Kapitan Sino is a humor-turned-tragic novel written by Bob Ong. Kapitan Sino is about an electrician, Rogelio Manglicmot, who has a special ability. Other characters include Bok-bok, Rogelio’s best friend. He occasionally insults Rogelio, and Tessa, designer of Rogelio’s suit. Though she is blind, she is quite talented and intelligent, and Rogelio cares for her.
He lives his life one day at at time, enjoying his little jokes with the kids who insist on buying candies at their sari-sari store turned electronic repair shop, listening to his neighbors Aling Precious and Aling Baby best each other and sing to the different songs he hears on the radio. All this changes one day when his friend Bok-Bok visits his place and they both find out Rogelio has super powers. Rogelio started saving other people’s lives, disguised in a silver costume and helmet that his blind friend and childhood love Tessa made.
Pretty soon, Kapitan Sino was everywhere. On the children that play along the streets pretending to be the hero and the villains, on snacks, gums, newspaper, radio, TV. Everyone was thankful for Kapitan Sino’s heroism, and Rogelio was just happy that he was able to help. With the help of Bok-bok, Rogelio explores his new persona with trepidation as he fails to foil a bank hold-up in his first official act as a hero. His exploits soon involve fighting monsters, criminal elements, rescuing people from around the globe, among others.
The costume soon becomes wrapped up in the synergy of a hero that even Rogelio’s old rubber shoes become his lethal weapon. Bob Ong nips the romance of Rogelio and Tessa in the bud and this becomes a turning point in the life of Rogelio as he devotes most of his time in heroic feats, neglecting his repair shop and family in the meantime. Rogelio’s grumpy invalid father gives him a man-to-man talk which brought him back to earth.
What follows is a series of events that unfold to Rogelio and the reader the fleeting nature of heroism. For Rogelio, there is no other way to be hero when a pandemic a la AH1N1 strikes his locality and discovers for himself what it takes to be hero. He soon discovers the Mayor’s secret and defeats his son, a giant worm-like monster which lives off human blood. Tessa is the monster’s final victim, Rogelio slowly begins to lose all reason to continue to become a hero.
During said event, an epidemic is on the loose, everyone is desperate to find a cure. Rogelio, blamed for a crime he did not commit, was caught and imprisoned along with his friend Bok-bok. Soon medics discover that Rogelio’s blood maybe a cure for the mysterious virus. Near the end of the story, Rogelio saves the people by donating his blood, he was able to stand and walk out of the hospital until he fell and died quietly due to massive blood loss.
At the end of the story, Pelaez becomes peaceful and Rogelio is given a commemoration. PART II. INTERPRETATION Very deftly, Bob Ong gives us a novel that makes us laugh and in between laughs, makes us ponder the intricacies and implications of being a hero. His funny descriptions of the people in Rogelio’s neighborhood (two neighbors, with OFW hubbies, on a competition as to who’s got the best appliances, community projects that get talked to death but never acted on) are spot-on and embarrassingly personal.
Kapitan Sino’s exploits that fail (like that scene after he saves a train, among the passengers, a wife discovers her husband with another woman and Kapitan Sino gets blamed for the ensuing domestic dispute or that homage to the first Superman movie where Kapitan Sino rescues a cat from a guava tree, but inadvertently burns it to a crisp) make us realize that sometimes good intentions are not enough to be a hero. A superhero does not have to shoulder and take burden all the responsibilities because he also, as a person, has personal responsibilities of his own.
As Mang Ernesto (Rogelio’s father) said “Tumulong ka kung kaya mo pero wag kalilimutan ang mga taong nagmamalasakit sayo. ” I can also relate Spiderman’s line with what Mang Ernesto said: “With great power comes great responsibility. ” This is my gift, my curse. Who am I? I’m Spiderman. ” But the difference is, Kapitan Sino does not really want to have the gift/curse that’s why when other people are in need, he unconsciously neglects the people around him that needs him more; his family and friends. Whatever Kapitan Sino does to help, even with his super powers, he can’t control everything, even his own life to be at risk.
A super hero does not mean that he can surpass everything, he’s extraordinary, yet he’s still an ordinary person that can also be hurt. As one line in the book was stated “Hindi mo mababago ang mundo” whoever you are, or whatever you can do, you can’t control your destiny the way it was planned to be. The line I admired most in the book was: “Kung lahat ng tao may konsensya hindi na natin kelangan ng bayani”. Conscience is a big factor why people commit crimes, if only conscience is present in every people, peace will follow.
PART III. CRITICISM. I understand that in some part, the text leads to losing its consistency in delivering the story. For example, it wasn’t stated how Tessa died. And in the first part of the story, there was this kid named “Ging-Ging” who annoys Rogelio by asking if he sells candies and junk food when in fact Rogelio has a junk shop, not a sari-sari store. And at the end of the story, Ging-Ging appeared again when Rogelio/Kapitan Sino died because of the virus in the town, the kid only appeared on the first and last part of the story with no apparent reason.
Another example is when the author kept on stating the part where he describes the neighborhood over and over again. I think all of these are only additions to make the story look long and complicated. But only the author knows why he added these parts which may or might not contribute to the whole thought of the story. In the story, Kapitan Sino’s enemy was the Mayor and his son which is a monster. In my opinion, the story tried to give the message that Kapitan Sino/Rogelio represents ordinary Filipino citizens and the Mayor as the Philippine Government.
That even ordinary people can contribute and help for the betterment of the town, and power has nothing to do with helping when you really intended to do it. Kapitan Sino versus the Mayor; Ordinary citizens versus Philippine Government. The story was more of a “comical” feel. PART IV. INTEGRATE THE ACADEMIC AND THE PERSONAL Kapitan Sino doesn’t want to be a superhero in the first place, who would want to be responsible of all things to happen in their town? But despite of his slight refusal of being a superhero, he still chose to help. Offering oneself to others is service, and service is where you find happiness and contentment.
In service, you tend to give up things. Kapitan Sino almost had no time for the people around him who need him more, which is his friends and family. Despite lack of time and attention to his loved ones, even if he failed to attend to their needs because he’s always busy saving people, he still tried to pay attention. As to the death of his friend Tessa, he didn’t even knew her condition, he didn’t even have time to know what happened because of his greater responsibility. Superheroes are ordinary people too, they have feelings, and can’t control everything.