The Malunggay Conflict

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The Malunggay Conflict is an adventure story arc of the Philippine comic strip series Pugad Baboy, created by Pol Medina Jr. and originally published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. This particular story arc lasts 30 strips long. In 1992, the story arc was reprinted in Pugad Baboy 4, the fourth book compilation of the comic strip series.

The story arc has many parallelisms to the First Gulf War.


Ka Noli takes the Pugad Baboy gang to his native Ilocos Region, specifically to Gabu and Bangui,Ilocos Norte. There they meet Ka Kwate (his name is a spoof of Kuwait and may also be a play on kakawate, the Filipino word for madre de cacao), a farmer with a green thumb and a friend of Ka Noli. The gang samples the rural lifestyle of the residents of Bangui, planting vegetables and trying Basi (wine made from sugar cane) and ginataang palaka (frog legs cooked in coconut milk).

One day Ka Kwate discovers that a malunggay tree he owns has been annexed into his neighbor Ka Damuseyn's (a spoof of Saddam Hussein) territory. Ka Kwate complains to the UN (United Neighbors of Bangui) and the council approves the use of force against Ka Damuseyn. Ka Noli enlists the help of his Tiyuhing Samuel (Uncle Sam, modeled on George H. W. Bush), famed witch doctor of Bangui, and his assistant, Swarskop (a spoof of H. Norman Schwarzkopf). Samuel uses a "mystical jar" to summon winged insects that eat plants to devastate Ka Damuseyn's vegetable garden; an airstrike of sorts. Ka Damuseyn retaliates by using his own "mystical jar", which he calls the "Mother of all Bottles", summoning insects to attack Ka Kwate's own garden. Samuel, however, calls upon ducks and geese to intercept Ka Damuseyn's insect forces, and deploys snails in a land assault. The damage to his gardens is more than Ka Damuseyn can take; he surrenders and the malunggay tree is returned to the ownership of Ka Kwate.

Parallelisms with the First Gulf War[edit]

Several objects and events in relation the First Gulf War were used by the cartoonist as "material" for this story arc. Aside from the obvious (such as Ka Kwate, Ka Damuseyn, and Tiyuhing Samuel), here are the other parallelisms between the Malunggay Conflict and the First Gulf War:

  • "Mother of all Bottles": Saddam's "mother of all battles" quote.
  • The scuds (short for scud-laguinto and scud-lagubang, puns of salaguinto and salagubang, which are insects): Scud missiles
  • The Patriotik (a portmanteau of pato, duck, and itik, goose): US patriot missiles
  • For political reasons, Ka Damuseyn's insects also attack Dick and Padim's farm as revenge because the two brothers, who are Christian and Jew respectively, destroyed Ka Damuseyn's fireworks factory on June 7, 1981. It is also on that date that US-supported Israeli Air Force pilots destroyed the Osiraq nuclear reactor during Operation Opera. Dick and Padim are a reference to two local celebrities with similar surnames: Dick Ysrael, a known character actor, and Padim Israel, a basketball player.
  • Ka Kwate's malunggay tree refers to Kuwait's oil resources, and Tiyuhing Samuel is an oblique reference to Uncle Sam (American oil consumers).

Miscellaneous trivia[edit]

  • One of the several critters invading Ka Damuseyn's farm is a creature called a "rabbat", which is a rabbit with bat wings. The creature was created by a person called "Vannie," probably an acquaintance of the cartoonist.
  • A play of words occurred in the waters off Gabu wherein Brosia knows that she and the Pugad Baboy gang are swimming in the South China Sea because its sharks have slit eyes, a notable feature among Chinese people.
  • A beerhouse in Gabu has a Beatles lookalike band called D' Uwangs (uwang is "beetle" in Filipino). The band plays mostly Beatles hits, but when Bab requests the band play the Bread song "If," they actually play "Ipagpatawad Mo" by the VST & Co.
  • This story arc also features the treasure hunter from the earlier story arc Retraining. Here, the PCGG-hired treasure hunter is still nowhere near Leyte (where Ferdinand Marcos' riches are said to be located) and his continuous digging shovels out the worms that Ka Damuseyn planted in the roots of the malunggay tree. After he surfaces and is being recognized by Tomas, the treasure hunter is then told that the Filipino athletes beat him in striking gold. This refers to the large gold medal haul amassed by the athletes in the 1991 Southeast Asian Games, which the Philippines hosted.
  • A caricature of Raul Manglapus also appears in this story arc, saying a quote that is a spoof his remark "if rape is inevitable, just lie back and enjoy it." In this story arc, however, rape is replaced by "ref" (refrigerator).