For Good and For Bad

Dear Equipo Plantel,

I first saw your book on September 12, 2018. It was the first day of the Manila International Book Fair (MIBF). And the second I saw it, I thought how great it is to see a children’s book talking about one the darkest periods of the country’s history.

Then, when I researched about it, I discovered it’s not an original book nor a new book. Ito Ang Diktadura is a translation of your Asi es Dictadura, which came out in 1977—after the death of Francisco Franco, the dictator of Spain. I also learned that it’s part of 4-book series called “Libros para Mañana” (“Books for Tomorrow”). An article said that the local publisher who printed the book only has rights to two of the four books: Diktadura and Mga Uri ng Lipunan (Hay Clases Sociales).

Wonder what the reception would be if all your books were printed and distributed here

Anyway, technically Diktadura is an easy read. It’s a short book and has fairly large text. The engaging illustrations by Mike Casal are nice. What made it difficult to read is my personal awareness of what happened during the Martial Law years. I’ve watched clips. I’ve read stories. I’ve seen the lies and the bias. My parents lived through it. They weren’t adversely affected by it, which is why I guess they do not oppose it. They know people were imprisoned, tortured, and killed during that time. But they—like a number of people I know online and in person—are in favor of the dictator’s family regaining power. I find that sad in so many ways.

Filipinos in general are forgiving and forgetful, for good and for bad.

The anniversary of the declaration of martial law was just last month. Usually, the only ones who post anything about it are the survivors, who seem to have grown quieter over the years. But, because the son of the dictator had a video of him interviewing one of his father’s men responsible for the martial law atrocities in effect revising history and spewing lies, stories about other victims were in the spotlight again. Also, materials about that dark period were also highlighted, from poems to movies to books, like yours.

Please know that I am so thankful that you wrote this book.



Mati Serraño

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