Tuesday, September 16, 2008


The last time I tried my hand at making Filipino delicacies from scratch was back in grade school (one was a rainbow pichi pichi and the other a blob of ube that we had to add blue-violet coloring to because it wasn't purple enough). So this is hardly a book I'd pick up, but pick it up I did, and I'm glad to have done so.

Published by Tahanan Books, Tamales Day! by Didith Tan Rodrigo with pictures by Arnel Mirasol is a simply worded story about a family who make preparations for a certain "tamales day" on the first Saturday of December. It starts with the family going to the market for some ingredients, continues on to the cooking process and ends in their celebrating with friends an relatives in a salu-salo.

The illustrations are intresting because of the detail and texture the artist adds to his watercolor (or watercolor pencils?). It's easy to assume the story to be old-fashioned, but if you look beyond the house dress (duster), the banana leaves, the rice pounder (lusong) and the wooden shoes (bakya), you'll see something that makes this book worth putting in a child's hands: in the story, the kids are given tasks to do; but with the help of the pictures, you see how happy they are to do them!

Today, service is easily looked upon as something "not for me to do." But doing chores--doing your part as a member of the household--is a very dignified job, and a good way to affirm that you are part of the home and you want to make it clean, hospitable and beautiful for those other people you share it with. Love is best expressed through action; and one action that is obviously the work of love is service.

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