Friday, January 26, 2007

English Spoke Like She Is

It's something that bears thinking about - the role of language in Philippine society.

Back in elementary school in the 70's, we used to be required to speak English all the time, and were fined a grand sum of ten centavos for each time we were caught slipping into the vernacular. The only exception was during Pilipino, which, ironically, was where most of us received our worst grades.

Does English make us more competitive, globally? I think that, undeniably, it does, especially for an increasingly infotech/call center driven economy like ours. I remember seeing an Indian website on the animation industry deadpanning that the advantage of the Filipinos is not only that we speak English (Indians also do), but that we understand the humor of Friends and The Simpsons.

Will an emphasis on English dilute our culture? Now there's a question!

Leading up to our main project in 2008, Manny Garibay and CANVAS are talking right now about a major art exhibition on the theme of What is a Filipino - Past, Present and Future. (The only details I can provide for now is that it's going to be held this October 2007 at the Ayala Museum). The idea, as with most of CANVAS' activities, is to encourage interaction between artists and writers, and one question we are still considering is whether we should require the writings to be in English in order to broaden the appeal to non-Filipinos. But will that be inconsistent with our theme?

Anyway, here's more food for thought from Peter Wallace, an American consultant who has lived here in the Philippines longer than many of us have been alive.


By Peter Wallace
Manila Standard (January 26, 2007)

Everyone knows about the serious decline in Filipinos’ ability to speak, read and write English, so it’s heartening to see efforts to teach it well being revived in schools. Something, though, that’s not going to be as easy as hoped is mainly because of the paucity of teachers.

So that’s the first thing that must be done: teach the teachers. Without that, no amount of executive orders or presidential mandates (good as they are) will succeed. As it now stands, only 19 percent of public school teachers passed a government-administered English proficiency test.

But there’s one area that’s been completely overlooked where probably more success could be gained than in anything else. That’s media.

Around 60 percent of Filipino households have access to television. In major urban areas, 20 percent watch TV at least seven hours daily, much of it soap operas and the like. Radio is ubiquitous, yet there is not one AM radio station in English and only one on TV. Broadcasters could help dramatically by introducing English into some of their programs. They should be encouraged to recognize that they could be a major participant in uplifting the lives of their listeners and viewers. Cartoons in English would be an excellent way to go. When you’re young, you can readily learn two languages. When you’re old, you can hardly cope with one. But that’s another story as Conrado de Quiros so sagely would say.

Related to this would be not to dub English movies, telenovelas and the like in Tagalog. Leave them in English, put Tagalog sub-titles so it becomes an English language session. Hearing English and translating it into Tagalog just like you’d do at school.

It’s the same in print although it doesn’t have the same mass audience as TV and radio. Most of the major national daily broadsheets are in English. But tabloids, which are written in Taglish (bastardized English), cost a lot cheaper than broadsheets and hence enjoy a higher circulation. They seem to be preferred by the C, D and E income brackets. A page or two in English wouldn’t hurt them, but would certainly help their readers to be more fluent in English.

Let’s get media into the picture. They’re not going to lose their audience by devoting, say, 10 percent of their time/space to English. It’s not asking much but it sure will achieve a lot.

A fast, dramatic improvement must be achieved. With all the best will in the world, this won’t and can’t be through the traditional schooling system. That’s just going to take time to put in place. And, anyway, it applies to kids. We need to employ adults now.

So there needs to be an alternative option. Media can be one. Advertisers can help, too. Have some of their ads and commercials in English and people will still get the message.

At the same time, this will improve people’s English comprehension skills.

Everyone’s talking “Corporate Social Responsibility” these days. Well, “teaching” English can be media’s contribution to society. And please don’t let me hear any bleating about losing the national language (which, incidentally, it’s not. Ask any Cebuano or Ilocano). I’m suggesting a dual system. And even the safety value of working overseas is denied them if they can’t speak English.

Call centers and backroom processing operations have grown by leaps and bounds—more than 100 percent per annum over the past five years. Some 145,000 Filipinos are now employed where none were a scant six years ago. But everyone acknowledges we’re running out of supply. Unless urgent change is effected, this industry of such promise will die—as have so many others before it.

Already, call centers are beginning to experience problems. Only 2 or 3 percent of Filipinos interviewed for call center jobs get the job. And this is down from 4 to 5 percent just a year or so ago. Call centers are locating in other cities in great part because of the increasing shortages in Manila. An avenue now being explored in this regard is the creation of companies dedicated to upgrading the English capability of Filipinos prior to getting a job in a call center. It’s early days for these but they could work.

The Philippines missed the Agricultural Revolution (most farming techniques haven’t changed in a hundred years). It missed the Industrial Revolution (the Philippine manufacturing base is very narrow. For example, over 60 percent of exports are in one sub-sector only: Electronics).

We can’t afford to miss the Information Revolution. Already, the Philippines has achieved impressive success in the IT sector in call centers and, more recently, business process outsourcing (BPO) such as accounting, human resources, engineering drawing, animation, etc. But in all of this, English comprehension and not just speaking ability, is essential.

There seems to be a Philippine skill at missing opportunities, but this must not be one of them. But without large numbers of competently English-speaking people, it will be.

Every year, 1.25 million people enter the workforce. There aren’t that many jobs being created, and if those entrants can’t speak English, the number of job openings shrink dramatically. That shortage of jobs has forced Filipinos to flee. There are now 8.5 million Filipinos working overseas. Not one of them is there because they speak Tagalog. They are there because they can speak English.

Now here’s a thought. How many rich, successful Filipinos who can’t speak English are there? Not many. I’m not sure I know anyone in that category. The world speaks English (often as its second language). Even the huge Chinese population is learning it in its interaction with the world. Chinese is, of course, the other dominant language, at least in Asia, but it’s hard to see it becoming the lingua franca that English is. Lingua franca? Now see there’s one of the beauties of English, it’s not a pure language. It’s a bastard of many, it’s slept around, so everybody loves it.

There’s hundreds more words like that. Words from another language. English is a polyglot language. That’s one of the reasons it succeeded. If the Philippines is to succeed in this modern world, it must speak English.

Peter Wallace can be reached at or by text at 0920.929.2929.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


Is there really an Imelda in all of us?

A couple of years ago, I was in NY riding in a cab. The driver's first words to me, upon learning that I came from the Philippines, was "Did you get to see Imelda's shoes?"

She wasn't as funny when they were in charge. But the same Imelda, without the power, is an almost lovable character.

Here's a Q&A feature from the latest issue of Vanity Fair.



Former Filipina First Lady Imelda Marcos, 77, is known as much for her shoe collection and family controversies—the Marcoses were accused of looting as much as $10 billion in assets from the Philippines before her husband's regime was toppled, in 1986—as she is for her philanthropic heart. As Marcos releases her new fashion line, the Imelda Collection, our correspondent learns that there's a little bit of Imelda in all of us.

George Wayne: Imelda, darling, I hope you are ready to get your freak on.
Imelda Marcos: Oh, well, it is a pleasure, because the Imelda Collection was my grandson Borgy's idea. He is a huge Philippine idol here, on television, in magazines and movies.

Is he the ruling playboy of Manila now?
He is the crush of the nation.

So here you are at 77 years old, Queen Imelda deciding that it is time to take up fashion.
I know, the nerve of this woman, Mrs. Marcos. When I was First Lady, for 20 years I was always trying to get the best—in paintings, clothes, jewelry, whatever.

Well, you certainly do have the background: 20 years as the ultimate First Lady. A truly international magnet of style, and a very controversial one.
Borgy said to me, "I want to use your name, Imelda, for a collection of ornamental beauty." And you know, I always say you can never be extravagant with beauty. Beauty is God made real. Beauty is life. And I have a different meaning of beauty, so much so that I was truly impressed when he came up with the Imelda Collection.

You're living now in the Pacific Plaza, in Manila. They sold off most of your old masters at Christie's years ago, but I understand there are a few Picassos and Gauguins still hanging with you in that swanky condo.
The paintings and the jewelry they confiscated, all without any good reason. You know, I won the case of the century in New York, and so the little I have left, I will tell you, was because of some servants of mine, who were able to keep a few pieces in the slum area where they were living.

Well, how is life for you these days, Queen Imelda?
Believe it or not, George: because of my attitude, I am fine. My grandson says, with this collection, "some will ridicule you, but your fans will love you more."

G.W. needs to know right now: where did you first develop this perverse shoe fetish?
To what?

Your love for shoes, Imelda …
Love for soup?

Shoes! Imelda has always loved her shoes.
Well, there is a little Imelda in all of us. I really had no great love for shoes. I was a working First Lady; I was always in canvas shoes. I did nurture the shoes industry of the Philippines, and so every time there was a shoe fair, I would receive a pair of shoes as a token of gratitude. But I always say, "Thank God, when they raided Imelda's closet they found no skeletons, only shoes." But I was well heeled.

When they raided your closets they also found vats of your favorite Christian Dior wrinkle cream and vats of the finest perfume, and tons of receipts from shopping sprees from Boulevard Saint-Germain to Fifth Avenue.
Well, I could afford it then because my husband's assets were worth a lot.

So are you saying that the bank of Manila was your personal piggy bank?
No, no, no. Never.

What ever happened to all those bulletproof bras you supposedly also owned?
That was an exaggeration. I did not have that.

Do you remember the first time you set eyes on Ferdinand, your husband? Was it love at first sight?
Oh, yes, he proposed marriage half an hour after we met, and we were married 11 days after. It was a marriage united in heaven, a fabulous marriage.

Imelda and Ferdinand Marcos were one incredible couple, the likes of which we may never see again.
And he is more with me than ever.

How often do you visit his mausoleum, his crystal sarcophagus?
My daughter is the congresswoman from that district and my son is the governor, so I visit there quite often.

One of my most favorite images of you as First Lady is when you visited the White House for a state dinner. You upstaged Nancy Reagan in the most ravishing gown.
Oh, gosh, but you know the Reagans were dear friends for many years, even when he was governor of California. Nancy appreciated a lot of Philippine-made things.

Imelda, you have had more acquittals than O. J. Simpson, but when Uncle Sam acquitted you of all racketeering and fraud charges, in 1990, that had to be one of the most joyous moments of your life.
After that trial of the century in New York, when I was alone and widowed, the press asked if I was angry and bitter at America. I said I have no bitterness in my heart or anger in my soul. The system worked. God Bless America.

One of the funniest things about that trial, not that it was funny then, was you showing up in court strapped to a portable blood-pressure monitor, which would gurgle loudly in the courtroom every time your blood pressure rose.
Yes, and then finally my blood pressure rose so much, I coughed up blood and collapsed during the middle of the trial. The judge gave me one week to recover.

You always were the ultimate drama queen, Imelda.
And you know what? I won that case on my birthday. I can truly say, George, that I have had no mission that has failed. I am with God.

And the first thing you did after being found not guilty was to head to St. Patrick's Cathedral, where you got on your knees and crept down the entire aisle to the altar.
And yes, it was only coming from heaven on my birthday. What a gift. You know, George, my dreams were always small and puny. All I ever needed was a little house with a little picket fence by the sea. Little did I know that I would live in MalacaƱang Palace for 20 years and visit all the major palaces of mankind. And then also meet ordinary citizens and the leaders of superpowers. And I prevailed. The world may ask, "Was she a genius?" No. "Did she have a great mind?" No. "What did Imelda have?" What Imelda had was common to all: common sense.

Imelda, have you ever visited one of your drag-queen bars in Manila? Apparently you are very popular among the trannies.
The drag what?

The drag queens, the men who dress as and impersonate women. Imelda is the queen of the drag queens.
Of the gays?

The gays will love the Imelda Collection. They will think it "Imeldific!" As I say, there is a little bit of Imelda in all of us.

God made woman, and then he made Imelda Marcos.
The message is, George, let us all make a beautiful world together. You know I have had the best, and the worst. I do believe now that I am still in paradise.

Simply fantastic. You are truly Imeldific.

George Wayne has been a Vanity Fair contributor since 1998.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

A Doctor in the Barrio

It's easier to be idealistic when we're young. And for that time, at least, it's also easier to state, and feel - truly - what it means or what it ought to mean to be Filipino.

Che Zablan, 28, is employed under the Department of Health's Doctors to the Barrios Program. Here's his piece, as published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

* * * * * * * * *
I AM a doctor to the barrio. For most people, I could not have made a better choice, but for a very few, I could not have made a worse or crazier one. In fact, the moment I utter those words, I see all sorts of reactions.

My family and friends are primarily concerned over my safety. After all, I could be assigned anywhere in the Philippines.

My superiors and colleagues, on the other hand, are afraid that I might stagnate professionally. The normal course for a newly licensed physician is to specialize. I won’t be able to do that in the rural areas.

Most people who first hear about my decision give me that you-must-be-crazy look and demand to know why. I have learned to just smile and vaguely explain that I really have nothing better to do or that I haven’t decided which medical field to specialize in. Sometimes, I am tempted to lie and say I am going abroad. This answer, I am sure, I would not have to explain myself.

It never fails to amaze me that people find it unusual that a young doctor would decide to work in the barrios and normal for him to work abroad. I thought I’d never find the perfect answers to all their questions until I was sent to a highland municipality in the northern province of Ilocos Sur.

My father felt reassured when I told him I have never felt safer in my entire life. I don’t speak Ilocano. I don’t know a single soul in the place. But when I walk on the street, everybody greets me. My dining table never runs out of fruits and vegetables given by the people. They invite me to dine in their homes although I am a total stranger.

This is contrary to what I experience every day in Manila. There, everybody speaks Filipino, but I feel like I could be mugged anytime. I could go around the whole metropolis without a single soul greeting me, much less inviting me to dine with their families. I am actually starting to feel that my family and friends in the city are the ones who need to take care.

It was tough to put on hold my dream of becoming an OB-gyn. However, I can still train to be one in a couple of years. That can wait, but the patients I serve might not make it if they don’t see a doctor right now. And while I may have put on hold my professional growth, I am definitely working on my personal growth.

I finally understood what being alone means on my first night and being independent on my first week here. I’ve realized what determination means when I see children walking five kilometers to get to school. I see what hard work means every time I see a farmer working under the sun in the middle of the day. Most importantly, I am learning what a doctor should do: to make a difference in people’s lives.

There are nights when I feel like paying a thousand bucks just to have a cup of caramel macchiato or pay slight less than that for a choco nutty sprinkle donut. However, these cravings are gone as soon as I get freshly brewed kapeng barako and kalamay—of course, for free.

On days when I can’t find the perfect medicine or order the ideal laboratory procedure, I am sorely tempted to take a bus back to Manila. But these are soon forgotten when I cross hanging bridges and rivers or walk along rice terraces just to see my patients.

When I get the you-must-be-crazy look, I tell people about the hanging bridges and rice terraces, but most of all about the barrio’s most important treasure: its people. They make my job so much easier. When they say thank you, they mean it. When they ask me how I am, they care enough to wait for my response. These are the people who teach me every day that simple living is so much better.

But when I am sick of answering why I chose to be a doctor to the barrio, I just say, “Why in the world not?”

* The artwork is an image of Serg Bumatay's as yet untitled acrylic on canvas artwork, which will be used as one of several illustrations in Iris Gem Li's The Boy Who Touched Heaven, an upcoming children's book from Illustrador ng Kabataan and CANVAS.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Education by the Numbers

If the youth are our future, then we must invest in education. This is probably one of the very few things that everyone agrees on.

The question is not whether we want this, but whether we truly, as a nation, want this bad enough to actually do it.

Apparently, the numbers say we don't.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Nationalism Without Borders

What does it mean to be Filipino? Bayanihan is not confined to within the shores of the Philippines nor is the craving for sisig, batchoy or pansit only awakened when one steps onto his place of birth. The definition of "Filipino" has now officially been stripped off its dependence on the geography and devoid of the stereotypes once branded upon us. The Filipino in the Philippines alone no longer exists. Today is about Filipinos in the Philippines, Filipinos in the United States, Filipinos in the Middle East, Filipinos in Europe … Today is about Filipinos in the world.

The challenge now, to Filipinos here in the country, is that nationalism remains at its greatest because, after all, this is the epicenter of wave after wave of Filipinos venturing into the world. Our country itself should embody the hope and the home that every Filipino abroad will want to go back to. As we hold the fort, all of us here in the country should work together to nurture the country into one that is abounding in hope. It is through this that we can get more balikbayan to share whatever they have gained abroad: knowledge, networks, investments, stories, etc.

Nationalism without borders is the ideal we have to pursue.

(Excerpted from the keynote speech given by former President Fidel V. Ramos, chairman of the Ramos Peace and Development Foundation-RPDEV and the Boao Forum for Asia-BFA, on the commemoration of International Migrants' Day and the launching of the book Democracy and Discipline: FVR and His Philippine Presidency by Dr. W. Scott Thompson and Federico M. Macaranas, on December 18, 2006.)

One More Statistic to Chew On

Philippines To Hit 88.1 Million In 2007

Saturday, January 6, 2007

24,000 Filipinos now have dual RP citizenship

I honestly thought there would be much much more...

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Charles Dickens, Jane Austen... and Jose Rizal

An interesting piece from Lito Zulueta of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. For more on Rizal, click here. Project Guttenberg also has some of his writings and essays here.

Rizal joins ranks of Dickens, Austen
By Lito Zulueta

JOSE Rizal’s “Noli Me Tangere” has been published in a new English translation and released worldwide by Penguin Books, one of the major publishing houses of the English-speaking world, under the Penguin Classics imprint. The publication effectively canonizes the novel as one of the classics of world literature.

It is the first time that a Southeast Asian title has been included in the Penguin Classics, which was started in 1946 with the publication of E.V. Rieu’s translation of Homer’s “Odyssey.”

In the book’s blurb, Penguin bills the “Noli” as “the book that sparked the Philippine revolution” and “the great novel of the Philippines.”

“[It] was the first major artistic manifestation of Asian resistance to European colonialism, and Rizal became a guiding conscience—and martyr—for the revolution that would subsequently rise up in the Spanish province,” Penguin said.

The new translation of the “Noli” was done by an American writer, Harold Augenbraum, a scholar of Hispanic-American letters and the executive director of the National Book Foundation and the National Book Awards.

Filipino-American writer Jessica Hagedorn, author of the critically acclaimed and best-selling novel, “Dogeaters,” has said that Augenbraum’s “Noli” was a “beautiful new translation.”

Elda Rotor, Penguin Books Classics’ executive editor, said the publication “represents Penguin’s commitment to publish the major literary classics of the world.”

Rotor, a Filipino-American, said she was not the original acquisitions editor for the book, but “for me, it’s a particular joy on many levels, to place Rizal on the same shelf as Dickens and Austen, to share a classic that is read, studied and celebrated in parts of the world, yet unfamiliar to a wider audience.”

In Manila, the book is available at Powerbooks and Fully Booked.

Scathing portrayal

First published in Berlin in 1887, “Noli Me Tangere” tells the story of Crisostomo Ibarra, who returns from his European studies to find his old town in the grip of social iniquity and decay. His efforts to introduce enlightenment and modernism are defeated at every turn by the Spanish colonial establishment as represented by abusive civil and military officials and obscurantist friars.

Because of its scathing portrayal of Spanish colonial depredations, the book was banned in the Philippines, but copies of it were smuggled into the country for clandestine reading by educated Filipinos.

As a result, the “Noli,” along with its dark sequel, “El Filibusterismo,” which tells of the return of Ibarra as an avenging angel a la “The Count of Monte Cristo,” became the bible of the Philippine revolution against Spain in 1896.

Although Rizal denied any involvement in the revolution, his name became the password of the Filipino revolutionaries, and he was executed by the Spanish authorities on Dec. 30, 1896.


Augenbraum said he stumbled upon Rizal’s novel in 1992 while compiling a bibliography of North American Latino fiction writers. He said he came across the name of National Artist N.V.M. Gonzalez whom he thought to be Latino. He went on to read Gonzalez and “loved it” and thereby got “introduced to a whole world of Filipino and Filipino-American literature, which I began to seek out here in the US.”

“The name of Rizal came up several times, so I read the ‘Noli,’ which fascinated me,” he said. “Then I read the ‘Fili,’ which also fascinated me. Then I read the Austin Coates biography, and Rizal himself became one of my heroes.”

Augenbraum said he tried to get university presses interested in republishing the novels in the English translation by either Charles Derbyshire or Leon Ma. Guerrero, but none was interested. (The University of Hawaii Press has published the Soledad Lacson-Locsin translations of both books.)

In 2002, after editing and revising a Penguin book, Augebraum was asked by Penguin editors if he could recommend a new addition to the Penguin Classics line, and he suggested the “Noli.”

Very excited

“[They] knew very little [of the ‘Noli’], but when they began to investigate, they became very excited,” he said.

“This would be the first Filipino writer in the venerable classics tradition, and the Filipino-American community had been growing,” he said.

Penguin at first thought of adapting one of the existing English translations, but “concluded that it needed a new translation for the American eye and ear,” Augenbraum said.

Augenbraum said he enjoyed translating Rizal. “The ‘Noli’s’ Spanish was not particularly difficult to translate. Rizal wrote a clear, lucid Castilian without much slang and without overusing idioms,” he said.

“I would like to add that the pleasure of translating [and reading] the ‘Noli’ is that the non-central characters are extraordinarily rich,” he said.

Augenbraum said he found it more difficult to be editor than translator.

Bridging cultural divide

“The harder part was to compile the notes that would explain the many, many religious and cultural references Rizal used... The US is not steeped in the Catholic faith and many Americans will probably be reading about the Philippines for the first time,” he said.

Apparently, Augenbraum succeeded in trying to bridge the cultural and historical divide between the “Noli’s” 19th century-Philippines setting and American readers in the 21st century.

According to Hagedorn, Augenbraum’s introductory essay, “is smart and sensitively written, providing great background for Rizal’s rich, moving novel.”

Augenbraum said he liked the Derbyshire and Guerrero translations, but there should be new translations of Rizal’s work.

“Most translators will tell you that each generation should have its own translation of classic works. Language changes over time, political ideals change over time, information emerges over time, new critical thinking emerges. I hope that this translation will be the translation for our time,” he said.

Required reading

Augenbraum said the “Noli” should be required reading in Asian-American courses in US universities “because it is the foundational novel of the nation, with large implications for the diaspora and its influence on other writers.”

According to Rotor, Penguin has learned that the novel has generated interest among professors across the US who would like to make the novel a part of their curriculum.

The new English translation of the “Noli” comes at a time when Filipino critics and historians are starting to complain that there was too much lionizing and even deification of Rizal so that honest critical assessments of his work and legacy have become nearly impossible.

Florentino Hornedo, Unesco commissioner and a literature and history professor at the University of Santo Tomas, said rendering Rizal and his works as a “dogma” was “not good” since the novels were a “fiction” and a creative embellishment, with some exaggerations conditioned by Rizal’s masonic and liberal leanings.

Augenbraum agreed. “The Noli’ is fiction obviously, but [that’s] an interesting point about how historical fiction becomes perceived as history,” he said.

“In my introduction to the ‘Noli,’ I discuss Rizal becoming a sort of ‘santo’ in the Filipino diaspora, no longer a real personage, and I question whether he ever really was a real person, since he saw himself as part of Philippine narrative history and acted accordingly. Although some people have compared Rizal to Jose Marti [the 19th-century Cuban writer and patriot], Marti has never attained the supernatural status of Rizal,” said Augenbraum.

“[Rizal] is a prisoner of his own legend... Whoever he was in life has become irrelevant. He’s probably closer to Joan of Arc or St. George than he is to Jose Marti,” he said.

CANVAS' 2007 Romeo Forbes Storywriting Competition

CANVAS invites you to join its 3rd annual Romeo Forbes Storywriting Competition.

This year's contest is based on an original untitled oil on canvas painting by John Santos III. In addition cash and a trophy (pictured below), the winning author will also see his/her story rendered and published as a full color children's book.


1. The 2007 Romeo Forbes Children’s Storywriting Competition is open to all Filipinos.

2. Entries must not have been previously published, and all entrants must warrant the originality of their submitted entries.

3. Writers may submit only one entry, in English or Filipino, which shall be of 2,000 words or less.

4. There is no particular theme, other than the use of this year’s contest piece, a new work by artist John Santos III (also viewable at CANVAS’ official blog – as the inspiration or basis for the entry.

5. The CANVAS children’s story writing competition shall be awarded points by a select panel of judges based on the following criteria:

* Originality and Relevance (30%)
* Quality of Writing (30%)
* Extent to which the story may be appreciated by children and adults alike (30%)
* X-Factor (Judges’ discretion) (10%)

6. Judging Process.

* CANVAS, shall first shortlist the ten (10) best stories, copies of which shall then be forwarded to the CANVAS Fellow.
* The CANVAS Fellow shall then shorten the list further to seven (7) stories, and may provide comments on any or all the stories for consideration by the panel of judges.
* A panel of judges shall collectively choose the winner from the final set of stories.
* If the judges cannot come to a consensus on the winner, they shall take a vote and the entry that gains the most number of votes shall be declared the winner.
* Neither the judges nor the CANVAS fellow will see the entrant's name until the winner is chosen.

7. Entries must be submitted by email, as a Microsoft Word attachment, to with the subject heading 2007 ROMEO FORBES CHILDREN’S STORYWRITING COMPETITION. Entrants must include a cover sheet with their name, mailing and email address, and telephone number. Only the story title should appear on all pages of the entry.

8. The deadline for submission of entries is 5:00 p.m. (Manila time), 15 March 2007. Entries received after the deadline, even if sent earlier, will no longer be considered for the competition. CANVAS shall not be responsible for entries which are not received, or which are received after the deadline, due to technical failure or for any other reason whatsoever.

9. Subject to Rule 14 below, by submitting an entry, all entrants thereby agree to authorize CANVAS to post such entries on its website or blog, as CANVAS deems fit, and free from any payments, royalties or fees whatsoever.

10. There shall be only one winner, who shall receive a cash prize of PhP 30,000.00 and a trophy for his/her entry. The winner shall be responsible for all applicable taxes.

The winning writer shall also be entitled to five (5) free copies upon publication of the book.

The winner shall grant and transfer to CANVAS all intellectual property and publication rights to the story, including any translations, adaptations or modifications thereto.

It is hereby understood that the cash prize to be awarded to the winner shall include consideration of such intellectual property and publication rights to the story, and the writer shall not be entitled to any other royalties or fees from earnings, if any, that may result from future publication of, licensing of, or other transactions on the same. (Please see our note below on why we have this rule.)

Except for the right to publish any received entry on its website and/or blog, CANVAS shall not retain any other rights to entries that are not selected as the winner, except where separate agreements are reached with the writers.

11. CANVAS shall exercise full and exclusive editorial and artistic control over the publication of the winning entry and resulting book.

12. While, it is the full intention of CANVAS to publish the winning entry as a full-color children’s book, CANVAS reserves the right not to publish the same for any reason whatsoever.

13. The winner of the CANVAS storywriting competition will be announced on or around 15 April, 2007. The winner will also be notified via email on the same announcement date.

14. CANVAS reserves the right not to award the top competition prize in the event that the judges decide that no entry was received that is deserving of the top prize. In such event, however, CANVAS shall have no right whatsoever over all entries that were received; and shall not publish any entry, in its website or in any other venue, without the prior written consent or agreement of the author.

15. The decision of the competition judges shall be final, and no correspondence or inquiries into the same – including requests for comments/feedback on received entries – shall be entertained.

16. Employees of CANVAS, 1/of Gallery and members of their immediate family, as well as the CANVAS Fellow’s immediate family, are disqualified from participating in the competition.

A Note on Why We Ask for the Transfer of Rights

CANVAS rules clearly state that the winning author should agree to transfer all rights to CANVAS and "...shall not be entitled to any other royalties or fees from earnings, if any, that may result from future publication of, licensing of, or other transactions on the same."

This rule has understandably raised quite a few eyebrows in the writers' community... and this note is just to clarify where it is that CANVAS is coming from.

CANVAS intends to publish its stories under a Creative Commons license (for more information, please visit, which will allow us to liberally share and give our consent to anyone who may ask for permission to use the winning story.

Just as we were fortunate enough to have been given permission to adapt "The Man Who Planted Trees," into our maiden publication - “Elias and His Trees,” - we hope that the stories that we work on will inspire similar creativity.

A second reason why we ask for the transfer of rights is that CANVAS is a small NGO, and is not equipped to document and track royalty shares that ideally should accrue to authors and artists. In fact, we only rely on and trust our partner publisher(s) to remit to us our own royalty shares. It is for this reason that our prizes (we think), are quite substantial and approximates (if not exceeds) what writers would normally expect to receive in royalties.

Finally, we are also trying to be financially sustainable. We rely on a small amount of grant funding to conduct our activities, including co-sharing the publication costs of the books. We can only hope to recoup the expenses so that we can do these activities on a continuing and recurring basis in the years to come.

Please be assured of our continuing effort to balance our desire to contribute to the public domain in a manner that is also fair to the writers and artists, on the one hand; and our need to also be fiscally responsible with the grants that have been entrusted to us, and to the publishers that we partner with, on the other.