Friday, October 18, 2013

Filipino Fridays #2 Favorite Books as a Kid: Wizards, Dragons, Legends, Groovy Pop

Q: What were your favorite books as a kid or while you were growing up? Do you still read children’s books? If you could give your younger self a book to read, what would it be?

Image from

A: My very first memories involved reading. I remember trying to read Cinderella. I remember that magic moment when "the" became not just a mix of letters but an actual word. I can't find the book cover anymore but I went on to other fairy tales like Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and The Beast. These were not the Disney variety but rather large hardbound books that I happened to receive on birthdays. When I was in Grade 1, I remember reading The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde and I remember crying my eyes out.  I have since been fascinated by fairy tales. I bought a large Hans Christian Andersen collection of stories when I was much older...just because it reminded me of the stories I used to read, growing up. I also very much enjoyed Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber, a retelling of traditional fairy tales.

When I was in grade school, I got a book from my stepmom called Stories and Legends from Filipino Folklore by Maria Delia Coronel. Below is the exact book that I used to have.
Image of book cover from

I remember reading this book until it got dogeared. I was fascinated by it. It was another version of fairy tale, this time from all around the Philippines. I really liked this story about an engkanto or tree spirit who fell in love with a maiden and turned into a human for her. But because she insisted on meeting his family, he ended up slowly becoming a tree during their journey, leaving his human form and leaving their child fatherless. There were lots of Mariang Makiling stories there too.

Image from

I also remember having library card contests with my classmates about who could read the most books from the library. At that time, I borrowed almost all the Nancy Drew books in the library!

Image from
I also really loved the series of children's books by Nick Joaquin: Pop Stories for Groovy Kids. I read all of them. My favorites were about the manananggal (Lilit Bulilit and the Babe-in-the-Womb) and his version of the Beauty and the Beast called Johnny Tinoso and the Proud Beauty. I wish my kids could read them too. Sadly, they're no longer available. I even signed a petition to have these books printed again but I don't know what became of that. 

Image from 

I also read Jane Yolen's Pit Dragons series: Dragon's Blood and Heart's Blood. But I was bitin! My grade school library didn't have the other books. It was only later as an adult that I found A Sending of Dragons and Dragon's Heart. I loved the idea of how the dragons communicated very differently from humans and it opened up my imagination. 

Image from

Lastly, I reserve a special place in my heart for Ursula Le Guin. I read her A Wizard of Earthsea series (A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore...and later on Tehanu and The Other Wind, the latter two I bought as an adult) and I was forever in love with fantasy. They were in my grade school library and I love the librarian who put these books there. I even attempted to write my own fantasy story inspired by The War of the Roses, complete with maps and background stories about the warring factions from Aetamar and Gitel (my fictional medieval cities). Sadly, I've lost the of my greatest regrets. I continued to read Ursula Le Guin later on, as an adult, and she remains one of my favorite writers of all time. 

I still read children's books up to today because I have two young children. One of my favorite activities in the world is reading stories with them! I encourage them to read by taking them to secondhand bookstores and giving them the run of all the books they could possibly choose from. 

Image from 

Hmmmm. If I could give my younger self a book...what would it be? I guess it would be Neil Gaiman's children's books...only because I'm sure I would have loved them even as a kid! Also, I would have appreciated a book about anger, death or loss because I lost my mom so early. I didn't really know about it (death) and the grieving process was a very long one for me. If I could go back in time and give myself a book, it would probably be a book about anger and loss like Where The Wild Things Are or about death like Gentle Willow or The Brightest Star. 


Monique said...

I loved A Wizard of Earthsea! Although I read it as an adult, it was magical for me. :)

Kat said...

I love those Pop Stories for Groovy Kids! I am a tad ashamed to admit that I never really enjoyed Nick Joaquin's works, but I love his works here. I've got fond memories of reading those stories. My favorite was Elang Uling and The Pied Piper of Hamelin (which I always found quite creepy in rather delicious way).

Katherine (Curiosa Kat) said...

Never read Nick Joaquin's Pop Stories. Hope they reprint them. :) I thank my sister for lending me her Ursula K. Le Guin books.

Search This Blog