*Here are 20 titles of my favorite Filipiniana for Children. The list is for a future project of the PBBY. It is hoped to be published in the website soon.
I would like to believe that the production of reading materials for children in the Philippines today is in a rapid, if not constant, growth. Every year, there are books being published for the Filipino young reader. A good number of magazines are also out in circulation to schools and bookstores. Filipiniana graphic novels and comic books are also shaping a life of its own and building a modest following among young adult readers. Reading, writing and publishing for the Filipino child and teenager is alive and well.
Those of us who advocate it’s growth and development need only to chronicle the trends and directions that it has taken so far. Then again, a push and a little lift, is necessary to keep it going.
Below are my picks from recently published reading materials for the young reader. With the exception of some old favorites, the list has new titles reflective of the imagination and creativity that Filipino writers have. More and more, they are becoming sensitive to the needs and profile of the young audience that they write for. As for the publishers who risked putting them out, it is brave of them to gamble at such endeavors knowing that they’re up against foreign competitors. Our writers and publishers are treading new grounds and exploring different genres. Such talent and courage deserve support and patronage.
So, my dear teacher, parent and school librarian, go over this recommended list and see what titles would interest your kids. Allow them to read stories from their own culture and context.
A Jenny & Jay Mystery : The Pillowcase Cat Caper. Marivi Solliven-Blanco. Illustrations by Remus San Diego. Tahanan Books, 1996.
The first in a series of three adventure-suspense chapter books, Jenny and Jay went after a black embroidered cat that led them to mischief and mayhem all across town. Find out how midnight, moonlight and a mysterious gust of wind can magically turn an embroidered cat alive. Gr. 3-5
Enrique El Negro. Carla M. Pacis. Illustrations by Mel Silvestre. Cacho Publishing House, 2002.
Yabon was barely out of his teens when pirates took the life of his family and tribe. Captured and sold into slavery, he became servant to a temperamental Portuguese explorer. With a new name, Enrique El Negro traveled aboard a galleon; sailed the uncharted seas; met strange peoples with cultures different from his own and became the first of his “kind” to travel around the world. Pacis takes a stake at historical fiction with considerable success. Gr. 5 – High II
Elias & His Trees (Mga Puno ni Elias). Adapted by Augie Rivera. Illustrated by Romeo Forbes. CANVAS & the UST Press, 2005.
Adapted from the French folklore, The Man who Planted Trees, this Filipiniana version bespeaks of the Filipino diaspora and his constant longing for the land of his birth. Haunted by stories of a land, green and beautiful, he went back and met a tree planter named Elias who has created and nurtured a new sanctuary -- so that those who fled may come back; and for those who chose to stay may grow and flourish. Rivera displays mastery of the writing craft as he sensitively implies that hope for this country springs eternal. Gr. 6 – High IV.
Barefoot in Fire: A World War II Childhood. Barbara Ann Gamboa Lewis. Pictures by Barbara Pollak. Tahanan Books, 2005.
An autobiographical account of life in war torn Manila. Lewis narrates her experiences as a child growing up in the midst of war. Her struggles with internal and external conflicts shaped her identity as a person. A reflective and affecting read for today’s generation whose only reconnaissance of World War II is in history books or in a Hollywood-ized movie version. Gr. 5 – High II.
Bagets : An Anthology of Filipino Young Adult Fiction. Edited by Carla Pacis and Eugene Evasco. UP Press, 2006.
Enough of Sweet Dreams and Sweet Valley High. Move over Olsen Twins and Lizzie Maguire. These 16 well crafted short fiction (8 in English; 8 in Filipino) by members of KUTING (Kwentista ng mga Tsikiting) looks into the psyche, issues and concerns of Filipino teenagers today. The fifteen writers showed respect to their young adult readers by presenting and showing their stories as it is – no sugar coatings, non judgemental, bitter sweet and shockingly truthful. Gr. 6 – High IV.
Project : Hero. Edited by Andrew Drilon and Elbert Or. Quest Ventures and Nautilus Comics, 2005.
Here is a hilarious and wonderful comic book by Filipino writers, artists and comic book creators. With new superheroes emerging from its pages, young readers are bound to enjoy the adventures and heroics of Yaya Kadabra; Jet Tatanium; Kid Continuum and Channel. Made in the tradition of well loved Pinoy comic books, Project : Hero stands out as a new creation of well written stories that kids of this generation can easily understand and relate to. Gr. 5 – High I
Ang Paaralan ni Fuwan. Victoria Annonuevo. Adarna House, 2002.
Fuwan is torn between going to school and helping in the rice field. After being absent for several days from school, he missed his classmates and teachers. Upon his class’ surprise visit, his father realized how important going to school meant for him. Finally, he was allowed to go to school. Gr. 4 – High I.
Teo’s Trash. Garce D. Chong. Illustrations by Beth Parocha-Doctolero. OMF Literature, 2003.
What is old can be made new and what seems to be new is actually old and rare. In this story, Chong explores the natural curiosity present in all children through her favorite character, Teo. His fondness for old things earned him a feature in a TV show. Resourcefulness, ingenuity and familial piety are values that the story promote; the same characteristics that Filipinos are known for.
Hipon and Biya. Carla Pacis. Illustrated by Joanne de Leon. Adarna House, 2004
Hipon and Biya are friends. They share a home in a little coral among the reefs. What Hipon can’t do, Biya is there to help out and vice-versa. A well crafted concept story on symbiosis, the writer’s knowledge of subject matter reflects the thorough research that went through in producing such an insightful tale.
XILEF. Augie Rivera. Illustrations by Beth Parocha-Doctolero. Adarna House, 2000.
Felix has dyslexia. Through the support of his parents and his teachers’ commitment to teach him, he eventually learned how to read and earned his self-esteem. Here’s a story with solid adult characters involved in the becoming of Felix as a boy who triumphed over his own demons. Gr. 3 – 6.
Bruhaha! Bruhihi! Ompong Remigio. Adarna House, 1997
A little girl suspects having a witch for a neighbor, until a humiliating incident shattered all perceived ideas of the old woman. She is after all, just that, an old woman - shriveled, lonely and alone. Thus, the little girl extended her compassion and friendship. A story perfect for read aloud since it is embedded with rhythm and an effective use of onomatopoeia. Gr. 1 – Gr. 3.
The Zimbragatzees of the Planet Zing. Rene Villanueva. Illustrations by Jason Moss.: Lampara Publishing House, 2002.
Villanueva writes about a planet, much like our own, but inhabited by fun loving Zimbragatzees. Each Zimbragatzee is known for its unique nose. It does not only function as an organ for olfaction, but it is their identity as well. They were a happy lot, until one day, they had a sneezing fit due to the growing pollution of their planet. The effect was devastating. Their noses became smaller and smaller until it disappeared. It took them awhile to solve the problem and to face the consequences brought by their decision to modernize.
Sandosenang Sapatos (A dozen pairs of shoes). Luis Gatmaitan MD. Illustrations by Beth Parocha-Doctolero. Hiyas-OMF, 2002,
Karina’s father is a shoemaker. She gets to wear shoes made especially for her. On the other hand, her sister Susie could not because she was born without feet. Karina is protective and compassionate of Susie. Together, the siblings deal with the reality of their father’s unfulfilled dream. Gatmaitan presents the unrivaled love a father can give to a handicapped daughter in this award winning story. Gr. 4 – 6.
I want my Yaya!. Annette Flores-Garcia. Illustrations by Isa Nazareno. Lampara Books, 2002
When Blesilda’s nanny left for good, she had a string of nannies who slept a lot; ate too much; or often shouted that they were all incomparable to her favorite nanny. As she awaits for a new one to arrive, she discovered that she can learn to take care of herself. An empowering story for kids who are learning to be. Preschool – Gr. 2.
A Spider Story. Germaine Yia. Illustrations by Liza Flores. Lampara Books, 2002.
Spider envied the beautiful homes her neighbors could make. She tried her best to fashion something fancy but all her efforts were futile. With sun beams, she saw the sturdiness and brilliance of her old web and realized its worth. Gr. 2 – 5.
The Spectacular Tree. Robert Magnuson. Lampara, 2001.
Magnuson's first book is a triumph on writing and illustrating for someone who claimed that his writer's block is the greatest block of them all. In his book, he enunciates another meaning for "spectacular". By emphasizing collaboration, dependency and co-habitation, Magnuson reminds young and old alike that each creature in this world needs another. No man is an island so they say.
The Cat Painter. Becky Bravo. Illustrations by Mark Ramsel Salvatus III. Adarna House, 2006.
Rahal is an angel assigned to paint cats. One day, he thought out of the box and painted a cat not with the usual black or white, but in different colors of spots, blots and stripes. This angered the head angel. God had the last word. Bravo, a cat lover in person, deftly handles the issue of being different in a most receptive and considerate way.
Are you the Forest King? Reyes-Velasco, Penny. Pangea Books, 2000.
A young boy wanders and wonders who could be the Forest King. His curiosity led him to discover a lush beautiful forest inhabited by creatures big and small. These animals and plant life make up the delicate balance of nature. Written originally in English, the book had been translated in the Filipino by Rev. Fr. Rene B. Javellana, SJ. Illustrated using collage technique, Velasco used dried and pressed flowers, leaves and seeds.
Ang Mahiyaing Manok. Anonuevo, Rebecca. Adarna House, 2000.
Onyok is a shy rooster who could not crow. To overcome his shyness, his parents gave him all the encouragement he needed. He soon found his voice and his self confidence. The writer’s use of onomatopoeia has been most effective to characterize Onyok and the changes in his character.
Dinosaur Pop-up Activity Book. Jomike Tejido. Adarna House, 2006.
Tejido continues to stand out as a true versatile artist. His knowledge of the child reader is impressive. In this pop-up activity book, Tejido capitalizes on a one page spread to inform, educate and entertain the child who has an insatiable fascination on dinosaurs. The book is engaging as it is interactive. Children can make the dinosaurs pop-up by following the simple instructions.