Pilipino Workers Center (PWC) chief is co-creator
LOS ANGELES – An e-book that helps readers learn Tagalog is now available on iTunes, and it is co-created by the executive director of a key Filipino community organization in Los Angeles.
The e-book “Lana! Nasaan Ka Na? (Lana! Where Are You?)” was created by Debbie Nagata, Pilipino Workers Center Executive Director Aquilina Soriano-Versoza, and Arjuna Soriano.
According to Versoza, “Lana!” is a fun, interactive iBook that helps kids and even parents learn Tagalog.
“This book helps the readers learn the titles of family members, animals, and household items through a story of hide-and-seek where the family is looking for Lana,” Versoza said in an email to Asian Journal. The co-creator added that the book is intended for young readers and their parents and/or caregivers.
The parents also don’t have to know the language because there are audio buttons where they can also listen to the book, Soriano added. Throughout the e-book, there are sliding panels that the readers can move with their fingers as they look for Lana.
Learning while having fun
The creators, knowing that kids learn best when they are playing and having fun, developed the narrative of “Lana!” around an impromptu game of of hide & seek that involves the whole family. Children can laugh and learn while Lana ‘escapes’ the readers, and in her place, the family will find funny animals, Versoza said.
“This is the kind of book that I had been looking for as my kids were growing up. There are very few learning tools for parents who want to teach their kids Tagalog and very few interactive ones,” Versoza said.
According to Versoza, the creators originally thought of going the traditional way by printing an actual book. However, after considering technology’s wide scope of reach and cost effectiveness, Nagata, Versoza, and Soriano ultimately chose to publish “Lana!” as an e-book.
“There are so many of us, especially my generation, [who] have iPads, and their kids love playing on them! I know my kids do. The platform lets us create interactivity including touch, sight and sound. And it is a way to provide a tool that does not cost a lot! As a mom myself, I know this is also important,” Versoza said.
Reflecting the Filipino family
“It builds upon repetition so that kids and parents can learn the meanings of the words. The drawings are based on a lot of our real life extended and immediate family,” Versoza said.
Her youngest daughter, the real life Lana, and her Ate Lauryn are the inspirations for the two main characters of the book.
Versoza also said that her family, much like most Filipino families, have a very close-knit relationship with one another and that each member plays a key role in their children’s lives.
“This story [Lana!] tries to reflect that of a typical Filipino family,” Versoza said.
For Versoza, the family involvement does not stop on the story’s inspiration. Her mother and brothers also played key roles on the book, which began development in 2012. It was officially published July 2014.
“Lana! Nasaan Ka na? (Lana! Where Are You?)” is 30 pages long, and has 15 additional pages of activities and games that help reinforce the Tagalog words that readers have learned. It is now available for download with iBook for Mac and iPad, and with iTunes on PCs for only $4.99.
According to Versoza, plans are already underway for Visayan and Ilocano versions of the book. Those versions are expected to come out within the next few months. The creators of “Lana!” are also following their initial title with new iBooks that cover other Tagalog vocabulary terms and language concepts for both the iPad and the iPhone.