My Mateo

Mateo, eight years old, has one surviving parent—his father, a poor farmer in the province of my youth, Pangasinan. But he has five energetic lolas who dote on him.

Despite his hard life and the early death of his mother, Mateo is a kind-hearted, happy boy. He is inquisitive and creative, traits which take him to many adventures and relationships children his age don’t even glimpse.

How does one meet Mateo?

He’s in 11 books of the “Oh, Mateo” series published by Hiyas, an imprint of OMF Literature.

I actually just made him up (exactly eight years ago) when I wrote the first book in the storybook series. Beth Parrocha Doctolero, a deeply imaginative artist, gave him a face—and both image and words brought Mateo to life!

Now Mateo’s one of the “25 Best-loved children’s book characters” as chosen by hundreds of Filipino school children! These 25 characters were exhibited, in sculptures bigger-than-life, at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the National Children’s Book Day in July.

The art exhibit, which lasted one week, was jointly mounted by the Illustrador ng Kabataan (INK), an organization of children’s book illustrators, and the Philippine Board of Book for theYouth.

Mateo has always been—to use a cliché—my pride and joy, and my continuing gift of grace. I join his many adventures and I get to enjoy the unusual friends he meets and keeps.

Mateo also makes me seek and hang on to the child in me. He will forever be my eight-year-old, and I am delighted to share him with the hundreds of children who already love him, and to the many more children (and children at heart) who still have to meet him.


Soyun Park said...

Mateo sounds a very sweet boy. Also, looks so cute.

Grace D. Chong said...

Thank you, Soyun Park. I am surprised and delighted that you came upon my blogsite and paused to read my post on Mateo!

Cheryl (aka Chen) said...

Wow, a life-sized Teo! I would love to have a complete collection of the series for Sebastian. So far, I have 3, 5, 6 and 7. Six more to go. :)

Grace D. Chong said...

Hi, Chen,

I am thrilled that you are reading my books to Sebastian, young as he is. By buying my books you are contributing greatly to our PVGC PK Scholarship Fund! Thanks a lot!

Cheryl (aka Chen) said...

Thank you too! Not only do I have the books I mentioned, I also have the "Hello God" series, Magic of Apo Mayor and What's for Breakfast. My goal is to eventually complete a collection of your books so that Sebastian can also read it himself when he grows up. I'm thinking of eventually buying some as presents for kids (Fil-Am or not) we know back in the US. Just thought you would like to know. :)

Grace D. Chong said...

Oh, Chen, how wonderful!