Wednesday, October 16, 2013

[Blog Tour - Book Review] Guardians of Tradition

Guardians of Tradition (2012, Adarna House)
By Mae Astrid TobiasRommel E. Joson (Illustrator), Renato S. Rastrollo (Photographer)


Book Info:
Who are the indigenous and folk artists of the Philippines? Guardians of Tradition is full of facts about 11 of Philippine master weavers, folk musicians, performing artists, mat weavers and metal smiths whose talents and skills have earned them the title Manlilikha ng Bayan. Designed to help children recognize native Filipino ingenuity and creativity, the book includes fun activities to promote appreciation for culture and arts. Guardians of Tradition has a fun and colorful design that appeals to young readers.
For the duration of the Guardians of Tradition Blog Tour, Guardians of Tradition is available at discounted price at the Adarna showroom in Scout Torillo corner Scout Fernandez Streets, Barangay Sacred Heart, Quezon City 1103 Philippines (Trunkline: (632) 352-6765, Fax: (632) 352-6765 local 125, Email Address: 
For international readers and Filipinos abroad, an ebook version is coming soon. To order paperback copies online, visit

Fascinating, colorful and educational!

I've always been fascinated by art in whatever form. Although I use words as my main tool for expression, I've also been dabbling in paints and brushes. Basically, I don't really care if it's something as mundane as photographs or as weird as surrealist pieces. When it comes to art, the most important thing is to express. And when it comes to indigenous art, part of our responsibility as the new generation is to preserve it. In Guardians of Tradition, it's obvious that this was one of the goals of author Mae Astrid Tobias when she worked on the book -- something which I really applaud her for doing. I mean, just looking at the book, I could tell that much work and time was put into it.

In Guardians of Tradition, the reader is introduced to the different indigenous folk artists in the Philippines through Kiko and Banog, a cute little boy and his friend Eagle. The book combined the rich tradition of a colorful country with modern caricature as it introduced the "Manlilikha ng Bayan" -- a title bestowed to the master weavers, folk musicians, performing artists, mat weavers and metal smiths who are instrumental in preserving indigenous arts in the Philippines.

I really appreciate the attention that was given to each Manlilikha ng Bayan. Aside from art lessons, this book included history lessons as well, but it kept everything short that it wasn't boring to read at all. Also, the pictures in the book and the caricatures of Kiko and Banog were eye-catching, which is perfect for children readers. I also love the suggested activities that were perfect for toddlers, especially ones with artistic inclinations! The activities were related to the indigenous arts that were depicted in the book, yet they were simple enough for children.

I was most especially drawn to Federico Caballero, one of the Manlilikha ng Bayan featured in the book, because he's from my province! He can chant ten epics in Kiniray-a, a dialect from the Philippines. I was kind of hoping that a short part of a Kiniray-a epic was included in the book so that I could read it, too. According to the book, Kiniray-a is a language that is no longer spoken, but the truth is from where I reside, we speak Kiniray-a. Of course, we don't speak the old version of the dialect as it has since evolved, but I believe that the unique characteristics and tone of Kiniray-a were preserved. In fact, in Iloilo, it's very easy for people to tell if someone is speaking Kiniray-a because of its distinct sound and intonation. 

All in all, I really love reading Guardians of Tradition. I love its pages, its contents and even the cute tour guides (Kiko and Banog) who played a part in engaging the reader. Not only does Guardians of Tradition share information about art, in a way it also spreads love for the Filipino culture and appreciation for indigenous arts.

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Author Bio:
MAE ASTRID TOBIAS (1979-2009) was a Palanca-award winning author of children's books. In addition to Guardians of Tradition, her books include Blue Bananas (Crucible), Bayong ng Kuting (Lampara Books), My Forest Friends (Haribon), Bakawan (Adarna Books) and two books retelling the Ifugao traditional chant, hudhud. These are Halikpon: A Retelling of an Ancient Ifugao Chant and Pumbakhayon: An Origin Myth of the Ifugao Hudhud. Both are finalists for children’s literature and best design in the 2006 National Book Awards of the Manila Critics Circle.

She also spent several years in the field of children’s television. She served as the Manila Bureau Manager of Kabataan News Network, a project of UNICEF and Probe Media Foundation that trains young people nationwide how to produce their own broadcast quality documentaries. She also also wrote episodes for children shows like Sirit!, and ABS-CBN and Eskuwela ng Bayan, as well as worked for Philippine Junior Inquirer and Shell Foundation. She was a member of Kuwentista ng mga Tsikiting (KUTING), an organization of Filipino writers for children.

Illustrator Bio: 
ROMMEL JOSON is a painter and an illustrator. He graduated magna cum laude and College Valedictorian from the University of Philippines College of Fine Arts. He was also a Merit Scholar and a recipient of the Dean's Awards for Visual Awards from the Ateneo de Manila University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management. He worked in the advertising industry for several years before devoting his time fully to painting and illustration. He has received awards and citations for painting, illustration, comics, and design from various organizations such as the Philippine Board of Books for Young People (Honorable Mention), the Shell National Art Competition (3rd Place Oil/Acrylic Category), the Neil Gaiman/Fully Booked Graphic Fiction Competition (3rd Place in the Graphic Fiction category), the Adobo Design Awards (Silver) and the Philippine Araw Awards (Silver in Art Direction) and the Metrobank Art and Design Excellence Competition (Semifinalist in Oil). He is currently an active member of Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan (Ang INK).

Photographer Bio: 
RENATO S. RASTROLLO, is a photographer, graphic artist, book and exhibit designer. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts major in Advertising from the Philippine Women’s University. With over 25 years of experience in the field of documentary photography, his works have appeared in national and international publications. Presently, he is a culture and arts officer at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

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