Lessons from Ang Unang Baboy sa Langit

5:05:00 PM

Ang Unang Baboy sa Langit
Story by Rene Villanueva, Illustration by Ibarra Crisostomo

Front cover of "Ang Unang Baboy sa Langit"

I attended the Seminar for Writing, Illustrating and Telling Stories for Children organizes by UP CREates last September 26, 2015. One of the speakers there was Russell Molina. I was intrigued when I heard the title of this book from a his seminar. The literal English translation of "Ang Unang Baboy sa Langit" is "The First Pig in Heaven". Russell said that if there is a book he wished he could have written, it was this story by Rene Villanueva. After Russel's talk, I went to Anvil booth at UP College of Education and bought some of the works of Rene Villanueva. 

Ang Unang Baboy sa Langit was a Palanca Award Winner (1st Place, Primary Level, Filipino) in 1990. The book was published in 1991. I was so glad because Anvil is still producing the book. After the seminar, I read the book on the way to our province - Bataan. The design of this children's book was very simple. It was like a usual drawing of a child. The front cover is a head of a pic with a halo. I guess this was the main character who went to heaven. The book was written in tow languages. It has an English and Filipino translation.

Butsiki was the main pic character. She is different from all the rest of the pigs in their community because she was born with a sparkling star in her forehead. What made her more different is the fact that she is very clean. She always wash her face, she brushes her teeth, she takes a bath regularly. She knows basic hygiene. She also encouraged her parents to clean their pigpen because it was so dirty. I think Butsiki was aware of the risks of living in a dirty environment. She also encouraged other piglets to do the same in their pigpens. Other pigs were amazed by Butsiki. It was kind of revolutionary that time because the pics are known to be dirty creature. They eat on the floor, they stink because they like to lied down in their pigpens full of dirt and stool. They don't wash their hooves and snout. 

The bacteria, wrigglers, spiders and mosquitoes were so angry with Butsiki. Because of what she did, the pigpens are now clean and so these bad guys cannot thrive in their habitat and they cannot infect the pigs in the community. The head of the pig-community (Big Pig) knew of this movement/program initiated by Butsiki. He was so angry because Butsiki broke the laws of the pigs. The nature of the pigs is to be dirty. And so Big-Pig put Butsiki in trial and accused her of instigating a revolution in the pig community and breaking pig laws. The Big-Pig was also angry because Butsiki is teaching the pig community to dream for a better and cleaner place to live, he is teaching the pigs to be clean which is for Big Pig is against their laws and nature.

To make the story short, Butsiki was slaughtered and she became a lechon. That was actually the main goal of all pigs. If you do not become a lechon, you are a useless pig. So Butsiki was so blessed because she became a lechon. This is primarily because she is healthy and clean. After some time, Butsiki floated in the air and went to heaven. After the death of Butsiki, Big Pig banned all sorts of cleaning in the pig community. Because their community is dirty, the bacteria, wrigglers, viruses and mosquitoes brought diseases in the pig community and most of them died. Those pigs who survived the epidemic realized the importance of cleanliness. It decreases the risks of having diseases. Also according to Butsiki, cleanliness is next to godliness. From then on, all the pigs started to be clean and neat even though they are pig.

Lessons that I learned from "Ang Unang Baboy sa Langit"
HEALTH: Being Clean is Being Healthy
Of course, this is fiction. This is not true. But we have a lot of lessons that we can get from this book. Number one is cleanliness. Having a clean environment is very important in order for us to prevent a lot of diseases. There are a lot of diseases that are due to lack of sanitation. These are diarrhea, intestinal worms, malaria, schistosomiasis and trachoma. A lot of people suffer and die from these diseases. In diarrhea alone, according to UNICEF, we have 4 billion cases of diarrhea per year and the death per year reaches 1.8 million . 90% of this are among children under five (http://www.unicef.org/wash/index_wes_related.html). If these people know basic hygience and sanitation and if the government also improved the environment or the community where these people live, Im sure that the numbers morbidity and mortality will dive down. What Butsiki teaches us is that prevention is so much better than cure. We can do something to prevent these diseases. Did you know that 24% of global disease is caused by environmental exposures which can be averted? Yes we can do something about theses disease. We can save a lot of lives by reducing these environmental risks. According to the World Health Organization, these are the measure that we can take to reduce environmental disease burden: promotion of safe household water storage and better hygienic measures; the use of cleaner and safer fuels; increased safety of the built environment, more judicious use and management of toxic substances in the home and workplace; better water resource management (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2006/pr32/en/). As a future doctor, I need to promote health and wellness to the community. Just like what Butsiki did. And I also need to inform the people of ways and means to prevent acquiring diseases. 

PERSONALITY: Be transformed. Do not Conform
Another lesson what we can get from this story is CHANGE for the better. The pigs are naturally known to be dirty but this does not mean that they have to stay dirty forever. If this character does not bring any good to them, might as well remove it and change it. Dirty habitat only brings diseases to the pic community. They don't need to suffer from diseases. They can prevent it by cleaning their environment. To put it to our context, we need change, RADICAL CHANGE. We can always change for the better. Let us not be passive people. Do not always go with the flow. Be different. I hope this can be an encouragement to all of us to initiate changes for the better. Be the change. Do not conform to your surrounding, if you know that what you are doing and what the people around you are doing is not good and beneficial for you, you have to remove it and change it. If it does not bring you any good, if it does not cause you to be a better person, if it does not glorify God, remove it, scrap it and change it.

I hope you can read this book and when you read books, You'll enjoy reading it. The story and illustrations are just perfect. I hope you also exhaust the lessons that you can get from them. You'll be surprised that you can get so much lessons from a single children's story book. And of course pass it on. Share the lessons to other people especially kids. Kudos to Rene Villanueva and Ibarra Crisostomo for this wonderful and fun book. Thanks for reading my blog.

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