Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Marv & Me

Magtira, Marvin aka Babin, Marbino, Bhin. Pioneer developer of M.A.R.V. (multiple archetypal roleplaying variants) roleplaying games.

Most of you probably don't give a rat's ass about Marvin Magtira. Why should you, if you don't know him? But for the first thirteen years of my life, he was special to me. He was my best friend. He was the only kid in my neighborhood who was willing to be my friend when everybody else laughed in my face, trashed my toys or called me stupid names because I was "ispokening dollar.*"

High on our own youth and imagination, we were going to make comics that would shake the world. We had been drawing comics since age five (1979-80), first in each other's notebooks, later on stapled sheets of bond paper. We made many characters, trashed many more and plagiarized Marvel and DC (it was one or the other back then) like crazy. Comics started getting difficult in our teens when we were suddenly concerned with crafting believeable, truly original stories.

Marvin introduced me to your vaunted roleplaying games probably long before the first D&D player's handbook became popular on our shores. We played without dice; without rulebooks; without end, it seemed. Our only "rule" was to trust the storyteller implicitly when either of us took upon himself the storytelling role. We mixed role playing races and worlds, experimented with time travel-- common stuff now, but defineitely in embryo in the local consciousness at the time. We didn't know what we were doing--we were too busy loosing our imaginations and having fun to name the activity until '85, when we started calling it "Dungeons" (just "Dungeons" because one of us saw a D&D print ad and the other guy tried one D&D game). My other friend Strahdeus and I started calling it M.A.R.V. in '92, when we tried to document what we were doing, to thresh out the axioms we took for granted when mixing role playing settings.**

M.A.R.V., as a game and as a marketing hook, will not benefit myself, Strahdeus, or Marvin. The last being prematurely dead and the first two being too poor, too slow and inept to capitalize on the idea.

The path our lives were taking began to bifurcate. I'd grafted to myself some college friends in the early- to mid-nineties. Some time before that, he'd decided to accept Jesus as his personal savior, and was in the throes of a new convert's missionary zealousness-- and that partly drove me away. But Marvin is nothing if not devoted to his friends, as the long line of mourners whose lives he enriched will attest. (Here, an old woman who found in Marvin a sympathetic listener. There, a child who Marvin played with when no one else would play with him. And here, the woman he so wanted to introduce to his once-best friend.) He made the effort to stop by the Lira house in Quezon City to see me, even when he lived many kilometers away: ninety percent of the time, I wasn't around.

If he had a fault, it was that he'd later fallen in love with clubbing and motorbikes. Not that each was intrinsically bad. But both were an unnecessary drain on his funds. Add that to the other incidentals that go with clubbing and bikes: bad crowds, debauchery and danger on the road-- it was that last that did him in, in mid-May of this year.

I didn't make it to Marvin's burial-- it happened on the same day my father-confessor figure and oldest Los Banos friend, Neal, arrived from a disastrous stay in Thailand. A week later, I lost my cel phone to robbers and con men... penance for missing the final necrological rites, perhaps.

There are days, like today, when I miss him.

Even if the defunct duo of Babin and Dex never make comics or roleplaying games to shake the world, the world still owes Marvin some of the recognition it's given to Dex. With this entry, I hope that part of this debt is paid.

*"English speaking." This term was in use in the '70's and was used on me partly in awe, though mostly derogatively, with great relish.

** What we had was so good, we got our siblings and neighbors' kids into roleplaying. Our adult neighbors promptly named their subsequent kids after us.


Anonymous said...

i used to remember what that was like - being accused of "spokening dollar". like a scene from mean girls, i remember one time when i overheard somebody in the washroom imitating my "maarte english". the things one remembers from other people's ramblings...

- swampie

Anonymous said...

my relatives say I'm "ispokening dollar" more often now that I'm working in a call center. Kinda makes sense.