Author of the month this July is none other than Salanga Prize winner, MJ Tumamac. MJ teaches at Raya School and is currently Secretary of KUTING, the premiere organization of Filipino writers for chidlren.
1. The title of your winning story is Ngumiti si Andoy. Can you give us a gist or summary?
“Ngumiti si Andoy” is about the encounter of a boy with a moving and talking statue of Andres B. Andres B. shares to the boy a piece of his life. As Andres B. narrates his life, he is saddened because he misses his siblings and his wife. To make Andres B. happy, the boy volunteers to draw Andres B.’s loved ones. The boy’s gift makes Andres B. smile.
2. Being a Salanga entry, and Bonifacio themed at that, describe the preparations you made for writing the story?
I revisited some books about Andres B.’s life and works. Realizing that there are a lot of unverified biographies about Andres B., I selected which information to include and speculated on some. Many facts about Andres B.’s life in the story are not integral (though important) and may easily be changed as contentions and new studies may arise. (For instance, most sources say that Andres B. got orphaned by the age of 19, but some say 14 and in between.)
I rarely write stories and have never published one. I mostly write poetry and some of my poems are anthologized in online and print collections. Most of them are written for children. I have yet to publish my own poetry collection/book.
4. Where do you see yourself ten years from now in Philippine Children's Lit?
I hope to continue in fostering Philippine Children’s Literature by writing stories and poems, reading books by Filipinos, promoting literacy, and studying it. My main goal, though, is to publish or help in publishing more poetry books for children since there are only a few of them.
5. What is your message to aspiring writers out there?
It is not enough to just write. Study the field you are entering to know, basically, what were already written and what should be written.