Carla Pacis, writer friend from the industry, sent an email requesting for my top five Pinoy children's books. Here's my list --
1. Ang Alamat ng Ampalaya by Augie Rivera - My all time favorite. This is the book I wish I had written. It is solid in plot and characterization. It speaks of justice and fairness. It does not moralize on the lesson of consequence. Kora Dandan Albano illustrated the book and her playful addition of the little red chili in every page adds "flavor" to the story. It becomes a character too, who, along with teh reader witnesses the unraveling of Ampalaya. Fantastic!
2. 'Sandosenang Sapatos by Dr. Luis Gatmaitan - Gatmaitan's best work, I believe. I like Gatmaitan's use of dreams (dream, rather) in the story. Unlike many a Pinoy children's story, the dream sequence in Sandosenang Sapatos amplified the mystery of love connecting the lead character, a handicapped girl, to her deceased father. Instead of using dreams as an instant solution to problems or an immediate response to change of bad attitude to good, Gatmaitan played on the magical element found in dreams as a way of channeling the metaphysical to the real and the palpable. Now that's putting back a sense of wonder in Pinoy Children's Literature! Beth Parocha-Doctolero illustrated the story.
3. Chenelyn! Chenelyn! by Rhandee Garlitos - Garlitos wrote this story the night before the Salanga deadline. Culling out his mother's experiences as a laundry woman and domestic helper, Garlitos crafted a poignant story that reflects the way we treat and relate to our humble house helpers.
4. Bruhaha! Bruhihi! by Ompong Remigio - Remigio's technique on onomatopeia and play of words is amazing! The story is short and easy to read; directly focusing on the relationship of the young girl and the old lady, one would understand the stereotypes and belief system that robs us of compassion for others.
5. Pop Up Dinosaur by Jomike Tejido - Tejido merged paper art and creative non-fiction. The result is brilliant! This book probably led to his development of Foldabots. The child needs to play and Tejido brought that to book making art.
Looking at my short list, I could not help but marvel at the genius of our Pinoy writers and illustrators. Mabuhay ang Filipinong manunulat at illustrador pambata!