In the spate of planning sessions we had in preparation for our upcoming Literacy Month activities, I got to thinking about reviving Nick Joaquin’s Pop Stories for Groovy Kids, which is made up of two collections, the Green and Red series. I remember growing up that we had the Red series, and my favorite–the one that I would keep going back to–is The Amazing History of Elang Uling, which is a retelling of the classic Cinderella story.

Here, Cinderella is called Ela, and because she had soot caused by the coal (uling in Filipino), she was called Elang Uling. Her pumpkin was a miniature car from her father’s collection, her fancy dress from a doll in her doll house, and her fairy godmother, well, all I remember is that she had a very magical doll house (a replica of her own home “usurped” by her stepfamily) that provided her with everything she needed.

It was one of the stories that solidified my fanaticism for that fairy tale. I loved how Joaquin had been able to translate it into the Filipino context, which, at the time I had read it, was in my belief and knowledge completely non-existent. I loved how I could relate to the dollhouse element because I never had one even though I badly wanted one. I understood the uling, I understood the cultural elements, I understood and loved the entire thing!

Now, as I sit here recalling all five stories in that series, I am saddened that these books are almost extinct. Our copy of the Red series has been misplaced or possibly just hidden in one of the many boxes that remained unpacked ever since we moved to the south more than ten years ago. My friends’ copies had been destroyed by the flood that ravaged our country years back. And now people are clamoring to have this book reprinted so that the younger generation can also enjoy the beauty of these stories and the brilliance of Joaquin’s storytelling.

I’m trying to get my friend, who works at a publishing house, to find a way to get this reprinted since the publishing house that printed this book almost 40 years ago has shut down already. I join many people in their cry to have this book reprinted and rereleased. We NEED this in our country.




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