Ngumiti si Andoy

(Header) Ngumiti si Andoy Blog Tour

Today is Andres Bonifacio’s 150th birthday and I’m celebrating by joining my first ever blog tour, for the book “Ngumiti Si Andoy,” written by Xi Zuq, illustrated by Dominic Agsaway, and published by Adarna House. The story and illustrations are based on the winners of the 2013 Philippine Board on Books For Young People (PBBY) Salanga (for writers) and Alcala Prize (for Illustrators).

As part of the blog tour, I get to feature author Xi Zuq and illustrator Dominic Agsaway on my blog today.

(Writer) Xi ZuqXi Zuq is a teacher, writer and reader from General Santos City. He is a member of Kuwentista ng mga Tsikiting (KUTING) and Linangan sa Imahen, Retorika, at Anyo (LIRA).

Here’s a short interview I had with Xi Zuq:

Q: How did you get involved in this book, and how do you feel that it is part of the commemorative celebration of Andres Bonifacio’s 150th birthday?

A: I wrote Ngumiti si Andoy as my entry in last year’s PBBY-Salanga Prize, the annual literary award for short fiction (or poetry in 2010) for children. I rarely join literary contests because these require a lot of paperwork and time. But when I saw that the theme for last year’s Salanga was Andres B., I didn’t think twice about joining. I mean, Andres B. and his close friend Emilio J. are two of my favorite heroes. It has always been my dream to be involved in a writing project about Andres B.

Q: What research was involved in writing the story? What resources did you consult?
What challenges did you encounter with regards to the available information about the hero? Any surprising discoveries about Andres Bonifacio?

A: To be honest, I didn’t do extensive research when I wrote the story because I was sort of familiar with Andres B. Learning his life and works is a requisite in my profession as a Social Studies teacher. But of course, I had to revisit my sources every now and then to check my facts. Historian Xiao Chua’s works online, in print and other media — he really is a multimedia celebrity! — helped me a lot. He also served as our historical consultant during the publication process.

Discerning which parts of Andres B.’s life and works to highlight was actually the most challenging part. I also had to make sure that the work is a marriage of a sound fictional story and reliable historical data. I also realized that I should use the historical data to present another aspect of Andres B.’s life and that this presentation should be woven seamlessly in the narrative.

What I highlighted in the story was the emotional/loving side of Andres B. I mean, Andres B. went through a lot during his short life — his parents died when he was young; his first wife Monica died months after they got married; his only son Andres died; he had no idea what happened to his wife Oryang after he was arrested; his brother Ciriaco died during the arrest encounter; he witnessed the killing of his brother Procopio… Hence, I opted to ‘soften’ Andres B.’s hard mold/statue (which depicts him as the “fearless freedom fighter”) to give him the chance to say “Hay!”

Q: What do you think sets this story apart from other stories written about Andres Bonifacio?

A: Besides showing a more accessible Andres B., I think what sets this story apart from other Andres B.-inspired works is the plot flow. I sort of tried to deviate from the usual linear flow of Philippine children’s stories. The story starts with an ending and ends with a new beginning. In the middle, I also inserted flashbacks. And of course, I used statues to bridge the past and the future. Writing this story was really an experiment on time. Haha.

Q: What is the takeaway you would like to leave readers of this book?

A: I hope this book will serve as a springboard for readers to rediscover Andres B.

(Illustrator) Dominic AgsawayDominic Agsaway (email him at agsaway[at] is an illustrator of comics and children’s books. He is a graduate of the University of Santo Tomas and member of Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan (where I met him, years ago!).

Here’s Domz’ interview:

Q: How did you get involved in this book, and how do you feel that it is part of the commemorative celebration of Andres Bonifacio’s 150th birthday?

A: I was very interested to join the PBBY-Alcala for 2013 with the Ngumiti si Andoy story. Luckily, my illustrations were chosen. My mind was very active after that event with visions of this book and how my illustrations could help kids learn about one of the Fathers of our Country. It feels awesome to have illustrated a book in commemoration of the Supremo’s birthday. It’s like giving him a very special gift and appreciating what he has done for our country.

Q: How did you settle on the illustration treatment for the book? What style and medium were used for the illustrations?

A: I love working with pens right now and making them appear like wood cut prints from the 1800’s illustrations. I decided to settle on this kind of medium and technique which complements a valuable memory of a respectable hero from the 19th century.


Q: Describe the process of illustrating a familiar, iconic, and historical character. What challenges did you encounter, and how did you deal with these challenges?

It’s very challenging. First, I had to research and observe statues of Andres Bonifacio. I studied Baliuag, Bulacan’s Andres Bonifacio that was dressed like a military general two centuries ago. I also had to scrutinizethe Balintawak statue every time I traveled to the city — I had to be wide awake every time the bus rolled down that area.

Next, I had to put everything on paper and brainstorm. I had to make sure that Andoy appears like a leader — not too strict, friendly towards the kids’ perception, and still very recognizable that the reader will recognize it at first glance to be the Supremo. I got stuck with the known kamisa de chino-wearing Andoy and the famous red scarf around the neck but I added a formal twist with the elegant hair based on the only existing photograph of Bonifacio.


Q: Were you able to interact with the author and publisher in the process of illustrating the story? What inputs (if any) from them did you take into consideration?

I had a great collaboration with the remarkable writer, Xi Zuq, and with Adarna House. We brainstormed from characters to settings. It’s fun working with them and they gave me fantastic insights. Most notably is the appearance of an afternoon sky, the depiction of a small park without being too crowded and easy on the eyes, layouts and colors. Those insights helped me to grow as an illustrator.


(Cover) Ngumiti si Andoy

Ngumiti si Andoy is officially out today, but you can win a copy of the book and a Kartilya ng Katipunan poster by joining the raffle here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Bonifacio Day, everyone!
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