Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Yan ang Pinay Series - The Pinay In Philippine Children's Literature

Filipinos are all familiar with Mar's Ravelo's "komiks" hero, Darna. My mother's generation saw Vilma Santos portraying the role in the movies during the mid 70's. I saw Nannete Medved and Sharon Cuneta essay the role in the 90's. Pinoy kids these days are watching Angel Locsin fight the bad guys and the nasty female villains in Pinoy national TV. Generations of Pinoys have their versions of the movie/TV Darna and we can't help but compare how different their personalities are. Each actress bring something new to this comic book character that has evolved into a modern metaphor for the Filipina.

For Pinoy writer and poet, Edgar Samar, Darna is your typical OCW - a domestic helper based in Hong Kong.


Samar wrote the story, "Uuwi na ang Nanay kong si Darna", as an entry to the Alfredo Salanga Writing Competition. Sponsored by the Philippine Board on Books for Young people, it won him the prestigious award in 2002.

I've used his story in several storytelling gigs in public and barangay libraries. The children warmed up to his story. They're fascinated by the image of a simple domestic helper, a mother and wife, whose only power is love. And with that, she can do great things. Truly, the Pinay who works abroad either as DH or one who has a more "respectable" job is a hero in our midst.

Leaving the comforts of home and facing the barriers in language and culture for the sake of the family's well being is a courageous decision. This is not to say that those who chose to stay are less brave. Driven by circumstances, we make decisions for the benefit of our loved ones and those we care for. Working abroad and being a DH at that is not something to be ashamed of.

There is dignity in labor. This is a premise that Samar effectively worked on his story. The boy character, Pipoy, has a mother who works as a Pinay domestic helper who cleans and looks after other people. Others may have lucrative jobs and employment, but his mother takes on a job, lowly as some may see it, but just as important so others may continue to partake in the global work force. In the end, his mother has shown him what great power she has. To know what it is, I suggest you go to your public library or local bookstore and get a copy. It's worth your time and snack money!

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