The Road to Becoming a Sinama Book Publisher

A Dream of Publishing 10 Books in Sinama a Year

Since 2012 it has been a dream of mine to see at least 10 books published in the Sinama language a year. The premise behind this dream is based off of the core concepts behind multilingual based mother tongue education. School age children will be more engaged and develop the ability to learn best in their mother tongue. Also fueling the dream are my personal appreciation for traditional stories, history, and stories filled with intrigue. My 5 years of intensive interaction with Sama people and communities has provided me with many a good traditional story, murder mystery, war story or historical musing that could only be crafted in terms of the Sama culture and in the context of their heartland, Sulu.

The First Few Attempts, Sinama Books from 2012-2014

It is easy to dream, but hard to accomplish. In 2012 no books were published in Sinama. In 2013 five books were published. Two of the titles were both called, “Am’ssi Mma’ku” stories that were created in conjunction with the Department of Education MTB-MLE program by Sama 1st Grade teacher Leonida Gulam. Two more were added by a book writing workshop we held. One was a translation of a Maguindanaon tale: “Si Kalbaw maka si Kallo’.” The other was written by a Sama Dilaut teacher who helps some Catholic nuns run a preschool for his relatives. That book is “Maglomba’ si Rabit maka si Bokko’.” It is a unique twist on the foreign tale of the rabbit and the turtle, since in this story it is a sea turtle that manages to beat a very cocky rabbit in a race that ends with a heavy downpour and flooding.
Am'ssi Mma'kuAm'ssi Mma'kuSi Kalbaw maka si Kallo'Maglomba' si Rabit maka si Bokko'Usulan Duyung
I was also able with the help of my Sama wife, some story tellers in community, and a high school student artist to adapt into a 5th big book, the traditional story of the child who turns into a mermaid after ignoring her parents warning. In 2014 we fell far short of my goal of ten stories, but at least we completed two more traditional stories that were in the works from 2013. One a hide and seek contest between the fish of the sea which was masterfully illustrated by a Sama freediver who is very familiar with underwater reefs and their fish. The other is a personal favorite of mine where the monkeys and butterflies get into a squabble over whether or not butterflies are of any value to the world.
Sai Nakura' DaingKuyya' maka Kaba'-Kaba'

11 Sinama Books in 2015

Things fell right into place this past year for the creation of 11 more titles in the Sinama language. The Catholic nuns were approached by teachers in Matina Aplaya Elementary School asking for help in successfully engaging their students with mother tongue materials. One first grade teacher in particular had a majority of Sama Dilaut students. Many of them were there because they had a positive experience in the preschool which was being taught by their relative. The teachers were inturn referred to us. We had also started partnering with, Kate, a literacy specialist who had been helping host book writing workshops with DepEd and Save the Children and was also learning the Sinama language.
I had reasons to doubt that we would have a successful 4 week book writing workshop, but was pleasantly surprised. After meeting with members of the Matina Aplaya Sama Dilaut community and teachers at the school for four weeks we had the following outputs:
Amokot Daing

  • Amokot Daing (story about net fishing)
    Usaha Pamandu' e' Ina'ku
  • Usaha Pamandu’ he’ Ina’ku (a story about a female Sama diver gathering shells)Pantalun Pagtuhun
  • Pantalun Pagtuhun (a story about a broken net and a man’s pants filled with fish)
    Batu atibulung tabāk mareyom tahik
  • Batu Atibulung Tabāk mareyom Tahik (Finding a mine leftover from WW2, an all too common story for Sama divers)
    Saging Pangumpan
  • Saging Pangumpan (a story about sharing)
    Po'onan Wanni
  • Po’onan Wanni (a story about sharing)
  • Bohe’-Botong (learning the usefulness of the many parts of a coconut tree)
    Batang-Sulat Abīng
  • Batang-Sulat Abīng (the motivation that caused a Sama Dilaut boy to graduate school, even though he was older than everyone else)
    Anganom Tepo
  • Anganom Tepo si Ina’ (the process of making the traditional Sama mat called Tepo)
    Tupara Kayu Amulawan
  • Tupara Kayu Amulawan (the process of making the Sama goggles)
  • Omang (a poem covering the fantastic hermit crab)
  • Tahik Al’ssin* (a story about trash’s impact on fishing)

* To be published in 2016

This post is part of a four part series on our Sinama Big Books Publication Project.

Here are the other posts in this series:

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