Loss, Heartbreak, and Coming of Age Meet the Storyteller Reading Themes

An Interview with Russell Molina about “Tuwing Sabado” [Every Saturday]


russell pic

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?

Tuwing-Sabado cover

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?

sabado 1

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.

Photo by ARNOLD ALMACEN for Inquirer. Please click on the image to be taken to the websource.
Photo by ARNOLD ALMACEN for Inquirer. Please click on the image to be taken to the websource.

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.

Thank you so much again, Russell, for the gift of your wonderful stories.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

1 comment on “An Interview with Russell Molina about “Tuwing Sabado” [Every Saturday]

  1. Pingback: [Monday Reading] Saying Goodbye to Canine Companions in Picture Books and Winner of AWB Reading Challenge for July |

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