Friday, August 27, 2010

Why I love (an) Araw sa Palengke

Araw sa Palengke cover, story by May Tobias-Papa and illustrated by Isabel Roxas

When I was young, I remember my mother used to take me with her whenever she goes to the palengke (wet market). I knew that she wanted me to go with her because I was the only one who can carry her bayong (shopping bag) since I was the only strongest and most responsible boy yet in the family. I never liked going there, not only because I had to wake up very early but also her bag was so full and too heavy to carry. My hands tremblingly ache after. But I can't complain because we had to carry as much as we can because we are a very big family and buying there saves us a lot of money. As I grow older, she wanted me to come with her so I can be street smart and learn from her. Now, I realized it was more than that: I was grateful that going there has enriched my experience visually. A market is also a harvest place of inspiration: from slices of life to the exotic goods you can see around. I was positively influenced by pop culture.

That wonderful experience is very much captured in one of my favorite books, Araw sa Palengke (A day in the market), written by May Tobias Papa and illustrated by Isabel Roxas. The story is very simple, the illustrations very delightful, and yet that simplicity is what makes the book so lovable. Almost anyone can relate to it.

The literary style of the story can be likened to a Japanese verse: direct, short, and simple words fully describe the wonder of a child going to a market. Even if the main character is a girl, any child can probably relate with her as she's honest, smart, and quirky. This is probably the first local children's book I have read that mainly invests on the importance of emotional intelligence. It subtly teaches a child that being patient and disciplined yields to pleasant rewards, and the joys of receiving it through hard work and a little sacrifice are priceless. This is what kids need nowadays when the words "instant" and "push-buttons" are just a click away.

This is my favorite expression of the main character in the book.

The story is accompanied by very charming illustrations, just a warning: you won't stop looking at them. More importantly, the styling, patterns, and figures are very Filipino. The color scheme is splendid, the visual elements are coherent. Although it's a sanitized version of what you see in a real local wet market that is loud, cluttered, and shockingly bright, the toned-down renderings of each scene perfectly create an exotic ambiance. The main character's expressions are comical, the illustrator has masterfully achieved humor through their eyes.

The book is one of those few ones that you can't just put down even as an adult, I'm pretty sure a child will also truly love it at first sight. You'll probably read and look at the pages over and over again. It makes you crave for more.

Araw sa Palengke, published by Adarna House, is highly recommended to be part of your child's library. No wonder it is one of the six Best Reads of 2008 and 2009 in the first-ever National Children's Book Awards.

The illustrator has created an engaging image and achieved balance in rendering a supposedly dirty and cluttered place.


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Tarie said...

I love this review!!! You should review more books, Serj. =D

Vanessa Ann Estares said...

I agree! :) Thanks Serj! This was wonderfully written, and I'm not saying this because I work for Adarna (well, maybe a little :P). Can't wait for your next book review!

Isabel said...

Naku, nakakatuwa naman. Maraming salamat Serg :)

Kora Dandan Albano said...

serj, pareho mo, madalas din ako ang kasama ng nanay ko sa palengke nung bata ako. mabait daw kasi ako at hindi palaturo ng ipabibili :) pero kahit di tulad ng bata sa libro na may natanggap na reward sa bandang huli dahil marunong magpigil sa sarili, ayos na sa akin noon ang reward na makasama sa palengke. para sa akin isang bonggang-bonggang treat ang makasama sa palengke tuwing sabado!

hats-off kina may at pepper :)

May said...

hindi ko naisulat sa "araw sa palengke" yung isang special treat ng nanay ko sa akin. paborito ko ang puto kutsinta na may kinayod na niyog. yun yung totoo kong reward sa tuwing sasama ako sa nanay ko sa palengke. =) maraming salamat sa napakagandang rebyu, serj!

Kora Dandan Albano said...

serj at may: ngayon alam ko na kung bakit tayo naging mga ilustrador - kasi pare-pareho tayong isinama ng mga nanay natin sa palengke nung bata tayo! lumaki tayong nakaranas ng tunay na buhay dahil lahat ng hugis, kulay, tunog at amoy ay nasa palengke. salamat sa ating mga nanay! =D

Bradpetehoops said...

Impressive. Have a great day!