Interview: Lala Gallardo-Samson

Lala Gallardo-Samson is a really cool artist. You can’t get simpler than that. Aside from winning first prize with her sister in the first Philippine Graphic Fiction Awards for their comic book, The Sad, Mad, Incredible But True Adventure of of Hika Girl, Lala does incredibly intricate, incredibly beautiful papercuts inspired by beautiful, dark things. Some of these are sometimes for sale on etsy. Most recently, she did the cover for my still imaginary book, Siquijor and Other Stories, as seen in the April issue of Uno magazine. She also gives the best advice for what to do when you come across a ghost.

Do you believe in ghosts/ elementals and have you seen one? Can you tell us about it?

I’d like to tell myself I don’t believe in ghosts but I know a lot people who do and who have the third eye and I don’t think they’re lying. Granted they’re a bit loopy but then I’m not normal either. I do find some places creepy and I sometimes get that tingly “back of the neck” feeling.

The most terrifying experiences I’ve ever had were sleep paralysis related. I’d feel an evil presence by my bed or feel like I’m being suffocated, and for the longest time I had no idea if what I felt actually happened or if it was just part of a dream. Eventually I did some research online and I found out I had a stress related sleep disorder.

What’s the scariest place you’ve been to?

I’ve been creeped out by Mt. Banahaw. We visited a suprema there and she had an indescribable, ageless, non-human aura. She wasn’t terrifying, in fact she was beautiful. But it was like she never blinked. I didn’t personally experience anything supernatural there. I’d talk to people who claim to talk to Jesus every morning and I found them freaky. I’d go back. Holy Week in Mt. Banahaw is a freak-fest.

What’s the scariest ghost story you’ve heard?

When I was around 11 my loud tita from the US had dinner in our house and I think she got a bit drunk, because she started telling us about her brother’s astral projection experience. His soul pretty much just flew out of him and he could see these earth bound spirits trying to get into his body. I couldn’t sleep for days after hearing that story.

When I was 7 the whole “Three days of Darkness- Dancing Sun- June Keithley” phenomenon scared the shit out of me. My best friend at the time was obsessed and she’d show me newspaper clippings and I’d be like “lalalalalala I can’t hear youuu!”. Anything devil related I don’t like. The catholic school girl in me freaks out.

How has your supernatural experiences (even 2nd hand) influenced your work?

I get a lot of inspiration from the media I got exposed to as a kid and some of that included my yaya’s horror comics and the weird art flicks I watched at too tender an age. One of my yaya’s comics stories I turned into a paper cut–it was about a little girl who wakes up and sees 10 little heads tear out of the tips of her fingers.

When I was 14 I watched Ken Russell’s “Lair of The White Worm”, waaay too much for my young eyes. Some of the more graphic scenes found their way into my drawings later on.

this is the paper cut:

Any advice for someone who comes face to face with the supernatural?

Run bitch, ruuuuuun!!!!


Yvette Natalie U. Tan is a multi-awarded author of horror fiction and the Agriculture section editor of Manila Bulletin.

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