#SurvivalStories2021 Books Early Readers Features Filipino Lit Genre Middle Grade Picture Books Reading Themes Saturday Reads Stories Of The Dispossessed

[Saturday Reads] The Filipinos’ Hybrid Migratory Selves in A Deconstruction of “Bahay Kubo”

... in Acabado, Cordero, Camacho, and Romero's "Bahay Kubo."


Myra here.

Every Saturday we hope to share with you our thoughts on reading and books. We thought that it would be good practice to reflect on our reading lives and our thoughts about reading in general. While on occasion, we would feature a few books in keeping with this, there would be a few posts where we will just write about our thoughts on read-alouds, libraries, reading journals, upcoming literary conferences, books that we are excited about, and just book love miscellany in general.

Bahay Kubo: A Filipino Children’s Song

Essay by Stephen Acabado, PhD Concept and Essay by Kristian Cordero Illustrated by Aldrin Camacho Book Design by Aldrin Camacho and Mavreen Anne Romero Publisher: Savage Mind Publishing House. ISBN: 9786219633819 Review copy provided by Stephen Acabado. Book photo taken by me.

When I first heard of this book project from Dr. Stephen Acabado, an archaeologist friend of mine who is teaching at UCLA and has been based in the US with his family for over ten years now, I knew that it would fit our #SurvivalStories2021 reading theme as we endeavour to decolonize our bookshelves. Stephen is not a stranger to GatheringBooks as he wrote a piece on Raising a Reading Child for our Academic Nook back in 2012.

For those who were born and have been brought up in the Philippines (it could also be true to Filipino families who have already migrated elsewhere), Bahay Kubo is a classic children’s song – pretty much like Old MacDonald Had A Farm, except slightly different. I remember growing up knowing the song, but not really understanding what any of the words actually meant: for example, I had no idea what kundol meant as a child – probably because I hated vegetables back then.

Thus, the entire book is really an illuminated version of a familiar children’s song, except that the Afterword Essays written by Acabado and Cordero deconstructed the varied meanings of how the assortment of vegetables surrounding a nipa hut came to be – and how it could also serve as a reflection of the hybridities of Filipinos’ origins.

It would have been great if there was a brief introduction in the beginning, providing some background information or context of what Bahay Kubo is, probably a note on the origins of the song (even the fact that the author is believed to be unknown and why that could be the case), or even just the musical notes for the entire song itself. While the art and design didn’t really work for me all that much (this could be a matter of personal preference), the strength of this little book is in the Afterword Essays written by Stephen Acabado and Kristian Cordero. I am highlighting here one of my favourite quotes from Professor Acabado’s essay:

The concept of being Filipino, indeed, is represented by the Bahay Kubo: We have come from different corners of the globe. We have come from peoples who braved to cross the high mountains and vast oceans. Therefore, the idea of the pure Filipino, discovered and civilized only by the Western colonizers, must now be laid to rest. Instead, we should embrace that our identities like the mga halaman in the munting bahay kubo are results of long history of living interactions, resulting to a sari-sari, a layered and diverse cultural groups of people who continue to evolve, enrich, and emancipate.

#SurvivalStories2021 Update: 30 out of target 100

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).

2 comments on “[Saturday Reads] The Filipinos’ Hybrid Migratory Selves in A Deconstruction of “Bahay Kubo”

  1. Completely Full Bookshelf

    This sounds like a wonderful story—thanks for sharing it! (Also, did you all start disabling comments on the #IMWAYR posts? I can’t seem to find the comment box on those.) Have a wonderful week of reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    • OMG. Thank you for letting me know about this. I had no idea that it was accidentally disabled, thanks so much for bringing it to my attention. I have now amended the posts. I have been wondering why it had been radio silent the past two weeks – this is why! Whew. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

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