Published in 2018, Liryo is a graphic short story that depicts the harsh truth of the government’s war on drugs.

“Ang librong ito ay nilikha upang isalaysay ang mga kwetong itinatago sa dilim at upang marinig ang mga tinig na pinatahimik ng dahas,” stated the official summary at the back of the book. 

[This book is made to tell the stories, kept in the dark and to amplify those voices silenced by violence.]

It lets readers see the reality of life through the eyes of the main characters Marcy and her husband, Celso, who both depict the lives of common Filipino people, mostly those who are part of the urban poor sectors.

Magtira Paolo, author and illustrator of Liryo, also magnificently illustrated through his comics the complex emotions of each character paired with the detailed background which helped set the atmosphere of the story.

Just like its title, Liryo, a literal translation of the lily flower in Filipino, often symbolizes purity and innocence which I believe is a good description of the main characters, Marcy and Celso, whom both dreamt of a better life in Manila after leaving the province.

It symbolizes their innocence and hope for a better future but instead, they are faced with a tragedy brought by the massive extrajudicial killings of the government’s war on drugs.

Such narratives also depict the purity and hope of the people to bring forward and tackle the issues surrounding the inhumane implementation of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Oplan Tokhang or the war on drugs.

“Hunyo 30, 2016

Sumiklab ang Giyera sa Droga

Pero Walang Dalang Ginhawa.

Walang Natamasang Biyaya

Walang Napuksa,

Kundi Buhay ng mga Maralita.”

– excerpt from the book

This year, after more than five years since the war on drugs started, Liryo serves as a reminder for us, Filipinos, to bring to light the many stories of victims and to bring justice to the many Filipinos who became helpless victims of the president’s war on drugs.  

Liryo is a book suited for media consumers these days who have shorter attention spans—it is a short read, it is visual, and it is current. It is a must-read and the message in its story is something we must act on.


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