Jomike is a prolific author for children with titles that include Ang Pambihirang Sombrero, Dindo Pundido, Foldabots, and the Jepoy Jeep series. Lub-Dub, Lub-Dub, the book he illustrated and written by Russell Molina, was also one of the Best Reads at the 2010 NCBA. He is a member of Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan (Ang INK), the Philippines' first and only organization of illustrators for children.
Jomike answers some of our questions about Tagu-Taguan.
Tagu-Taguan is based on my interest in insects since childhood. As an only child fascinated by all things science-oriented, I often observed plants and insects in our garden. I eventually caught insects and put them in tanks so that I could observe their nocturnal behaviour and feeding habits in a safe place away from mosquitoes.
I was a fan of David Attenborough, a famous National Geographic documentarist in the early 90's. I really enjoyed the natural world and used my observations to draw monsters and other things.
One of the advantages is that I get full control of the content. This is a very powerful factor since I get to choose what I want to illustrate instead of being forced to illustrate an insect I do not like. I do not see any disadvantages.
Though writing may seem too academic to some who are not attuned to it, children's book writing in particular, is for me a very artistic and poetic approach. It does have a few speed bumps along the way, like finding an appropriate rhyme or a sufficient syllabic count. But all these are just like drawings that you can erase and redraw. In the end, you gain experience and improvement.
Working as both writer and illustrator is the most wonderful thing in the world. I feel like I am inventing my own tiny world inside each book, and my readers are those who are nice enough to care and join me in it.
How did you feel after Tagu-Taguan won at the 2010 National Children’s Book Awards?
Firstly, I was surprised since I never expected it. I did not even attend the awarding ceremony because I knew there were so many other books out there. I feel thankful it gained this recognition. Though it is not part of my plan for my books to gain awards, I only aim to produce quality work in each publication, for the books to be effective for its readers and its primary use (counting 1-10) and secondary use (interest in insects).
I was lucky enough to have my title chosen for it. I was just informed by the publisher that it was chosen among others. I feel blessed that this was part of it. I guess it is the general appeal of insects that transcends cultures, beliefs, and ethnicities that made it a viable choice. I am happy it will gain a wider readership. We did not have these opportunities in the early 2000's when kid lit in Manila was still picking up its pace.
And any word to our supporters?
Thank you for your continued support, and for choosing my work. This really is icing on the cake. As book creators and content providers, we already have a sweet profession, but awards like this give us more drive to continually improve ourselves and outdo our previous work.
To the readers and educators, thank you for the readership. If this book has inspired you or your students in any way, feel free to share it with me in the social network. I am always happy to hear from my readers.