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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Translator of the Month: Eugene Evasco

Eugene Evasco, Palanca Hall of Famer and Salanga Prize Winner, is the translator of our new book, The Day Max Flew Away (Gagatiga and Tejido, Lampara Books, 2017). In this interview, he talks about his style and approach in translating stories in English text into Filipino. Read further on as he shares books that influenced him to write for children and his five dreams for the growth and development of Philippine Children's Literature. 

Book cover of The Day Max Flew Away
1. How do you approach translation work?

I have three approaches in translating literary texts for children. First and foremost, I must produce a text that will not sound like a translation. I have to make the translation of an English text “originally written” in Filipino. Secondly, though I have to respect the original intent of the author, I must assert my own voice and style in the translation. My style in translation is trying to write the text like my own work. Thirdly, and most importantly, after translating the text, I have to make sure that the product is child-friendly or readable.

2. What has been the biggest challenge for you as a translator of children’s books?

One of the biggest challenges is translators of children’s books in the Philippines are marginalized. Some are not acknowledged properly in the book production. They are not even considered as co-creators of the book. Another is the language problem. Translation is supposed to be a process to make the text accessible to Filipino readers. But in my experience, there are cases that some readers, young and old, are struggling to understand the Filipino language.

Title page, where Eugene Evasco is appropriated as translator
3. Among your published works, what book is the most meaningful and why?

Pintong Maraming Silid (The Door with Many Rooms) is a personal favorite. It is beautifully illustrated by Leo Kempis Ang. It is our ode to books and our testimony to the power of reading.

4. Five books that influenced you to write for children.

Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White- I personally asked my publisher, Segundo Matias, Jr. of Lampara to buy the foreign rights and publish my Filipino translation. This book taught me how to write in a lyrical way, using concrete images. Rene Villanueva’s Ang Unang Baboy sa Langit and Nemo, Ang Batang Papel. The Philippine Folklore series of Damiana Eugenio
is a gold mine of stories. I adore Mayroon Akong Alagang Puno by Carla Pacis.

5. Five big dreams for Philippine Children’s Literature.

-More handsomely-produced children’s books using high quality paper and binding, outstanding design, and thorough editing. We need to package our products properly.

-We need more radical, unconventional, and brave texts for children.

-Philippine children’s books should be visible in the world market. We need agents to sell our book in the international community. We never ran out of talent. We must invest in marketing our books.

-A book museum and research center focusing on Philippine children’s books.

-Establishment of a Children’s Laureate or the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature in our country.

Eugene Evasco is a panelist in the 2nd Philippine Children's Book Summit on July 22, 2017.

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