9 lessons 20-somethings can learn from Filipino children’s books

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Children’s lit is a goldmine of wisdom. When you were a kid, you probably cared more about the pictures than the stories themselves. But now, as a bored young adult trawling through the children’s section of your favorite bookstore—it’s a therapeutic activity, but be forewarned that the sales lady will shoot you suspicious looks across the Teen Section—you realize that children’s books, with their simple yet timeless advice, can guide you through your quarter-life crisis.


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RELATED: 6 Filipino YA books everyone should read


Ang Alamat ng Ampalaya


Gist: The ampalaya is so envious of the other veggies’ awesome qualities (the crunchiness of the singkamas, the juiciness of the tomato, the whiteness of the labanos) that he steals these awesome qualities and takes them for himself. The result? The amapalaya becomes a mishmash of stolen identities and pretend-awesomeness, because he can’t accept who he truly is. Thenceforth, he becomes the bitter gourd that we now know him to be.

The lesson: Love who you are and get over your FOMO.


May Monster si Kuya!

Gist: Little Beatrice enjoys a comfortable home life. Everything is going great until her Kuya Ryan starts acting hostile towards the family. Mom explains that Kuya has been tricked by a monster, aka a druggie classmate, and he needs time to recover at a special facility.

The lesson: Support friends and family going through tough times, even if they’re mean to you. Also, don’t do drugs.


Ang Alamat ng Gagamba


Gist: Gamba is the most talented weaver in town. A diwata hears about Gamba’s mad skills, so she commissions her for a weaving project, with real estate and gold as rewards. When Gamba’s sister requests Gamba to make her a dress, Gamba goes, “Bitch please! I’ll only do it if you give me a share of your inheritance!” Her sister balks at Gamba’s demand, but she eventually agrees to pay Gamba’s sky-high talent fee. But before that, Gamba does a really bratty thing (no spoilers here), prompting her sister to curse her into a spider.

The lesson: Stay humble despite your six-figure income.


Papel de Liha


Gist: A girl observes her mother doing chores. One day, a neighbor rudely tells her mom, “Your hands probs feel like sandpaper cuz you do so much work. Ugh!” The girl wonders if it’s true. Would her father still hold her mother’s hands if they feel like sandpaper? She asks her mom why her hands are rough. The mom says it’s because she does a lot of work around the house. The story sweetly closes with the lines: Pumunta ako kay Nanay at humawak sa kamay niya. Pakiramdam ko kahit kailan, ayaw ko nang bumitiw pa.” Aww.

The lesson: Appreciate your parents.


Ang Mahiyaing Manok

Gist: Onyok the manok can’t crow in the morning because he’s too timid. But his supportive mother and chicken friends train him to become one of the loudest roosters in the farm.

The lesson: Step out of your comfort zone. But don’t be too kapalmuks.


Hating Kapatid


Gist: A girl ant and her kuya always have to share everything, but she notices that her kuya always gets the bigger slice of pie, hence she develops a skewed concept of hating kapatid. When she visits Dina the Snail, her only-child friend, she realizes that her kuya is being unfair.

The lesson: Don’t tolerate corruption and injustice.


Ang Madyik Silya ni Titoy


Gist: Titoy brings a “magic chair” with him everywhere. Through imagined scenarios, Titoy and the chair have tons of fun together. For this reason, the other kids don’t want anything to do with Titoy. Who hangouts with a chair, right? Turns out, the magic chair is actually a wheelchair, and Titoy has a disability.

The lesson: Be empathetic.




Gist: Tolits is a young palito who is eager to see the big world outside his matchbox. He doesn’t understand why his parents ask him to hide whenever a hand reaches in to take one of them away. His family gets taken out one by one; the matchbox becomes more spacious but lonelier. Tolits eventually comes out of the box and becomes the brightest star.

The lesson: Anticipate the future, but live fully in the present.




Gist: A little girl is afraid of Mrs. Magalit because omg what a scary name she thinks Mrs. Magalit is a mangkukulam. Even the whole neighborhood thinks so. But after a particular incident, she discovers the truth about Mrs. Magalit, and they become the closest of friends.

The lesson: Haters gonna hate, but don’t join them unless you have fairly judged a person’s character.


All photos were taken from specified.

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