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Multi-awarded illustrator Sergio Bumatay III relates to us his story of creating May Darating na Trak Búkas, a poetry book written by Rio Alma (pen name of National Artist for Literature Virgilio S. Almario).
Some of Sergio’s works include Naku, Nakuu, Nakuuu!, Tuwing Sabado, Ay, Naku!, and Tight Times. Many of these are awarded with local and international honors, such as the Philippine Board on Books for Young People –Alcala Illustrator’s Prize, the National Children’s Book Award, and the International Board on Books for Young People-Sweden Peter Pan Prize.
May Darating na Trak Búkas is one his latest offerings. Now, a Sambat Trust school library has a copy of this book, thanks to Sergio's kind donation.
First of all, thanks for the copy of May Darating na Trak Búkas!
You’re very welcome! I hope kids will love it as I did in creating the book.
Surely, they will! Can you tell us a little more about this wonderful poetry book?
We really wanted to make the book special and beautiful, as you can see from the printing and binding, and of course with the heartwarming content. A hardbound children’s book is very rare locally, and it’s like holding a real work of art, only in book form! It’s our “gift” to kids.
It says on your blog that the book started with Rio Alma writing a poem based on one of your works. Can you briefly explain the process that followed?
It actually started with one of my sketches. We experimented on the “reverse process” of creating a book: coming up with images first as inspiration for the story. In this case, I made several drawings, from which I outlined the imagery to form a storyline. Then the publishing team asked Sir Rio, which I’m very grateful that he found time, to write a poem inspired from the imagery.
What were the pleasures and challenges in the process? And was there a difference between illustrating a poetry book and storybooks?
It was a pleasure creating the book because I was given a lot of room for creative expression. That independence means I can offer a lot of ideas to make the book more beautiful.
Illustrating a poetry book can be a bit more experimental than picture storybooks. For me, that is more fun.
Poetry is really fun! But there are only a handful of poetry books for Filipino children. How does May Darating na Trak Búkas contribute to the growth of this genre?
I think that by offering a beautiful book, both inside and out, many kids might learn to appreciate the power it has to transform and inspire imagination, and hopefully treasure a book forever.
What book projects can we expect from you? Are we going to see more poetry book illustrations?
Hopefully, I can make more poetry books or books with lesser words. I would like to come up with my own wordless book someday.
And any message to the teachers, students, and librarians who have now access to your wonderful book?
I’m just grateful that they appreciate my perspective in illustrating. I hope that they will be able to share that magic to many kids and people in general as possible.
The National Library of Singapore was teeming with people on 3 June 2015. It was the first day of the Writers and Illustrators Conference, one of the programmes of the Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC). AFCC is a gathering of creators for children from Asia and other parts of the world.
This year’s AFCC opened with Candy Gourlay’s keynote address on why Asia needs more writers for children. Ani Almario also talked about Adarna House’s experience in publishing children’s books in five Philippine languages, while Andrea Pasion-Flores introduced Jacaranda Agency in a panel on working with literary agents.
During the breaks, I chatted with Cheeno Marlo Sayuno, Rommel Joson, Jhoan Medrano, and Maria Gabriela Aparentado. The four of them were participants in the Writers and Illustrators Retreat, which happened at Bintan, Indonesia days before the conference.
I spent the rest of my day listening to Fred Chao’s sharing on producing comics with 'mature' themes; Michael Heyman’ lecture-workshop on nonsense literature; and Ying Chang Compestine’s experience in working with several literary agents.
And the day ended with a celebration of Singaporean creators and books for children since Singapore is celebrating its 50th year of statehood.
I started my second day with Sarah Odedina and Allison Norrington’s talk about transmedia publishing. They looked at the trends in digital publishing and social media and how these affect creators for children. Then I listened to Anushka Ravinshakar, who reacquainted us with the uses of humour in children’s works.
I skipped some sessions to check out the books at Closetful of Books, the bookstore for the event, and Adarna House and other booths of Asian publishers. I met there Dr. Rosario Torres-Yu and her daughter, Karina Yu, Pamela Imperial, and Jonathan Rañola, whose illustration was exhibited at the library’s gallery.
I then sat in the first AFCC debate, which featured Shirin Yim Bridges, Christopher Cheng, Sarah Odedina, and Nury Vittachi. Each of them opined on the topic, “Asian readers deserve better than translations of Western works.”
Christopher Cheng and I had to rush down the building for our panel with authors Reenita Maholtra Hora and Golda Mowe. He became our new moderator, since Ken Spillman couldn’t make it that day. Reenita shared how she infused traditional Indian mythology in her latest YA novel, while Golda explained the intricacies of the Iban culture of Borneo present in her novels. I closed the session (and my day) with a short presentation on creating picture books for indigenous children.
On the third day, I decided to listen to several YA authors. AJ Betts shared her experience in writing about love without the cliché and the melodrama; Elaine Forrestal presented her process of writing the historical YA fiction, Straggler’s Reef; and Reenita Maholtra Hora and Suzanne Kamata talked about writing across cultures.
I also sat in Wendy Bink’s talk about making the most of one’s published work by sharing how she marketed one of Australia’s well-loved characters, Stripey, and Sally Murphy and Genevieve Sarah Loh’s session on reviewing works for children.
During the break, I sneaked in the children’s section of the National Library. It houses a lot of books and educational materials partitioned according to types and ages. (I hope to see a library for Filipino children as organized and beautiful as this.)
I then went home after two days, bringing the books I bought and the insights I gained in the different aspects of creating and producing for children.