XZN Sting ProfileWe let Filipino kids and teens review books written for them. First up is Sting Asistores, a student from the Philippine High School for the Arts.

Writing his first comic book review, Sting is an incoming Grade 10 student who has been reading comics since he was five. His favourite superhero has always been Batman and his favourite comic book is Knightfall by Doug Moench.


Published by Anino (2016), an imprint of Adarna House Inc. for comics and graphic novels, written by Russell Molina, and illustrated by Kajo Baldisimo, 12:01 features the story of the teen band Edji-Voice. The action starts when the authorities found them on the streets beyond the midnight curfew imposed during the Martial Law era.


Oppression and Resistance

Some information crucial to the story was presented to the reader using deep imagery – forcing the readers to think. This method is likely to elicit varying interpretations from readers. While there are advantages to a story with no definite plot, this might be problematic for a book which aims to illustrate a critical period in Philippine history.

The transitions to sub-narratives were admirable as well. The author slowly gives out hints before introducing the sub-narrative itself. These sub-narratives also lead readers to a critical understanding of Martial Law by weaving together narratives of the oppressed and tortured.

The author also composed verses presented as songs written by the band. The verses are rich in metaphors and symbolisms about the Marcos regime. This allows readers to get a sense of what it was like to constantly fear abuse from the government.


1201 Cover


A Lesson of the Past

Writing the dialogues using the particular slang of the time period helps readers picture what life was like in the Philippines during the Martial Law era. Curfew, for instance, held a lot of meaning. This particular use of language also helps character development. Through particular quirks in speech, characters gain their own personalities.

Though set in the past, the characters are depicted in ways that prompts modern readers to resonate with them. The deliberate portrayal of the characters as band members is an example. This raises the comic’s appeal to younger readers. At the same time, it could also pique their interest in the past.


1201 (kajo2)


Realistic Illustration

The illustrator’s clear, unique, and detailed style captures the realism that the story wants to portray, save for some cartoonish details used to emphasise expressions. The gloomy background drawings are also very rich and interesting.

The illustration and the text also really work together to deliver the story. The flow of the panels in some parts though was confusing. For instance, there is a continuous left to right movement, then a left to down and back to right movements. Other readers might see this as a way of reflecting the characters’ movement, especially in the section where the band is escaping from the police. It just doesn’t work for me, though.


1201 (Kajo)


Martial Law for Millennials

The book really gives readers, especially Filipino teenagers who didn’t get to experience Martial Law, a glimpse of what may have happened during that time. It exposes the brutality of the regime and what it used to do to people through the band members’ individual narratives in the story.

The book enlightened me on what happened during the Marcos Regime. It is informational enough to get me curious about whatever happened during Martial Law and what drove millions of people to revolt in the streets of EDSA. It showed me how it was like when Filipinos cared so much about each other and how much they wanted the same thing. It reveals Filipino nature and could lead readers to discernment on one of the many meanings of being a “true Filipino”.


Images are from Kajo Baldisimo’s Facebook account.

The 3rd Filipino ReaderCon

The 3rd Filipi2013-0829_frca-logo_for-webno ReaderCon is postponed to December 7, 2013 still at the Rizal Library

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Manila University. The winners for the 2013 Filipino Readers’ Choice Awards will also be announced before the event ends.

Here is the list of finalists, which consists of a lot of books for children and young adults.

Children’s Picture Book
Mga Saranggola sa Tag-ulan by Eugene Evasco and Bernadette Solina-Wolf (LG&M Corporation)
Ninoy, Cory, and Noynoy by Yvette Fernandez and Abi Goy (Dream Big Books)
Ako’y Isang Mabuting Pilipino by Noel Cabangon and Jomike Tejido (Lampara Books)

Chick Lit
That Kind of Guy by Mina V. Esguerra (Summit Books)
From This Day Forward by Marla Miniano (Summit Books)
Wander Girl by Tweet Sering (Flipside Publishing)

Novel in English
Salingkit: A 1986 Diary by Cyan Abad-Jugo (Anvil)
Voices in the Theater by A.S. Santos (Flipside Publishing)
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Frame by Raissa Rivera Falgui (Flipside Publishing)

Novel in Filipino
Territorio delos Hombres Batch 6: Marcial Ortega by Vanessa (Precious Pages Corporation)
Blue Nights by Sonia Francesca (Precious Pages Corporation)
Once A Princess by Angel Bautista (Precious Pages Corporation)

Comics and Graphic Novels
Trese 5: Midnight Tribunal by Budjette Tan and KaJo Baldisimo (Visprint)
Zsazsa Zaturnnah: Sa Kalakhang Maynila by Carlo Vergara (Visprint)
Pepe (The Lost Years of Rizal # 1) by Ron Mendoza and Arnold Renia Cruz (Black Ink Comics / Precious Pages Corporation)

Short Story Anthology
Pseudo.Absurdo.Kapritso.ULO (PAK U Journal) by Ronaldo Vivo Jr, Danell Arquero, Erwin Dayrit,

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Ronnel Vivo, Christian de Jesus (UngazPress)
Mga Kuwento ni Lola Basyang (Volume 2) by Severino O. Reyes, Christine S. Bellen, Rebecca T. Anonuevo and Felix Mago Miguel (Tahanan Books)
Pektus: Mga Maikling Kuwento by Mark Erron San Mateo, et. al. (Independent)

Essay Anthology
Bakit Di Ka Crush ng Crush Mo by Ramon Bautista (PSICOM)
Subversive Lives: A Family Memoir of the Marcos Years by Susan F. Quimpo & Nathan Gilbert Quimpo (Anvil)
Lovestruck: Singles Edition by Ronald Molmisa (OMF)

Florante at Laura: Edisyong Tapat Kay Balagtas edited by Paolo Ven B. Paculan (Flipside Publishing)
The Google Song and Other Rhymes for Our Times by Ed Maranan and Shan Jose (Anvil)
Lita: Poems on Women by the Cavite Young Writers Association (Balangay Books)

See you at the ReaderCon!

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The Hunters

Written by Zayden Ramos (when he was four years old) and illustrated by KaJO Baldisimo of the Trese series, The Hunters (PowerHans, 2012) is about Steve Hunter of Las Vegas who invites other superheroes from different parts of the world to join his team – Curt of Rio de Janeiro, Piotr of Moscow, Jean of Sydney, and Jubilee of Paris. Their team, the Hunters, fights an alien invasion from the planet Orania. The Hunters defeats the aliens and gains Shuntz, a good alien, as their new member. Now, there are six of them ready to protect the Earth.

Xi Zuq says…

There are many things I like in this book, but there are also things in it that I think still need to be improved on so I wouldn’t recommend it to others yet. For starters, I like the book because it’s a welcome addition to the small collection of works authored by children for children in the Philippines. It is also an addition to the growing number of comic books made by Filipinos.

Second, the story elements (such as monsters, aliens, and superheroes) greatly reflect Zayden’s age and the culture he consumes. Many kids of his age, for sure, will love the story.

Third, KaJO Baldisimo did an amazing job in bringing Zayden’s story to life. The illustrations are way more exciting than the story itself, though I still like his illustration style for Trese the best.

These reasons considered, I still wouldn’t recommend the book to readers mainly because it lacks Filipino-ness and writing quality. Perhaps, suggestions from the editor to include a Filipino hero and to insert dialogues would have enhanced the book.

Reviewing this book raised questions in my mind that might do the reading community well to ponder: should we publish books by children for the sake of promoting works by children? To what extent should the publisher/editor provide suggestions and revise works by children?


Ice says…

Zayden’s story captures that child-friendly picture you want to paint in young readers’ minds when writing a story. What’s more, he writes in a manner that keeps kids so interested, they’d even stay up at night to read. The story will surely keep young readers imagining themselves as one of the Hunters. The book perfectly exemplifies works “made for kids by kids”. I am amazed that he wrote this story when he was very young.

The illustrations surpass the standard needed to depict the idea of the text. KaJO puts the story in a richer state with his awesome illustrations that will not only keep readers asking for more, but will also inspire them to draw from their imagination.

After reading this book, kids will have new heroes for inspiration, and they’ll likely grow up to be great writers like Zayden himself.

Both Zayden and KaJO have come up with an almost perfect book: one that inspires while keeping kids interested.

Ice Mercader is a freshman at the Claret School of Quezon City. He loves playing sports and going outdoors. Inspired by his former teachers at the Raya School, he does his best to live his life as a Filipino.


Click the image to see a larger version.

The Hunters

Jung had lost his family and most of his friends
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