Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Storyteller Q and A for Museo Pambata's Paglaki Ko Exhibit

Sharing this set of Q and A for the Museo Pambata Paglaki Ko theme room exhibit. Not all of my answers may be included in the exhibit, so I better have it on the blog for records purposes.

Storytelling is risk taking.

Name 2 best experiences as a young child.

I loved taking naps and I played a lot.

What were your interests or inclinations when you were young?

I have developed an early love for books and reading. Mom worked in a school library then so I have my regular stash of books from her.

Who read stories to you as a child?

Mom did.

My maternal grandmother, Nanay Leony, told us cousins a lot of stories. From her growing up years during the Japanese occupation to ghost stories and folk lore, she would tell us these stories as a way to connect the past to the present; cautionary tales to teach us lessons we never really took seriously until a consequence of our actions proved her right; ghost stories and stories of the fantastic that made us wonder and imagine a world beyond our perceived realities. She also had an array of superstitious beliefs and knowledge of medicinal plants. She loved to cook. The amazing thing is, she embellished them with stories. When dishing out a superstitious belief or boiling guava leaves for our sick tummies, a story or two would roll along. Some were taken from her personal experience and a few came from her family history.

Nanay Leony owned a sar-sari store as well. It’s where I learned how to read komiks

When and how did you start as a storyteller?

I started telling stories when I was five or six years old. I babbled a story in English, The Fish and the Crocodile. The story goes that when my maternal grandfather, Lolo Berto, came home from overseas, he was in the Navy, he brought home a tape recorder. It was the newest gadget then. Using an audiotape, my three aunts pulled me aside and asked me to say something. So I did. I don’t remember what it was that I said but one of the older aunts, Ate Eli, asked if I can sing or say something longer. I suppose watching Sesame Street influenced me to tell a story. When my aunts finished recording my story, they were laughing. The entire family listened to my babble. It was incomprehensible but the whole thing was about a fish running away from a mean crocodile.

At Miriam Child Study Center c. 2014

How do you prepare for a storytelling session?

As a librarian I plan with teachers. There is a methodology involved in the planning so a lot of pedagogical practices come into play. As a storyteller, I outline my program. I ask the organizer the context of the session, the audience and place of storytelling.

Why do you tell stories? What are your reasons, advocacy and mission? Is it driven more by a need or a challenge? What motivates you?

In the library and in the classroom, storytelling is one strategy to develop early literacy skills. It introduces children to different ways of using language and firms up listening skills necessary for language acquisition. Reading aloud is powerful since the book is present in the encounter. It shows children how reading happens, how books are used and how a storyteller can be the conduit to the understanding another world constructed by the author, illustrator and book creators. Here we see a communion of minds and creative spirits. That is magic!

On a personal level, I need to tell stories to survive.

What are your favorite stories to tell?

Personal and family stories. I wish I could tell more folk tales. I want to be a folklorist.

With Maricel Montero a few years back. I donated a copy of Tales From the 7,000 Isles to the MP Library. It is in MP where my journey as a storyteller started.

What helps you during storytelling session? Do you have a ritual (things to do before, during and after) or process? What things do you need to help you? (tools of the trade, gadgets, things you need to tell a story)

I sing. I put songs in my telling because I know I can sing well enough to sustain the interest of an audience. I also use props and costumes but only when the story tells me to. Often, I take the story to lead me where I need to go in presenting it. Stories have their own power, their own life and force. I listen to the stories first before I do anything with it.  The story is the star. The teller is merely a medium to let it shine.

Who inspires you? Who do you look up to as a storyteller?

My kids. My audience, young and old. Everybody loves a good story. I look up to Dianne de Las Casas. She is awesome!

Why are storytellers important?

Imagine this world if it is too quiet. Someone has to live to tell the tale

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