verklempt

…is a new-ish word I’ve recently learned about. It’s a Yiddish term to describe a person who’s too emotional to say anything.

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Quick life update

Between a Puddle and the Ocean opened at Galerie Roberto in Alabang last Feb, curated by Lena Cobangbang. The blue ones are mine, and they are the biggest watercolor pieces I’ve made to date. I normally work small, and the big paintings I usually make are for children’s books, so making these framed ones for exhibit was a feat for me haha.

It took me some time to switch from work to play mode. I found that it’s not easy or quick for me to go from making things for clients and other people to making personal pieces. I kept thinking about other people’s potential opinions, and that didn’t help me AT ALL. So much anxiety over almost nothing. In any case, I’m content with how things played out.


Our all-women original picture book art exhibit Peek-A-Book is on view at the CCP, as part of March being women’s month! I really am grateful to be part of this show, and to be surrounded by excellent and generous mentors from the children’s literature community. My younger self would freak out if she learned about this. The show is up until May 6, and there’s a paper cut workshop + Adarna House book launch on the 28th. Drop by if you can!

I gave a workshop during the opening day, and I’m proud to report that I did not cry in public while talking, thank you very much. I volunteered to do the workshop on a whim, without much thinking, in the middle of a party last year. I did my best the day of! And I had a really good time listening to the participants’ stories which they wrote and sketched themselves. I’m personally a BIG believer that art and literature aren’t untouchable things that exclusively belong to a small number of people precisely because of what I witness during these kinds of workshops. Everyone has good stories in them, it’s just a matter of helping them talk about it/show it.

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Remember that picture book about the Philippine Eagle that I worked on during my Cornell internship? Well, I am VERY pleased to share with you that An Eagle’s Feather is now published, and is available for purchase as a small book version! Aaah! You can get your copies at the Cornell Lab Publishing Group’s website and on Amazon.

100% of the first $10,000 and 50% thereafter of net proceeds from the sale of this book goes directly to the Philippine Eagle Foundation to support its conservation education and other efforts to save the Philippine Eagle from extinction.

The original plan for this book was just to make ONE copy: one big book for the use of the Philippine Eagle Foundation for their education programs. And now it’s published! I’m happy to see how far this project has come, that more people can have a copy of the book and learn about the Philippine Eagle, its plight, and how we can help.

And! On top of everything: a whole lot of warm and fuzzy feelings. Sudden but surprisingly comfortable.



Upcoming

Art in the Park is on the 15th, which is on Sunday already. I’ll be at the Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan booth, as per usual. Local Loca will be on May 5, and I am crossing all my fingers I get to finish my new zine in time.

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Pierra Calasanz-Labrador’s new book of poems Dear Universe comes out on April 27 under Anvil Publishing. I made drawings for it, and I can’t wait to see the book in person! I’ve never illustrated poems before, so working on this project was refreshing. Pierra and Anvil were so generous and had given me a lot of room to explore the poems visually.

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Karapat Dapat, Ang INK and CANVAS PH’s book on the rights of a child, is out next month! We’ve been working on this for the past months. The topic is very pertinent, and the timing of this book’s production+release could not be any more apt.

We’ve already raised funds to produce 15,000 books to be given to public schools and disadvantaged communities. Your support through donations and book purchases can help us print more! Spread the word!

Have a peek of the activities and other pages of the book, and learn more about how you can donate and help HERE.


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The Sunday Monday Currently
no. 6

Reading

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from The Shape of a Pocket, John Berger

I am reading…a lot of different things all at once. The only books I’ve finished for the year so far are all poetry books, which goes to show how little A) time I have to quiet myself and read and/or B) attention span I have to quiet myself and read.

In any case! Current reading list is as follows:
• 2/3 of The Lonely City, Olivia Laing
• 3/4 of The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid, Colin Meloy. I got bored in the middle of this, and so.
• The Shape of a Pocket, John Berger. My main read. It’s conveniently divided into short essays, and I am inching my way to the end.

Listening
Newest additions to the playlist include Thundercat and Sam & Dave.

Watching
Re-watching LOST (!!!) with Jacob in increments. “We have to go back~~~”

Liking

MayaHewitt.jpgMaya Hewitt!

Not Liking
Nothing new: the current adm!inistrat10n. Politics and the chaotic government. The pains of being (female, a commuter, both) in Metro Manila.

Feeling
Mildly disoriented because it’s April, and my question is where did the first part of the year go? I feel like I’m still gearing myself up to start the year, but here we are. Here we are already.

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The making of.

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Agustin Goy opened his exhibit at the National Museum last January 19.

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Some pieces from his Ballerines exhibit from a few years ago.
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Watercolor pieces with amazing detail and lighting technique!

nbnh-2017-11_zpsisf5v0y41Abi with her portrait

nbnh-2017-12_zpsv2iopgl8Studio Dialogo with Papa Goy. Cheers!

I can’t wrap my head around sixty years of making art. I mean, I’m only 28 and I’m constantly tired, so this is very humbling for me. Sixty years of painting and drawing and hardwork that ultimately shows in the quality of the pieces he’s done over the years. He has also apprenticed under the great Vicente Manansala! I’m proud that the country has artists like him. I hope I grow up to be someone as persevering in whatever field I may end up working in for the rest of my days, art-related or not. At one point during the opening I started to think about the next sixty years of life until I got antsy about the possibilities. I love what I do but the future scares me a lot these days, so I’ll have to leave the future to take care of itself / me / us.

Agustin Goy: Sixty Years in Art runs until March 19 at the National Museum (Old Legistlative Building).


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Graphika Manila also happened this month. It was a 2-day event featuring designers, artists, and illustrators from different corners of our lovely world. Pictured above, Jonathan Kim from Rare Volume, one of my favorite speakers from the event.

They make interactive data visualization pieces which are super cool. He talked about the importance of collaboration and making experiments with people who do entirely different things from you. I could just imagine how much testing and research goes into their kind of work. It’s also pretty amazing how they can push technology like that. What a time to be alive.

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Gary Baseman was also there to show us his sketches, and share concepts behind some of his exhibits and paintings. He talked about his family background, heritage, memory, loss, and displacement. His talk had a very different tone from the rest of the speakers because his was the most personal, I think, and profound in a way.

On the second day my favorites were Avid Liongoren who talked about Saving Sally and everything his team learned from making the film, and Mr. Bingo, his full-production Kickstarter intro rap video, and his love for hate mail. I liked most of this year’s speakers, and in general this year’s GM was alright.

Although~ The biggest disappointment was how the host went about the event, and why the management allowed it. It was like she didn’t take the industry seriously enough to prioritize asking relevant questions to the speakers, instead of asking them to dance, rap, what their shampoo of choice is, or which sports teams they like. Most of the very few questions that were asked every after speaker were insignificant, which I am only feeling frustrated about because there were only what, two, three questions that were entertained every after speaker. This has happened before, too, when this guy took one of the precious two Q&A spots for the Sagmeister talk to just ask the designer to sign his girlfriend’s book in public.

And we wonder why a lot of people don’t take design seriously in this country.

I have a lot of strong feelings about constantly presenting design in a gimmicky noontime show way. Some people enjoy it, sure, inevitably so. I mean, we’re in the Philippines. Fun times are fun (fun times sell~~~ hello elephant in the room), and play is an integral part of creativity, but I think education, insight, and discourse should be at the forefront of these conferences, not entertainment. Right now, it’s the only conference of its kind and of that scale, with the capacity to bring in international speakers and all. People (students!) shell out money and spend a whole weekend at the event, and I they deserve something more. I really hope to see improvements in the future.



The Sunday Currently, no. 4

Reading
Just finished After Lambana (Eliza Victoria, Mervin Malonzo, published by Visprint). I enjoyed it and I’m happy I bought it. Please read more local graphic novels!  On a different note, my copy had badly printed pages towards the end. I wonder if I can get it replaced?

Also my Twitter feed is bursting at the seams with current events. My country’s president is still one of the worst there is right now, and it gives me real anxiety just thinking about how his words affect the country every time he opens his mouth. I can’t keep up with everything. Also, as for foreign news, my heart goes out to everyone stuck in the airports due to the immigration ban, and applause for all the lawyers camping out there, offering their services pro bono to help all those people.

Listening
La La Land’s score. I like the score, shush.

Watching
Just finished Chunking Express, Wong Kar Wai, one of my comfort films.

Loving
My sister, because she turned 18 this past week!  For the past 18 years, me and my family have never known anything that will be for certain because of her condition (she has brain nerve damage), and it’s been quite a journey for us all. Every year added is a very special gift that we are tremendously grateful for.

Aside from that, nothing. All my feelings towards anything else are desaturated because it’s that time of the month, and all my energies are focused on fighting abdominal pain and a ton of discomfort.

Needing
To catch up on news even though it hurts huhu. Wrap up drawing assignments and replying to emails.

Wanting
To do something about the chaos but what???

Feeling
Alright, okay.

The Sunday Currently is by Sidda Thonton

The Sunday Currently, no. 2

2016-nov-1_zpso87d8adwHello friends.

Reading

Type has (once again?) been all the rage for the past few years and everyone’s been exploring it, but one of my favorite designers and letterers still remains to be Jessica Hische. Through the years I’ve been a fan of both the development of her work (from her early illustration days up to now when she’s made font systems already) and her perspective about work and life. It’s true what they say about excellent work standing out, no matter how many others do or try to do the same kind of work she does. At some point I went through this phase of getting sick of type because it got so popular that there came a point when it was being used way too much for everything. There had been a lot of work that looked nice but were out of context.

I borrowed this from Rommel, but I really want to get myself my own copy. I’ve enrolled in her Skillshare drop cap class years ago, and this book reminds me a lot of the things she taught there. The book has so much more insight, though, as she writes more extensively about her process and also about her daily life as a designer.

Jessica is always a source of joy for me as a designer because of how energetic and gung-ho, not to mention level-headed, she is about work and life in general. No pretentious gimmicks, just hard work and the eagerness to share and educate others, and the occasional hilarious anecdote.

Listening
More Jessica Hische!

Watching
No time to watch anything now, but I did start Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories on Netflix recently, and the first episode was pretty good.

Loving

Dinner is served. 😆 #steak Meat 24″ x 36″ designer paper Swathe X J. Pacena

A photo posted by Swathe (@swathe.manila) on Oct 29, 2016 at 3:07am PDT

Swathe Manila’s meat cuts pattern

Needing
Swiffer refills, AA batteries, Frontline flea spray for the cat #adulting

Wanting
The year to not end yet? Teka lang, ang dami pang hinahabol!

Feeling
So much better. Besides the fact that local and international current events have been driving everyone crazy these past weeks, I think most of my anxiety is just leftover quarter life crisis, and also brought about by all the deadlines. And…also the thought of turning 30 in a few years. But really, I could choose to A) fret about it and grow ever more wrinkly and grumpy before I even have to OR B) not let the weight of other people’s judgments burden me or dictate what I should do with my life and career. *triple bicep emojis*

Church has also helped. I know the higher powers aren’t exactly the most popular things in the world right now, which I completely understand. The world as we know it feels like it’s about to implode any time now, and it’s just a really miserable time for everyone. But after much thinking and questioning and all, I think I still do believe in God. I still have tons of questions but all the good things still very much outweigh all the doubt. It took me a while to get back in this state and I don’t think I want to let anyone or anything take away this feeling of peace from me.

The Sunday Currently is by Sidda Thonton

In other news!

  1. I have been told that all my zines (well, there were just a few, but still!) were sold out during day 1 of Komikon yesterday! This makes me so happy, thank you world. And extra special thanks with ice cream and leche flan on top to Eva and the rest of the table friends for carrying my zines!
  2. I tried to finish painting some old drawings yesterday as warm-up for real work.
  3. And here is a peek of some plant sketches for an ongoing conservation education project. The beautiful jade vine, locally known as tayabak , is native to the Philippines.
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Hide and seek

I turned one of last year’s personal projects into a zine.

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Ladies in Jeepneys is an illustrated zine featuring the different women, girls, females that I encounter everyday during my commute. I am very much inspired by how women carry themselves in the haggard environment of reckless jeepneys and Manila chaos. It’s part homage, part diary, part documentation.

Ladies in Jeepneys, volume 1 will debut in all its full-color glory this coming Saturday, August 6, at the Komikon Indieket. It’s going to be at the Bayanihan Center along Pioneer St. in Kapitolyo, Pasig. I’ll be with my amazing friend Yas Doctor who’s also launching her Sari-Sari Project zine. See you at table P07!


IN OTHER NEWS, amidst all the CRAZIES the Philippines is going through,  I’ve meant so much to write about the past AFCC, to no avail because I’m still catching up on deadlines! I’m currently working on a picture book, my Ang INK 25th anniv show artwork, a couple other freelance illustration  projects, and my day job! It’s crazy and very challenging. Some days are great, some frustrating, but ultimately I couldn’t be any more grateful that I can draw and design everyday.

And so we grind on~ See you around, friends!

Good Night Philippines, Good Night World

My new book is here.

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Good Night Philippines, Good Night World
written by Mila Bongco-Philipzig
published by Anvil

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Special thanks to El Silvestre of Anvil, RayVi Sunico, and Studio Dialogo for their patience and support while I was working on this project. I started this when I was in Ithaca and it had taken me so long to finally get things right and submit my work, so whew, here it is now.

The book is available on Anvil’s online shop, but will be also be in local bookstores soon. Cheers!

National Children’s Book Day Blog Tour, Week 3: Wish List

Here we go for the last NCBD blog tour post! One big pahabol.

Before anything, ongoing RIGHT NOW at the Ateneo de Manila Rizal Library Rooftop is the NCBD Book Fair! Lots of fun activities, so drop by and join in on the celebration. Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan’s and Adarna House’s “Alterno” exhibit is also there, so check it out if you didn’t get to catch it at Shang before. The book fair is until 5, you can still catch up!

This week’s theme is:

Hulyo 20 – 25: Wish List
Anong Pilipinong aklat pambata o pangkabataan ang gusto mong mailimbag?
(Maaaring paksa, uri ng aklat, o ng isang manunulat o ilustrador. Maaaring maglista nang higit sa isa pa.)

July 20 – 25: Wish List
What Philippine children’s or YA book do you want to get published?
(You can name a topic, kind of book, or something by particular authors or illustrators.
You can list more than one.)

I joined the Barlaya workshop by Adarna House earlier this year and really had fun exploring and imagining the different kinds of books that we can make. So many possibilities! Of course, there are a lot of things to consider when publishing a book that kind of dictate which books get published and which don’t. Cost of production, purchasing power of the market, etc. However, it’s really fun to just explore the possible ideas, and thinking of potential books without boundaries.

1. Wordless big books for storytelling 
It’s an idea I’ve had for mother tongue books. Maybe we can have wordless picture books that the teachers, parents, or whoever’s telling the story to a group can translate verbally. In this way, a single version of the book can be used in different places that use different dialects. The story proper can be written somewhere else in the book, to be reviewed first by whoever’s telling the story, but it would be up to the storytellers to translate the text to their respective dialects while performing.

2. Illustrated young adult books
One of my pegs is Why We Broke Up (Daniel Handler, Maira Kalman). I like how it’s highly illustrated, and that the style of the drawings contribute so much to the personality of the characters, as well as to the tone of the story. I’d love to work on one myself. More graphic novels would be very nice also. From what I observe in our local children’s illustrators like Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan members, a lot of them have so much potential to create work outside of children’s books, and it would be nice to tap that.

2.a Wordless YA graphic novels
Why not? I’ve been mulling about starting something similar with my illustrator friends, but on a different format. A book version would be very nice as well.

3 Illustrated poetry anthology
Not just spot illustrations. I imagine a book that plays with all of the pages. Full color. Spread illustrations. Playful typography that matches the poems. I’m not sure how it’ll work but I’m thinking that going about different ways of presenting (via their production quality) poetry books would be more inviting.

4. My personal author wish list
HEHEHE. As an illustrator, I’d love to work on books with some of my personal favorite writers like Russell Molina and Eliza Victoria, to name a few. I have a lot more on my list and I hope to be able to work with them someday!

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Happy National Children’s Book Day everyone! Give a kid a book to read today, you’ll never know where it’ll take them. : )

Also, again, the NCBD Fair is today at the Ateneo de Manila Rizal Library rooftop! Go go, you can still make it!

National Children’s Book Day Blog Tour, Week 1: Favorites

Taking a breather from the whirlwind that is the last week before I leave for my internship (I owe you all a Davao story, I know! Soon soon!) by participating in this year’s National Children’s Book Day Blog Tour! I have never been part of a blog tour before, wow. I’m happily joining this year because I won’t be at the NCBD celebrations in the next weeks, and I figured I can participate and contribute anyhow by writing to promote local children’s lit.

This week’s theme is:

Hulyo 7 – 13: Paboritong Aklat
Ano ang paborito mong aklat pambata at pangkabataan?
(Kailangang isinulat o iginuhit ito ng isang Pilipino. Maaari namang maglista nang higit sa isa pa.)

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July 7 – 13: Favorite Book
What is your favorite children’s / young adult book?
(Must be written or illustrated by a Filipino. You can list more than one book.)

Here are some (can one truly include all) favorites, in no particular order.

NBDB-BT-WK1Ang Ambisyosong Istetoskop
story by Luis P. Gatmaitan, MD
illustrations by Beth Parrocha-Doctolero
published by Adarna House

I love the perspective of this book, and how colorfully (both literally and figuratively!) it tells a story about history. How I wish all my history books growing up were written in the same tone and language.

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Also, as an illustrator, I can only imagine the challenging time I would probably have if this book assignment came to me. How does one bring to life the story of our national hero Jose Rizal, while also animating an object such as the stethoscope (!!!) ? We should ask Beth Parrocha-Doctolero, one of my personal illustration idols, who did it beautifully.

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NBDB-BT-WK1-4 NBDB-BT-WK1-5I really like how the passage of time was illustrated using different suns!

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Tight Times
story by Jeanette C. Patindol
illustrations by Sergio T. Bumatay III
published by Adarna House

One of the most heartwarming children’s books I have ever read! Even as a trying to be grown-up, it still makes me feel fuzzy and a tad bit melancholic, and makes a lot of other things in my life seem innocuous. I just read it again right before taking photos for this entry while the monsoon is raging outside, and for a moment everything was really quiet.

Also, I took a personal finance management workshop before and our facilitator used this book as an intro. The many uses of a good children’s book!

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Serg cleverly sets the simple but very witty tone of the book with this title page illustration.

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The story is sweet and direct-to-the-point, with minimally-colored illustrations that are just as charming. The use of rats as characters in a book about tight times also drives home a very important point, and adds another special layer to the story.

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The Little Girl in a Box
story by Felinda V. Bagas
illustrations by Aldy C. Aguirre
published by Adarna House

This next book is a rather poetic one.

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But first! May I briefly direct your attention to the special production quality this little book has.

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As a book, with the words and the pictures combined, it tells of a little (possibly an orphan) girl’s journey. But viewed separately, they tell different stories, is what I think! I’ve asked the author about what it really means already (for shame, IDEK if it’s even proper to do so but yeap I did it, I asked), and she told of a different tale, still. And you know what, I still don’t know what exactly the story really is about, which is why it’s beautiful and is one of my favorites.

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Aldy’s illustrations captures the calm…

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…and the darkness, both in such a soft way.

I’ve been a long-time annoying fan of his, and personally I think it’s his best work yet.

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Fruitcake
written by Ely Buendia
edited by Jessica Zafra
illustrated by Cynthia Bauzon-Arre

Do you know how it feels like when you’re a teenager who likes to draw and who really likes the Eraserheads, and at that exact part of your life, a book that’s an amazing combination of the things you love manifests itself via a gift from a good friend? Well, I sort of do.

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Fruitcake is a not-so-Christmas story featuring songs by the Eraserheads, whose main protagonist is named Frannie Wei. And yes it blew my mind. You cannot imagine how happy I was that such a book existed. It’s an adventure-filled book, and I felt that it was my own story, too.

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Probably the Eraserheads as themselves!

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Song lyrics!

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And Frannie Wei, who looks so much like me at the time when I got the book! I shamelessly declare it.

You know what, I also just recently met Cynthia Bauzon-Arre, the illustrator, and with much glee had my book signed. She is the sweetest!

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Twisted and all the other books that followed
by Jessica Zafra

Ok so when I was a young adult, I remember reading lots of Madeleine L’Engle, Nancy Drew, and Jessica Zafra. Such contrast, I know.

I’m sure Twisted is not particularly ~young adult~ but boy did I enjoy it, to the point that I was fake cranky, and tried to write like her (I think Jesus has forgiven all of my sins, thank you). But I really enjoyed reading something with a strong point of view, especially at that age. I was fascinated with how much conviction she wrote with, and reading about all the things that were happening in the proverbial real world which you only heard about from adults, and who you probably didn’t really believe were telling the truth anyway.

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I turned a page to take a photo of, and out fell this flyer of a rock concert I had attended 10 years ago. 2005, and I was what, 17. I’m sure I had felt invincible, as all teenagers do, and that I had a good time both with the books and at the concert.

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A few that I can’t find my actual copies of:

Sampu Pataas, Sampu Pababa (Russel Molina, Conrad Raquel, Adarna House)
May Trak Na Darating Bukas (Virgilio Almario, Sergio Bumatay III, Adarna House)
Fast Food Fiction (Anvil Publishing)
Daisy Nueve (Anvil Publishing)
The Dwellers (Eliza Victoria, Visprint)

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I’m sure this list will be an ever-growing one, not because I’m part of the industry, or that I naturally love books, even. I’ll keep having favorite children’s and YA books because I think I’m still growing up, no matter how old I am, and I know I’ll keep on finding myself in the pages and characters and plot twists of these books over and over again through time.

I’d love to know about your favorite local children’s and YA books! What are yours?

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Join the  32nd National Children’s Book Day festivities!
Follow facebook.com/ThePhilippineBoardonBooksforYoungPeople for updates.

NCBD Events Poster
poster illustrations by Aaron Asis