Illustrator and former PBBY Chair Totet de Jesus, writer and PBBY representative Dr. Luis Gatmaitan, and myself were dinner guests of Teacher Portia Padilla's graduate class at Chocokiss, UP Diliman last Wednesday night, December 16, 2009. It was Prof. Padilla's class' Christmas get together and it was made special, according to her and her students, by our presence.
Since it's a children's literature class in the graduate level, conversations on the state of Philippine Children Literature in the country were aplenty. It could not be helped but discuss selection criteria for children's literature especially when judging entries in contests like the Palanca and the Salanga prizes. While I gave my own set of criteria as influenced by my being a librarian, teacher, storyteller, writer and parent I could only wish that the 1-2-3 selection of the "best" children's books of the year be changed. We're all living in a flat world now. "Best" is relative, besides. Hopefully, PBBY can do something about this 1-2-3 mentality.
The night was a mini-panel lecture cum dinner that showcased the uncanny humor of Totet de Jesus. He came complete with props. Just imagine the wows, the oohs and the aahs when he showed his sketches and storyboard for Tin Canon's book, Sampung Magkakaibigan by Adarna House. Luis Gatmaitan on the one hand gave valuable tips on writing, that crafting a story is up there in the totem pole, and that, writers for children should never forget their intended audience. He had books for everyone that night and the students got personalized notes and dedications from him.
You wonder now what the librarian did.
I ended the night with a story, Joseph's Overcoat, using paper and tearing parts of it as the story rolled along.