T R A U M AT I C E X P E R I E N C E S These two books are probably the most difficult to write and painful to read as they are about child abuse, in particular incest and verbal abuse. Both these stories are tools of different advocacies to spread a particular message and therefore must have an appropriate and positive solution. Mantsa (Stain) written by Augie Rivera and illustrated by Jason Sto. Domingo is about verbal abuse and was commissioned by an organization called Plan International Philippines that has as its advocacy positive discipline. Positive discipline is a discipline model that teaches important social and life skills in a manner that is deeply respectful and encouraging for both children and their significant adults. In today’s culture, words like gago or bobo are not considered hurtful and have become normal adjectives often said without thinking.
The author expertly uses language and a little bit of fantasy to expose the problem of verbal abuse, its effect on the character, and an appropriate solution without being didactic.
her to go through rooms and doors. These offer a way in for Jason Sto. Domingo and Ghani Madueño to extend the storylines into fantastical illustrations.
Jason Sto. Domingo, Watercolor
In both Mansta and Lea’s Secret, Augie Rivera describes the effects of abuse on a child with very visual language. In Mantsa, hurtful words—visualized as tattoos—leave marks on the body like a bruise or stain. In Lea’s Secret, Lea copes with sexual abuse by detaching herself from her body, allowing
Obet is physically marked by the angry, hurtful, unkind words hurled at him by his parents and teacher. They are oblivious to the fact that these words do leave their mark in a person’s psyche. The words they have hurled at Obet appear on his skin like tattoos. Parents and teacher are shocked by their behavior and become remorseful. His mother realizes that her son only needs to know he is important to her and becomes a more loving mother. She attends a workshop on positive discipline to help her raise her son. Obet, on the other hand, shows transcendence by forgiving his parents and teacher.
Sto. Domingo illustrates his characters multiple times on a spread, visually adding noise to his pages and amplifying the abused child’s despair in the story.
This issue of Bookwatch puts a spotlight on Philippine literature for children and young adults.