Panahon na para itaas ang antas ng pagsulat ng panitikang pambata. Para mapairal ang disiplina sa sining ng pagsulat ng kuwentong pambata. Para mapigil ang akala na isang santuwaryo ito para sa mga retiradong guro’t bigong manunulat ng kuwentong pangmatanda.
–Virgilio S. Almario, mula sa back cover blurb ng “Panitikang Pambata sa Filipinas”
(It is time to raise the standard of writing in children’s literature. So that there will be discipline in the art of writing of stories for children. So that it would be disabused of the notion of being a haven for retired teachers and unsuccessful writers of stories for adults.)
*Stones, stones hurled at the sky. Whoever gets hit, should not get mad.
Yey, after several weeks of waiting and checking at National Bookstore, I finally got a copy of Sir Rio’s Panitikang Pambata sa Filipinas. Have just quickly scanned through it, and if it’s any indication of its contents, the first chapter is entitled “Warning: Isang Kasaysayang Pinersonal Ito” which I will translate roughly as “Warning: This is History Personalized” (or “This is Personalized History”?). Hmm, am not sure if I translated it well. But it’s the best I can do. “Warning: This is Personal History” sounds too lame. It lacks the bite Sir Rio had doubtlessly intended with his choice of words. And he knows what he’s doing; he’s the National Artist for Poetry, for goodness’s sake.
Consider, too, the title of another chapter “Picture Book Po, Hindi Komiks” which I will translate as, “(With all due respect) It’s a picture book, not a comic book”. From all indications, in Panitikang Pambata, Sir Rio takes a hard look at what is setting back children’s literature in the Philippines and keeping it from reaching its golden age, and makes his candid and unapologetic—if at times, by his own admission, even tactless (taklesa)—comments about everything and anything in the sun concerning Philippine children’s literature.