A Book of Wisdom in Filipino

By Evo Joel Contrivida

“I think it offers the discovery for today’s readers how universal our proverbs are, because many of them may strike a familiar note, because they heard it in English or from other countries. And I want them also to appreciate our Philippine language, it shows how rich our oral tradition is.”

A book of proverbs (or Sawikain in Filipino), is now out to enlighten the young readers with words of wisdom that many Filipinos grew up knowing. Compiled and selected for almost five years, Philippine Proverbs marks the 13th book by Neni Sta.Romana-Cruz. Published by Tahanan Books with Illustrations by Eisen Bernardo.

Cruz told Glitter.ph during the book launching held at Via Mare (Makati City) a few days ago that her actual collection took about a year, because she needed to research those proverbs from different libraries, plus another year in verifying the accuracy, especially the English translations which needed to be poetic, and then have to find an outstanding illustrator. Cruz thought that Tahanan is not anymore interested to her collections because they were not in a hurry in publishing it, but this 2016 the said compilation was released and now available in different bookstores, even online.

The book contains almost 150 Filipino proverbs, and written in many local languages, such as Ilocano, Cebuano, Kinaray-a, Chavacano and even Palawano is featured and of course with English translation. Some are based from an old proverb book published many years ago by Filipino Folklorist Dr. Damiana Eugenio.

“In choosing the proverbs, we took into consideration the languages to represent. We want to make it more geographically equitable, we could have gone another way and follow the languages adapted by DEPED, but we want to stick to what Damiana Eugenio did, she put the languages where most popular,” Cruz added.

Cruz is a children’s book writer and freelance journalist. Her other bestselling books are “Why the Pina has a hundred eyes?” which is a National Book Award winner for Children’s Literature. She also wrote a book about Gabriela Silang, and the widely successful “You know you’re Filipino If… A Pinoy Primer.” Currently she is the chair of National Book Development Board.
While the artist, Illustrator Bernardo is a multimedia producer and writer at the Communication and Public Affairs unit of ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity in Los Banos, Laguna. He became popular for his Mag+Art project that became viral online wherein he does some mash up of classical paintings and magazine covers.

Some of the well-known proverbs mentioned in this book are “Kung Ano ang Puno, Sya ang Bunga” (in Filipino), “The fruit does not fall far from the tree” (in English). “Si la palabra es plata, el silencio es oro” (in Chavakano) or “If words are silver, silence is gold” (in English).

Tahanan Books Publishing is founded in 1991 with specialization on young readers ranging from Philippine Folk Tales, to Science books to pop culture genre.

Cruz is very proud of her latest book due to its beautiful illustrations and the very careful editorial production. “It makes us discover how rich our tradition is, we have been colonized so well that we feel our culture, our tradition is not quite at par with western culture, so researching and discovering the oral traditions, and all that we have even before the colonizers came, has been really revealing and makes you proud of our legacy.” Cruz said in closing.

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