Sunday, October 20, 2019

CLAPI Seminar: Children's Literature Today

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The Children’s Book Writer and His/Her World View Part 2

One of the many amazing things I experienced during the Room to Read Writing Workshop in Bohol was to be mentored by peers and friends in the book industry. I was part of Lampara House’s pool of writers and we have a team of editors to walk us through the entire process of creating a story for children but writers and friends from the other publishing houses became mentors too.

Ergoe Tinio of Adarna House was my seat mate. I discussed with her my character study and she was generous in her advise on how I can make my character stand out. Award winning author, Genaro Gojo Cruz gave suggestions on how I can reconcile the plot of the story to my character’s choices and decisions. Palanca Hall of Famer Dr. Luis Gatmaitan is the best venting buddy. Writing two stories in five days can be tiring and frustrating, I tell you. And then, there is Teacher Tin Canon who took time to listen to my story dilemma. When I presented my draft to the big group, I received validations and affirmations. More possibilities to improve the story. More insights to digest so I can continue to grow as a writer.

In the middle of this exercise, I realized how varied and beautifully diverse the many world views I encountered. At the end of the day, I was able to chart a course for my second manuscript.

I also observed how my writer friends' world views are reflected in their stories.

Luis, being a physician, has a series of books on heath and hygiene. Every year, Hiyas/OMF Lit publishes a book for kids that discuss a health issue through the Tito Dok Series authored by him. He has a number of books that breaks the myths and folkloric beliefs on medicine, health and wellness. The newest is Tuli o Di Tuli, a middle grade book on circumcision. Ang Pambihirang Buhok ni Raquel (Adarna House) is a favorite read aloud piece as it depicts the strength of a child battling with cancer. Then, there is 'Sandosenang Sapatos (Adarna House) that tells the story of a child with no feet who badly wanted to wear ballet shoes and dance.

Teacher Tin, on the one hand is an advocate of peace education and inclusive instruction in the classroom. Her Salanga winning story, Bakit Matagal ang Sundo Ko is an empowering depiction of the child waiting to be fetched in school. Her child characters, Pitong and Karlo, in the books Pitong Patagotago and Sampung Magkakaibigan posses special learning needs.

Genaro's empathy and advocacy to empower the poor and the underprivileged seeps into his stories for children. Ang Dyip ni Mang Tomas, Ang Bahay na May Gulong and recently, an alphabet book for kids that show images and symbols of the lower-middle class family living in the city.

This would make for an interesting study. Besides the milieu, the author's world view affects his approach and treatment of storytelling.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

The Children’s Book Writer and His/Her World View

Of the four publishers who had an input session during the Room to Read Writing Workshop in Bohol last week, it was Joann Nicolas Na’s session on world views that made a lasting impression. She is the editor of OMF Lit/Hiyas. In her talk, which was like a brief writer’s recollection, she asked participants what we believe in. In a previous post, a wrote them down.

I reiterate them here.

There are three things I believe in. 

I believe in love. I believe in family. I believe, that with the use of appropriate teaching methods, reading and literacy can change lives.

These beliefs all funnel in my stories and the books I have published, so far. Almost all of the six books I have written and collaborated with amazing Filipino artists were all based from real life characters. Many of them are stories of loved ones and family members.

The Day Max Flew Away is the story of my family. Much of what the father told the main character in the story is basically what I often hear my husband tell my kids. In My Daddy! My One and Only!, I celebrate the bond between father and son. Big Sister, is my story. I became one when I was twelve years old. My father is a retired public school teacher but he worked abroad back in the 80s. This became my context for Dear Nanay Needless to say, the experiences a writer go through and the beliefs he or she values are reflected in his/her works.

This prompts me to review and examine the works of my contemporaries. In the coming days and weeks, I will be posting in the blog selected works of writer friends in the industry and their body of works. This is not an academic study of children’s literature but, who knows. Maybe after posting my featured articles on Filipino Children’s Book writers and their world views, I may continue this as a formal study of writing and Philippine Children’s Literature.

Visit the blog and find out the writers, or illustrators, I will be featuring in my quest to understand the writer and his or her world view.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

2020 Call for Entries : the PBBY Chapter Book Prize

The Philippine Board on Books for Young People (PBBY) is now accepting entries for the 2020 PBBY-Salanga Chapter Book Prize. The winner shall be given a cash prize of P25,000.00, a gold medal, and an opportunity to be published. Prizes will be awarded in an appropriate ceremony to be held during the celebration of National Children’s Book Day on July 21, 2020.

DEADLINE: Entries must be received by the PBBY Secretariat and time-stamped no later than 5:00 p.m. on November 8, 2019.

The contest rules are as follows:

1. Open to all Filipino citizens, as well as non-Filipino residents with dual citizenship, except those who are related to any PBBY member up to the third degree of consanguinity. For foreigners, they must have spent at least six months (can be accumulated) in the Philippines for the past six (6) years.

2. Stories should be intended for children aged 8–12, with not less than 15,000 words and not more than 30,000 words.

3. Entries may be in English or Filipino.

4. Plot may be anything that relates to a Filipino child’s experience.

5. Entries must be in hard copy, 1.5 space, Times New Roman 12 with 1-inch margins on short bond paper. 

6. On a separate sheet, contestant must identify the target grade level, number of words, and the synopsis of the story.  Contestant may also include suggestions to teachers for enrichment activities.

7. A contestant may send in more than one (1) entry.

8. Each entry must be signed by a pen name only. Five (5) copies of each entry should be placed in an envelope, on the face of which only the pen name of the contestant should appear.

9. Together with each entry, contestants must submit a second envelope, on the face of which the pen name shall appear. This must contain the contestant’s full name, address, contact numbers, a short literary background, and a notarized certification from the author, vouching for the originality of the entry and for the freedom of the organizers from any liability arising from the infringement of copyright in case of publication, and affirming that the entry or any variant thereof has (a) never been published nor (b) won any other contest i.e. that it has never won 1st, 2nd, 3rd, honorable mention in any other contest or otherwise been awarded a medal, a citation, or included in a publicized list of meritorious entries to a literary contest.

10. All entries must be sent through snail mail or personally dropped off at the PBBY Secretariat, c/o Adarna House, Inc., Scout Torillo cor. Scout Fernandez Sts., Barangay Sacred Heart, Quezon City.

11. All entries must be received by the PBBY Secretariat no later than 5:00 p.m., November 8, 2019.

12. Winners will be announced no later than November 29, 2019. Non-winning entries will be disposed of by the PBBY Secretariat.

Grand prize and honorable mention winners shall be subject to a bidding process to be facilitated by PBBY, to determine which publisher/s will publish their winning stories.

The winning story will be the basis for the 2020 PBBY-Alcala Prize.

For more details, interested parties may contact the Philippine Board on Books for Young People, at (02) 8352 6765 local 203 or email

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Kuwentong Musmos: Palihan para sa Pagsusulat ng Kuwentong Pambata

How many times have you gotten drunk so bad that a hangover is inevitable the morning after? A few times back in college? Recently? Just because.

Well, a hangover is never a good thing, except for events worth getting drunk in. The hangover lasts for days and it is a good feeling you wish to bottle and preserve. So you keep it in a flask. You take it with you wherever you go. For days when you need some sunshine and happy thoughts, you uncork the bottle and take little sips of the memory. Invigorating! 

The Kuwentong Musmos Writing Workshop for Beginning Readers I attended last week in Bohol is just like that, an experience that left me with a pleasant hangover. Who wouldn’t be if you are among your people, talking, listening, creating stories not just for Filipino children but for the children of the world. Organized by Room to Read (RTR) and Adarna House, the workshop was a Voltes Five moment!

Twenty Filipino writers from the country's leading publishing houses of children's books banded together. The result was forty manuscripts that tackled themes on identity, gender equality and inclusion written for beginning readers. It was hard work. And it was for a god cause. As  Al Santos of RTR said, "Your stories will be read by a child who has never seen or opened a book before." How can I say no to this project? The little things I do as a librarian, teacher and author suddenly expands. I become a part of something bigger than the round hole I plug my square peg in ( yes, I don’t fit most of the time and it’s a miracle that things work out sometimes).

The inputs made by the four publishing houses during the five day workshop weren’t at all new things for me but what they said amplified, affirmed and validated what I have always believed in. Invest in human capital (Anvil Publishing); Create imperfect characters and let them go through challenges (Adarna House); Take courage, use language responsibly and take risks (Lampara Books); Every writer has a world view that is reflected in his/her works (OMF/Hiyas) So, children’s book writer, what do you believe in? 

I believe in three things.

I believe in love. I believe in family. I believe that, with the use of appropriate methods, reading and literacy can change lives.

There were twenty of us who left Bohol last week. I would like to think that we came out of the experience as good writers and better persons. As of writing, many of us have received call backs from our respective publishers to revise the manuscripts in preparation for the illustrators' workshop in Baguio next week. The Kuwentong Musmos Writing Workshop is in-progress and the learning experience I took away from it, I will keep forever. 

Now, it’s time to share what I gained from the workshop. 
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