I’m part of a new small storytelling group in Manila. For my piece, I want something unique, something not so familiar among kids. We probably know a lot of western children stories and a lot of Grimm’s fairy tales. For this reason, I prefer to use a Filipino story. The problem with Filipino children stories or must I say Philippine literature in general. They are not available on the internet. You’ll probably find a few but very limited. You have to go to libraries and book stores to find one. Luckily, I found this book in National Book Store. It is a collection of Philippine folk tales about fruits. It has eight stories. Some of which are popular ones such as Why the Pina Has a Hundred Eyes, How the Lasones Became Edible, Why the Mango is Shaped Like a Hear, The Story of First Coconut Tree.
It astounds me that I only get to know some of these tales as an adult such as The Story of the First Durian, Why the Guava Wears a Crown, The Story of the First Banana Plant, The Legend of the First Makopa Tree. With this kind of books, there is no excuse to repeat the same stories to children. We have a lot of stories. We just lack exposure. We, who are stoytellers, teachers, and adults can promote the richness of Philippine children literature. And stories feel closer to us if the subjects are very familiar to us such the fruits we regularly eat such as banana, pineapple, and coconut.
This book suits all ages but smaller kids may not pay much attention. The illustrations are colorless and the characters do no look cute-like creatures in Cartoon Network. It is written in a simple language. It is easy to understand, easy to memorize but it is not playful. Hence, if you are reading this out loud in front of kids, you should be more creative in your delivery.
If you are running out of children stories, go back to folk tales 🙂
Our human mind may have some limit in mathematics, science, logic but when it comes to imagination,the brain knows no boundaries. That’s the beauty of wishful thinking. It eliminates obstacles. I realize that you should never estimate ‘wishful thinking’ because as what they said, “Thoughts becomes things. ” Hold on to your wish list and be careful what you wish for.
One of the things included in my wish list is to perform storytelling in a big venue. I even wrote this down last year on my blog post. I said, “I don’t just want to read a book in front of the kids. I want performance level. (hehe) I want to wear a costume and do some little effects.”
Like a prophecy fulfilled, I joined a new storytelling group, Storyhouse. It was founded by Jay Menes. He is the first Filipino member of International Storytelling Network Red Internacional de Cuentacuentos.
I support the cause of this group, no matter how small and how informal this group is. For one thing, this is a breath of fresh air. We often see storytellers hold a book but with Storyhouse, storytellers don’t read aloud. The storyteller’s body is his main medium.
Also, it’s one way of going back to our literary roots. Oral interpretation was one of earliest forms of entertainment. The kings and laymen hired minstrels. Shakespeare’s long lines on stage were palatable. Poets were heard everywhere, not only in an English Literature class. Popular epics across the world such as Iliad and Biag ni Lam-ang were passed by mouth not through a movie screen. Our Muslim brothers have rich literature in oral tradition. Today, these are replaced by movies, TV shows, and video games. We want something that’s easy on the senses. Listening like reading requires additional neurons of our brain to paint a picture. I guess that’s how oral tradition stopped becoming a tradition. And with the aid of printing press, the presence of a storyteller is no longer significant. This is the challenge of a storyteller: How to steal three to five minutes from modern human beings who have short attention span in listening.
I only wished to perform in a book store but never did I think of storytelling in a museum. We did our storytelling in Museo Pambata. That is the ideal place to perform if your target audience are kids. It was not my best storytelling act but that was a good start.
I told the story of the first banana plant