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Agistorya tayu, ubing!

Forget Mark Solis. (I'm not even putting a link to his story here. Snort!) Here are a few UPians we could be talking about instead.

Therese Ingrid Dado, a BS Biology student in the University of the Philippines, Baguio, has just been awarded first prize for her children's story, Ang Kahon ng Kayamanan. The story is about two boys who help their parents out by collecting recyclable/reusable garbage, which they sell. One day they find a big box into which they both fit. When they play inside the box, the brothers pretend they are gallant prince warriors, fighting evil people in the world. They go on adventures together, inside the box. The wealth that the box contains is really the rich imagination of the two boys.

Jason Robert Lobaton's (BA Communication) story, Si Marty at ang Sikreto ng Batek, was awarded second prize. Batek refers to the traditional Kalinga tattoo. The story is about Marty's grandmother, whose arms are covered in batek, but it is also very much about Marty, a city boy, and his child's eye-view of his Kalinga grandmother, who lives in her home village. The story had dialogue in both Ilokano and Filipino. After a short excerpt was read at the awarding ceremony, I wondered how Marty's view of his grandmother's strange-to-his-eyes markings, and his relationship with her, will change as the story progresses. Intriguing, isn't it?

Si Pompyang Pagong, written by Mercy Ann Delos Santos (BS Physics), is about a little turtle who's singing affects the weather. One day, there is so much rain that many small turtles are swept away from home in a flood. All the while, Pompyang Pagong was singing, blithely unaware. The adult turtles organize a rescue, and Pompyang Pagong learns of the tragedy. What happens next? I wish they had read the entire story at the program, and not just a short excerpt! The story won third prize.

Si Tino Piloto, written by Cathy Joy Luna (BA Languages and Literature), was awarded fourth place. The story is about a boy who lives by the shore. His father is a fisherman. Tino dreams of becoming a pilot some day, to help his parents out. He wants to become a pilot because his father tells him that in heaven, no one is ever sad, no one suffers. Tino asks his father when he will go, and if he will take Tino with him. His father laughs and gently tells Tino that he should know where to find him if some day, he doesn't come home from the sea. Although again we were only given a taste of a short excerpt, something about this story left me feeling mournful and wondering about the fate of Tino and his father.

The competition, entitled Agistorya Tayu, Ubing! (Let's tell stories, child!) was organized and sponsored by the UP Baguio's College of Arts and Communication (CAC) for Buwan ng Wika, last month. Developing children's literature, or future writers of children's literature is part of the CAC's advocacy; it's part of the College's strategic plan.

These students didn't write these stories for dollars or for world renown. The cash prizes were modest; with the top three winners getting P3000, P2000 and P1000 respectively. The competition was held within UP Baguio only. The winners received lovely, hardbound notebooks for future scribbling, and a guaranteed slot each in a forthcoming workshop on writing for children, which the CAC will be organizing.

These UP students may not be internationally or even nationally recognized (yet), they may not have garnered any big prestigious prizes (yet), but they have the gift of stories and the words with which to tell them. And they write for children; they write for the future. I hope that sometime in the future, we will be reading their books to our children and grandchildren.

Some people might snort and dismiss this as small time news from a small town girl. This may well be the case, but I beg to differ from the usual formula of what is newsworthy. You don't need to cover a famous person to make a good story. In my humble opinion, the existence of these budding and ORIGINAL talents is news worth sharing with everybody.

First place winner, Therese Ingrid Dado, with award-winning author Luchie Maranan and illustrator Duday Maranan.
Luchie and Duday were in UP to launch their latest children's book Ang Pangat, Ang Lupang Ninuno, at ang Ilog.


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