The Little Prince Finds a Home in the Philippines

Next only to the Bible, Antoine de St. Exupery’s The Little Prince is the most translated classic literature in the universe. As of April 2017, when the book came out in Hassanya, a north African Arabic language, translation versions were pegged at 300 languages. A relatively comprehensive list compiled by Patrick Tourreau of foreign editions in various languages from Earth to Asteroid B-612 so far counts 674 editions! This list however, is not exhaustive as the Philippine editions are not comprehensively covered.

A cursory browsing of Philippine translations of The Little Prince reveals the original Filipino translation was spearheaded by Dr. Lilia Antonio, while she was still studying at the University of the Philippines, Diliman. She based her first translation on Katherine Woods’ original English translation of the book. This was first published by the now defunct Alemar’s-Phoenix Press in 1969. 

illustration by Jerome Herrera

It was followed by another translation to Filipino with the same title by Desiderio  Ching, published in 1981 by Claretian Publications. In 2011, Fr. Wilmer Joseph Tria self-published a Bicolano translation, An Sadit na Prinsipe. Then in 2018, Jerome Herrera self-published El Diutay Principe in Chavacano, a Spanish creole-based language spoken in Zamboanga City in Mindanao. Within the same year, another Chavacano translation, El Principe Niño, written by professor Dr. Robin delos Reyes, was also published. In 2020, Dr. Lilia Antonia rewrote her original manuscript by basing a new translation to Filipino on the 2000 work of Richard Howard. This now stands as the foremost translation to Filipino, published by Southern Voices Printing Press as a Limited Edition version. In 2022, Southern Voices Printing Press released the Student Edition version of the same translation by Dr. Lilia Antonio. 

We begin 2023 with the Hiligaynon version translated by Stephen Matti, Ang Gamay nga Prinsipe freshly off the press (launch date to be announced by Mr. Matti in the next few days). That makes for a total of eight editions published in the Filipino, Bicolano, Waray, Chavacano and Hiligaynon languages! And soon, perhaps in February of 2023, Jerry Gracio might come out with his Waray translation, entitled An Guti nga Prinsipe

photos by Southern Voices Printing Press

If only the burgeoning of translation editions in the Philippines could reflect the increase in readership in the various local languages, one could say there is hope that perhaps, it is not exactly true that Filipinos do not read. ###

Note: The author welcomes corrections or addendums to the various translation works and editions of The Little Prince in the Philippines.