Storybook featuring Waray culture, games, arts, and tradition now available in both English and Tagalog

Maya and Her Faithful Friends, an original English-Waray illustrated storybook written by J. E. Mondejar Publishing House (JEMPH) in the Philippines, now has a Tagalog edition as part of the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Mother Tongue-Based Multi-Lingual Education (MTB-MLE) program.

According to Minerva Mondejar-Steinar, chief executive officer of JEMPH, actor Diether Ocampo translated the new version, which includes the second book in the novel, Adventures of Maya: The Lost Fields of Palale. “We are proud to work with Mr. Ocampo on this project. He attracts a global audience to our series, which is integral to our mission,” she said in a statement on Tuesday.

Bernadette Mondejar-Schlueter, Steiner’s older sister, came up with the illustrated storybook, which has English text translated into Waray, to help solve the region’s lack of books suitable for the MTB-MLE program. The initiative is part of the Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013, which requires teachers to use students’ native languages as a means of learning so that they can learn basic concepts quickly.

The Mondejar family and the DepEd Tacloban division signed a memorandum of understanding in December for the donation of the storybook series to 43 public elementary schools here through J. E. Mondejar Computer College (JEMCC). According to Steiner, the book will be donated to public elementary schools in Cavite and Bicol in both English and Tagalog versions.

She mentioned that the new edition, like the English-Waray novel, is available for children worldwide through Kindle, Google Books, and paperback on the Amazon website. Next week, the second book will be available on Amazon. Customers may also ask about the books at JEMCC in Naga-Naga village or call 0953-832-3023.

“More editions in other local dialects or languages, as well as in some foreign languages are in the offing, too. We like to reach as many Filipinos with Waray heritage as much as possible,” Schlueter said in a separate statement.

To conform with the MTB-MLE program, she collaborated virtually with Northern Samar-based poet Ardeen Tuballas Capate on the original English-Waray book.

Aaron Almadro, an editor-in-chief of a regional magazine, worked as a printing consultant and book designer. In addition, renowned Tacloban artist Ed Rompal created the illustrations for the storybook, from the cover to every page, as well as for the Maya series’ other upcoming storybooks.

The Maya series, according to Schlueter, has distinctive features illustrating Waray culture, arts, games, and tradition that must be preserved and cherished by the present and future generations, in addition to being vivid and fascinating to kindergarten and primary school students.

Among the Waray games in the story integrated by Joel Alfarero and Crescencio Mejarito are “moro-moro,” “palpagay,” “latik-latik,” “tamban-tamban,” and “krus ni Magellan” and are meant to pique the attention of most children who may no longer play or are unfamiliar with them.

“My siblings Arlene, Tipo, and Don also provided insights based on our memories of Tacloban life while my sister Minerva created the website for the book’s social media exposure,” Schlueter said.

The international education expert, now based in England, said she is hoping that, with the book, “parents will encourage children to be physically active, enjoy the environment, and preserve these games as part of our cultural identity,” on top of the “cognitive benefits of computer games”.

Photo credit: Bernadette Mondejar-Schlueter