Meet the Storyteller: Noel Cabangon’s “Ako ay Isang Mabuting Pilipino”

It is such a joy to welcome one of my favorite singer-songwriters in GatheringBooks today. His first picture book for children, Ako Ay Isang Mabuting Pilipino, has just recently been published October of this year. What a privilege to hear his thoughts about his first book.

What made you decide to transform your song into a book for children? What was the intention behind this?

I thought that instilling the value of good citizenship should start at a young age, during the formative years of a child. And children’s book is a popular medium to tell stories about being a good Filipino.

During Noel's performance at The Arts House in Singapore, January of 2012

What was the creative process like in terms of collaborating with your artist, Jomike, on this picture book? Was the book what you envisioned it would be?

There was no strict process that was employed. The artist was given the freedom to interpret the lines of the song. Of course there were consultations done before the illustrations were finalized. It was very professionally done which I really appreciated very much from the artist, Jomike. I first commented on the looks of the characters. I told him to make it more Filipino looking, basing from the first draft. Then my suggestion also is not to be too abstract in medium. The lyrics were very direct and literal, therefore the illustrations can be that too in order not to lose the intention of the lines of the song. It wasn’t really what I was expecting, coming from several picture book references, but I am happy with the turn out of Jomike’s interpretation.

Noel in Singapore

Would this be made accessible to remote regions of the Philippines? Would this be made available internationally?

We plan to disseminate the copies all over the country. If we can get the Department of Education to help us in bringing the book to schools then it would be great. I haven’t thought of international release or distribution but it is a welcome idea. Why not?

Are you thinking of publishing more books for children through your music? What are some of your upcoming book projects?

I am very much encouraged to release more books for children. I was really inspired by the turn out of the book. The other songs that I’ve written can be a follow up to this book. Oyayi sa Mundo (Lullaby to the World) - an environmental song. Awit ng Haraya (Song of a Dream), a song I wrote for Peta’s Mga Kwento ni Lola Basyang and Kaya Mong Maging Dakila (You Can be Great).

What are your hopes for this book? What do you think this book would achieve that your music may have not done as yet in terms of reaching and engaging your audience?

This is a different medium in teaching children and even the adults the value of being a good citizen. Music is persuasive in terms of its melody and rhythm but the picture book is a different medium which shows the realization of the value that the song carries. I hope I will encourage children to read and live the value that it conveys as they grow older.

Maraming Salamat Manong for being part of GatheringBooks this month. We miss you here in Singapore!

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