by KB Meniado
It’s a great time for book lovers and readers alike today: more diverse books are being released, and they’re more accessible and affordable now more than ever. There are stories in different languages and of distinct cultures, and if one tries hard enough, they’ll find one that’s exactly about them.
Let’s say you’re from Mindanao, and you’ve been looking for reading materials that hit close to home. A quick search online will lead to multiple publishers, both mainstream and indie, providing titles that speak of home. To name a few, there’s Sari-Sari Storybooks, Swito Digital Storytelling Philippines, Cotabato Literary Journal. Isn’t that amazing?
That’s also how I felt when I saw the ABC Educational Development Center booth at the 38th Manila International Book Fair. Children’s books that talk about how it is to grow up and live in Mindanao, experiencing traditions that are both familiar and not common in other places in the Philippines—they exist and deserve YOUR attention!
A little boy narrates his exceptional true-to-life experience about the Malong, the famous traditional cloth worn by numerous tribes in the Southern Philippines.
He believes that the Malong is a mysterious cloth because their family cannot live without it.
The cloth with magical powers can turn into a hammock, a mosquito net, a blanket, a sack for rice, an emergency bag in times of war, a dressing room, life rafts when swimming, a prayer mat and a lot more! Get a copy: ABC Educational Development Center website
WHAT I LIKED
The malong is a staple for those who hail from and live in Mindanao (I have one in my closet right now), and the book wonderfully depicts this—from birth to death.
The verses, although not following the traditional rhyme, flow smoothly. Kids will find it easy to understand what’s going on, and there are aspects in life presented that they (and even adults) are sure to learn from, such as in housekeeping, customs, agriculture, farming, religion and even war.
What makes this extra special is the art. Created by Pepot Atienza, the pages are alive because of the colorful, intricately designed clay work. This is the first time I’ve seen this done on any book so carve me impressed! Perfect accompanying art for an equally vivid story.
Translation to other Philippine languages would have made this book more awesome!
A well-rounded diverse book for both kids and adults, Malong: The Magic Cloth by Mary Ann Ordinario-Floresta will wrap any reader in enchantment. One of my favorite reads this year. ☁