Original stories from the indigenous Tagbanua of Culion, Palawan were put to print as storybooks for young learners by Toshiba Information Equipment (Phils.), Inc. (TIP) in collaboration with Cartwheel Foundation, Inc. In completing the Tagbanua Storybook Project, 90 copies of Tukaw Naakawot Pa yang Langit (When the Heavens Could Still be Reached) by Perlita Albag of Sitio Chindonan and Bulawan tung Teeb (Gold in the Ocean) by Salvador Lido of Sitio Alulad were turned over to Cartwheel on July 25, 2016 at the TIP Office in Laguna Technopark.
Both books are in two languages—first in their native Tinagbanua, and then in Tagalog. Cartwheel teacher Rechard Gugma, who hails from the Tagbanua cultural community himself, led the stories’ translation to Tinagbanua. Early Childhood Educators from Katch PH helped in drafting the stories, ensuring appropriateness for young learners. Communication with the Tagbanua community members in story-gathering, translation, and content validation were facilitated by Cartwheel. TIP, on the other hand, took care of book design, lay-out, illustrations, and printing of the actual copies.
The concept for the Tagbanua Storybook Project arose as TIP expressed their willingness to support efforts in helping Tagbanua find strength in their rich heritage, which was part of Cartwheel’s community resiliency building initiative post-Typhoon Haiyan back in 2014. Cartwheel acknowledged the need for such, seeing how it can significantly contribute to the learners, teachers, and even other community members in the islands.
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The storybook project draws relevance on three levels. First, it aims to contribute to nurturing young learners’ cultural rootedness and deepening appreciation of their own life ways. They become more aware of who they are through their family and the larger community of which they are part, building on a more solid sense of self and growing confidence in their identity in the process.
The project will also help in developing the learners’ skills in literacy. Given the living environment in far-flung island communities of young Tagbanua learners that has little or no printed text at all, the project provides appropriate resource materials for practice of both reading and comprehension skills.
Lastly, the project may facilitate knowledge sharing among community members. As with many other indigenous communities, oral tradition has been the more prevalent means for the Tagbanua to pass on knowledge from one generation to another. To document their stories, as well as their indigenous systems, knowledge and practices, putting them to print is one of the best means of keeping sacred their rich inherited culture and sharing it with the younger generations.
Indeed, this Tagbanua Storybook Project will be truly value adding to Cartwheel’s continuing efforts in harnessing the culturally-rooted strengths of the Tagbanua communities through education.