We are very proud to have with us today the author of one of my favourite Filipino picture books Tuwing Sabado [Every Saturday] for our Meet the Storyteller feature here in GatheringBooks, the dynamic Russell Molina.
I thought that some of the themes from his book may fit our current bimonthly theme on Loss, Heartbreak, and Coming of Age as it also talks about dealing with loss and coping with a difficult family situation. Welcome to GatheringBooks, Russell!
Tuwing Sabado is a story about a young boy and his father who is a convicted felon and the former’s weekly pilgrimage to his father’s ‘house’ – can you share with our GatheringReaders what is the story behind this beautiful tale?
I have a friend who used to be the priest of a parish prison. He told me about the inmates and how a sense of community exists even behind bars. Moments like bonding and sharing (and other things that we sometimes take for granted) are cherished here given the fact that they are all fleeting and time-bound. Inmates live for a few minutes of family time. Exchanges of “hellos” and “how are yous” with their loved ones keep them going.
The idea that “love knows no boundaries” pushed me to write this story. I wanted to open a new door through which children can peek into and realize the value of a parent’s love.
What were some of your apprehensions (if any) about the book before it came out?
I was afraid that the theme might be viewed as taboo and won’t get acceptance from the kids and even a nod from the parents. I was also afraid that the main character and his one-of-a-kind adventure might not resonate with the readers.
Surprisingly, both children and parents embraced the idea. Because I think even if you are not in the same situation, the concepts it presented tug at the heartstrings.
What was the most beautiful reaction so far that you’ve received about this story?
Articles like this made me realize that there are a lot of people out there, kids and adults alike, who connected with the story. And I am glad that I’ve started the conversation. Through my book, I hope to break down that barrier and somehow erase the discrimination and stigma attached to being a child of an inmate.
How long did it take you to write this story? Was it everything that you expected when it came out in all its published glory complete with the book layout and illustrations?
It took me a couple of months and about three drafts to finish the story. I was looking for the perfect slant and wanted to tread carefully.
Serj Bumatay’s illustrations brought the story to life. His masterful handling of the visuals gave my story a good balance of adventure and reflection.