by KB Meniado

It’s always a delight reading children’s books. In between their story lines are secrets, magic and a whole bunch of life lessons applicable at any age. When I’m on a reading rut, they are the most reliable. I pick up a few, and my eagerness to read more returns.

Here, I share two recent reads, which are from my book haul at the 37th Manila International Book Fair. The first one is about the legendary Lam-ang, and the other about a Moslem child. Both are illustrated so stunningly that it would be a shame not to appreciate.

THE STORY

The legendary tales about Lam-ang are popular in the Ilocos region. The oldest written story in verse is said to have been written by the blind poet Pedro Bukaneg, who lived in the late 16th century. The following story tells of how Lam-ang wins the love of Ines Kannoyan. Read reviews: Goodreads

WHAT I LIKED

Retold by Virgilio Almario, the prose is laced with beauty and humor. I especially liked this part, where the sea creatures “got poisoned and died” after Lam-ang, who had never taken a bath before, dipped into the waters!

The story also highlights Lam-ang’s strength as a fighter as he whisked off one of Innes’ suitors to the mountains with his spear. And that was not his only challenge! He had to break the spells and charms of Sarindandan, the witch who was in love with him.

tl;dr

The Love of Lam-ang carries one of the oldest oral stories of the Ilocano people, serving as both a memory and reminder that Filipinos have always had a rich, colorful history of culture and storytelling.

***

I hail from Davao, a city that welcomes and cradles both Christianity and Islam, among other religions. As a kid, I didn’t realize there was a “war” between the two until the “hatred” for Moslems rose after the 9/11 attacks and, in my context, the Abu Sayyaf. I had Moslem classmates and friends—one of them had a mosque that was right beside my mother’s office then—and I don’t remember ever thinking they were “the bad kind.” (Good and evil are stemmed in humanity, not in religion.)

When I moved to Manila to study, I found that people always asked where somebody was from. After they would get my reply, they always followed up with “Hala, diba, maraming Muslim dun, pati Abu Sayyaf?” in scared voices. I used to think it was funny, the way some of them knew so little. But later on, I realized it was prejudice. This is why this book is important.

THE STORY

Young Ibrahim knows that as a Muslim, it is his duty to observe his five daily prayers.

Take a peek into a Muslim child’s life and see how Ibrahim performs these prayers throughout the day, and why praying is important to him.

Alam ng batang Ibrahim na bilang Muslim, tungkulin niyang isagawa ang kaniyang limang panalangin bawat araw.

Sumilip sa buhay ng isang batang Muslim, at tingnan kung paanong isinasagawa ni Ibrahim ang mga panalanging ito sa isang araw, at kung bakit mahalaga sa kaniya ang pananalangin. Read reviews: Goodreads

WHAT I LIKED

Besides the illustrations, I enjoyed that it includes how and when the Moslems pray, and like so many people in the world, how family togetherness and faith are important to them as well.

I also liked that there was a glossary so that readers have easy access to the meaning of the unfamiliar words mentioned in the story.

tl;dr

A Boy Named Ibrahim is an eye-opening introductory read to those who know little about Islam. ☁

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