Books help us empathize with other people, among other things. It’s difficult to understand how someone feels when we ourselves do not understand these situations and emotions.
When it comes to Martial Law it was not only difficult to explain to the children at the time what and why this was happening, but it may be just as tricky to teach the children of today about this important part of our country’s history.
Being a child in the time of Martial Law may have been a confusing experience, what better way to learn about this than through the eyes of a child. These books provide readers with a time machine, with a child being the time traveler, speaking to the children of today.
At the School Gate by Sandra Nicole Roldan, illustrated by Nina Martinez
Based on Roldan’s own experience in the time of Marcos, At the School Gate follows Ella Cortez. Ella’s father has disappeared and now there is someone waiting for her after class, by the school’s gate. Ella must find a way to be brave in her own little way.
Isang Harding Papel by Augie Rivera, illustrated by Rommel Joson
Augie Rivera is a celebrated children’s book author, blessing us with the classic that is Ang Alamat ng Ampalaya and many more. Straying from the origin story of the ampalaya’s bitterness a bit, Rivera tells the story of a little girl named Jenny.
Jenny fills up the time that she has, waiting for her mom, by filling her room with flowers. It seems like the room is already all filled up, but her mom still hasn’t returned.
Si Jhun-Jhun, Noong Bago Ideklara ang Batas Militar by Augie Rivera, illustrated by Brian Vallesteros
Kids like Jhun-Jhun love to play on the street, although even they can sense a general shift in the air. Will Jhun-Jhun ever learn about what is really happening on the outside? Where does his brother run away to sometimes? Why is it no longer safe to play on the streets?
Apart from these children’s books, other stories zone in on real modern heroes who fought for the good in the time of Martial Law. The series Modern Heroes for the Filipino Youth has over 20 stories in its arsenal. Get inspired by modern Filipinos and Filipinas who fought to make a difference in our world.
Lakay Billy, Defender of Indigenous People by Luz B. Maranan, illustrated by Duday Ysabel Maranan
William “Billy” Claver became the champion for the indigenous people of the Philippines who were greatly affected by the implementation of Martial Law. In collaboration with other human rights advocates, Lakay Billy lifted up people marginalized by society.
A Voice of Hope in the Time of Darkness, The Songs of Susan Fernandez-Magno by Luchie B. Maranan, illustrated by Shan Maurice Jose
Dubbed “The Voice of the Protest Generation” and “Nightingale of the Philippine Progressive Political Movement”, Susan Fernandez-Magno chose music as her weapon of choice against the Marcos regime.
There are many books out there that carefully explain complex social issues. Adarna has published a book series called Aklat ng Salin, translating children’s books of the past which may prove to be beneficial to the Filipino youth of today.
These books not only inform young Pinoys about the reality of these issues but also display the richness of our own language, which was used in translating these foreign children’s books.
Social issues may already be difficult to fully grasp as a full-grown person, how much more complicated could all these seem to a child?
These children’s books discuss dense socio-political topics in a delicate and simple manner, making it easy for a child to understand while still letting us “older kids” learn something from them as well.
Other POP! stories you might like: