Capes, masks, superpowers—these are just a few words that come to mind when we think of heroes. But heroes don’t always wear capes. Here are five Filipino stories of our favorite child heroes that showcase courage, hope, and a heroic heart.
Nadia and the Blue Stars
Life in a small, mountainous village is sweet and joyful. Men and women sing as they work, and children’s laughter fills the streets…until one day, war arrives. How does one survive? How does one recover? One young girl, Nadia, shows her village how.
Written by Francesca Nicole Chan Torres and illustrated by Liz Romualdez Vinluan, Nadia’s story centers on her mission to save the blue stars, her beautiful blue flowers that once covered their village before war broke. In the midst of challenging times, this is a story of recovery and hope—hope that one day, Nadia’s blue stars will bloom once more.
As Torres puts it, “Hope is a lie that becomes the truth only if one believes in it, and keeps believing, even when all is burnt away and there seems to be- nothing left.”
Manang Bolabola’s doll shop may look ordinary from the outside, but inside there is a hidden room filled with the most exquisite dolls, with eyes of precious gemstones. She calls on special street children and they disappear into the room of dolls. Ella, a sampaguita vendor, is unfortunately, one of them, and her friend Tin worriedly looks for her. Will Tin ever find her friend?
Eline Santos’ Doll Eyes revolves around Tin’s quest amidst the frenetic Quiapo scene as she saves her friend Ella from the mysterious doll shop.
Dark, edgy, and with elements of Filipino religious rituals, Santos’ story is given life by the haunting art of Joy Mallari. This book won the National Children’s Book Awards in 2012.
Daughter and the Great Fish
The drought caused all the crops to wither away. Hope lies in Daughter, strong and independent, brave and determined. They say there is a Great Fish that can restore the land. She only has to find and bring the Great Fish home.
Written by Loren Peria and illustrated by Jeho Bitancor, the book follows Daughter’s journey as she traverses jungles and valleys to capture the mystical Great Fish. Daughter’s admirable independence, bravery, and love for family play a central role in bringing back life to their barren land.
Message in the Sand
Message in the Sand tells the story of Miguel, a young boy who lives by the beach and wonders why the fish have been dying. His mother tells him of the nearby mining company dumping waste into the sea. Miguel cannot let this happen! He takes a stand and writes S.O.S. every day on the sands of a nearby beach, hoping that someone would be able to read it.
Discussing how mining can affect the beauty and vigor of the oceans, writer Charmaine Aserrappa and acclaimed artist Roel Obemio show how anyone—no matter how young and how little is the contribution—can raise their voice and cause action amongst those in authority. In this story, Miguel embodies anyone of us.
[Buy the coloring book edition for P300]
Si Ponyang at ang Lihim ng Kuweba
Ponyang is a girl who is always in a rush to leave after class, much to the curiosity of her good friend Potpot. “Where could she be off to?” wonders Potpot. One day, he follows her and discovers Ponyang’s secret.
Written by Mervin John Atole and illustrated by Sarah Geneblazo, Si Ponyang at ang Lihim ng Kuweba weaves a tale of quiet heroism, revealing how a young girl like Ponyang can help care for and save the marine life in her own simple way.
These books remind us that it does not take great feats and superpowers to be heroes. Children can be heroes when they are empowered—when they know that they are braver than they believe, stronger than they seem, and valued than they think.
We invite you to inspire children to discover the heroes within them through art and stories. For your every purchase of these books, or any books at Looking for Juan, two books will be donated to kids from the disadvantaged communities in the Philippines in support of the One Million Books for One Million Filipino Children by the Center for Art, New Ventures and Sustainable Development.
Books transform lives, and by supporting our cause, you become our mission partner in raising a generation of young heroes who are ready to create change.