Endowment honoring Corky seeks funding
POSTED: Monday, May 25, 2009
Today, the late Corky Trinidad would have reached the age of 70, and as far as we know, he never missed a deadline. Family, friends, colleagues and admirers have chosen this day to begin a campaign to memorialize Corky's artistic and professional legacy.
The "Friends of Corky" initiative aims to establish an endowment at the University of Hawaii Foundation to assist students, scholars and researchers in the fields spanning Corky's lifelong interests, including journalism, mass communication, fine arts—especially painting—performing arts and human rights.
A minimum of $35,000 is needed to name an endowment for Corky, who died Feb. 13. Upon reaching the amount, the UH Foundation will administer the endowment in conjunction with the Center for Philippine Studies at UH-Manoa.
"Friends of Corky" organizers are delighted that the Star-Bulletin has pledged a significant amount to the endowment project. Several pledges from various donors already have been received, some coming from friends and colleagues on the mainland and abroad.
Corky was a talented, tireless, delightful, devoted and loyal worker for the Star-Bulletin for nearly 40 years. I know that many people, especially in Hawaii's large Filipino community, subscribed to the paper because they loved Corky's cartoons. They would often greet each other with, "Did you see Corky's cartoons today?" or "What do you think he meant by that cartoon today?"
His fans obviously miss him.
Corky's cartoons were among the most widely distributed in Asia and Europe and in major U.S. publications such as The New York Times, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Time and Newsweek. In 1965 he was syndicated by the Los Angeles-Washington Post Syndicate, the first Asian editorial cartoonist to be so honored.
By the late '60s, Corky's work at the Philippines Herald, was getting noticed—and not with amusement—by then-President Ferdinand Marcos, who would soon declare martial law. Feeling the heat and thinking of his future, Corky moved his family from the Philippines to Hawaii.
In 1969 he joined the Star-Bulletin, saying he was happy to work for a newspaper "that has a journalistic attitude toward the cartoon and an editorial philosophy compatible with my own."
He said cartoons are not just "editorial illustrations" but "commentaries" that, first and always, must take a stand. He maintained that if Honore Daumier or Paul Conrad were made to draw cartoons only on the basis of corresponding editorials in the newspapers they worked for, "those artists would be in limbo." In this regard, Corky said he objected to the label "editorial cartoonist" because the profession is really a craft that should be treated with more depth. A cartoon is not meant to entertain, he insisted, it is a work of art.
He once said about his craft, "I have never seen a great cartoon that sat on a fence. I have never seen a great cartoonist who tried to be loved on all sides of the issue. The cartoon, to be really good and true to its purpose, must go beyond the specific subject matter for its content. The ultimate purpose is to take a very particular, topical subject and react to it in a way that sets down a universal principle."
Underlying his genius was the way he treated and used humor. He often quoted Abraham Lincoln who, according to Corky, gave the best definition of humor when he said, "I laugh because I must not cry." The purpose of humor, he said, is "to express the truth in another manner that softens the hurt. Like slapping someone with reality wrapped in a pillow."
The Corky Trinidad Endowment Fund will perpetuate Corky's long and distinguished legacy of independent thought and free expression through the arts.
Belinda A. Aquino is professor and director of the Center for Philippine Studies, School of Pacific and Asian Studies at the University of Hawaii-Manoa.