This post is two weeks too late. I meant to share about my experience in Boston during the 39th Children’s Literature Association Conference, but as per usual, life got in the way. It is difficult to just sit still and type on the screen while it is sweltering hot here in Nevada, Las Vegas where I am currently staying with family until the 12th of July.
This conference means a great deal to me for two reasons: One, there is a special focus on Philippine children’s literature as organized by Marek Oziewicz, Chair of the International Committee and lobbied by the lovely Lara Saguisag, a doctoral candidate from Rutgers University. It was Lara’s advocacy to have a Philippine panel during the conference, and we are happy to see her dream realized through our sessions.
Two, we have just recently concluded the Asian Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore which has also done a regional focus on Philippine children’s literature, where I am privileged to be the Programme Director. My heart soared with pride as I listened avidly to the presentations of my countrymen during the Festival (see my post here). In Boston, this time around, I am the ‘conference delegate’ and part of the ‘Philippine team’ – thus, it was like coming full circle. Add the fact that we are sharing the panel with the National Artist for Literature, the distinguished Virgilio Almario, otherwise known as Rio Alma.
The Philippine Booth: An Amazing Array of Children’s Books
Sir Rio Alma brought quite a number of children’s books which Lara put up on display. Most of these are from Sir Rio’s collection and a few may have also been brought by Lara. Here are some photos of the books – most of them have been given away to teachers and librarians and academics who attended the conference.
The Philippine Panel
Professor Virgilio Almario was the first presentor as he shared his paper entitled “Filipino Children’s Literature Today.”
Since we are only given twenty minutes each, there were a few sections that Sir Rio skipped during his presentation. Mostly, he provided an overview of how Filipino children’s literature has evolved through the years, providing detailed statistics as well of the readership in the Philippines across its 7100 islands.
It was a comprehensive look at how children’s literature has grown considerably, the various publishing houses that have steadily increased in number over the past years, and the institutions that provide various awards to exceptionality and excellence in the creation of children’s content.
I was not able to take down extensive notes as I was busy video-recording Sir Rio’s presentation. Here are parts of it that I was able to capture through my smartphone.
The second presentation was entitled Agricultural Landscape, Labor, and The Production of Children’s Literature in Bicol by Christine Bellen from Hongkong Baptist University and the Ateneo de Manila. Since Christine was unable to attend the conference in Simmons College, it was Lara Saguisag who read her piece.
It was also especially meaningful to us as my co-researcher Professor Tuting Hernandez is also from Bicol. In Christine’s piece, she shared how the landscape of the region has inspired writers from Bicol to create indigenous content that resonates with people’s realities and experiences.
Our own presentation was entitled Finding Magic and Marvel in Ordinary Things: Narrative Themes of Award-winning Picture Books for Children in the Philippines from 1991-2011.
My co-researcher, linguist extraordinaire, Professor Tuting Hernandez and I did a content analysis of the Palanca award-winning children’s content during the past 20 years. We read 63 stories in all and categorized them according to major themes and trends.
Here are some of the photos from our presentation that Lara has very kindly taken and shared with me.
Since most of us were able to keep to the 20-minute limit, there was ample time left for Q and A.
Special Banquet Honoring Distinguished Scholars
We were also privileged to have been invited to the Banquet which is a celebration of food, great company, and the many scholars and grant recipients and ChLA Awards for 2012. An International Sponsorship Grant was presented by Marek Oziewicz to our Distinguished Scholar from the Philippines, National Artist, Virgilio Almario, from my alma mater, the University of the Philippines, Diliman. Here are some of the photos that I have taken during the dinner.
Phoenix Award (for books published in 1992)
It was also lovely to finally see Karen Hesse in person as her book Letters from Rifka was the recipient of the Phoenix Award. Karen Hesse is an absolute favorite as I have fallen in love with her novel-in-verse, Out of the Dust. I have also done an extensive review of Letters from Rifka (see my post here) when we had our Message in a Bottle bimonthly theme (celebrating books which contain an epistolary format) a year ago.
Honor books for the Phoenix Award include the following books:
It was a lovely experience being part of the Philippine panel in Boston. I am crossing my fingers that we get to publish an edited collection of essays from the Filipino presentors in both the AFCC and the ChLA Conferences sometime soon. Such a vibrant time indeed for Children’s Literature in the Philippines.
***Special thanks goes to Lara Saguisag for sending me most of these lovely photos.