CONVERSATIONS: GENARO GOJO CRUZ ON OPENING PROGRESSIVE DISCUSSIONS WITH HIS BEST-SELLING CHILDREN’S BOOK, “AKO AY MAY TITI”
Award-winning author and professor, Genaro R. Gojo Cruz, sat down with us to share his insights on coming up with a book that boldly opens the discussion on conservative body parts in the form of children's literature.
Titi, bayag, pepe, suso—if these words trigger you, then you ought to immerse in our discussion about normalizing the use of these words in conversing with kids. After all, as older and wiser citizens, we hold responsibility in training up children in the way they should go.
Award-winning author Genaro Gojo Cruz is the writer behind Lampara Books’ sold out children’s storybook Ako ay May Titi. The book has been widely-talked about because in a predominantly conservative country like ours, it’s mostly considered a taboo to talk about sexual body parts in front of children. By segueing the discussion of these sexual organs or even blurring and filtering out these words, children can get lost in translation. At worse, they develop a malicious connotation at the back of their heads.
And that’s exactly why it’s essential to unpack the value of normalizing these conservative body parts. Getting them exposed to the mundanity of these words at an early age is one thing, but it also comes with responsibility on its proper usage so that they grow up without a shed of question at bay.
“What are these parts?”, “How do we care for it?”, “When can I use the word?”—these are just some of the most common curious questions that we face when children are piqued to understand better. It’s not a wild thought nor an invalid inquiry; but more of clarity when their curiosity and innocence come to play. Most would find it difficult to answer because it can be influenced by culture. So, providing a less-wiser approach to the matter can only lead to further detour on children’s lines of thoughts.
We sat with Cruz to discuss the long-time coming of his progressive book, the lack of these kinds of themes in media platforms and libraries, as well as the delayed success of his reception. It’s high time we open up the conversation and flip out the hesitation that hides behind the excuse of bastos, to morally correct the notion of conservative body parts.