Ang Tikbalang Kung Kabilugan ng Buwan by Virgilio S. Almario, illustrated by Kora Dandan-Albano is the utterly delightful story of a “tikbalang”, a half-horse half-human creature of Philippine folklore. The story humanizes this often-feared and maligned creature. The tikbalang is not dangerous or scary, merely mischievous, and very much like us. He looked so cute trying to amuse himself in the full moon, going into all sorts of scrapes and adventures. We watch him restless and eager to play, we see him being lonely, we look at the way he imitates the other creatures around him, like the “dwende” and the “manananggal”.
Three pages at the end are devoted to describing the marvelous and fascinating supernatural creatures of Philippines folklore and mythology. A must-read.
Not surprisingly, Ang Pambihirang Buhok ni Lola by Rene Villanueva and illustrated by Ibarra Crisostomo won the Best Children’s Book National Book Award for 2002. The book talks about a grandmother who has magical hair that is extraordinarily long, so long that it reaches other villages, and the efforts the whole community makes to take care of it. The hair proved quite useful during a super typhoon.
The story is a wonderful metaphor about the importance of women (or a matriarch) in nurturing and protecting a community. It shows us how and why Filipinas are strong, not only for themselves but for the community. It’s a great and simple story that celebrates the power of womanhood and sisterhood, as well as their courage and resilience. The book is written in two languages, Filipino and English.
Bakawan literally means mangrove. This is the title of this book story by Catherine Yu Untalan, Reena Rae de Leon Sarmiento and Mae Astrid Tobias. The illustrations are by Van Zeus Allen Bascon.
This is the story of an idyllic coastal community where the mangroves enrich and supply the needs of the marine creatures. One day, the seagull started bringing different items to the community, all very fascinating because they are strange and never before seen. They did not know that these are trash thrown away by humans.
The plot succeeds in showing us how innocent interest in seemingly harmless and attractive-looking things can have negative impact on the community. After all, the characters were simply being naive, but their courage to act on their newfound knowledge, and their cooperative spirit, saved them. The importance of community-building, keeping one’s environment clean, recycling and the harmful effects of trash and oil spill in the environment is also emphasized.
I am cheering loudly for children’s books like this that have an important message regarding ecological preservation. In a country where more than 60% of mangrove forests are gone, and where the remaining ones are rampantly destroyed and transformed into highways and commercial areas and landfill, instilling ecological concern among children should be a priority.