Every year on June 12, we celebrate Philippine Independence Day and remember how our heroes fought for freedom from our colonizers. But while our kids learn our heritage, culture, and history from their Aralin Panlipunan subjects, the generation gap may make it hard for them to relate to our national heroes.
Of course, there are many ways to introduce Philippine history and culture to our kids — there are books that introduce our national heroes in fun and creative ways, and there are destinations around the metro that can help cultivate our children’s love for their country.
“Exposing them to various artistic activities can nurture creative minds. The arts develop skills that empower left brain processes like problem-solving, critical thinking. Creativity and imagination will allow the children to nurture their uniqueness,” says Ronnie Mirabuena, head of the Audience Development Division of the Cultural Center of the Philippines Arts Education Department.
Another way is to introduce them to modern heroes whom they can emulate and who will inspire them to pursue their dreams, whatever it may be. That’s what the book series, Modern Heroes for the Filipino Youth aims to fulfill — their protagonists not only show exemplary values of bravery and love of country, they are also passionate and award-winning illustrators, directors, and musicians who can serve as inspiration to our children.
Here are some titles that your children will surely love. The best part is each book is only Php98!
The World, My World, In My Eyes By Carl Matthew Rodriguez; Illustrated by Ingrid Camille G. Tan
The hero in this story is Vicente Manansala, the 1982 National Artist of the Philippines in Visual Arts (Painting). The book traces his artistic roots, from a little boy who loved to make and fly kites to a young man who pursued his love for painting, even if it meant leaving home to learn the craft. Your kids will discover how Manansala was able to showcase the beauty of the Philippines through his paintings, despite the destruction brought about by World War II.
Manansala used his talent to inspire positivity among his fellowmen and taught his students to imbibe nationalistic fervor in their artworks. “As individual artists, share your world with others, but as Filipino artists, share our world in the Philippines with the rest of the world,” he told his students.
Lucio San Pedro and his Colorful Music By Miguel Louis Morales; Illustrated by Jonuel Benedict A. Reyna
You might be familiar with the Filipino lullaby “Sa Ugoy ng Duyan.” Lucio D. San Pedro, who was conferred as a National Artist for Music in 1991, composed the iconic song, and this book tells the story behind it.
It was San Pedro’s longing for his mother, while he was studying in Juilliard School in New York, that inspired this beautiful piece of music. But it wasn't just his ode to his mom that makes San Pedro a modern-day hero. He was dubbed a “creative nationalist” for his artistic way of showing love for his country. This was evident in his famous compositions like “Simbang Gabi,” “Lahing Kayumanggi,” and “Sa Mahal Kong Bayan,” which all have a touch of Filipino culture.
The First International Filipino Diva By Lin Acacio-Flores; Illustrated by Jomike Tejido
Not only is Jovita Fuentes the first female National Awardee in Music in the Philippines, she was also the first Filipino to be acclaimed as one of the best opera singers in the world in the early 1900s.
Fuentes’ talent was nurtured through play. As a kid, she and her friends would mount their own musicals, and Fuentes would learn piano through formal lessons. But she flourished in singing and was soon performing on stage at the age of 15. She also performed in different operas in Europe and the United States. At a time when very few foreign countries knew of the Philippines, Fuentes made her mark and brought pride to the country, all because “she set her mind on what she could do best.”
Musician for the Filipino Church By Lin Acacio Flores; Illustrated by Jomike Tejido
Through the story of Father Eduardo Hontiveros, S.J., your kids will learn about faith, religion, and using one’s talent for the greater good. As a kid, Father “Honti” was touched by God and he realized that he was meant to be a priest. But unlike other priests, he had a special mission: to spread God’s words and love through song. His simple, straight-from-the-heart music spread out to all Catholic churches in the Philippines and earned him the title “Father of Filipino Liturgical Music.” The book includes a lyric sheet to one of his songs, “Pananagutan,” which you and your child can learn to sing together!
Legacy By Simon Godfrey Rodriguez; Illustrated by Wylzter Gutierrez
Sometimes, a modern-day hero is an ordinary person with extraordinary talent, just like Lamberto V. Avellana, who started out as a gifted theater actor and co-founded the Barangay Theater Guild. Avellana was given the chance of a lifetime when Carlos P. Romulo, then president of Philippine Films, encouraged him to direct a film. Although he was hesitant at first, his directorial debut “Sakay,” which told the story of revolutionary Macario Sakay was a success and pretty soon he was winning various awards, both local and international, for many of his films. With his story, your kids will learn that having the courage to take risks will ultimately pay off.
Brocka: The Filmmaker Without Fear Written and illustrated by Jose T. Gamboa
Lino Brocka is considered the Philippines’ greatest filmmaker, but did you know that he was a missionary and a college dropout? But his story shows that following your passion can lead to success, even if you meet a lot of challenges along the way. From quitting his missionary life and becoming a busboy and caregiver in the United States, Brocka realized that he needed to come back to the Philippines and make his dreams come true. But upon returning to his home country he met even more trials, as he was asked to make propaganda films during the Marcos regime. But he stuck to his principles and made movies that entertained, challenged, and made the audience think. Through his craft, Brocka showed that artists and creative individuals can become heroes, too.