Thursday, September 20, 2007

For Toe, who is wondering where the books and shows for Filipino children are

So I took my medicines at midnight, today (technically, speaking) and found myself hard of getting sleep back. I did the next best thing - blog and blog hop. After my usual round of blogs, I wandered to The Philippines According to Blogs. I have not logged in for a while and it has been ages since my last blog update. It's been so long that, at that time, the site was still maintained by Abe Olandres. Goodness.

Anyhoo, what caught my attention was this entry by Toe in her blog, Kurokuroatbp. I can not log in to post a comment because, her blog is password protected.

So, Toe, allow me to inform you that children's literature in the country is very young. When you and I were growing up in the seventies and the eighties, we read foreign books and watched foreign shows. It did not help that my mother was a librarian who worked at an American school. She brought me books! Lots! She did this until I was in my junior year in college. No regrets. I became a reader for life and truly, I have a genuine love for books and reading. This is something I want to pass on to my children, but, like you, I also searched for books that bespeak of my culture and identity. This, I want my children to experience too - read books about their heritage and culture, not merely of history, but the way things are in the Philippines, being a Filipino and becoming to be one. My children are luckier,Toe. I am able to provide them with books by foreign writers as well as books by Filipino authors.

So you see, Philippine Children's Literature is about our age. It is only in its 30's. There were books for children, of course, during the 50's, 60's and early 70's, but it did not really address the needs of Filipino children until the mid-70's, when people in the industry realized how important it is to provide books for kids that reflect their culture and the likes that would meet their developmental needs. There are several courses in college on the history of children's literature and for one, a big chunk of it is alloted for Philippine Children's Literature. There are also conferences and seminars on Philippine Children's Literature that feature a lot of our writers and illustrators. As of present, there is the PBBY who advocates reading and the promotion of books. In its website, you will find reviews of books written by Filipino authors. There are around 4-5 active book publishing companies devoted to producing books for Pinoy kids and sadly, they have to compete with foreign publishers who are mightier and bolder in terms of marketing arsenal.

Every year, National Children's Book Day (NCBD) is celebrated on the 3rd Tuesday of July. Present during the event are organizations concerned with the creation and promotion of children's books like KUTING, Ang INK and Alitaptap, along with a host of children's literature advocates, teachers and librarians, foundations and organizations. It is during the NCBD when the best written and illustrated story for kids is awarded the Salanga and Alcala prizes.

Last NCBD, I was assigned to present 27 titles of new books for children published by Pinoy publishers, written and illustrated by Pinoys, for the Pinoy growing child. It seem to increase in numbers, every year. We only had around 12 or 15 titles presented last year. These books are all available in bookstores nationwide. During the Manila International Book Fair last August, some pblishers launched the new titles. In terms of content, we've come a long way. Now you can read stories about a boy with an OFW mother; a girl whose cousin is stricken with luekemia; about Teo who shares bayabas, rambutan, pakwan, etc. to his father instead of apples, grapes and kiwis. Our writers are delving into sensitive issues on family and growing up. There are stories on adoption, separation, death, senility, being different, peer pressure, bullying, first love, first kiss, even on homosexuality (one Palanca award winner) though it still has to find a brave publisher to see it in print. Online stories for kids by Pinoy writers are also avaialble. Try to google Literaturang Tsikiting and it will lead you to ten stories and a few poems by KUTNG writers.

I hope this helps you a bit in your search. I was not able to recommend TV shows for kids, because, that is another story. It has its own issues and a history in itself that deserves another posting.

Rest assured that there is a continuous growth of books for our children in the country despite challenges in the economics of producing them and the changing reading habits and interest of children today. As long as there are people who carry on with the writing, illustrating, publication and promotion of books for Pinoy kids, there will be readers who someday will either write, or illustrate or publish or promote books for their generation and the ones to come.


Anonymous said...

Hi Zarah Grace! First of all, I have to apologize that you couldn't post your comment in my blog. I don't really know why that is so and being not technically-challenged, cannot offer a remedy. :(

And second, I would like to thank you for this insightful article in reply to my post. I am very happy to know that children's literature is developing in our country. When I go to the Philippines, I will definitely check out children's books in the bookstores.

Thanks again! :)

Zarah C. Gagatiga said...

hi toe! well, at least there are links and tracking systems :-)

my pleasure to be of help. :-)

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