Category Archives: Inspiration

Wondergirl Ilay

Wonder IlayImage copyright © 2017 May T Papa

I met Ilay in 2012. Mama Lyzeth told me that we will get along well, because Ilay loves books.

True enough, when Ilay and I met, we instantly became friends. She had just undergone a very delicate operation that took out a large tumor from between her eyes. But from her wide smile, her very quick and playful manner, it didn’t seem as if she had just gone through something very scary and painful. She was only four years old.

She must have some kind of superpowers, I thought. Amazing kid!

Ilay and her mother live in Bataan. They just come to Manila for Ilay’s treatments. Even if I wanted to visit her, Bataan was just too far away. Years passed, I was able to see Ilay grow up, through the photos Mama Lyzeth shared on her Facebook page.

“Ilay’s first day in school” Mama Lyzeth captioned one photograph. “Ate Ilay makes it to the Top 5 in class,” she captioned another. I was happy Ilay was growing up to be a happy, smart, and pretty young lady.

Last Sunday, Mama Lyzeth sent me a PM. And then I saw Ilay’s new pics. Apparently all these years, Ilay has still been very sickly.

“Things are not looking look good for Ilay,” Mama Lyzeth wrote. “The infection in her blood has reached her brain. She continues to fight, but we expect to lose her anytime now. She is already very weak.”

At age 9, brave Ilay is fighting her bravest fight yet, but her mortal body cannot keep up anymore. We are lifting Ilay up to God, in whose loving arms she can finally find comfort and rest.

Nakilala ko si Ilay noong 2012. Nasabi ni Mama Lyzeth na magkakasundo kami, dahil napakahilig ni Ilay sa libro.

Noong magkakilala kami, agad nga kaming nagkaibigan ni Ilay. Noo’y kakalampas pa lamang niya sa isang delikadong operasyon na nagtanggal ng malaking tumor sa pagitan ng kanyang mga mata. Ngunit di mo ito mababakas sa napakalaki niyang ngiti at liksi ng kilos. Tila walang nakakatakot o masakit na pinagdaanan. Apat na taon pa lamang siya.

Baka may superpowers siya, naisip ko tuloy. Pambihirang bata!

Ngunit sa Bataan nakatira si Ilay at ang kanyang nanay. Lumuluwas lamang sila kapag magpapagamot si Ilay. Gusto ko man siyang dalawin ay napakalayo ng Bataan. Sa kabila ng lahat, sa paglipas ng panahon, nasubaybayan ko ang kanyang paglaki mula sa mga letratong ibinabahagi ni Mama Lyzeth sa Facebook.

“Unang araw ni Ilay sa paaralan,” ani Mama Lyzeth sa isang letrato. “Top 5 si Ate Ilay,” aniya naman sa isa. Nakakatuwang makitang lumalaki si Ate Ilay na isang masiyahing, matalino, at magandang dalagita.

Bigla na lang noong Linggo, pinadalhan ako ng mensahe ni Mama Lyzeth. At nakita ko ang mga bagong larawan ni Ilay. Sa kabila pala ng kanyang masasayang letrato, sakitin pa rin pala si Ilay.

“Hindi maganda ang lagay ni Ilay,” aniya. “Umakyat na ang impeksyon niya sa dugo sa utak. Patuloy pa rin siyang lumalaban, ngunit ‘di na namin siya inaasahang magtatagal. Napakahina na ng kanyang katawan.”

Sa edad 9 na taon, ang pambihirang si Ilay ay lumalaban sa pinakamalaking laban ng kanyang buhay, ngunit hindi na kakayanan ng kanyang katawan. Itinataas namin ang aming pinakamamahal na si Ilay sa kandungan ng Panginoong Diyos, kung saan siya makahahanap ng ginhawa at pamamahinga.

Nurture vs Nature

How much does nature contribute to an individual’s formation? How much does their environment influence their being? Is behavior inherited (ie genetic) or acquired–or both?

“Nature is what we think of as pre-wiring and is influenced by genetic inheritance and other biological factors. Nurture is generally taken as the influence of external factors after conception e.g. the product of exposure, experience and learning on an individual.”

from simplypsychology.org

According to their LinkedIn page, “Al Jalila Cultural Centre for Children is founded on the belief that culture is essential to understanding both ourselves and the world in which we live today. The overall aim is to enrich the cultural lives of children and prepare them to welcome their future.”

This, I believe, is what the world needs to nurture confident, culturally literate and emotionally intelligent kids–a cultural centre like the Al Jalila Cultural Centre for Children. The Centre encourages creative self-expression. They even have a 24-hour family radio station, Pearl FM (with 5 studios) where kids can call in and talk about just anything.

I was privileged to be taken on a tour around the complex, and I was just awed at the facilities and the conceptualization, creative energy, as well as resources that brought the centre to life.

Grateful to the Sharjah Book Authority for arranging my storytelling activity at the Al Jalila Cultural Centre for Children as part of the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival 2017. Thanks also to Ms. Ayesha Juma, AJCCC Director for Program Management, and the very accommodating AJCCC staff for making me feel so welcome and taking me on a wonderful tour around their centre.

Sharjah Scrapbook

Sharjah is widely considered to be the cultural capital of the United Arab Emirates. It is a city that beautifully juxtaposes the old with the new. For the 2017 Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival, we were billeted at the Sharjah Hilton which had a vantage view of the sunrise over the Khalid Lagoon. The sunrises are spectacularly beautiful from the hotel, as the city’s sand-colored palette amazingly reflected the colors of the sun.

Wish List: Anong Pilipinong aklat pambata o pangkabataan ang gusto mong mailimbag?

1. Isang aklat pambata ni National Artist Virgilio S. Almario tungkol sa kung paano maging makata, at serye ng mga aklat na hihimok sa mga batang subukang magsulat din ng maikling kwento, awit, dula, at personal na sanaysay–upang maging bahagi ito ng malikhaing pagpapahayag sa kanilang sarili. Malaki kasing suliranin ng ating kabataan ay ang paghanap sa kanilang pagkakakilanlan, kung kaya nahuhumaling sa cosplay. Walang masama dito, ngunit sana’y magkaroon din sila ng venue upang mahanap ang kanilang panloob na pagkakakilanlan.

Ngunit, bumalik tayo sa dream book ko na isusulat sana ni Sir Rio. Sa lahat ng genre, ang tula pa rin ang pinaka-intimidating sa madla, hindi lang sa ating kultura, pero maging sa dayuhang kultura. Kung basehan ang mga kuwentong-pambatang nilikha niya, ang saya siguro matuto ng paglikha ng tula mula kay Sir Rio, kahit ito ay sa pamamagitan ng isang how-to book lamang. Sana ito ay masaya ang pagkakadisenyo at sana ito ay may mga makukulay na ilustrasyon, upang ito’y mas masayang basahin.

2. Mas maraming tunay na “picture book”–mga aklat na pasisimulan ng mga ilustrador, hindi ng manunulat. O totally walang teksto. Panahon na para makilala natin ang ating mga Shaun Tan, David Weisner, Jillian Tamaki, at Isabelle Arsenault. Ang aktibong gumagawa nito, ng pag-initiate ng ilustrador sa paglikha ng aklat, marahil, ay si Jomike Tejido. Lumalago na rin ang lokal na graphic novel industry, na nagsyo-showcase ng mahuhusay na trabaho ng mga ilustrador na Pinoy. Ngunit, napakalaki pa ng potensyal ng picture book, may mga uring hindi pa natin nakikita dito sa Pilipinas. Hindi naman tayo nagkukulang sa mga ilustrador na may kakayahang mangyari ito. Kulang tayo, marahil, sa mga premyong mala-Caldecott at siguro, mas masigasig na encouragement mula sa mga publisher. Ang Canvas books ay may ganitong layunin sa paglikha ng picture books–nauuna idevelop ang biswal bago teksto–ngunit may kamahalan lang ang kanilang mga aklat. Sana ay may pang-commercial market sila. Ang PBBY Illustrators Prize naman, sa tingin ko, ay maaaring maging daan upang mangyari ito kung siguro minsan bawat dalawang taon o salitan ng taon, iuuna nilang ilunsad ang Illustrators Prize kaysa Writers Prize.

3. Mas maraming aklat para sa mga batang may special needs. Upang tunay at tuluyang maisakatuparan ang layunin  ng Deped sa kanilang “No Child Left Behind”, kailangang bigyang-tuon at kilalanin din ang pangangailangan sa edukasyon ng mga batang may kapansanan sa pamamagitan ng paglikha ng mas inclusive na lipunan para sa kanila. Ang unang-unang hakbang ay ang pagturo ng pag-unawa sa mga batang walang kapansanan. Sa aking palagay ay malaki ang magagawa ng mga aklat na pumapaksa sa 1)  “anti-bullying”,  2) mga specific na kapansanan ngunit sa mas sensitibong pamamaraan gaya ng “Xilef”, 3) araw-araw na buhay ng mga batang may kapansanan–sila ay mga bata rin!

4. Ang maraming mga kuwentong nasa mga notebook ko!

Libre lang naman ang mangarap.

notebooks

Maligayang Pambansang Araw ng mga Aklat Pambata!

Rommel Joson draws out his inner child.

Rommel has been drawing ever since he could remember–he even got a Dean’s Award for Visual Arts back in college–but it took some time before he finally went into the business of illustration.

rommel

Armed with his Business Management degree from Ateneo de Manila, he got a job as an advertising account executive in an ad agency. A couple of years in the ad business made him realize that he really wanted to be in the creative field,  so he went back to school, this time at the University of the Philippines, to work toward a degree in Fine Arts. Turns out that drawing really was his first love, and it wasn’t unrequited at all. He finished with magna cum laude honors.

After that, he promptly went back to advertising, this time as a creative. But then he found out after a couple of more years that he felt more passionately about other things aside from advertising, so he quit advertising all over again to focus more on drawing and painting.

Rommel has gotten some recognition for his advertising and design work–a silver and a bronze in the Philippine Araw Awards and a silver from the 1st Adobo Design Awards–but he says that the awards he got from painting and illustration are the things that bring him the most satisfaction.

In painting, Rommel placed third in the Oil/Acrylic Category of the Shell National Art Competition and finished as a semi-finalist at the Metrobank Art and Design Excellence Competition. In comics, Rommel won third place at the Neil Gaiman-Fully Booked Graphic Competition. He was included in Rogue Magazine’s feature on Top 16 Filipino Illustrators way back in 2007. For his work as an illustrator for children, he snagged a couple of honorable mentions at the PBBY-Alcala Prize.

MTP:  How do you keep busy every day?  Is illustrating a full-time job?

ROMMEL JOSON:  

I only started to seriously illustrate children’s books two years ago. So far, I have six books under my belt with three more on the way this year (2013).

I do it part-time though.  I work three times a week at Studio Dialogo (http://dialogo.co) as a designer/illustrator. We do design for print and web. Currently, we’ve been doing a lot of annual reports, calendars and identity design for a variety of clients.

The rest of the week, I devote to my personal projects such as painting and children’s book illustration. I currently wrapped up a two-man show with Sergio Bumatay III. Aside from book illustration, gallery work will be something I’ll be getting into more in the coming months.

MTP: Why do you illustrate for kids? What’s in it for you?

I wish I could give some profound meaning to why I illustrate for children. I’ve thought about this many times before but never could get at a satisfactory answer. I don’t think “enjoyment” is quite the word I’d use. Maybe it gives me satisfaction. I think I draw to satisfy the child in me.

I grew up reading comics and children’s books and over the years I’ve come to admire a lot of people involved in making these things. I think there comes a point in a fan’s life where reading and enjoying the content isn’t enough anymore and you just want to make stuff yourself and be part of that whole tradition of making stuff up that people can enjoy. Then you realize that maybe you have a knack for it and just keep on doing it because other people seem to enjoy the work that you do. Then, maybe that’s when you decide that “hey, I’ll just keep on doing this”.

MTP:  Thank you for making time for my blog, Rommel!

See samples of Rommel’s wonderful illustrations here.

We’re in for a treat. Rommel takes us on a tour of his wonderful studio.

studio1studio3studio2

Rommel: Over a year ago, I decided that I had to have a legitimate workspace for my art projects as well as proper spaces for the books that had grown like shaky towers inside my room. So I sequestered an unused space in the house, had shelves made and bought a big, sturdy table. 

My table that can fit two to three people working at the same time. This is where I do my digital work as well as small painting projects. For large-scale paintings, I have an easel where I can prop up my canvases.

I also have a drafting table with a lightbox for projects that require some tracing.

My studio is my favorite part of the house because I love looking at my books all lined up on the wall.

 
 
 

“No, the thing is, we all love storytelling, and as a writer you get to tell stories all the time.”–Joyce Carol Oates

downloadable reading girl

This is my original artwork. Please feel free to download or print for personal use, but please do not remove my URL. You may not use this image for commercial purposes; you may not sell or pass it off as your own. Thanks!

Origami

ORIGAMI

Marjorie M. Evasco

This word unfolds, gathers up wind
to speed the crane’s flight
north of my sun to you.

I am shaping this poem
out of paper, folding
distances between our seasons.

This paper is a crane.
When its wings unfold,
The paper will be pure and empty.

When I was a little girl, Mommy used to fold origami animals out of colorful paper for me. She found time to make these for me at the end of the day, after she had finished all her household chores, and we would sit indian-style on the bed in the master bedroom. She had a kit which included a booklet and several sheets of colored paper, and she would let me choose which animal I wanted her to make.