Genaro Gojo Cruz

Isa sa mga naging bahagi ng pagdiriwang ng National Children’s Book Day ay ang paggawad kay Genaro Gojo Cruz ng PBBY-Salanga Prize para sa kaniyang maikling kuwentong pambata na “Makinang Makinang.” Isang guro ng panitikan sa Genaro at marami nang naisulat na aklat pambata at napanalunang mga patimpalak sa pagsusulat.

Kinapanayam namin si Genaro tungkol sa kaniyang pagkapanalo, ang kaniyang nanalong lahok, at ang buhay niya bilang manunulat para sa mga bata.

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Pagbati pong muli sa pagkapanalo ninyo ngayong taon. Hindi po ito ang una ninyong pagkapanalo sa isang patimpalak sa pagsusulat para sa mga bata. Paano po nagiging bahagi ang mga patimpalak sa buhay ninyo bilang manunulat?

Parang ang mga patimpalak tulad ng PBBY ang aking nagiging gasoline upang makasulat ng mga kuwento para sa mga bata. Actually, di ko na concern kung mananalo o hindi, basta ang makasulat ako ng bagong kuwento, ayos na sa akin. Kung di man pinalad na manalo, ayos lang sa akin kasi ginagawa ko naman itong libro. Kung manalo man, bonus na iyon talaga sa akin.

 

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Nakatutuwa po ang konsepto ng “Makinang Makinang.” Paano po nabuo ang konseptong ito? At ano po ang naging proseso ninyo sa pagsulat nito?

Matagal na itong nasa aking utak. Kumbaga parang hinog na hinog na ang kuwento nang isulat ko ito noong Nobyembre 2015 sa panahon ng APEC at walang klase. Ang Nanay ko ay isang mananahi kaya ang mga deskripsiyon ko sa makina at ang mga inilahad na karanasan ng bata sa kuwento ay mga batay sa totoo kong karanasan noong bata.

 

Ang tema po ng pagdiriwang ng NCBD ngayong taon ay Bumasa at Lumaya. Mayroon po ba kayong karanasan na nagbasa at “lumaya” kayo sa isang bagay?

Sa mga sandaling nagsusulat ako ng mga akda para sa mga bata ay nakadarama ako ng paglaya. Ngayong matanda na ako saka ko lang napag-isip-isip na noong bata ako ay nakakulong pala ako sa mga gawaing-bahay, sa mabibigat na tungkuling pangmatanda. Ang pagsulat ng mga akda para sa mga bata, kung gayon, ay isang paglaya sa akin upang maging masaya, maglaro, sumulat, magtanong, at iba pa.

 

Genaro

 

Karamihan po ng mga lumabas ninyong aklat kamakailan ay isinulat para sa mga batang natututo o nagsisimula pa lamang magbasa. Bakit po ninyo naisipang magsulat para sa grupong ito?

Nakikita ko kasing medyo bumabaha na ng mga aklat para sa mga bata na may edad 8 hanggang 12. Naisip kong bigyang-pansin ang mas bata pa, ang 0-4, na ang tingin sa mga aklat ay laruan muna. Gusto kong hawakan nila ang aking mga gagawing aklat na parang laruan muna. At ngayon ko nalaman na mas mahirap pa lang sumulat ng kuwento para sa 0-4 na mga bata. Nagkukuwento ka na parang walang ikinukuwento. Nagsusulat ng kuwento gamit ang kakaunting mga salita. Ito ang pamantayan ko, kahit pang-0- 4 ang kuwento, kailangang may nangyayari o nagaganap sa kuwento at di lang parang listahan ng mga salita.

 

At ano pa po ang aasahan naming mga aklat sa inyo sa hinaharap? 

Balak kong magsulat pa ng mga aklat para sa mga 0-4 na bata, at makapaglathala ng koleksiyon ng mga tula para sa mga bata, alphabet book, at iba pa. Gusto ko ring gumawa ng mga aklat para sa mga bata na magtuturo sa kanila sa tamang paggamit ng wikang Filipino. Gusto ko ang isang aklat sa gramatika na nakapaloob sa kuwento at hindi itsurang teksbuk.

 

Ooh. Kaabang-abang po ang mga balak ninyong iyan. Maraming salamat po ulit! 

Mark Lawrence Andres

MarkIsa sa mga pinarangan noong Martes sa National Children’s Book Day si Mark Lawrence Andres ng PBBY-Alcala Prize para sa kaniyang mga guhit sa kuwentong “Makinang Makinang” ni Genaro Gojo Cruz. Si Mark ay isang graphic designer at kasapi ng Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan.

Malugod niyang sinagot ang ilang tanong namin tungkol sa kaniyang pagkapanalo at sa mga gawain niya bilang ilustrador para sa mga bata.

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Pagbating muli sa pagkapanalo mo ngayong taon. Ito ang una mong pagkapanalo sa isang patimpalak sa pagguhit para sa mga bata. Bakit mo napagdesisyunang sumali ngayong taon?

Sa totoo lang, matagal ko nang gustong sumali sa patimpalak na ito. Ngayon lang talaga ako nagkaroon ng oras at lakas ng loob para magpasa ng entry.

 

Nakatutuwa ang interpretasyon mo ng kuwento ni Genaro Gojo Cruz na “Makinang Makinang.” Ano ang naging proseso mo sa pagbuo ng inilahok na mga guhit?

Binasa ko muna ang buong kuwento, saka ko pinili ang mga paborito kong bahagi. Isa sa mga napili kong eksena ay ‘yong naglalaro ang bata sa makina habang nananahi ang kaniyang ina. Noong bata ako, isa rin sa paborito kong palaruan ang makinang panahi. Isa rin sa mga eksenang gusto kong iguhit ay ang pagkukuwento ng nanay tungkol sa nakaraan ng pamilya niya sa giyera. Mabigat at mahalaga ang bahaging iyon ng kuwento, kaya gumamit ako ng simbolismo para ilarawan ito. Sa kabuuan, mas nakikita ko na sa pagmamahalan ng mag-ina umiikot ang kuwento kaysa sa makinang makinang. Para sa huling eksena, ginuhit ko ang anak na masayang sinusukatan ang ina para ilarawan ang pagmamahal nila.

 

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Ang tema ng pagdiriwang ng NCBD ngayong taon ay Bumasa at Lumaya. Mayroon ka bang karanasan na nagbasa ka at “lumaya” sa isang bagay?

Tuwing nagbabasa ako ng libro, lagi akong napupunta sa ibang lugar, ibang panahon, o ibang katauhan. Para sa akin, malaya ako tuwing nararanasan ko ang mga ito tuwing nagbabasa ng libro.

 

Karamihan ng mga lumabas mong aklat pambata ay nasa mga rehiyonal na wika sa bansa. Maaari mo bang ikuwento ang mga naging karanasan mo sa pagguhit sa mga ito?

Mayroon akong tatlong libro tungkol sa pamumuhay ng mga Tboli, Blaan, at Tagakaolo. Upang higit silang makilala, pumunta kami sa mga pamayanan nila noong 2013. Dito ko nakita ang tunay nilang pamumuhay – ang mga kasuotan nila, hitsura ng mga bahay nila, pati na ang mga kagamitan nila. Sa unang tingin, parang magkakapareho lang ang mga ito sa bawat pangkat. Nakatutuwang makita ang maliliit na detalye na may iba’t ibang kahulugan sa bawat pangkat.

 

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Sino/ano ang naging mga inspirasyon mo sa iyong pagguhit para sa mga bata

Mahilig akong mag-eksperimento at sumubok ng iba’t ibang estilo sa pagguhit. Kumukuha ako ng inspirasyon sa mga koleksiyon ko ng graphic novels at artbooks pero  ang may pinakamalaking impluwensiya sa akin ay ang mga kaibigan kong ilustrador din.

 

At ano ang aasahan naming mga aklat sa iyo sa hinaharap?

Sa ngayon, gumuguhit ako para sa isang librong nakasalin din sa isang rehiyonal na wika. Sana mailalathala ito bago matapos ang taon. Bukod sa pagguhit para sa mga storybook, gusto ko sanang gumuhit ng komiks ngayong taon.

 

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Aabangan namin ‘yan, at maraming salamat ulit, Mark!

Cheeno Marlo Sayuno

Cheeno

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.

 

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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.

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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.

Susan Anne Quirante

sue quiranteSusan Anne Quirante’s short story, Si Misay sa Aming Bahay, is one of the three awardees of this year’s PBBY-Salanga Honorable Mention. An Education graduate from the University of the Philippines, she is currently an Economics and English teacher in a public secondary school in her hometown, Dumaguete City. As a blogger, she manages Istoryang BinisayaTitser! Titser!, and The Nightly Dump.

Quirante gladly shared to Kalatas her process of writing her winning story.

Kalatas: How was “Si Misay sa Aming Bahay” conceived?

Quirante: I drew inspiration for Misay from my childhood. Despite being a family of asthmatics and allergic-rhinitis sufferers, we have always kept lots of pets in the house. Inevitably, one of my earliest run-ins with mortality has been the death of a pet. The first was probably when our pet bird died. I remember my brother made an epitaph while my sister and I gathered wild flowers, unbeknownst to the adults at home that we had come to know loss and learned, as if by instinct, to use ritual as a means of coping. This memory was the central image in my mind when I set about establishing the plot.

Then, I did a lot of tweaking with the characterization because I was consciously avoiding the weak child-strong adult or ignorant child-learned adult binary used in some stories for young people. I wanted to write about a child who had the capacity to understand, and an adult who was not immune to feeling. I kept returning to the draft and revising because of this. I’m just so lucky I have friends and family who were quite supportive. They were my first readers and they gave me lots of feedback. I don’t think I would have been able to submit Misay without their help.

Kalatas: What were the challenges you faced in writing your entry?

Quirante: My first draft for the Salanga Prize was not about Misay at all. Last year, just out of the blue, I started thinking about how most children’s coloring books were very utilitarian. Coloring books that double as story books are rare, especially in the Philippine market. At the same time I was toying with the idea of writing a story that could justify its form. So I started writing about the Makulayanon, a colorful people who would slowly turn white after allowing men from a distant land into their community. I was excited by the symbolic implication that the act of coloring the story would set up.

Unfortunately, I am not skilled enough as a writer to do this story justice yet. I also need to do lots of research on the conception of whiteness in indigenous culture. So after losing about a month trying to make the story work, I had to face facts and accept my shortcomings. I found myself back at the drawing board again with the deadline looming close. I decided to fall back on what I knew well – my own childhood. After that, the idea for Misay sort of just fell on my lap.

The next challenge I faced was the story’s language. Writing creatively in Filipino isn’t really my strong suit. I don’t have the training for it. In fact, Misay is the first story I’ve ever completed writing in Filipino. I really struggled with the cadence and rhyme scheme. I was tempted many times to switch to English, but I knew in my gut it would ruin the story. I needed the cadence and rhyme of Filipino to lift the story’s psychological weight even for just a bit. I know the language is still flawed but I had to stop myself from going back and revising again at some point or I never would have submitted the draft on time!

Kalatas: Can you tell us the books or writers who influenced you as a writer?

Quirante: I read across genres so it’s hard to pin down specific influences but if I had to name one author I have admired from childhood to this day, it would have to be Ursula Le Guin. As for books from the local children’s literary scene, I like Sir Genaro Gojo’s stories the most. My two favorites are Anluwagi and Ang Aking Pamilya. His stories can sometimes be deceptively simple but are actually subtly rich in social milieu.

Kalatas: What’s next after “Si Misay sa Aming Bahay”?

Quirante: Right now, writing has sort of taken a back seat since I started teaching last month. But I continue to jot ideas down in my writing journal. The first I’d really like to work on are Cebuano early literacy materials as my show of support for MTB-MLE.

(first published in Kalatas)

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Genaro Gojo Cruz

genaro gojo cruzKilalang guro sa kolehiyo at manunulat ng mga aklat pambata si Genaro Gojo Cruz, na muling pinarangalan ng PBBY-Salanga Honorable Mention ngayong taon para sa kaniyang kuwentong “Gaano Kalayo Patungong Paaralan?” Ang kuwentong ito ang pinagbatayan ng tatlong ilustrador na binigyan ng PBBY-Alcala Grand Prize at Honorable Mention. Nakamit ni Cruz ang kaparehong parangal noong 2004 para sa kuwentong “May Gulong na Bahay.” Kinilala na rin sa iba pang timpalak ang kaniyang mga akdang pambata.

Narito siya ngayon upang sagutin ang mga tanong ng Kalatas tungkol sa kaniyang nagwaging kuwento.

Kalatas: Maaari ninyo bang isalaysay ang pagkasilang ng inyong kuwento hanggang sa pagpása ninyo nito sa patimpalak ng PBBY?

Cruz: Matagal-tagal na ring nasa isip ko ang kuwentong “Gaano Kalayo Patungong Paaralan?” Nagsimula ito sa kuwento ng mga guro na aking binigyan ng mga panayam ukol sa pagtuturo sa ilang probinsiya. Karaniwan na sa Pilipinas ang malayong lakarin ng bata papasok sa paaralan. May mga short cut naman daw na daan pero masyadong delikado para sa mga bata. Naisip kong napakayaman ng karanasan ng mga batang naglalakad nang napakalayo.

Kalatas: May mga naging pagsubok ba kayo sa pagsusulat ng inyong kuwento?

Cruz: Sa totoo, napakadali ko lang naisip ang kuwentong ito. Kumbaga, isang upuan lang. Naipon kasi ang ideya at dahil sa PBBY-Salanga Prize nagkaroon ako ng dahilan upang isulat na ito.

Nakatutuwang makita ang mga magandang ilustrasyon ng mga sumali sa PBBY-Alcala Prize. ‘Yung tatlong nagwagi, ang “Gaano Kalayo Patungong Paaralan?” ang kanilang piniling lapatan ng ilustrasyon. Siguro’y napansin nila na mayaman talaga sa visual images ang aking kuwento. Pinili ko rin ang isa sa kanila upang maglapat ng ilustrasyon sa kuwento para maging aklat pambata.

Kalatas: Anong mga aklat o sinong mga manunulat ang nagkaroon ng impluwensiya sa inyong pagsusulat?

Cruz: Si Rene O. Villanueva ang una kong nakilalang manunulat para sa mga bata. Noon kasi, wala akong kamalayan na mayroon palang manunulat para sa mga bata. Kahit si Lola Basyang na si Severino Reyes sa totoong buhay ay hindi ko kilala. Gustong-gusto ko ang “Unang Baboy sa Langit” ni Sir Rene. Talagang pambatang-pambata para sa akin. Kapag nagsusulat ako ng kuwentong pambata, ang “Unang Baboy sa Langit” ang ginagamit kong pamantayan sa wika, sa estruktura, sa tauhang bata, diyalogo, values, at iba pa.

Kalatas: Ano ang aasahan namin sa inyo sa hinaharap?

Cruz: May lalabas akong koleksiyon ng mga tulang pambata, alphabet book at salin sa wikang Filipino ng mga kuwentong bayan. Sumusulat din ako ngayon ng mga kuwento para sa mga batang edad 0-4.

(unang lumabas sa Kalatas)

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Michael P. De Guzman

Kalatas once again celebrates the National Children’s Book Day (NCBD) by featuring this year’s awardees of the Philippine Board on Books for Young People (PBBY) Salanga Writer’s Prize and Alcala Illustrator’s Prize for the whole month of July.

Kalatas Michael P De Guzman (July 5) (1)According to the website of PBBY, the lead organizing agency, NCBD “is celebrated every third week of July to commemorate the anniversary of the publication of Jose Rizal’s The Monkey and the Turtle in Trubner’s Oriental Record.”

First up is Michael P. De Guzman, a fellow of the 1995 UP National Writers’ Workshop. His stories and poems have been published in magazines like the Sunday Inquirer Magazine and thePhilippines Graphic and anthologized in Ladlad 3, the Silliman Journal, Kids These Days: Stories from Luna East Arts Academy, and the upcomingAll This Wanting: New Adult Quick Reads Volume 2. His story “Reyna Elena” is recognized this year as a PBBY-Salanga Honorable Mention, an award he also received in 2003 for his story “Dalawang Daddy Ni Billy.” He currently works in the field of HIV/AIDS.

Kalatas: What was the idea behind your entry, “Reyna Elena”?

De Guzman: I usually get ideas for my stories from a combination of things that I either read or watched and from the experiences I have undergone. Sometimes the idea is a question I ask myself, usually beginning with, “What if?” Oftentimes the idea stays with me for a while, just sort of gestating—during which I examine the idea, exploring characters and situations that will fit the idea, until I sit down and write the first draft. Then I abandon the draft for about a week before editing and revising it.

The idea for my PBBY entry bounced around in my mind for at least a year before I was able to write the first draft. When I was growing up, I was fascinated by the gay men who did my mother’s hair and make-up for special occasions. Their obviously feminine appearance, coupled with the knowledge that they were men, confused and stoked my curiosity. But I didn’t approach them because as a child, I was shy around adults. So I wondered, what if someone like that became friends with a child? How would the child’s family react? How would the community feel about the friendship? Initially I intended the child in the story to be a boy, but when I finalized the plot and the situations in the story, I decided that a girl would better serve the whole story.

Gay hairdressers and beauticians are ubiquitous in many Filipino communities and for the most part they are tacitly accepted in their “role”, which is somewhat in the periphery in relation to the other members of that community. Children share this position as well because of their dependence to adults. I wanted to show that in some situations, those in the periphery can in fact contribute to achieving the community’s goals, whether it is attaining a certain level of prosperity or even survival.

Kalatas: What were the challenges you faced in writing the story?

Kalatas Michael P De Guzman (July 5) (2)De Guzman: Because of the process that I mentioned, writing the first draft was relatively easier than editing, revising, and finalizing the story. Fortunately, I have friends who read the early drafts of the story and gave not just valuable inputs on the characters, the plot, and some details but also shared how the story made them feel. When I read fiction or poetry, I always take note of my emotional response to the material so knowing how my work affects the readers emotionally is something I value.

The challenge is, in a way, technical because it’s about craft—the selection of words to use in talking about certain things like homosexuality, gender, and discrimination, etc., keeping in mind the young audience of the story.

But since I have decided that these are the kind of stories that I will write, I have also prepared myself for doing exactly that. My previous entry in the PBBY, which also awarded Honorable Mention back in 2003, was about a boy who is being raised by his gay father and his male lover so thematically “Reyna Elena” is similar.

Kalatas: Can you name the authors or books that influenced you as a writer?

De Guzman: As a child, I didn’t read a lot of books because my grandmother, when I learned to read, encouraged me to read newspapers and magazines instead of picture books. I don’t know what she was thinking then. I was already in high school when I discovered Dr. Seuss and Maurice Sendak, about the same time that I also began reading Stephen King.

I find it difficult to identify books or writers that influence my writing because I think readers are in a better position to answer this question. I can, however, name books and authors that have profoundly affected me and my desire to write. Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince is one such book. Jim Grimsley’s Dream Boy is another. Stephen King, Edmund White, and Joyce Carol Oates are some of the writers whose work truly resonates for me. But even if I have my favorite authors, I also read the works of other authors, foreign and Filipinos alike.

At home, I keep a pile of to-read books. I try to read one book a week, so that the pile does not grow uncontrollably. Just last week I found Tall Story by Candy Gourlay in Booksale and I’m looking forward to reading that book.

Kalatas: How do/will you celebrate the National Children’s Book Day?

De Guzman: In the last couple of years, I have observed National Children’s Book Day by going to Booksale and purchasing at least three books for young readers. This year Booksale will have to give way to the PBBY awarding ceremony at Museo Pambata.

Kalatas: What projects are we expecting from you in the future?

De Guzman: These days I am mostly editing my short stories and poems. I am preparing a book of short stories and a collection of poems for submission to a publisher. I asked a writer-friend to critique the manuscript and we’re in the middle of discussing the stories.

I am intermittently working on a novel for older children/young adults. Like most of my fiction this is gay-themed. I am also awaiting the feedback of the publisher I’ve been corresponding with since last year regarding the manuscript that I have revised according to their recommendations. If things go well, that will be my first book for children. Fingers crossed until then!

(first published in Kalatas)