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Filipino Komiks and Japanese Sex Tourism: Joe Gatchalian’s Clone Woman

Comics in Japanese for Japanese: one naturally thinks of manga published in Japan. Here’s a curious exception.

Joe Gatchalian, Clone Woman (Manila, Philippines: Pan Pacific Publishing House, 1980). 64 pages. 8 x 5 inches. Softcover. Perfect bound.

Joe Gatchalian, Clone Woman (Manila: Pan Pacific Publishing House, 1980).

Tokyo News reporter Yamada Yoritomo has arrived in Manila to do an article on Doctor Andre Castro, a leading genetics researcher, formerly affiliated with the Hibiya Cancer Research Center in Tokyo. Officially, Yamada is to report on the progress of Castro’s research since returning to his home country. Secretly, Yamada’s editor wants him to look into a rumor: Castro has been trying to clone women.

Yamada’s liaison in Manila is one Melinda Garcia. She works for the local bureau of the same Tokyo News. She’s beautiful. When Yamada isn’t busy trying to find out more about Dr. Castro, he focuses his energies on wooing Melinda, wining, dining, and dancing.

Deep inside his mansion, behind locked doors, Dr. Castro is indeed in the final stage of cloning a woman: his assistant Gloria Fuentes, also gorgeous. Not only will Gloria’s copy be an exact replica of her physically. She will also have her personality, her speech patterns, her memories, and her knowledge. She is Gloria, but new – and more sexual.

Soon after awakening from her glass pod, Gloria 2 begins making her move on Dr. Castro. It doesn’t take much. She cooks him his favorite meal, and that night crawls into his bed. Within days, Gloria 2 has essentially taken over Gloria 1’s duties in the laboratory. Dr. Castro has visibly grown more fond of the new Gloria and disinterested in the old one. Naturally, Gloria 1 begins to get jealous. But she is hampered in her attempt to get the doctor back by her copy’s persistence, willingness to please, and newness. What can Gloria 1 really offer? Gloria 2 is essentially the same woman Dr. Castro has long loved, but in the form of a new lover. Headaches from the confusion and mounting jealousy make Gloria 1 even less attractive.

 

Meanwhile, Yamada and Melinda investigate the doctor’s background. It’s a mysterious affair. Yamada’s editor in Tokyo had heard rumors not only of Dr. Castro’s experiments, but also that Dr. Castro is not really who he says he is. Word is that the doctor is actually a Japanese man, a former Japanese soldier named Miyazawa Morihiro who defected from his post and assumed a Filipino identity after the liberation of Manila in 1945. All of this turns out to be true. As divulged by Dr. Castro at story’s end, the real Andre Castro was a close friend of his killed by canon fire during the battle for Intramuros. His fluency in English and Tagalog made things easier, as did the fact that the real Castro was an orphan. However, the real Castro was married, so Miyazawa-Castro had to take over as husband. Luckily, the wife soon died, rendering the new Castro free and single and undetectable.

Given these doubled double identities, it is perhaps natural that Castro 2 was attracted to Gloria 2, since both are copies, each in their own way: one by effort, the other by science. But this clone romance does not last. Gloria 1’s jealousy becomes total. She drugs Gloria 2 and locks her in the laboratory. Now she is free to re-seduce Dr. Castro. When Gloria 2 comes to, she goes berserk. She begins smashing test tubes and machinery. The lab explodes. The house goes up in flames. Both Glorias are killed. Dr. Castro is sent to the hospital in critical condition. After providing Yamada with the missing facts in his life story, he dies. With his lab and papers incinerated, his revolutionary research dies with him.

 

Having sworn secrecy to Castro, Yamada must bury the story. Too bad for the newspaper, but okay for the Japanese reporter, because now he has a few extra days in Manila. How will he spend it? With his Filipino girlfriend, of course!

(cont’d)


2 Responses to Filipino Komiks and Japanese Sex Tourism: Joe Gatchalian’s Clone Woman

  1. Adam! says:

    That’s a very very good find, and a great analysis of it, too, although one major point you missed out on is the more important (maybe most important) historical context: that of WW2 Japanese soldiers assigned here in the Philippines rounding up all the local women and putting them in rape camps all over the country, labelling them as “comfort women.” Granted, this piece of history only reared up ten years after the publication of CLONE WOMAN, but there had already been stories about them making the rounds by way of urban legends. Much denied by Japan still today, even though there are historical records of it actually happening not only in the Philippines, but in Korea and China, too.

    That said, you give a good briefing of how our contemporary relationship with Japan has been these last thirty years: I was born in 1982, and had a lot of classmates who were Japanese-Filipino, illegitimately conceived with Filipina entertainers and domestic workers. Japan’s culture of denial continues here, as these kids – the oldest of them being in their early 30s on average – are denied by their fathers in Japan’s official registries of genealogy, thus denied of certain benefits that mixed race people have in most places (dual citizenship, for one), but all of the burdens (shame, disgrace, racism).

    Most of our komiks of the time were either soap opera stuff or sex stuff, with some horror and scifi stuff rounding it all out, and a couple of stuff for the kiddies. Some of the soap opera stuff proved to be complex enough to enjoy film adaptations, starting from the 1950s til probably the late 1980s (I’d describe them as a mix of Eisner’s superficial sappiness mixed with some Catholic moralising and Kirby’s bombastic melodramatics, only with mestizo hacienderos and country lasses). A great great great majority of these books are now gone forever, the komiks’ production values’s fault (as you may know first hand with your copy of CLONE WOMAN).

    Sadly, the majority of remembrances made of our local komiks are all focussed on the superhero and fantasy stuff, but a cursory viewing of local telenovelas would prove that komiks’s soap opera tradition and aesthetic are still pretty much alive and well.

  2. ryanholmberg says:

    Yes, thank you. The history of Comfort Women definitely something I should emphasize more strongly.

    Do you find Filipino comics dealing with, or even just touching on, either the comfort women issue, or the mixed race children issue that you mention?

    This reminds me: there is an early work by Shirato Sanpei titled “Ghost” (Shirei) from the late 50s. Unless I missed a recent reissuing, it is one of the few of his manga never to have been republished. If I remember the story correctly: it is set in contemporary Tokyo. A middle-aged Japanese man is being hunted by a “ghost,” who actually turns out to be a Filipino man he wronged during the war. I believe the Filipino man eventually kills him. The son cracks the case.

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