Monday, July 25, 2011

Rizal and the 2011 NCBD

And so the 2011 National Children's Book Day came to pass. Every year, it brings forth new insights and old delights. Listening to Prof. Ambeth R. Ocampo last Tuesday, 19 July 2011 at the UST Museum affirmed what a friend told me so many years ago. This country needs historians who tell stories.

Prof. Ocampo prepared an impressive keynote, a lecture really, on Rizal. Indeed, he has spent a great investment studying about Rizal. His keynote-lecture is the longest in PBBY-NCBD history I have heard yet. Here are some of the insights I gathered from his keynote-lecture --

a. Rizal read and translated stories, folktales really, for his family especially his nephews and nieces. He did not create new stories for them but translated five folktales from the collection of Hans Christian Andersen. I could only remember three of the five titles Prof. Ocampo mentioned: The Little Match Girl; The Fir Tree; and The Ugly Duckling. Rizal also translated William Tell on top of these. It is obvious that his choice of stories reflect the values he wanted his family and country men to know and live out. This prompted me to think about the themes of the stories I choose and tell for my children, friends, family and community members.

b. Rizal was a teacher and he dreamed of setting up a school in Dapitan. He was a hopeful man, keeping in mind his vision despite the imminent possibility of execution.

c. Rizal believed in fraternities and initiations as a test of mental stamina and strength of character. In Dapitan, Rizal conducted classes for youngsters. He would walk a new student through the forest, leave him there and have the older students spook the newbie. The later would run back to safety only to discover a welcome party awaiting him.

There are still five more months to go till December 2011 and the whole nation will culminate Rizal's 150th birth year in a myriad of homages. I have ticked a number of Rizal events in my list. To mention a few, there's the Mercato Rizal of PBBY where everything Rizal related will be sold. This will open mid-August and I will post updates in the blog.

On the same day, Eugene Evasco and Yasmin Doctor were awarded the Salanga and Alacala respectively. Eighty new children's books were presented and launched. The UST was a gracious host and CCP provided good food. Friends from KUTING, Ang INK and Alitaptap came as well as comrades in literacy advocacy. The most surprising for me was to have met a former co-teacher and godmother of my eldest, Becky Santos-Gerodias, now a published author of LG and M Publishing House. Congrats, Teacher Becky!

Indeed it was an NCBD peppered with new insights and flavored with old delights. Until next year! Maligayang Araw ng Panitikang Pambata!

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