Joffrey Atienza

prof picOur blog’s month-long celebration of the National Children’s Book Day, which was on 21 July, ends with an interview with Joffrey Atienza. (There will be a Children’s Book Fair on 25 July to close the national celebration.)

Joffrey and Sabrina Palmares are the 2015 PBBY Alcala Honorable Mention winners. He has also won this year’s Lampara Illustrator’s Prize for his illustrations of Pamela Imperial’s “The First Star.” The book is slated to be released next year.


Hi, Joffrey! Can you tell us your process in illustrating Cheeno Marlo Sayuno‘s “The Missing Blanket”?

I created the scenes in a dreamlike world with lots of distortions of figures and crazy patterns that are unique to my style and, at the same time, still faithful to the story. When I created the illustrations, I constantly reminded myself, ‘If I were a child, how could/would I draw this?’ That helped me visualize how to draw the elements.


And how was your research on the Kalinga indigenous culture? 

I browsed the internet for the attributes and carefully observed the unique features of the Kalinga indigenous culture. I also talked to a person who is familiar with the Kalinga culture and he gave me a backgrounder on the patterns and colors of the sinanbituwon tapestry. I absorbed all these information and created a unique blend of indigenous and modern in my main subjects, the cloth, and the characters’ clothing.




What are the enjoyable and challenging parts in illustrating this story? 

I really enjoyed most of my time creating each illustration piece. From the research to the detailing of the artwork, the process was exciting because I felt challenged. I also had the desire to finish it no matter what since that was my first attempt to do children’s book illustration.

The challenging part was designing the blanket. I envisioned the cloth to be intricate and faithful to the design of the real sinanbituwon. It was a very long process because I treated the lines as individual threads to achieve the blanket’s texture.




And when did you start illustrating for children? And do you maintain a unique style?

This is my first attempt in doing children’s illustration. Just this year, I developed my art style to be more whimsical. I’m still trying out more styles and always see to it that these influences will help develop my own unique art style.


What are your favorite children’s books?

When I was a child, I enjoyed the Dinosaurs Big Book; later on, Pokemon. During those time, however, I spent my nights drawing and imagining miniature creatures.  Recently, I bought a picture/comic book by Rob Cham entitled Light. I find it very interesting since one can grasp his illustrations easily without a single word.  Light is very interactive and gives room for one’s imagination.




Are we seeing more works for children from you?

Just this May, I won the Lampara Books Illustrator’s Prize. So, I am currently illustrating the story, “The First Star” by  Pamela Imperial. My illustrations for it will be exhibited at the Manila International Book Fair this coming September, but the actual book will be published next year. “The First Star” will be my first book for children.


Thank you, Joffrey! We are excited to see your first book.

Sabrina Palmares

Sab PicAs part of our month-long celebration of the National Children’s Book Day, which falls on 21 July this year, we talked to PBBY Alcala Honorable Mention Sabrina Palmares about her winning illustrations.

Sabrina is a member of Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan and has done a lot of illustrations for all ages. She blogs about her life and work as an illustrator at Mustard World.


Hi, Sabrina! Entries to this year’s PBBY Alcala Prize were interpretations of Cheeno Marlo Sayuno‘s “The Missing Blanket.” What was your approach in illustrating the story?

I got goosebumps after reading “The Missing Blanket.” It is a tearjerker as it is a story about learning to cope with loss at a young age. I tried as much as possible to tranlaste the same emotions I felt reading it into images. And I found these emotions contradicting each other — there are scenes, for instance, that seem to be happy but are actually sad because they are the kids’ memories of their late mother. Hopefully, I was able to show these feelings in my illustrations.


Since this story features the Kalinga indigenous culture, how extensive was your research of the group’s culture?

Data is always available online so it’s a bit easier to get instant images and information. I haven’t experienced the Kalinga culture firsthand. My closest encounter was with the Ibaloi of Pulag who are also part of the “people of the mountains” in Central Cordillera. I took into account how they looked — small eyes with straight black hair and skin baked from the sun and cold temperature of the mountains. I tried to make them look more current by dressing the children in shorts and uniforms but still incorporating the yellow, red, black, and white patterns, a trademark of the Kalinga tapestry and garments.




What was the fun part in illustrating this story? 

I have a five-year old niece who checked my illustration. Whenever I finish one illustration, I would ask her what this is or what that particular image is. On the illustration with a big fish in the background (it’s a happy/sad scene), she asked me why the children were sad. If you will notice, my illustrations don’t have mouths so it’s kind of nice to know that she “gets it” that they are sad, despite the rich colours used and their lack of mouths.


And the difficult part?

I’ve been trying to join the PBBY Alcala Prize for the last four or five years and I always came up with an excuse not to create something because I felt that I hadn’t developed my own style yet. So, one of the difficult parts was to force myself to illustrate on a blank paper. It took good advice from a loved one to just attack the story in the most honest way that I could to get me started. It doesn’t have to be a winning piece but should be something that will be reflective of what I can do for now. That ended my years of wanting to join the contest.


How did you choose which parts of the story you’d illustrate?

The chosen parts are my personal favorites. The first is a memory before the blanket was made by their mother, the second is when it’s made, and the third is when their mother dies. It is kind of a summary having a pre-production, an in-between, and post production.




When did you start illustrating for children? And do you maintain a unique style of illustrating for children?

My first illustration for kids was for a design project for a bag collection. It’s very far-off from what my illustration looks like today. I was 25 then when I first saw and read a book from the tandem of Chris Riddel and Paul Stewart of Edge Chronicles. That was when I told myself that I would like to be a book illustrator. It took three years of grit after my epiphany to create something of my own and be comfortable with it.

I try to maintain my own style if possible, but I think if I just keep maintaining how I illustrate today then i’ll never evolve. It doesn’t have to be a drastic change in my style but there are a lot of possible ways to illustrate a thought. If there is a trademark though, a friend told me once that my illustrations are meant for kids but look like they’re made for grownups. Today, most of my illustrations have pointed red noses and circular tint cheeks and a face with no mouth. And maybe tomorrow they will evolve and will finally do a wide grin.


Is Edge Chronicles one of your favorite books?

Yes, I love the ink illustrations of Chris Riddel and how he materializes all those characters and places and events as if they exist. And Paul Stewart just tells tales that are very current but presented in a way where a younger audience can understand hierarchy in society, politics, and issues on our environment.

I also have this picture/silent comic-like book that I got from Book Sale, Wings by Shinsuke Tanaka. The 60 pesos price tag does not do it justice. It’s for keeps.


What are we expecting from you in the future? More works for children?

Yes, more works for children and grownups. I’m also updating my personal illustration blog, Mustard World and participating in more art fairs. And hopefully my very elusive dream of illustrating a children’s book.


Thanks again, Sabrina! We’ll surely wait for your book!

Cheeno Marlo Sayuno


As part of our month-long celebration of the National Children’s Book Day, which falls on 21 July this year, we are featuring the winners of the PBBY Salanga Writer’s Prize and Alcala Illustrator’s Prize!

First up is Cheeno Marlo Sayuno, whose story “The Missing Blanket” is this year’s PBBY Salanga Honorable Mention. In 2013, Cheeno’s The Magic Bahag (now in print) won 2nd place in the short story for children category of the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards.


Hi, Cheeno! Firstly, can you tell us the idea behind “The Missing Blanket”?

In “The Missing Blanket,” the mother of the child characters died, but it is not a story about death. As a newbie in writing children’s content, I was trying to explore stories that hurt and how children would cope with such situations. Death is very painful for us adults who are left behind, and children may have a different but equally relevant take on the subject.


It also a story that showcases indigenous culture, like your other work, The Magic Bahag. Is it your project to promote Filipino indigenous culture in your stories?

Yes. I am a member of Sanghaya Dance Ensemble, a Cavite-based cultural dance troupe, and being a part of the group made me appreciate more our culture. I wanted to incorporate what I know and love about the dances and the indigenous culture into the short stories for children that I write.




And when did you start writing for children? 

I was the cliché boy from the countryside trying my luck in the city. I am from Amadeo, a small town in Cavite, and growing up, I knew that I am interested in writing. I took up BA Mass Communication arts and joined the student publication and the university’s dance troupe (without me knowing at that time, it was already the start of my journey). However, when I graduated, I had to find a job to help my family.

That was the plan and writing was not a part of it because I thought that it was too far to reach. Then, I took up MA Communication Arts in UPLB and we had a Writing Children’s Literature course under Prof. Emmanuel Dumlao. Part of our final requirement is a short story for children. Mine was The Magic Bahag.


What motivated you to join this year’s PBBY Salanga Writer’s Prize contest? Was this part of your writing career plan?

I was a fellow to the Cordillera Creative Writing Workshop in Baguio last year. I am new to the industry and I am not very familiar with the contests and other writing engagements related to children’s literature. The Salanga Prize was mentioned by one of the mentors, and so I tried my luck.


It seems luck is on your side! And recently, NBDB sent you to the Asian Festival of Children’s Content. Can you briefly tell us your AFCC experience?

Attending the AFCC was a great experience because it did not only expose me to the different Asian cultures and the interesting stories that they want to tell, but it also showed me the industry that we are all trying to penetrate, which was interesting but not at all easy. I am a newbie, so I must admit that I felt the pressure to the point that I felt so small compared with everyone else. In fact, in the AFCC retreat, all the other delegates have published a lot of works, but more than the feeling of pressure, they inspired me to strive more and explore possibilities.



So, are we expecting new books from you in the future?

I hope so. I hope “The Missing Blanket” gets published. Also, my new story, which is of course of the same theme, is on the works right now. I really hope it would do well and would qualify for publishing. And I hope for everyone’s support. Thanks!


Thanks again, Cheeno! We also hope to see “The Missing Blanket” in print.

Sherma Benosa

Malugod tayong pinaunlakan ni Sherma E. Benosa sa ating panayam tungkol sa libro niyang Hagdan (Agdan)!

Si Sherma ay dalawang beses nang nanalo sa Palanca at may dalawa nang aklat pambata sa Ilocano: Ania Manilenya ken ni Balong Promdi at Ti Sarukod ni Raya.


Magandang araw po! Congrats sa Hagdan (Agdan), na sinabi ninyong mula sa pag-iisip ninyong nagkukuwentuhan ang mga bahagi ng bahay.

Oo, lagi kong iniiisip na nakikita ng mga bahagi ng bahay ang mga ginagawa natin. Gusto kong malaman kung ano kaya ang iniisip nila tungkol sa atin, o ano kaya ang pinagkukuwentuhan nila. Parehas sa mga alaga ko, iniisip ko kung ano kaya ang iniisip at pinagkukuwentuhan nila.


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Mula sa ideyang ito, paano ninyo naisulat ang Hagdan?

Nang isinulat ko ang Hagdan, hindi talaga pumasok sa isip ko ‘yong mga pag-iisip kong ganyan. Dumalo kasi ako ng isang writing for children lecture sa Adarna, at hindi ako alam na pagsusulatin kami. Doon pumasok ang ideya ng mga bahagi ng bahay. Nagsulat lang akong hindi alam kung ano ang kakahantungan ng kuwento. Pero may naisulat ako, at buo na ang structure.


At sa anong wika ninyo siya unang naisulat?

Nauna siyang naisulat sa Filipino dahil output ko ito sa workshop. Tapos isinalin ko sa Ilocano kasi gusto ko talagang magsulat ng mga kuwentong pambata sa Ilocano. Kailangan kasi sa MTB-MLE ng Ilocano materials.


Bakit naman bilingual ang Hagdan at hindi dalawang bersiyon?

Ang plano talaga sa simula ay magkaibang bersiyon bawat wika. Pero gusto ko din ‘yong ginagawa ng malalaking children’s book publishers na bilingual. Para sa akin, mainam na estratehiya iyon pagdating sa marketing at sa pagpa-familiarize ng bata sa dalawang wika. Pero ‘yong sa style nila, kailangan ng maraming pahina.

Bilang isang indie publisher, hindi ko kaya ang gano’n karaming pahina. Maliban doon, nagdesisyon na din talaga ako na comics ang format ng libro. Noong una, naisip ko na kung comics, dapat isang wika lang kasi wala namang gumagawa ng bilingual na comics. Pero naisip kong kaya nga mas dapat na gawin kong bilingual kasi wala pang gumagawa.

Pero nag-aalangan ako na baka maging awkward at katawa-tawa ‘yong libro. Buti na lang, noong ibato ko ‘yong ideya sa printer ko, sinabi niya, “Bakit di mo subukan? At i-test mo sa target reader mo.” Dahil sa kagustuhang makatipid at makapaglabas ng kakaiba, sinubukan ko nga. At maganda naman ang naging reception ng mga nakabasa na sa libro.


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At bakit ninyo namang piniling mag-self publish?

Matagal ko nang gustong mag-self publish. Dahil nagdesisyon akong mag-aral magsulat para sa mga bata (kaya ako sumali sa KUTING), alam ko nang kung magse-self publish ako ay kuwentong pambata.

(Ang totoo, matagal na akong nag-aaya ng fellow writers na maglabas ng anthology ng kuwentong pambata sa Ilocano. Hindi nga lang nag-materialize. At no’ng nagkaroon na, hindi ako nakasama dahil ginagawa ko na ang libro.)

Malakas ang loob kong mag-self publish kasi alam kong may puwang. Kakaunti ang mga aklat pambata sa Ilocano at tugon na rin sa MTB-MLE. Kahit may mga interesadong publisher, gusto kong may kontrol ako sa lahat ng aspekto ng paglikha at pagma-market. Dahil alam kong may puwang, may ideya din ako kung paano ko i-market ang libro.


Puwede ninyo bang sabihin ang pinagdaang proseso ng Hagdan?

Pagkatapos maisulat ang kuwento, ipinakita ko ito sa mga magulang, guro sa preschool, at kapuwa manunulat. Tapos, inedit ko, ginawang comics script, at isinalin sa Ilocano. Pagkatapos na ipabasa ulit sa isang editor at iba pang naging interesado, ipina-layout ko at pinaguhitan. At bago inilimbag, ni-review pa ulit.


Bakit ninyo naisipang gawing comics ang format?

‘Yong pagiging comics ng format, matagal ko nang gustong gawin, lalo pa’t mangilan-ngilan lang ang naka-comics na kuwentong pambata. Laking comics kasi ako. Isang paraan din ‘yon ng pagbibigay ng babasahin sa mga bata sa ibang format. At para na rin patunayang maraming magagandang kuwento sa comics.

Sa laki naman, kailangan kasi na malalaki yung mga letra para mabasa ng mga bata, lalo na ‘yong mga nag-aaral pa lang magbasa. At para makita ang mga detalye ng guhit. Kaya naisip naming di dapat liliit pa sa bond paper ang laki ng libro. Tapos, sinabi ng printer na isagad na lang para di na magputol. Pumayag ako kasi mas mapapalaki pa ang mga letra.


Paano naman napasok si Bianca D. Fuentes bilang ilustrador ng Hagdan?

biancaNirekomenda siya ng isang kaibigan. Nagustuhan ko ‘yong mga sample artwork niya, kaya kinontak ko siya. Buti na lang freelance siya noon. Nagtrabaho kami pero di kami nagkikita. Ilang linggo pagkatapos lumabas ‘yong libro, saka lang kami nagkita.

Masaya akong nakatrabaho siya. Professional siyang kausap. Nagbibigay siya ng mga suhestiyon, at madali din siyang pakiusapan sa mga pagbabagong kailangang gawin. Kahit na kinuha ko siya, mas collaborative ang paggawa ng libro. May leeway siya pagdating sa itsura ng libro, pero nagbibigay din ako ng input.


At nakakatuwang nagbunga ang inyong kolaborasyon! At ano ang aasahan namin sa inyo sa hinaharap?

Maglalabas pa siguro ako ng isang aklat pambara sa Ilocano ngayong taon.


Habang hinihintay natin ‘yan, basahin muna ang Hagdan na mabibili sa mga sumusunod:

  • Bookfellas (28 K-J East Kamias, Quezon City)
  • Bookayukay (Maginhawa St., Quezon City)
  • Mt. Cloud (Baguio City)
  • Silahis Articrafts (Gen Luna, Intramuros, Manila)
  • Busyok Creative (Solano, Nueva Vizcaya)
  • Bookstorm (Tacloban City)


Maraming salamat at congrats po ulit!

Isabel D. Sebullen

NoelMay guest post tayo ngayon, mula kay Noel G. de Leon!

Si Noel, na taga-Guimaras, ay lektyurer sa Departamento ng mga Wika at Humanidades, Unibersidad ng San Agustin. Awtor siya ng librong Isang Botelyang Alaala at iba pang mga Tula na inilimbag ng Seguiban Printing & Publishing Enterprises, Inc. (2014) sa syudad ng Iloilo. Ilan sa kaniyang mga panayam ng mga manunulat ng Filipinas ay mababasa sa Kalatas, ang opisyal na publikasyon ng Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL).

Kinapanayam ni Noel si Dr. Isabel D. Sebullen, isa sa mga kilalang manunulat sa bansa. Tunghayan ang kaniyang panayam tungkol sa mga gampanin ni Dr. Sebullen sa panitikang Hiligaynon at panitikang pambata bilang isang manunulat, hurado, at guro.


Kung pag-uusapan ang panitikang Hiligaynon, hindi magpapahuli si Dr. Isabel D. Sebullen. Bukod sa pagiging ang kasalukuyang presidente ng Screenwriters Guild of the Philippines, miyembro siya ng Board of Directors ng Film Academy of the Philippines.

Nakapagtapos siya ng kursong Bachelor of Science in Commerce Major sa Business Management sa Unibersidad ng Saint La Salle sa Bacolod City, Masters sa Business Administration sa Unibersidad ng Negros Occidental-Recoletos, at Ph.D. sa Public Policy at Management sa Claro M. Recto Academy of Advanced Studies ng Lyceum of the Philippines University.

Ilan sa mga nakamit na parangal ni Dr. Sebullen sa pagsusulat ay ang unang gantimpala para sa Maikling Kuwento sa Hiligaynon sa Palanca noong 2000 at 2001, ikalawang gantimpala para sa Fifth Quin Baterna Short Story Writing Contest, unang gantimpala para sa Hiligaynon Poetry Writing Contest noong 1996, at unang gantimpala para sa PAGCOR-Liwayway Short Story Writing Contest noong 1996 din.

Naging Grantee din siya for Fiction sa Hiligaynon nng Bienvenido N. Santos Creative Writing Center ng De La Salle University noong 2007 at Writing Fellow sa 21st UP National Summer Writers’ Workshop noong 1993. Makailang beses na rin siyang naging hurado sa Carlos J. Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature.



Noel: Kailan ka nagsimulang magsulat? Sino-sino ang mga naging inspirasyon mo?

Isabel: Nagsimula akong sumulat ng tula noong ika-2 taon ko sa high school. Ang guro ko sa Filipino na si Gng. Ricaridad O. Rodriguez ang nakatuklas at nagsabi sa akin na magaling akong sumulat ng tula at Formal Theme, kasi noon ginawa kong fiction ‘yong mga sinusulat ko. Gandang-ganda siya sa sinusulat ko, na akala niya ay totoong nangyari sa akin. Di niya alam, gawa-gawa ko lang ‘yon. 1976 ‘yon. Naniwala ako sa guro ko na magaling ako kaya nagsimula akong magsulat.

Noong nagsusulat na ako, sinabi ko sa nanay ko na pasisikatin ko ang apelyido namin. Gusto kong makilala bilang isang manunulat.  Inspirasyon ko siya (Venancia Sebullen) sa pagsusulat dahil mahilig siyang magbasa at lagi niyang binabasa ang mga sinulat ko. Naging inspirasyon ko rin noon ang manunulat na si Evelyn Estrella.  Gusto ko ‘yong style ng pagsusulat niya, na parang galing sa kanyang puso ang mga katagang ginagamit niya sa kanyang mga kuwento.  Sa Liwayway ko nababasa ang kanyang mga akda, na pagkatapos kong basahin ay di ko na makakalimutan.


Sino-sino ang mga kontemporaneo mo sa pagsulat sa Hiligaynon?

Iyong mga kontemporaneo ko sa pagsusulat, mas mga bata sa akin sa edad, tulad ni John Iremil Teodoro, Mel Turao, Alex de los Santos, at iba pa. Tinawag kaming “Deriada babies” dahil lahat kami ay natuto kay Dr. Leoncio P. Deriada.  Sumali ako sa UP Workshop noong April 1993 sa UP  Baguio. Pagkatapos noong workshop, naging seryoso na ako sa pagsusulat.


Isa ka sa paboritong hurado ng Palanca para sa Hiligaynon. Kailan ka nagsimulang maging hurado at paano mo ito tinanggap noong una kang naimbitahan?

Di naman siguro paborito. Sabi nga ni Nemie Bermejo ng Palanca, mas mahirap daw maghanap ng judge sa regional language dahil kaunti lang ang nakabase sa Maynila. Nagsimula ako noong 2005. Kasama ko noon ang batikang writer na si Quin Baterna. Noong naimbitahan ako, nag-alangan ako noon kasi, sabi ko, puwede na ba ako? Pero tinanaggap ko rin kasi gusto ko ring malaman kung paano ang paghuhurado. Dahil member pa lang naman ako, inaral ko ang rules at criteria sa pagpili.

Nagunita ko rin ang mga napag-aralan ko sa workshop kung paano mamili ng kuwentong walang deperensiya sa structure at language. Dahil dapat ang kuwentong manalo ay buo na at di kailangan i-workshop para mapaganda pa. Pinipili namin ‘yong may dating, kung baga, bago na ang tema, madulas pa ang paggamit ng language, marunong na talaga ang writer magsulat, at puwede siyang mag-experiment kung saan magsimula at magtapos ang kuwento.

Ang pag-judge ay nasa taste lang din, kung ano ba ang type na kuwento ng judges. Sa anim na beses  kong pag-judge, magkapareho naman kami lagi ng choices ng iba pang judges, maliban lang sa ranking. Pero kaming mga ay halos magkapareho talaga ng pinili. May judges din kasi na nagtapos sa literature pero hindi rin nagsusulat.



Para sa mga nagsisimulang manunulat, mahalaga ba ang pagsali sa mga patimpalak gaya ng Palanca, pagkuha ng Malikhaing Pagsulat, o pagsailalim sa mga palihan?

Sabi dati ni Roberto T. Anonuevo sa akin, “Isabel, pag di ka Palanca Awardee, di kita kakaibiganin.  Kasi puro magagaling lang ang pinipili kong kaibigan. Kaya kailangang manalo ka.” Kahit pabiro niyang sinabi ‘yon sa akin, me laman ‘yon, kaya importante ding maging Palanca Awardee para  masabing  may “K”  ka na tawaging magaling na manunulat.

Di naman kailangang kumuha ng Malikhaing Pagsulat para maging manunulat. Pero kailangan ding matutunan ng isang manunulat ang mga basics.  Kailangan din niyang mag-workshop para ma-improve ang kanyang craftsmanship. Pero para sa akin, may lamang ka pag nag-aral ka talaga ng Malikhaing Pagsulat. Unlike me, Business ang natapos ko, kaya business people din ang nakakasalamuha  ko. Minsan, gusto ko ring makasalamuha ang mga kapuwa manunulat. Sa eskuwelahan, palagi naman akong napagkakamalan na taga-College of Arts and Sciences. Minsan nagugulat sila kung bakit nasa CBA ako.


Ano naman ang maipapayo mo sa mga kabataang Ilonggo na nagsisimulang magsulat?

Siguro ang maipayo ko, dapat magsulat sila sa lengguwahe natin.  Mayaman ang Literaturang Hiligaynon. Marami pang puwedeng sulatin para mapanatili natin ang ating kultura, para di maibaon sa limot ang mga gawaing Ilonggo. Puwede ring gamitin ng mga guro ang mga magagandang kuwento sa Hiligaynon. Dapat din nilang ipagmamalaki ang ating lengguwahe, dahil maganda ito at hindi ito inferior sa English at Tagalog. Iwasan din nila ang mangopya ng style o likha ng iba kasi kawalan ‘yon ng artistic value at kawalan din sa mismong nangongopya dahil pag ang isang manunulat ay nagkaroon ng kaso ng plagiarism, katapusan na ‘yon ng kanyang ambisyong maging sikat na manunulat.


Sa obserbasyon mo, ano ang mga temang madalas isulat ngayon ng mga manunulat na Ilonggo, kilala man o nagsisimula pa?

Karamihan ng mga entries sa Palanca ay tungkol sa conflict sa pamilya. Meron ding mga love stories between male and gay, mga nangyayari sa society, at me iba namang nagsusulat tungkol sa kulturang Hiligaynon. Meron ding nag-attempt magsulat ng science-fiction. Marami na ring nagsusulat tungkol sa buhay ng LGBT. Iba-iba na rin ang tema ng mga kuwento sa Hiligaynon, isang patunay na me mga nagaganap na pagbabago at di na rin pahuhuli ang mga Ilonggo.


E, kumusta na ba ang lagay ng panitikang Hiligaynon? Sino-sino ang ilan sa mga manunulat na umaambag dito?

Sa ngayon, marami namang development sa Hiligaynon Literature. Meron nang librong pampanitikan na me kasaling mga kuwento sa ibang lengguwahe. Dati, kaunti lang ang sumusulat sa Hiligaynon, pero ngayon, marami na. Meron na Hall of Fame Awardees sa Palanca na puro Hiligaynon stories ang sinulat. Pero sana me mga pelikula din tayong nasa lengguwaheng Hiligaynon.

Lahat naman ng mga manunulat, sikat man o hindi ay may sariling ambag sa Hiligaynon Literature.  Nandyan si Dr. Deriada, Dr. Alice Tan-Gonzales, Peter Solis Nery, Gen Asenjo atbp.  Lahat sila ay may importanteng ambag.


Pumapasok na rin ang mga manunulat sa self-publishing at e-publishing. May gumagamit na rin ng social media at blog para palakasin ang panitikang Hiligaynon. Ano ang opinyon mo sa mga ito?

Puwedeng-puwede, dahil ang Facebook ang sikat ngayon. Pag walang Facebook account, di ba parang di ka ipinanganak sa panahong lahat ay madaling matutunan o gawin? Ang Facebook ay isang magandang avenue sa pagpalaganap ng Hiligaynon Literature. Tulad ni Gen Asenjo, meron siyang Balay Sugidanon kung saan mababasa ang mga gawa ng iba pang manunulat sa Visayas.

Dati naman akong sales and marketing manager ng DLSU Press, Inc. at nalaman ko, na mas me bentahe pag iba ang nag-publish kasi dumaan ito sa proseso ng publication na dapat me dalawa o tatlong mag-referee para patunay na ang sinulat mo ay worth publishing. Although uso naman ang self-publishing, mas gusto ko ‘yong dumaan sa proseso kasi madali naman mag-publish ng sariling libro lalo na kung me pera naman.




Alam nating malaki ang ambag mo sa panitikang Hiligaynon. Paano mo pa ipagpapatuloy ito?

Iyong magsulat pa ng mga kuwento sa Hiligaynon, malaking ambag ‘yon. Kasi noong unang nanalo ako sa Palanca, sabi noong estudyante ko, “Ma’am, Hiligaynon lang naman ang pinanalunan  niyo, di naman English o Tagalog.” Para bang sinabi niya, walang kuwenta ang wikang Hiligaynon at inferior ito sa ibang languages. Kaya gusto kong patunayan na ang magandang kuwento, kahit sa anong lengguwahe mo ito isinulat, kung talagang maganda ay puwedeng isalin sa ibang lengguwahe.


Bukod sa pagiging manunulat, isa ka ring guro. Mahirap bang pagsabayin ang dalawang propesyong ito? At paano mo nagagamit ang pagtuturo sa pagpapalaganap ng panitikang Hiligaynon?

Ang pagsusulat at pagtuturo ay nangangailangan ng oras. Minsan mas maraming oras sa pagtuturo dahil iyon ang pinagkakakitaan, kaya wala na masyadong oras sa pagsusulat. Mahirap pagsabayin ang pagtuturo at pagsusulat, pero pag ginusto mo talaga ang magsulat, maglalaan ka talaga ng oras para dito.

Dahil hindi naman ako nagtuturo ng Literature sa school, mahirap ngang mag-influence sa mga estudyanteng gustong matuto sa pagsusulat. Pero sa school namin, meron namang taunang literary contest at lagi naman akong hurado. Meron ding mga estudyanteng humihingi ng kopya ng sinulat ko at kahit iilan lang ang di nalululong sa social media, puwede na ring maka-influence sa kanila.


Bukod sa tula at maikling kuwento, nagsusulat ka rin ba ng akdang pambata? O meron ka bang natatandaang gawa mo na isinulat mo para sa bata?

In the early 1990s, nag-try akong magsulat sa Hiligaynon ng mga kuwentong pambata. Naaalala ko ang isang title, “Ang mga Dwende sa Bubon”. Noong bata pa kasi ako, nakakita talaga ako ng isang batang may blonde na buhok, nakangiti sa akin. Siguro, mga 5 years old ako noon, nag-iisa akong gising; tulog na ang lahat. At pag namamasyal kami ng ate ko noon, may nakikita akong duwende sa itaas ng simboryo, na itinuro ko sa ate ko pero di naman niya nakikita. Sabi pa niya, napakataas noon para akyatin ng mga bata. Naniniwala talaga ako na me ibang nilalang sa mundong ito, maliban sa tao.


Bakit sa tingin mo ay hindi ganoon kasigla ang panitikang pambata sa Hiligaynon?

Isang dahilan ang hindi natin pagbigay ng pagpahalaga sa mga kuwento o tula para sa mga batang Ilonggo. Noong mga bata pa ako, ang mga lolo at lola, mga tiya at tiyo ay nagkukuwento ng mga alamat sa lugar namin. Pero ang mga magulang ngayon, sa modernong panahon, ay nakalimutan na ang mga kuwento noon, at di na rin nagkukuwento sa kanilang anak. Isa mga rason ay ang kawalan na rin ng time.

Ang ikinukuwento rin kasi sa mga bata ay ang mga foreign literature tulad ng Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, etc. Me mga kopya akong itinago sa aking kabinet, pero nang namatay ang nanay ko, at nandito na ako sa Maynila, ang mga gamit ko sa amin ay pinaghati-hatian na ng mga naiwan kong kapatid doon, at pati ang mga libro ko at mga collection ng Hiligaynon ay nangawala na.


Paano ba natin mapapasigla ang ating panitikang pambata? At may balak ka bang magsulat pa ng mga akdang pambata? 

Sa school, di ba, sa early grades ay itinuturo na ang ating sariling lengguwahe? Ang mga teachers sa antas na ito ang siyang dapat bumuhay sa mga kuwentong pambata sa ating sariling wika. At puwede ring i-suggest ito sa mga namumuno sa CHED at DepEd sa Region 6 na maging part ng lesson sa local language.

Yes, may balak ako na sumulat ng libro tungkol sa mga kuwentong pambata sa Hiligaynon. Di pa rin ako nakakabalik sa literary writing kasi puro research work ang ginagawa ko sa ngayon. Pero isa yan sa aking adhikain na pagyamanin ang literaturang Hiligaynon sa pamamagitan ng pagsulat ng mga kuwentong pambata sa ating wika.


Maraming salamat sa pagpapaunlak sa panayam na ito! Ano ang mga dapat asahan ng mga tagahanga mo sa iyo ngayong 2015?

Sabi ko nga sa Research Director namin sa Lyceum, babalik muna ako sa pagsusulat ng kuwento at tula, at hindi na lang puro scientific research ang gagawin  ko. Hindi na rin ako tatanggap ng advisee sa thesis at dissertation dahil kinukuha nito ang panahon na dapat ilalaan ko sa pagsusulat. At sa aking pagbabalik, nangangako akong higit na maging maganda ang aking mga katha.

Pamela Imperial

Pamela de Castro Imperial is this year’s winner of the Lampara Books Children’s Story Writing Contest for “The First Star,” her first story for children.

Christopher S. Rosales’ “Pol Purol” and Ma. Cecilia C. de la Rosa’s “Punong Maiinggitin,” on the other hand, are second and third place winners, respectively. Honorable mentions are also given to Sabrina Kate D. Paner-Montiel’s “Alitang Alpabeto,” Raymond G. Falgui’s “How to Eat Halo-Halo,” and Mark Norman S. Boquiren’s “Sa Aming Bahay-Bahayan.” [Announcement HERE]PAM IMPERIAL 2

Pam’s story will be published by Lampara Publishing House, Inc. (LPHI), along with the runners-up and honorable mentions. She will also receive P30,000.00 and a scroll of merit during the awarding ceremony set later this year.

Pam is a freelance writer, musical theatre teacher, theater actor, and BA Humanities graduate from the University of Asia and the Pacific. As an actor, she was cast as Catherine Lyons in The Sandbox Collective’s Dani Girl, as Harriet in Singapore Repertory Theatre’s TLC production of Rapunzel, and as Crustacea in Trumpets’ Little Mermaid at the Batroun Festival in Lebanon, to name a few. She also worked as production manager for 9Works Theatricals’ You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, as assistant director/writer for Chancel Repertory’s The Choice, producer for The V-Life program of Channel [V] Philippines, and as activity host for Hello Kitty at Sea onboard Superstar Virgo.

According to Pam, her ultimate dream is to someday be able to use Arts and Theatre as means to inspire hope and change in the hearts of the underprivileged.

To welcome her to the world of writing for Filipino children, we asked Pam to share her ideas behind her winning story and other things about writing.


Hi, Pam! Can you tell us a little bit about “The First Star”?

“The First Star” is my imagining of how a star came to be, a long long time ago. In its essence, it is a story of friendship.


And what inspired you to pen this story?

I am a night sky person. Whenever I’m outside at night, I always find myself just looking up. Whenever I’ve had a challenging day, I always find that looking up at the sky is most comforting. I think “The First Star” is a result of all my night sky-gazing. It is a story very close to my heart. I actually wrote the first draft of it around ten years ago for a college project, and always dreamt of getting it published someday.


“The First Star”is your first work for children, right? Can you share with us why you have decided to write for children?

Yes, this is my first still-to-be published work for children.  As a child, I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by books and by people who loved to share stories. As I grew older, I continued to fall in love with good stories, but no matter what else I read – I realized that I loved going back to the books and stories I loved as a child. I hope to share in that magic of good stories – if you capture the hearts of children, you will then be part of the rest of their lives. I am a believer of stories – that good stories help form good hearts and open, creative, inquisitive minds. I believe in the power of stories, and of how it can help children create a good and better world around them.


Wow, so children’s books have had a lasting influence on you. What are the most recent children’s or young adult books that you read?

I recently finished Shooting Kabul by N.H. Senzai – a young adult fiction book about Fadi, a teenage boy adjusting to life after their family escapes from Afghanistan to America.

The last Filipino children’s stories I fell in love with and bought copies of were Sandosenang Sapatos by Luis Gatmaitan and Big Brother by Grace Chong. Beautiful!

I also reread The Little Prince a lot.



LPHI is one of the publishing houses that create books for Filipino children and they have been organizing the writing contest for three years now. What made you join this year?

It was a spur of the moment decision, actually. I’ve always wanted to join, but never did. I believe I saw the announcement of the contest deadline a little more than a week before the deadline itself. I call it divine inspiration, because right then and there, I decided to rewrite (for the nth time) “The First Star” I wrote in college ten years ago, and submit it. I submitted it a day before the actual deadline. It was my leap of faith – I decided it was time to stop ‘just dreaming,’ and take a risk.


How does it feel winning the first prize, especially after knowing that there were 81 entries?

I was completely surprised! Then I felt elated and cried for a bit. The announcement also came a few weeks before Christmas, so I decided to receive it as God’s early Christmas gift. This was my first attempt at submitting a story; I was hoping to win something, but I didn’t imagine first prize at all. I feel very, very grateful.


Do you have a dream illustrator for this story or your future books?

Robert Alejandro! I also have dear friends whose illustrations I admire so much – I would love to work with them too, someday.


And what are we expecting from you now as a writer for children?

I truly hope (believing and claiming!) that this is the beginning for me – that I continue on this path of getting more children’s stories published – and read aloud in storytelling sessions! I also hope to someday write plays for children, and the young-at-heart. This is also one of my dreams, to contribute a material for Philippine Theatre.


We also hope to read more stories from you! Thanks for gracing our blog, Pam!