National Children’s Book Day (NCBD) is every third Tuesday of July to commemorate the anniversary of the publication of Jose Rizal’s illustrated version of the folk tale “The Monkey and the Turtle,” which many consider the dawn of Filipino children’s and young adult literature. Throughout the month of July and throughout the country, readers celebrate Filipino literary works written specifically for the young.

Cotabato Literary Journal celebrates with this special issue that gives a peek into the growing children’s and young adult literature scene in SOCCSKSARGEN.

There’s poetry (“Ang Buaya sa Marsh” by high school student Marianne Hazzale J. Bullos and “Nabasa” by performance poet Alvin Pomperada) and short fiction (“War Makes Me Sad” by award-winning writer and publisher Mary Ann Ordinario), an essay (“The Confrontation” by poet and literature graduate student Andrea D. Lim) and an excerpt from a novel (“Anito Files” by freelance writer and entrepreneur Boon Kristoffer Lauw)—all showing the youthful perspective and distillation of language that entertain and resonate with readers of all ages. The works, which I selected from a dozen submissions, try to get to the very heart and soul of young people’s different experiences.

I am very, very excited about the future of children’s and young adult literature in the region. The recently concluded first Aklat Alamid YA Novel Writing Workshop, co-facilitated by Cotabato Literary Journal’s editor Jude Ortega and myself, proved that writers in the region respect children’s and young adult literature and are serious about honing their craft. I am looking forward to reading the novels they conceptualized during the workshop. I am also looking forward to the following events this month: a talk on reading advocacy by book reviewer and seller KB Meniado, a storytelling session in Kabacan, Cotabato Province, and two contests on writing short stories for young children and teens.

Books are mirrors and young readers in SOCCSKSARGEN deserve to see themselves in stories. When they can connect to the characters, settings, and experiences in stories they have deeper, richer, and more meaningful reading experiences.

Books are windows (or sliding glass doors) and young readers outside our region deserve to learn more about SOCCSKSARGEN beyond the usual stereotypes and assumptions.

Happy reading and Happy National Children’s Book Day!


Tarie Sabido
Quezon City


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.