Here’s an excerpt from The Sunday Times’ (Manila Times’ weekend magazine) feature on one of our Hiyas authors and Palanca Award Hall of Famer, Dr. Luis “Tito Dok” Gatmaitan. To read the full article, click here
The Healing Powers of Children’s Stories
By Lea Manto-Beltran
Photo by Mike de Juan
“Pero hindi lahat ng pangarap ni Tatay ay natupad. Nagulat kaming lahat nang makita ang bago kong kapatid. Wala itong paa. Ipinanganak na putol ang dalawang paa! [But not all of my father’s dreams came true. When we saw my baby sister for the first time, we were all so shocked. She had no feet!].”
THIS is an excerpt from an award winning children’s book Sandosenang Sapatos (A Dozen Pair of Shoes) about a child who was born without feet, but nonetheless, deeply loved by her father, a shoemaker. Its author is a practicing physician by the name of Dr. Luis Gatmaitan.
The book was awarded the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature in 2001, and was also listed in the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) catalogue for the Bologna International Children’s Book Fair 2005. Moreover, it was named the 2005 Outstanding Book for Young People with Disabilities by the IBBY.
The best-selling children title has since been translated to three languages: Indonesian, Thai (Thailand) and Danish (Denmark), and is now available in Kindle edition (e-book version).
Sandosenang Sapatos is just one of the 40 storybooks written by Dr. Gatmaitan who has succeeded in the medical and literary worlds with flying colors. In both of these, he has one ultimate goal: To heal.
Gatmaitan explains to The Sunday Times Magazine, “For me, writing is not just a hobby but a personal crusade, and I have chosen to write for the most discriminating audience: The children.
Whenever I see their faces light up as they read my stories, I feel like I am contributing something good to their childhood. I guess God wanted me to write and heal even through the creative exploits of my pen.”
Though his writing is a personal advocacy, Gatmaitan’s hard work has reaped rewards beyond his expectations, and garnered numerous prizes in the process.
He won the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature six times for his children’s fiction and essays in Filipino, five of which won first prize, elevating him to the Palanca Awards Hall of Fame. He also received the Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA) for one of his books as the Best Short Story for Children in 2002. He also received honors from the PBBY-Salanga Writer’s Prize, the National Book Awards, and the Manila Critics Circle.
Because of his extraordinary works in Literature, Dr. Gatmaitan was also named one of 2003’s Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines by the Philippine Jaycees and the Junior Chamber Philippines. In 2004, he was one of the 30 finalists for the 2004 Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World for his “contribution to children, human rights, and world peace.”
For 19 years, “Tito Dok,” as he is fondly called by his younger patients, pioneered the propagation of children’s stories with medical themes, such as immunization, intestinal parasitism, tooth decay, wound healing, genetics, blood transfusion, dengue fever, sore eyes, common colds, falls, head lice, diarrhea and dog bites, among others.
Among the titles he has written are: May Giyera sa Katawan ni Mark, Si Duglit ang Dugong Makulit, Ayan na si Bolet Bulate, Nang Maghasik ng Lagim si Lolit Lamok, Ay May Bukbok ang Ngipin ni Ani, Aray Nasugatan Ako, Aba May Baby sa Loob ng Tiyan ni Mommy, Naku Ang Pula ng Mata ko, Ha-ha-hatsingggg!, Ngiii Ang Kati-Kati ng Ulo ko, Krakk Nabali ang Buto ni Ferdie, Ang Pambihirang Buhok ni Raquel, Ang Ambisyosong Istetoskop, and May mga Lihim Kami ni Ingkong, and many others.
In 2000, he started his Mga Kuwento ni Tito Doc Series with Ay, May Bukbok ang Ngipin ni Ani! Tito Dok says he thought of creating this storybook to teach the children some medical concepts that are hard to understand. The series became such a hit that the Manila Critics Circle of the National Book Awards cited the series “for its popularization of the science of medicine in language and illustrations that young children can understand, for its indigenizing of universal scientific principles, and for its imaginative reconstruction of what happens in the human body.”
To date, the “Tito Dok series” is on its 17th book.
Dr. Gatmaitan chose to write children’s books convinced that God gave him the talent to write for a reason—to teach the children about health issues while enjoying a story. He also believes that reading is a basic human right and should be a tool for nation-building.
Besides storybook writing, he also advocates storytelling, creative writing, book publishing, reading and literacy.
To read the rest of the article, click here