I was reading Vic J. Poblete's DEVIL CAR blog, and he mentioned that Ollie Roble Samaniego had a big hand in getting that particular novel approved. He was the one who believed and fought for the Devil Car concept when no one else did.
Looking back on my own komiks career during the 80s, Ollie WAS the one who gave me my first big break.
I was barely in high school during that time (I was 13), and I was an avid reader of the horror anthology HOLIDAY KOMIKS, which was edited by the aforementioned Mr. Samaniego. I typed up a story, entitled "The Bounty Hunters," put it in an envelope, and mailed it to the address written on the indicia of Holiday Komiks.
After a few months, summer vacation rolled in. I started to study komiks illustration (and illustration in general) under Hal Santiago. I barely started training when my family had to go the the province for our annual vacation stint there. My cousins in the province told me that they read my story. I didn't even remember that I had sent a story in the first place! We managed to track down that particular issue of Holiday Komiks, and lo and behold... there it was... illustrated by Ernel P. Remos, another Hal Santiago student. I was ecstatic!
Upon getting back to Metro Manila, I called up Graphic Arts Service, Inc, or GASI (the publishing house), and they told me that I had a cash voucher there waiting for me, but that I had to hurry and get it because it's gonna expire in a few weeks. So I did, and it amounted to 40 pesos (10 pesos per page was the standard rate). I couldn't believe it. I'm a komiks writer! And hey, 40 pesos back then would be equivalent to around 500 bucks nowadays.
That time of my young life was the best time for me. I was getting trained by one of the best illustrators in the local scene, and at the same time had a published story. Some time after, Mang Hal told us that there's another horror title in the works, SHOCKER, being edited by another young editor, Cely Barria (who I think was the "crush ng bayan" in GASI). I submitted another story, and it was approved! It came out in Shocker's first issue, and it was Cely who gave me my first break as an illustrator, too.
During those days, Tuesdays and Thursdays were the days when freelancers flocked to GASI, hoping to get story assignments from editors. By then, the school year had started, and my only time to go to GASI was on Saturdays. Cely was kind enough to let me pass my scripts and illustrations on that day. And since I didn't get any scripts from other writers (there were no more scripts on Saturdays, since they've all been given out by then), Cely allowed me to draw my own stories, most of the time I'd give the story to her fully-illustrated aleady.
I didn't get to work much for Ollie, the editor who was kind enough to approve a story by an unknown writer, but I guess he saw some merit in that first story. I wrote and drew just one more short story for Holiday, and he published it, although personally I didn't think the art was worth publishing. It was one of my worst works.
So, thanks to Ollie Roble Samaniego, for giving me a chance. Thanks to Cely Cruz Barria, who accepted my work even though I wasn't adhering to the normal schedules that was allowable to freelancers.
And Thanks to Hal Santiago, for showing me the ropes, and being a great teacher and friend.
And I failed to mention my father, who's friends in the komiks biz led us to getting acquainted with Mang Hal. Without my father and his support of my love for komiks, none of this would have happened. Thanks, Pa!