Like most homeschooling advocates, I strongly believe that love for reading should be nurtured right from the grassroots level. We saw its advantages even as we witnessed our son devour his Science Library for hours on end when he was 5 years old, finished the Lord of the Rings series when he was 7, among many others. It was his love for reading that catapulted him to author the juvenile sci-fi book, The Chronicles of the Plantoids, published on Amazon when he was 10 years old.
Mr. Gigo Alampay, CANVAS Founder and Executive Director
This is why it thrills my Teacher Mama heart to learn about CANVAS – Center for Art, New Ventures & Sustainable Development. This not for profit organization commissions artists to do artworks that promote literacy, national identity, the arts, culture, and even environmental awareness. The books that they come up with are designed to cater to children 9 to 12 years of age. Their activity books can be appreciated by those as young as 6 years old.
Mr. Gigo Alampay, with the book that started it all. “Elias and His Trees” is an adaptation of “The Man Who Planted Trees” by French author Jean Giono.
How CANVAS comes up with a book out of an artwork is amazing to me. They hold the Romeo Forbes Children’s Story Writing Competition, where they collaborate with Filipino artists. The artwork then becomes the basis for the story-writing contest as the entrants (open to all Filipinos across the globe) create a story that revolves around the artwork. Such interesting concept that touches a wide spectrum of arts and creativity. And what’s even more impressive about this is that they judge the books blindly, making way for writers who have potential to make a name for themselves. Like Phoebe de Leon, the youngest winner, being a 16 year old high school student in Dubai.
The Rocking Horse and A Fish Tale by Becky Bravo
Alongside Phoebe de Leon are Palanca awardees like Eugene Evasco (Ang Aklatang Pusa), Becky Bravo (The Rocking Horse and A Fish Tale), Genaro Gojo Cruz (Ang Dyip ni Mang Tomas and Ipapasyal Namin Si Lolo). Some are first time writers such as Recle Etino Vibal (Inang Kalikasan’s Bad Hair Day), Francesca Nicole Chan Torres (Nadia and the Blue Stars), Melvin B. Atole (Si Ponyang at ang Lihim ng Kweba), Jessica Olmedo (Mga Munting Patak ng Ulan), just to name a few. Some winners are OFWs such as Maria Isabelle Ararilla-Arellano (Tahan Na, Tahanan).
Nadia and the Blue Stars by Francesca Nicole Chan Torres
Inang Kalikasan’s Bad Hair Day by Recle Etino Vibal
Ang Dyip ni Mang Tomas and Ipapasyal Namin Si Lolo by Genaro Gojo Cruz
Bookgiving in Payatas with Bb. Pilipinas winners, in partnership with Binibining Pilipinas Charities
CANVAS aims to distribute a million books to one million children. They have distributed 250,000 by far, and continues to partner with organizations that work directly with communities all over the Philippines. Amongst their beneficiaries are the Typhoon Yolanda victims and the children affected by the armed conflict in Zamboanga.
Artists that CANVAS has collaborated with:
- Romeo Forbes
- Elmer Borlongan
- Rodel Tapaya
- Farley del Rosario
- Sergio Bumatay III
- Jose John Santos III
- Roel Obemio
- Plet Bolipata
- Ivee Olivares-Mellor
- Lisa Flores
- Athony Palomo
- Joy Mallari
- Don Salubayba
- Liv Romualdez Vinluan
- Daniel dela Cruz
- Manny Garibay
- Dex Fernandez
How to help CANVAS with their advocacy:
- Purchase their books and merchandise at Fully Booked. You can also purchase via www.lookingforjuan.com. Most titles can be downloaded for FREE!
- Be a donor.
- Partner and work with CANVAS to customize your individual or corporate gifts. Proceeds support their literacy mission.
- Volunteer and bring the CANVAS books to your community.
- Spread the word via social media and word of mouth.
Advocacies like CANVAS are impacting the future in more ways than one. Our very own national hero, Jose Rizal, was a book lover himself. His mother, Dona Teodora Alonzo nurtured in him the love for reading and this paved the way to a mind that explored beyond his time. We will never know how one book can impact a child’s life. I was moved by a story shared to us by Mr. Gigo. It was of a young girl, a recipient of one of his books. She had to be evacuated, and the first thing she held on to was her CANVAS book.
Nevermind if my Grade 7 son is up to his neck with his many requirements to finish in Philippine Science, he instinctively browsed through the CANVAS books I came home with the other day. He finished Eugene Evasco’s Ang Aklatang Pusa in one sitting. Apparently, even a 14 year old can appreciate the book. Artwork + award winning story, that’s just hard to beat. 🙂
Words and Numbers: A Proof of Concept Show
Meanwhile, check them out at the UP Vargas Museum in UP Diliman, on Saturday, September 14, 2019, where three new books will be launched. Mga Batang Karapat-Dapat will be held on November 20. This is going to be a mini-fest on the Rights of A Child at the CCP (Play and Book Giving).