BOOK REVIEW: Ang Kagila-gilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni ZSAZSA ZATURNNAH

by Rose Churma

This is one of the “grafiction” that Carlo Vergara has created—a term he uses for graphic fiction, or for baby-boomers like me—comics.

It has been a long time since I’ve devoured the works of Mars Ravelo and others when I saved my allowance to buy Filipino comics during the summers I spent in the province with my grandparents. That was when I was introduced to Darna, our very own Wonder Woman, the iconic Pinay superhero. To some extent, this book deconstructs Darna and pokes fun–but also celebrates Filipino pop culture.A mysterious stone falls on Ada, our protagonist, granting her the ability to transform into Zsazsa Z, a superhuman with incredible powers and beauty. When not doing her super-heroine activities, Ada is the proprietor of his own quaint beauty salon, an out-of-the closet homosexual with an assistant named Didi and her super crush called Dodong. The stories revolve around Ada as Zsazsa as he/she defends her community from zombies, aliens and all those gruesome creatures.Needless to say, this book is for mature audiences.

A recipient of a Manila Critics Circle National Book Award, television personality John Lapus notes that it elevated “kabaklaan” or the Filipino brand of homosexuality to a higher level and volunteered to play the role of Ada if this was translated into film! Perhaps converting this into anime—a full blown animation film that could be available in streaming platforms like Netflix or Amazon Prime—is a better route.

Not only will it highlight the incredible talents of the author in graphic arts and creative storytelling but will also be highly accessible to the Filipinos in the Diaspora who are hungry for content that depicts Filipino pop culture.

A glance at the cover, one can easily discern the artistic talents of Carlo Vergara. The look of pure bliss on Zsazsa’s face is captured so well.

In the last portions of the book, the author shares his notes in how he created the storyline and conceptualized the visual appearance of the characters. Four full-color posters are also inserted at the back of the book—all of them a visual treat.

ROSE CRUZ CHURMA is a retired architect who now has the time to do the things she always wanted to do: read books, write about them and encourage others to write. Her online bookstore, Kalamansi Books and Things (, promotes Filipiniana books and publications by Filipino-Americans. Email her at

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