of English-French bilingual usage, it's this uniquely-Canadian way of conveying art and satire based on personal experiences amongst people from all walks of life that gave the cartoonist enough valuable incentive to maintain his new form of self-expression to those interested not just with comics in general, but rather with Bodjie's visual narrative simultaneously expressed in-between somewhat distinctive geographic and cultural norms.

. . .

**Hoooooooooly crap, is that EVER a mouthful.
(Unintentional run-on sentences are kinda like my thing) -- G.T.


The titular character, though not entirely the hero; he has no idea how one becomes so, save for countless PC adventure-game characters he's played all throughout his teens and adulthood. It wasn't until he started settling on the other-side-of-the-globe (in this case, North America) where he's had the most adventures of his life: losing cars, shelters, dough, relationships, band-members, careers, friends, hair, and some good deal of marbles along the way.

Apart from his day-job, Bodjie's a home-ground cartoonist; an occupation he often thought would earn him a sack of money someday. It's always free to dream.


He paints, he draws, he sculpts, he shoots photographs, he smokes, he takes risks, and he slacks; which makes Dodong one of the happiest people on Earth. He ensures not to be fooled easily with questionable relationships; to both the best and detriment of his abilities. Dodong is everything Bodjie's not, which is why they're very good friends amongst a motley crew of bohemians around their neighbourhood.

He has his own commercial-art studio, something Bodjie is a bit envious of; if only because you can never blame the guy for choosing a path he never could've taken, otherwise.


What happens when a musical prodigy stopped training to become one of the greatest, most-promising young drummers on the planet, just so she could follow someone else's advice on how to live her life in a world of pain, uncertainty, and disillusion for two decades? She quits afterward, starts over, find appealing work, picks up her sticks, and goes back to training. Life is wonderful, that way.

Deidre's story may not just be that simple; being a woman, finding a band that could accept her for her brilliance rather than her looks may probably be the right story-line for her, after all.


Despite managing a bilingual (English/Filipino) pop-music radio station, he rarely treats it as such. Rather, Celso uses it more as a matter of public-service whilst milking money out of its advertising coffers; something frowned-upon deeply by its owner. He could've long been sacked, but his broadcasting reputation, peculiar charisma, and prior media popularity brings the seemingly-underdog station the big bucks.

Celso often becomes the butt-of-jokes by his peers, also noting he's the only person in the station who still buys and read the daily papers. Eventually it gets snatched shortly after being done with it.


At some point, every hero has a relative who'd become a catalyst for his own discovery of the outside world; for Bodjie, it's one of his cousins. James' own experience having lived amongst local indie music-mongers decades ago provided Bodjie the impetus to connect yet again with music he's long-since nurtured from family and childhood. It was purely by accident; one day, Bodjie simply asked his cousins for a place to move into, and James' old somewhat-bohemian friends quickly came to mind.

James is an architect by trade; he's always wanted to, at the very least, learn how to play the bongos.

Dee-JAY emmy

Prior to being discovered by Celso as a radio-talent, Emmy already had her own share of the rat-race for more than a decade. Jaded by years of paper-pushing to wine-bottle-hustling, she called it quits to become grounded with family for good. It wasn't until podcasting appealed to her soon-after, just so she could share her own life experiences on-line. It was, however, her in-your-face demeanor paired with a girl-next-door persona that caught the radio-station manager's attention and recruit Emmy as a late-night DJ; all whilst teaching her the tricks of the trade under his enterprising wing.

Don fernando

Setting-up a small music-store in a Filipino community on the other-side-of-the-globe (again, North America) is Don Fernando's game, though not without serious bits of hustling along the way; like everyone else, he needs money. Tired of playing the pop-music circuit for decades, he decided to fly under-the-radar and become, at the moment, its village bard of sort. At some point, he'd be willing to share some trade-secrets to anyone worthy of asking. Otherwise, one may have to be a little brave to do so; but that's just him.

'Don' is actually his first name; it's never a title at all. Just so you know.

'Starzan' en 'cheeta-eh'

The only plants in Bodjie's apartment, 'Starzan' (Bamboo) came-about as a souvenir from his last wedding gig; 'Cheeta-eh' (Calamansi) was given to him by co-workers. For six months they've been occupying the kitchen window-sill with hardly any sign of growth, despite exposure to sunlight and consistent watering. At some point he may have also poured dashes of beer; since then the plants started talking but mostly bicker at each other for months on end.

They're named after one of Bodjie's favourite childhood tagalog comedy movies: a late-80's Filipino parody of 'Tarzan'. It's a classic; you just 'have' to be there.