Global nonprofit releases first children’s books in Filipino

Karen Flores Layno, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 27 2020 04:22 PM | Updated as of Feb 28 2020 09:30 PM

Some of the books offered by Room to Read, which has embarked on its first book development project in the Philippines for Filipino children who are beginning to read. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — A global nonprofit has partnered with four local publishers to release its first set of children’s books in the Filipino language.

The 20 books — five each from Adarna House, Anvil Publishing, Lampara Books, and OMF-Hiyas Publishing — were unveiled by Room to Read (RTR) at an event at Museo Pambata in Manila on Thursday.

RTR book publishing manager Al Santos believes that the new books will help improve the literacy skills of Filipino children while allowing them to learn about the realities of the world they live in.

“Napakahusay ng mga akda at sana’y maibigan ng mga batang mambabasa,” he said, adding that the books will also be translated into Vietnamese and other languages in Southeast Asia to widen their reach.

Created by local authors and illustrators, the 20 books share the theme of inclusion — whether by using characters with disabilities or portraying those in difficult circumstances, such as a child who has a parent in jail.

Kristine Canon, author of “Noel! Noel! Leon! Leon!” under Adarna House, said the challenge for them is to include these realities without making the resulting story too heavy for children.

“Ang dami nilang pinagdadaanan, ang bigat. Ang naging malaking challenge sa amin is how to make this light and how to make it appropriate for children so that it will give them the coping mechanisms in case they will experience such things in their lives,” she said.

Luis Gatmaitan, who wrote “Ang Kuya Kong Zombie” under OMF-Hiyas Publishing, said he hopes to show how many children today have become consumed by gadgets and the internet. 

“Maraming mga kids ngayon, ang description ng mga parents nila parang zombie na mga anak nila,” he said. “Kasi lagi na lang nakatutok sa games, nakatulala, hindi na kumakain.” 

“Sali Ako” (Anvil Publishing) author Alyssa Reyes, meanwhile, drew from her experience as an early childhood teacher, using the language of preschool kids to tell her story.

“Batay po siya talaga sa karanasan. ‘Yung mga salita na ginamit ko batay talaga sa salitang ginagamit ng mga bata para mas maka-relate ‘yung mga makakabasa ng libro,” she said.

Kat-kat reads the children's book 'Duyan Pababa sa Bayan (On a Hammock down to Town)' launched at the Museo Pambata. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News 

Below is the complete list of titles launched by RTR in collaboration with local publishers:

ADARNA HOUSE

- “Sampung Eroplano” by Liwliwa Malabed, illustrated by Pergylene Acuña
- “Sayaw Ng Mga Kamay” by Joanna Que, illustrated by Fran Alvarez
- “Tara, Itok!” by Kora Dandan-Albano, illustrated by Ara Villena
- “Paboritong Lugar Ni Nanay” by Weng Cahiles, illustrated by Aldy Aguirre
- “Noel! Noel! Leon! Leon!” by Kristine Canon, illustrated by Nina Martinez

ANVIL PUBLISHING

- “Sayaw Ni Dayaw” by Cheeno Marlo Sayuno, illustrated by Harry Monzon
- “Maaanghang Na Salita” by Rhandee Garlitos, illustrated by Beth Parrocha
- “Paalam, Puti” written and illustrated by Jomike Tejido
- “Sali Ako!” by Alyssa Reyes, illustrated by Iori Espiritu
- “Duyan Pababa Sa Bayan” by Mary Gigi Constantino, illustrated by Claud Aranza

LAMPARA BOOKS

- “Masaya Maging Ako” by Zarah Gagatiga, illustrated by Jamie Bauza
- “Ang Alaga Kong Lolo” by Genaro Gojo Cruz, illustrated by Lui Buan
- “Kiko Kitikiti” by Lauren Macaraeg, illustrated by Luis Chua
- “Ang Nanay Kong Drayber” by Reina Peralta, illustrated by Pepot Atienza
- “Ang Batang Papet” by Mark Norman Boquiren, illustrated by Angela Taguiang

OMF-HIYAS PUBLISHING

- “Sakto Lang” by Joshene Bersales, illustrated by Domz Agsaway
- “Kaya Ni Mina” by Janina Marie Rivera, illustrated by Cy Vendivil
- “Ang Kuya Kong Zombie” by Luis Gatmaitan, illustrated by Ivan Reverente
- “Imbisibol” by Yna Reyes, illustrated by Mike Amante
- “Tinola Ni Nanay” by Malou Maloi-Salumbides, illustrated by Felix Mago Miguel

Founded in 2000, RTR focuses on “deep, systemic transformation within schools in communities” by focusing on early primary school for literacy acquisition, and secondary school for girls’ education.

The nonprofit has so far benefited over 18 million children in 37,000 communities across 16 countries, and distributed more than 26 million copies of its books by working with governments and various organizations.

Filipino marks the 36th language that RTR books have been published in.