Not a Goodbye

It was with mixed emotions (a pinch of sadness, a glob of nostalgia, and a dollop of happy remembrances) that I wrote finis to the “Oh, Mateo!” series of storybooks about a brave boy named Mateo.

This extraordinary eight-year-old kid, who lives in Pangasinan, and I went through lots of exciting, and sometimes horrifying, times together for a total of 15 books in 11 years.

All that is now over.   

It is not for lack of sequels. I have lived long enough to write a thousand and one more adventures, but . . .

An idiom sums it up: “All good things must come to an end.”

And author Frank Herbert says it better: “There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”

The story of “Oh, Mateo!” will officially stop with the launching of the last and 14th book in the series at the Manila International Book Fair (MIBF) next month.

Book No. 14 is:  “A Flood of Kindness.”

It is not a swan song. It celebrates the coming together of all the characters that played a part in all the books. They unite spontaneously, in an unplanned reunion of sorts, for something so dear and so important.  

As she wonderfully did in every "Oh, Mateo!" book, Beth Parrocha-Doctolero (What a privilege to have partnered with this artist extraordinaire!) once again makes Mateo, and all the characters who touched his life, come alive—one last time. 

I say it is not goodbye because the storybooks will still be printed every year for new readers (and there will be a Mateo Devotional for children, also illustrated by Beth, to be launched this year as well). It is more of a pause, a pregnant one, for an author, who had incessantly sought for the next challenge, the next surprise, and the next conflict to impart values among young readers through "Oh, Mateo!"

I will forever be connected to all these young boys and girls (many may now be adults), and their parents or teachers, who found a friend in Mateo. It is my wish that the lessons they discovered, and learned from, have become a part of their daily lives. I am grateful to those who followed Mateo's adventures through the years—since the stand-alone “The Magic of Apo Mayor,” which began the series in 2001.  

I have the deepest affection for all the schoolchildren who chose Mateo as one of their 25 most-loved Filipino storybook characters in a survey by the Philippine Board on Books for Young People (PBBY) a few years back. I am indebted to all the unnamed behind-the-scenes Hiyas cast of characters: editors, back-up editors, book designers, typesetters, printers, translators, puppeteers, storytellers, and booksellers, who all played roles bigger than mine backstage. 

Book No. 14, “A Flood of Kindness,” demonstrates how we can love our neighbors and the town (or city or country) where we were  born. God has put each of us in a certain place, where He lets His grace take root and flourish to bless others through us.    

Like the title of the book, and the recent spate of rains, our generous Father floods us with  kindness. He doesn't ever write finis to grace.   

(The 33rd MIBF runs from September 12-16, 2012, at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City. All "Oh, Mateo!" books will be sold at discounted prizes at the OMF Literature booths, aisle K. I will be there for book signing on the 14th. Please come and join me for a chat.) 


Yay Padua-Olmedo said...

The title and the concept my change but there will be more. And kids' imaginations will be fired up as you've never imagined, because the Holy Spirit will always have something new to tickle their imagination with, and bring them closer to Jesus.

Grace D. Chong said...

Amen, Yay.

BIG AL said...

HI ate Grace,I have been an avid fan on these gracious collection -endless teardrops,meaningful lessons to learn, not to forget the eureka moments; love the Mateo series but i stopped collecting since i was away from home. that's my mission when i get home. God bless po and a big CONGRATULATIONS!

Grace D. Chong said...

Thank you very much, BIG AL. When are you coming home for a vacation? Please let us know when you're in town. The series is still available in any bookstore.

Eva Kristiaman said...

Congrats, Grace! I really hope one day I would read those books, to meet Mateo :) Are those books bilingual (English and Tagalog)? God bless you always!

Grace D. Chong said...

Hi, Eva! Thank you. Yes, all these books are bilingual. I wrote them in English, then a translator retold them in Filipino. God bless you, too!

The Tiger Scribe said...

Yesterday, I was in MOA eating with a friend at the French Baker when a kid next on our table was reading one of the books from the Oh! Mateo series. My heart was filled with so much delight. The kid was reading the book aloud to her proud parents enjoying their chocolate muffins and german sausage. As Mateo goes to rest, I shall anticipate the grace hiding in your sleeves, ahyi. Congratulations for a wonderful series! The fluffy jumping panda wishes to give you his salute through an Aling Dionisia clap:

Claps three times, stumps three times and shouts, "BIRI GUD BIRI GUD!"

Grace D. Chong said...

I am so touched by that MOA scene. Thank you, JP, for sharing it with me. I wish I could come up to the expectations of all my readers--all the time. I love the Aling Dionisia clap!

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot once more for a lot of things.

Grace D. Chong said...

Anonymous, you're very welcome.

Anonymous said...

Hi there. Very nice site!!

Unknown said...

hello author .. i bought a book titled "bff 180 devos for tweens" and already gave it to my friend .. a girl ofcourse .. i just wonder if where can i buy "brb 180 devos for tweens"

p.s "reply to me at my email "rjay.rabuya@yahoo.com" thank you :)"

Grace D. Chong said...

Hi, Arjay! I replied to this message via email. Thanks for visiting my site and for giving my books as gifts. Happy New Year!