Book Review: Tuwing Sabado

7:29:00 AM

Front Cover of Tuwing Sabado
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Tuwing Sabado was written by Russell Molina and was illustrated by Sergio Bumatay III. This book won 3rd prize in Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, Short Story for Children in 2004. I bought this book after attending a children's story writing seminar in UP College of Education. Russell was one of the speakers during that seminar. He gave tips on how to create short stories. He also told us how he crafted the story of "Tuwing Sabado". He said he has a lot of friends who are priests in Bilibid. New Bilibid prison is the insular penitentiary housing the prison population of the Philippines. The story was made from his conversation with these priests who told him about the solid family values inside the prison.

Russel introducing himself during the UP Creates Seminar in UP Educ

 I just finished reading the story today, almost two months after I bought the book. I was prompted to read the book when one classmate in medicine, Nash, who was also a children's book love, recommended the book "Tuwing Sabado" and said that the book was awesome and will definitely make the readers cry.

Russell signed my copy of Tuwing Sabado

Basically, the story was about a child who always go to his father's house every Saturday. That was the only day of the week that he meets his father. His father taught him different skills every time the child visits Bilibid. His father taught him how to read, how to write, how to cook so that the child can cook for his mother when she's sick. His father also taught him how to do magic tricks to entertain and make their family happy. His father taught him how to make sculptures out of tin can so that he can make his own toys. Basically, even though his father was in prison, the father still fulfilled his role as a father. He was able to impart good values to his child. I can still remember when the child was teased by his classmates because they know that his father was a prisoner. The child was very mad and angry and he wanted to fight with the children who bullied him. But his father reminded him to be calm, do not fight with other people and stay away from trouble because these things will not result to anything good. The story ended with the child counting the stars and counting the remaining days before he can see his father. I felt the excitement of the child and his longing for the day of his father's release from prison and he can be with his family every day of the week and not only during Saturdays.

I read this book in class while waiting for our professor to come. I was teary-eyed after reading the book. Russel did a great job in narrating the story. I love how Russell showed the solid family values inside Bilibid. I have to say that Serge is a real genius in children's story illustrations. There's magic in every page of this book. Wow!

Russell signing my copy of his books

This book can help the readers be exposed to the struggles and experiences of families with family members inside the prison. It was not an easy experience for sure! This book showed the readers how to deal with children whose parent/s are in jail and that everyone should respect them because they are human beings too. Parental incarceration can result to disruption of family relationships and this can definitely affect the behavior and performance of children. This can result to poor academic performance, aggression, depression and abuse. But these consequences are avoidable and incarcerated parents can still work in parenting skills and maintain good relationship and strong attachment to their children. This was what happened to the characters in the story. Because the father sees his family every Saturday, they never lost communication and healthy relationship. All of these experiences can be very overwhelming for the children. So this story encourages the readers to give comfort to someone with incarcerated parents and help them get through these tough moments. They need a friend, comforter and a shoulder to lean! 

I have no statistics of the number of children with incarcerated parents in the Philippines but I am sure that there's quite a lot of them. Especially now that the crime rates in the Philippines are skyrocketing. In the United States, more than 2.7 million children have an incarcerated parent and approximately 10 million children have experienced parental incarceration at some point of their lives [1]. I know that they have their own struggles and challenges in life but I hope they can read this book and be inspired by the characters in this story. I hope they can read this to give them encouragement that they can always look at things at the brighter side and see the goodness in all things happening in their lives. I hope they won't be discouraged and they can still continue with their lives despite all the challenges brought by parental incarceration.

If you want to hear the story of "Tuwing Sabado", you can visit this site for the video. The storyteller was great. I love the background music and sound effects because it made the story more tearful.

Go get a copy of this book! I swear you will never regret buying this book! So much lessons to learn from this book. Thank you very much for reading my blog entry! God bless you.

[1]  The Pew Charitable Trusts: Pew Center on the States. (2010). Collateral Costs: Incarceration’s Effect on Economic Mobility. Washington, DC: Author.

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