[Throwback Posts | Meet the Storyteller] Noel Cabangon’s “Ako Ay Isang Mabuting Pilipino”

Myra here.

We have been doing a series of throwback posts of our conversations with storytellers, artists, poets, academics. These posts are found in our Behind the Books website and are being shared here now in our new home. This interview with Noel Cabangon was posted back in November 2012.


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 2012. 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.

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.

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!

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).

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