I am invited once again to speak about reading. It is for a library conference in Central Luzon. I choose to talk about books, reading (of course) and the heroes (and some villains) we find there. Here is my prepared introduction. This is still a draft, so, it may change in a week or two from now.
Before becoming an award winning author, I was, first of all, a lover of words and songs and a reader of books. Thank God, I was blessed with a lola who told me stories and sang me songs from the mother tongue. Sadly, I did not learn Bicol, but my lola’s love for stories and music remained in me to this very day. As a child growing up, my mother, who is also a librarian, read books to me that fed my imagination, encouraged my curiosity and sense of wonder. Now you know why I pursued a career in school librarianship. My writing life came in later when I could no longer hold the desire to write my own stories. I felt I needed to write. So, I did.
As an afterthought, I can say that my lola and my mother are my heroes. I didn’t know it then, but I claim it now. If not for their efforts and their own way of loving, I wouldn’t be what I am today. My lola and my mother are not perfect. But, I know they tried their best to uphold the values that have been my moral compass since the day I was capable of spreading my own wings and became my own person. And they did it through instilling in me a genuine love for books, reading, literature and the arts.
By doing so, they have introduced me to many heroes present in myths, legends, ballads and folktales. The tortoise in the Tale of The Monkey and the Tortoise is still a favorite of mine. The trickster Pilandok and Anansi the Spider from the African folk lore are fascinating characters I pull out when I do storytelling with children. From Lam-Ang to Mariang Makiling, Hercules to Athena, Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, the Little Red Hen and that child who shouted that the emperor has no clothes fueled my imagination and inspired me to aspire for what is good and kind in this world that riddles with chaos and confusion most times.
And so, I am going to talk about modern day heroes we find in books and literature (including movies and animated films) to find out what makes them so. In the process, we will find ourselves in them since they are as imperfect as you and me. Despite themselves, they made choices and decisions that are difficult. They chose to rise above challenges and sought the path that is not easy but the right one to take.
Here are our heroes: Frodo the Ring Bearer, nephew of Bilbo the Hobbit; My Neighbor Totoro;
Joy and Sadness; Baymax; Ramona Quimby; Matilda; Geronimo Stilton; Phineas and Ferb; Gru and his minions.
It is my hope that, by knowing them as heroes, we continue to search for the likes of them in
books and in mainstream literature.