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Buddha’s stories translated into Filipino

WHEN the human king observes a monkey save his troop from an accident on the mango tree they were living in, the human king learns in the end to not only how to be king but to be a servant leader from then on — that is the moral of the story which listeners’ learn from “Ang Haring Matsing” (“The Monkey King”). It is just one of the stories from the Jataka Tales which is now available as a 12-episode podcast.

The podcast is a collaboration between the Embassy of India in Manila and Areté Ateneo in which the Jataka Tales have been translated into Filipino.

Among the oldest and best-known stories of Indian literature, the Jataka Tales consists of stories with each featuring the Buddha in different forms until he attains enlightenment. Each story ends with a profound teaching and a moral lesson.

In February 2021, the Embassy of India in Manila contacted the faculty of Areté Ateneo about producing the Jataka Tales.

“We do have a very strong relationship with lots of universities, but because Ateneo had strong capacities in terms of production, we got a lot of support,” Ambassador Shambhu S. Kumaran told BusinessWorld at the podcast’s launch on May 31 at the Doreen Theater at the Ateneo Art Gallery.

“We decided that we should do more work together for cultural understanding and academic exchanges,” Mr. Kumaran added.

Titled Kwentong Jataka, each of the 12 short podcasts narrates one of the Jataka Tales in Filipino. Among the stories included are Ang Jackal na Nagligtas sa Leon (The Jackal Who Saved the Lion) which talks about friendship and trust, Uling’ ni Impo (Granny’s Blackie) which focuses on dept of gratitude, and Ang Puso ng Matsing (The Heart of the Monkey) which highlights courage.

The project aims “to contribute towards making enriching supplementary learning resources accessible for young learners in the Philippines,” a press release stated.

The project was conceptualized and funded by the embassy while the translation of stories into Filipino, the development of illustrations, and the production of podcasts was carried out by faculty of Areté Ateneo and the Filipino Language Department of Ateneo de Manila University.

“As children, what really moved us are stories. Today, I heard echoes of what I heard when I grew up, and am delighted that hopefully hundreds of Filipino children will also hear the stories from another culture,” Mr. Kumaran said in his speech during the launch. “While we may be so varied in so many things, the human condition is similar.”

The project is a part of the Indian Embassy’s effort to encourage wide-ranging, people-oriented and forward-looking educational collaboration with Philippine entities.

The Kuwentong Jataka podcasts are available for free on the website and YouTube Channel of the Embassy of India, the website of Areté Ateneo, as well as on Spotify and Apple podcasts. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman