MANILA, Philippines – Filipino folk singer and composer Noel Cabangon now adds children’s book author to his list of accomplishments.
Last May 30, during the “Little Lit Children’s Book Festival” in Museo Pambata, Cabangon launched his first book for children entitled, Ako’y Isang Mabuting Pilipino (I Am A Good Filipino).
Parents lined up with their children to see copies of the book, while friends from the writing and music scene chatted over noodles and spring rolls.
Published by Lampara Books and enlivened by whimsical paintings by Jomike Tejido, the 32-page book is a simply but powerfully written guide on how to be a “good Filipino.”
The words of the book are lyrics of a song Cabangon wrote in 2006. But Cabangon, with the encouragement of his friends, started to look for another way to spread the song’s message.
“I was really inspired by the songs of Bob Dylan when these songs were transformed into picture books,” shared the singer.
“Why not also transform my songs? It will reach more people, especially the young people who will be able to read them in schools.”
The book’s words—in Filipino and English—speak from a first person point of view, with the narrator (and thus the reader) declaring or promising to act in considerate and law-abiding ways.
“Sumasakay ako sa tamang sakayan (I wait at the bus stop to get on the bus)…Pumipila at ‘di nakikipag-unahan (I wait in line and don’t cut in).”
But the book is refreshingly, even brutally, honest putting in pointing out the habits of unruly Filipinos.
“At ‘di ako pasiga-siga sa lansangan (And I don’t act like a hooligan in the streets)…Hindi nakahambalang na parang walang pakialam (I don’t carelessly block everyone’s way)…Hindi ako nangongotong o nagbibigay ng lagay (I don’t take bribes or pay them out).”
The language is an indicator that the book is intended for Filipinos of all ages.
Watch Noel Cabangon sing words from the book:
“When I wrote this song,” said Cabangon, “It was more of my reaction to my perception that the values of Filipinos have become distorted. At the time, the government was sending wrong signals to the young people, that everything is okay, corruption is okay, cheating is okay.”
He was also struck by the destructive behavior by drivers he observed everytime he would drive through Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City. His book is meant to remind readers of how to be a good citizen from crossing the road in the appropriate lane, throwing garbage properly and more.
“The song is about reminding us to be good Filipinos, from simple things to big things, for ordinary Filipinos and the highest powers in the government.”
Cabangon treated visitors of the book launch to a mini concert during which he played some of his most popular songs, including Kanlungan. He also sang the song that inspired his new book.
Whimsy and color
Making the book even more of a treat are the paintings of Jomike Tejido, colorfully illustrating a world where Filipinos respect the rules and each other.
Tejido makes delightful use of Philippine cultural elements, using a banig surface as his canvas and rendering his world complete with detailed portrayals of jeepneys, sorbetes carts and sidewalk carinderias.
The world Cabangon and Tejido weave together seems too good to be true, but sometimes wishing is the first step to reality. – Rappler.com