26 July 2009

Manila Times column for 26 July 2009: "The long but inspiring road to advocacy and children’s literature"

original post here.

this pilandokan conference was fun and enlightening for me. gusto ko talaga siyang puntahan di lang dahil nagsusulat ako ng children's TV show ngayon kundi talagang genuinely interested lang ako sa state of children's and young adult lit sa atin today, kasi ito ay genre na ginagalawan ko rin sa aking pampanitikang pamumuhay at panulat.

kaya natawa ako sa komento ng kakilala kong guro sa filipino dept sa KAL, si elyrah, na kelangan daw piktyuran ako dahil rare daw ang tulad ko, na nag-a-attend ng mga kumperensiyang ganito dahil sa talagang interesado ako, di tulad ng iba na nag-a-attend o nagbabasa ng papel sa kumperensiya dahil "points" ito sa aming CV bilang guro para may maidagdag sa iyong promotions sa rank sa pagiging guro sa peyups hehehe.

yes, may ganung factor. :)


ay, ito nga palang guro sa educ na nabanggit ko ay--small world--yung ate pala ng barkada ko noong college sa film, si K, na naging kumare ko paglaon dahil inaanak ko ang anak niyang si kari hehe. hm, miss ko na ang inaanak kong iyon. matalino. laging libro ang regalo ko sa kanya.

at yung binabanggit ko pala diyan na lesbian story for children, yung publisher na napag-usapan namin ay the same publisher na niligwak ang aking novel for young adults na lesbian puppy love ang tema. when i asked kung bakit nila ni-reject ang novel ko, ang sabi lang sa akin "kasi we went with the other submission." tangeeenaaaa. labo. ni ayaw sabihin nung head honcho ng publishing house yung tunay na reason. takot siguro mabansagang homophobic. well, namamana pala ang pagiging macho shit, aney. but that's another blog post :P

heniwey... enjoy!


Sunday, July 26, 2009

By Libay Linsangan Cantor
The long but inspiring road to advocacy and children’s literature

AT the recently concluded Second National Conference on Children’s Literature in UP, I got the sentiment that there is still a long way to go when it comes to instilling certain advocacy issues in Philippine children’s literature.

In a casual conversation with UP College of Education professor Portia Padilla, a conference speaker, she estimated that it takes about ten years for a “trend” to emerge when it comes to instilling social issues in stories written for children. For instance, she cites that today, we already have stories featuring persons with disabilities (PWD), notably the deaf. I remember when death was also a shunned issue, a discussion we had in my graduate studies class on writing children’s literature some ten years ago. But now, there are several books that feature this topic. Indeed, a good ten years after. Prof. Padilla’s estimation is spot on.

Besides various PWD issues, there are also stories now featuring issues of changing family structures, notably stories featuring children in so-called broken homes (parents are separated) and stories where one parent is “absent” because he or she has to work as an overseas worker (the so-called OFW narrative.)

Another development I am personally happy about is the articulation of domestic violence, specifically sexual abuse toward girls, in children’s literature. I just bough a 2007 publication by Adarna House entitled Ang Lihim Ni Lea (Lea’s Secret) authored by award-winning children’s writer Augie Rivera and illustrated by Ghani Madueño. The fictional story discusses a little girl’s plight of being sexually abused by her own father, as her mother is away. I know that such stories have been sadly happening in real life for decades, and it’s about time publishers acknowledged that this problem should be articulated and discussed with children, especially those who are survivors of such abuse. Such publications hope to encourage other children who are in similar situations to speak up, stand up and seek help. Hope, after all, is the primary ingredient present in any story written for children.

I now wonder about another sensitive topic, children with gay or lesbian parents, and when this will become a “trend” in our literature. There are already many western publications discussing such stories in both children’s and young adult literature, but the local scene looks bleak when it comes to this issue. Prof. Padilla mentioned a publisher’s “dichotomy” regarding the issue, as they say “we are not yet ready” for such publications but as stand-alone stories (say, those that are entered in competitions like the Palanca), they could be merited as good and radical. Yes, good and radical award-winning stories sometimes never see the light of publication because their topics feature “taboo” issues like homosexuality. Ironic, isn’t it?

A long road indeed, but not a winding one, to quote that Beatles song. Things are positively looking up, somewhat. I guess we advocates just better be patient just a bit more—and continue writing until we get read and heard.

Comments? Suggestions? E-mail libay.scribevibe@gmail.com. She is also at libaycantor.multiply.com.

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