Moms are usually the designated bedtime storytellers, but did you know that several of our most popular Filipino children’s books were written by men? We shared with you "How 5 Filipina Children’s Book Authors Win Your Child’s Heart" (read it here). This time, we bring you five male authors with stories from their own childhood that helped shape them into the beloved storytellers they are today.
DR. LUIS GATMAITAN
Tito Dok, as he is more popularly known, is a pediatrician and author of more than 50 children’s books including the 21-part series, Tito Dok! He has received recognition from the International Board of Books for Young People, Manila Critics Circle, Catholic Mass Media Awards, Gawad Dangal ng Wikang Filipino, and the Reading Association of the Philippines. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature in 2005. He also garnered The Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines (TOYM) award in 2003.
#1 Save money for the rainy days. Handling my finances carefully is one of the best lessons my parents taught me.
#2 Stay put in one place if you get lost. It was one of the things I vividly remembered about my childhood that left a lasting impression. I accompanied my mother to the big market in the city, and I got lost inside. Perhaps I was too busy looking at things that I failed to notice that my mother had gone ahead. It was a good thing I remembered her advice that if something like that happens, I was to stay in that particular place (and not roam around aimlessly), and she would go back for me. And she did!
Currently the most prolific figure in Filipino children’s literature, Jomike has written and illustrated over 40 books and illustrated more than a hundred books in total. He has two awards from the National Children’s Book Awards as author and illustrator of Tagu-Taguan (Best Reads of 2008-2009) and as the illustrator of Lab-Dub, Lab-Dub (Top Ten Best Reads 2010). By profession, Jomike is an architect/painter/illustrator, but his most important role is being a hands-on dad to Sophia, 7, and their new bundle of joy, coming very soon.
#3 Make art a fun thing to do My dad taught me this. We would study and read science books and watch science videos, and then make drawings of the things we observed or pictures we saw. These were mostly from National Geographic VHS tapes — from that time when it was a thing to borrow tapes. It made me appreciate that academic / "bookish" knowledge is never a stage to stop, but another way to start creative output.
#4 Try until you succeed As a child, I disliked reading. I felt it took too long to read, and I would rather figure out what is happening through the illustrations. Besides, the themes of our local books irked me; it was always legends /"alamat" with cruel punishments, people in slippers living in barrios, or something dramatic happening that would make the book, in my opinion, not an enjoyable read. Years later, I kept my childhood memories as a guiding light to produce books that will attract kids to like my work for both its content, production value and interactive features that would make them love locally-produced materials.
Genaro has written 60 children’s books and has won several of the country’s most prestigious literary awards including two Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, and two Philippine Board on Books for Young People (PBBY) Alfredo Salanga Prize for Children's Literature. He currently teaches creative writing, arts, and literature at De La Salle University-Manila and Philippine Normal University.
#5 Listen to kids... Because children are very honest critics.
#6 Don't let your circumstances dictate your future I’m from a broken family, and it was a situation that taught to be strong and creative as a kid. My father inspired me in many ways. I learned to him the value of hard work, to be thankful for what I have, and to strive on my own to reach my dreams in life.
Elbert, whose first children’s book, Tara, Laro Tayo! is the cutest release of the year, is often working on Homeycomb: A Family Life, Elbert’s webcomic which he collaborates on with his wife, Lora Elena. Guess what? They’ve never had a yaya! They are both hands-on parents to Oliver, 1.5yo and Zoe, coming soon.
#7 Teach by example Our parents made it clear that the material possessions we enjoyed were fruits of hard labor. What we had was a privilege, not a right. I think to see my parents raise us, learning about how they started from nothing, really inspired me to be a better person. I feel like I owe it to them, to the sacrifices they made on my (and my siblings') behalf, to not just stay safe or mediocre. I feel like I owe it to them to shine as bright as I can.
It's what the children who read my books have taught me. Every person who tells me they read my book is an honor and a privilege, and so the months and years I spend working on one book, even though it may just take them ten minutes to read -- I owe it to them to make each project I work the best that it can be.
#9 Read books! I was raised a voracious reader, and they taught me empathy and compassion for others, and they showed me worlds beyond my imagination. The iPads can wait ‘til the kids are older!
Eugene is a professor at the Department of Filipino and Philippine Literature in the University of the Philippines Diliman. He has written 60 children’s books and was awarded the Palanca Hall of Fame in 2009. He has also received two Salanga Grand Prize from the Philippine Board on Books for Young People (PBBY); National Book Award for Young Adult Literature; National Children's Book Award; and very recently, the Catholic Mass Media Award for Best Short Story.
#10 Respect those you think may be different from you During my elementary school days, I witnessed racism/ bullying. Most of the classmates teased an African graduate student while walking near our school, calling her "uling" or "negra." The said student talked to our principal and reported that incident. It left an impression to respect others and to educate the kids using books.