Barefoot Bulayan

By Mary Ann Ordinario

The following piece is the text of the picture book Barefoot Bulayan: A True-to-Life Story of a Bagobo Boy who Does Not Like to Wear Shoes, published by ABC Educational Development Center in 2018 with illustrations by Bernadette Solina-Wolf.

 When Bulayan leaves his village and goes to school, he carries his shoes instead of wearing them.

All the teachers, parents, and students give a sharp stare at Bulayan’s feet when he stands during flag ceremonies.

He walks barefooted inside the classroom. His classmates chant, “Bulayan has no shoes! Bulayan has no shoes!” They think Bulayan looks funny without his shoes.

“Bulayan! Please wear your shoes! You are inside the room!” his teacher asks him. But Bulayan just shakes his head and grins.

Only when the teacher becomes really angry at him does Bulayan wear his shoes.

Everybody thinks Bulayan is different. Maybe he does not like his shoes. Or maybe the shoes do not fit him.

Then as soon as nobody sees him, Bulayan slowly and carefully removes his shoes again.

So his teacher gives him a pair of colorful shoes. But later, the teacher sees Bulayan jumping and dancing on the green grass of the playground. Barefooted.

A parent gives Bulayan shoes that light up at each step. He taps the shoes on the table and enjoys watching the different lights. But during the school program, Bulayan dances. Barefooted.

A classmate gives him black school shoes. But Bulayan gently keeps the shoes inside his bag.

Finally, the school principal gives him a pair of sandal slippers. But Bulayan simply leaves the sandals inside the room and goes home.

This became a problem in school. Not a single person can ask Bulayan to wear shoes.

Then one day, a student shouts, “Look! Look at the plastic bin! There are so many shoes inside the bin. Bulayan has kept all his shoes there!”

This time, Bulayan’s teacher sternly tells him, “If you don’t wear your shoes, you will not be allowed to go to school again. Ever!”

The principal and Bulayan’s teacher agree to visit Bulayan and talk to his parents.

As they walk to Bulayan’s village, they see a young girl pass by. Barefooted. And an old woman and a boy. Both barefooted.

As the principal and teacher look around, they see the different villagers. Barefooted! There are no shoes at all! And Bulayan is there playing with other barefooted children.

When the principal and the teacher knock at the door of Bulayan’s house and his father opens the door, to their surprise, both Bulayan’s mother and father are also barefooted!

Then the principal and teacher understand why Bulayan hates wearing shoes.

From that day on, Bulayan goes to class, and plays on the grass of the playground. Barefooted. Without being scolded. Or laughed at.

At the school festival, Bulayan plays the kuglang. And together with his classmates and teachers, they all enjoy dancing barefooted.


Editors and Contributors


Eric Gerard H. Nebran is an educator and illustrator from General Santos City. He is currently a PhD Comparative Literature student at the University of the Philippines–Diliman. His research interests include orality, history, and literary productions of his hometown.

Jude Ortega is the author of the short story collection Seekers of Spirits (University of the Philippines Press, 2018) and has been a fellow for fiction at two regional and four national writers workshops. In 2015, his stories received honorable mention at the inaugural F. Sionil José Young Writers Awards and at the Nick Joaquin Literary Awards. He divides his time between Senator Ninoy Aquino and Isulan, both in Sultan Kudarat.


Anna Liz Cabrido is from Koronadal City, South Cotabato, and works for the provincial government, handling the open communications projects such as “Chikaha si Gobernadora” and “Hinun-anon sa Barangay.” Bulawan, her play for this issue, has been staged years ago by Apat sa Taglamig, a Koronadal-based theater group, and recently as part of the Integrity Week of the provincial government.

Kenneth Michael L. Dalimbang is a Tboli spoken word artist from Maitum, Sarangani Province. He is a member of the volunteer organization Katutubo Exchange Philippines and a college student at Edenton Mission College Inc.

Henry G. Dalon, the translator of the song “Kastifun,” teaches at Koronadal National Comprehensive High School–Senior High School. He is a member of the Blaan tribe, and he earned his AB Filipino degree at Mindanao State University in General Santos City.

John Carlo S. Gloria earned his Bachelor in Secondary Education (major in Filipino) at Philippine Normal University. He is currently teaching language and literature at the University of Sto. Tomas and at the Loyola Schools of Ateneo de Manila University.

Mark Banday Lu is a Dulangan Manobo with Maguindanon and Chinese blood. He works in his family’s farm in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat. Sambiling Banday, his maternal grandfather and whose story appears in this issue, was a tribal healer in Senator Ninoy Aquino, Sultan Kudarat.

Mary Ann S. Ordinario is the director of ABC Educational Development Center, a school for children in Kidapawan City, Cotabato Province. She is the author of twenty-five children’s books. Her book The Crying Trees won the 2016 Grand Prize in the Samsung KidsTime Authors Award in Singapore, while four of her other books won the second prize. These books also won Best Short Story for Children in the Catholic Mass Media Awards and were distributed in Asian countries and translated into Bahasa Indonesia and Japanese. Her famous book War Makes Me Sad is used in therapy sessions for children, and her book My Muslim Friend was published by the Christian Child Welfare in Japan.

Silek Musical Ensemble hails from Tampakan, South Cotabato. It is composed of lead singer, guitarist, faglong player, and composer Pammie Malayon, singer and percussionist Jeanalyn Sanuhay–Wales Lerios, percussionist and coordinator Jose Nilo Vargas, wind instrument player and percussionist Arbie Lerios, bassist Nestor Padal, and drummer Alexander Oracion. The word silek means “new generation.”

War Makes Me Sad

By Mary Ann Ordinario

The following is the text of the storybook War Makes Me Sad: The Thoughts  of a Child about the War in Mindanao published in 2000 by ABC Educational Development Center. It was declared Best Short Story for Children at the 2003 Catholic Mass Media Awards.

When we hear strong explosions, I see the worried face of my mother with tears in her eyes. Father hurriedly prepares to bring the chicken and goats from our backyard.

We run and I don’t know where we are going. We ride in a cart pulled by a carabao. Sometimes in a tricycle, jeep, or Ford Fiera. Or just hop in any vehicle that passes by so we can be far away from the explosions.

I hear people say, “There is war.”

What is this war? Whatever it is, it makes me sad.

I know it will take a long time before I can play again. We will leave our small hut, my kite, ball, and books. I wonder will I still see my doll when I come back.

I just watch and stare blankly. There are soldiers and rebels. Like a movie or just like in the television. They have guns and move in tanks. For sure after a while there will be bombings and we have to run again.

Sometimes I cry. I remember my friend Kahlil, who lost his arms. They say, “The war took it.” Will he still go to school? How can he use his pencil and crayons again?

Because of war we hide for a long time and try to go to the next town. My body aches. We try to find a place or a building for us to stay. And usually these are schools. There are so many people. We sleep together inside the classrooms. We stay together even if we don’t know one another. There are many mosquitoes. We don’t have a blanket, a mosquito net, or even a mat. I lie down in concrete floors very cold against my back. Father and Toto sleep outside, with coconuts leaves spread out as their mat.

Oftentimes when asleep, I wake up frightened because of the strong explosions. Sometimes, Mother shakes me and I hear her say, “Wake up my child, you are having a nightmare.” I tell her I dreamed of a huge gun. It was chasing me. I had to run fast so I can hide.

We can’t change our clothes and we don’t have any belongings. We can’t even take a bath because there is no water. Maybe that is why so many of us get sick. I even saw a mother gave birth but her baby did not move. They said that there was no doctor to take care of her.

Because of war my stomach aches. But we don’t have food. Not even a piece of bread. Sometimes I don’t eat breakfast or lunch. Though there are people who drop by and bring some food like noodles, dried fish, sardines, or rice. I hear them call these donations. They are not even enough for everyone.

I see people get wounded or killed. People panic and scream! Some stumble, some cry, and some don’t move at all. Mother holds my hand and pulls me. I get bumped and stepped on by anybody. I have to run and take a step, even if I am barefooted.

What scares me even more is the thought that Father, Mother, Toto, or Nene might be gone one day. What if they get sick? That is why I hold tightly onto my mother’s skirt.

Will there be no silence? When will the bombings stop? When will the war end? I have too many questions but Father could not give me the answers.

I want to go home. I want to rest, play, eat well, go back to school, laugh, and be happy again. So I pray that God, the most powerful, who loves children like me will take pity on us.

Editors and Contributors


Tarie Sabido is the chair of the Philippine Board on Books for Young People (PBBY) and a reviewer of books for children and young adults. She has been a judge for the PBBY Salanga Writer’s Prize, Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, National Children’s Book Awards, and Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards. She is from General Santos City.


Jude Ortega is a short story writer from Senator Ninoy Aquino, Sultan Kudarat Province. He has been a fellow in two regional and four national writers workshops. In 2015, he received honorable mention at the inaugural F. Sionil José Young Writers Awards. He is the author of the short story collection Seekers of Spirits published in 2018 by the University of the Philippines Press.


Marianne Hazzale J. Bullos is from General Santos City and a scholar of Philippine Science High School-SOCCSKSARGEN Region Campus. She is a student during weekdays, a master crammer on weekends, and an eagle for lifetime.

Boon Kristoffer Lauw is a chemical engineer turned entrepreneur from General Santos City and is currently based in Quezon City. During his practice of profession at a beer-manufacturing plant last 2013, he began to pass graveyard shifts with random musings that eventually took form in writing—and, inevitably, stories.

Andrea D. Lim is from General Santos City, and she is currently working as an editor for a publishing company in Cebu City while taking her master’s degree in literature at the University of San Carlos. She was a fellow for poetry in the 24th Iligan National Writers Workshop (2017). She is also the former editor-in-chief of the Weekly Sillimanian, the official student publication of Silliman University, Dumaguete City.

Mary Ann Ordinario is a multi-awarded author of books for children from Kidapawan City, Cotabato Province. She owns ABC Educational Development Center, the oldest publishing house of children’s books outside of Metro Manila.

Alvin Pomperada of General Santos City is a management accounting graduate of Notre Dame of Dadiangas University. He is a member of Pangandungan, the association of writers in General Santos City.

Why is a Pig’s Nose Flat?

by Mary Ann Ordinario (Short Story for Children)

(The storybook version of this piece has recently been released.)

A long, long time ago, all the animals in the land didn’t have noses. They only breathed through two holes in their faces.

As time passed, the animals thought that they would look better if they had noses.

So, they prayed to their god who immediately answered their prayer. He commanded, “Tomorrow at dawn you will see a big jar at the side of a creek. You will find inside the jar different shapes and sizes of noses which you can choose from. Just remember that you have to choose before sunrise for everything will melt when the sun rises. Inform all the animals in the forest about the good news.”

The news spread to all the animals in the forest. They were so glad that they would finally have noses to cover their nostrils.

Of all the animals, only the pig did not believe the good news. He said, “A nose? For a long time we have we existed without a nose. Even our ancestors didn’t have noses. Now you say that we’ll have a nose! I don’t believe this!”

The next day, all the animals proceeded to the creek. And there they saw noses of all shapes and sizes. There was a sharp and a flat nose, a small and a big nose, a pointed and a long nose, and there was also a fat and unusual nose.

One by one, they approached the jar, picked a nose and put it on their faces. The noses attached itself to the face. The animals were so ecstatic that they finally looked better.

However, the pig did not care.  He did not join the animals.  It was as if nothing important was happening.  He didn’t believe that he would be given a nose.  He snootily and proudly said that he didn’t care if he had a nose.

As the sun rose, the noses that were not claimed melted until everything disappeared like a bubble.

All the animals started to tease the pig because he was the only who looked different. They laughed at him and said, “Look at your face!  We can see two holes. Ha! ha! ha! Don’t you pity yourself? You look funny with two holes instead of a nose.”

The dog said, “Is that your nose?  Or is that your snout with a mouth? Ha! ha! ha!”

Finally, the pig realized that indeed, he looked funny without a nose. He ran to the jar but not a single nose was left inside. He turned the jar upside down many times but unfortunately, there were no more noses. He looked and looked but found nothing. He started digging the soil using his snout hoping that even just one nose would stick on his face but found nothing.

He was very sad but there was nothing he could do. It was too late.  He repented for not having listened to his animal friends.

From that time on, pigs could be seen looking for their noses. Haven’t you noticed how they dig the soil with their snout? They are actually looking for their noses. They also turn any container upside down to check if there are noses inside. They are still hoping that they’ll find a nose someday, somewhere, somehow.


Bakit Pango ang Ilong ng Baboy?

Noong unang panahon, ang lahat ng mga hayop sa lupa ay walang ilong. Makikita sa kanilang mukha ang dalawang butas kung saan sila humihinga.

Habang lumilipas ang panahon, naisip ng mga hayop na mas magiging kaaya-aya ang kanilang mukha kapag nagkaroon sila ng ilong.

Kaya nanalangin sila sa kanilang bathala. Agad namang sinagot ang kanilang panalangin. Siya’y nag-utos “Bukas ng madaling araw, may makikita kayong malaking banga sa gilid ng sapa. Makikita ninyo sa loob ng banga ang iba’t ibang korte at laki ng ilong na inyong mapagpipilian. Pakatandaan ninyo na dapat kayong mamili bago sumikat ang araw dahil matutunaw ang lahat ng mga ito pagsikat ng araw. Ipaalam sa lahat ng hayop sa gubat ang magandang balita.

Agad na kumalat ang balita sa lahat ng mga hayop sa gubat. Tuwang-tuwa sila na magkakaroon na sila ng ilong.

Sa lahat ng mga hayop , ang baboy lamang ang hindi naniwala. “Ano, ilong? Sa mahabang panahon, nabuhay tayong walang ilong, Kahit ang ating mga ninuno aywalang ilong. Ngayon sasabihin ninyo magkakaroon tayo ng ilong? Hindi ako naniniwala!”

Kinabukasan, ang lahat ng mga hayop ay nagtungo sa sapa. At doon ay nakita nila ang mga ilong na may iba’t ibang korte at laki, may matangos, may pango, may maliit at malaki, may mataba at matulis na ilong at mayroon pang kakaiba.

Bawat isa ay lumapit sa banga, kumuha ng ilong at inilagay sa mukha. Dumikit ito sa kanilang mukha. At ang mga hayop ay maligayang-maligaya sa pagkakaroon ng bagong anyo.

Subalit ang baboy ay walang pakialam. Hindi siya nakiisa sa mga hayop. Para bang walang anumang nangyari. Hindi siya naniwalang magkakaroon siya ng ilong. Pasinghal at mayabang niyang sinabi na wala siyang pakialam kung wala man siyang ilong.

Sa pagsikat ng araw, ang mga ilong na hindi nakuha ay natunaw hanggang sa naglaho ang lahat na parang bula.

Lahat ng mga hayop ay nagsimulang tuksuhin ang baboy dahil siya lamang ang kakaiba sa lahat. Pinagtatawanan siya at ang sabi, “Tingnan mo ang mukha mo!  Dalawang butas lamang ang nakikita namin! Ha! ha! ha! Hindi ka ba naaawa sa sarili mo? Nakatatawa ka, dalawang butas lang at walang ilong.”

Sabi ng aso, “Iyan ba ang ilong mo? O iyan ay nguso na may bunganga? Ha! ha! ha!”

Sa wakas, naunawaan na ng baboy ang lahat, na mukha siyang katawa-tawa na wala siyang ilong. Tumungo siya sa banga ngunit wala ni isang naiwang ilong sa loob. Binaligtad niya nang binaligtad ang banga subalit sa kasamaang palad walang naiwang ilong. Naghanap siya nang naghanap subalit wala na siyang makita. Nagsimula siyang mangbungkal sa lupa gamit ang kanyang nguso, umaasang kahit isa man lang ay may dumikit sa kanyang mukha ngunit wala siyang makita.

Ang lungkot-lungkot ng baboy subalit wala na siyang magawa. Huli na ang lahat.  Nagsisi siya na hindi siya nakinig sa mga kaibigang hayop.

Magmula noon, ang mga baboy ay mapapansing naghahanap ng ilong. Napansin n’yo ba kung paano nila binubungkal ang lupa sa pamamagitan ng kanilang nguso?

Hinahanap talaga nila ang kanilang ilong. Binabaligtad din nila ang lalagyan ng pagkain para tingnan kung may ilong pa sa loob. Patuloy pa rin silang umaasa na balang araw makahahanap pa sila ng ilong, saanman at kailaman.