“Here be Dragons” part of SG Lit Coursework

Very pleasantly surprised to learn that “Here be Dragons” is part of the literature coursework at a secondary school here in Singapore. Thank you to my friend and ex-Yahoo! colleague Janet Leong for the heads up!

Here Be Dragons (© Canvas Press 2015) was the winner of the 2012 Romeo Forbes Children’s Story Writing Competition, one of the most important awards for Children’s literature in the Philippines. It was published in 2015 by CANVAS with Illustrations by New York-based Surrealist Jon Jaylo (who spent nearly 3 years painting each of the artworks in oil on canvas), and a Filipino translation by four-time Palanca Awardee Rhandee Garlitos. In 2018 it was included in the collection of the Internationale Jugendbibliothek (The International Youth Library) in Munich, which holds the world’s largest collection of children’s literature.

Late Post: The Halo-Halo Review covers “Here Be Dragons”

Thank you so much to Justine Villanueva for reviewing my Romeo Forbes award-winning story “Here Be Dragons” for The Halo Halo Review (which publishes critical reviews, introductions, and other engagements with the English-language works of Filipino authors of all genres). Justine is a children’s books author and the founder of Sawaga River Press, a nonprofit that publishes children’s books featuring Filipino children and their experiences in the diaspora.

You can read her review here.

Cover of Here Be Dragons (© Canvas Press 2015)

Sadly, this picture book is no longer in print. However, this work is included in my short story collection The Infinite Library and Other Stories (Singapore: Math Paper Press, 2017; New York: Gaudy Boy, 2021).

RIP, Daniel Palma Tayona

Very sad to learn that Daniel Palma Tayona has passed away. He was a wonderful book artist, graphic designer, storyteller-illustrator (with several exhibits under his belt). As creative director of CANVAS press, Dan designed and illustrated children’s books for over 22 years. Notable among the books he designed was “Doll Eyes” (by Eline Santos, illustrated by Joy Mallari), which won The National Children’s Book Award in 2012.

That same year “Here Be Dragons” won the Romeo Forbes award and Dan was responsible for the very beautiful layout, “remixing” my English text, Rhandee Garlitos‘ Filipino translation, and Jon Jaylo‘s paintings.

My wife and I would like to offer his family and friends our deepest condolences. Rest in peace, my friend.


“Here be Dragons” at Woods in the Books

Woods in the Books is a beautiful little children’s bookshop in Tiong Bahru. It’s on Yong Siak Street, on the same row as Strangelets and BooksActually.  They are currently one of the few places where you can still get copies of my book “Here be Dragons” so please check them out.




My First Children’s Book “Here be Dragons” Launching on 21 Aug

COVER - Here Be Dragons

After a much extended wait “Here be Dragons” is finally finished! This story was written over the course of one coffee-fueled night and finished just in time to meet the deadline. It was inspired by the work of Jorge Luis Borges and based on one of the stories that I used to tell my kids to get them to go to sleep. To my great surprise and delight, it won the Romeo Forbes Children’s Storytelling competition in 2012.

The illustrations that accompany the text were painted in oil by the remarkable neo-surrealist Jon Jaylo whose works have been inspired by Rene Magritte, Paul Delvaux, Gustav Klimt, Frida Kahlo, Salvador Dalí and William Bougereau.

Art by Jon Jaylo Inside the Library (18x18 inches)

Interestingly, I moonlight as an Art writer for catalogues and monographs. When I first met Jon during his first solo show in Singapore (Artesan Gallery), I did not tell him that I had submitted a story to the Romeo Forbes competition.   He had no idea that the person who did his show’s write-up wrote fiction nor that we would eventually end up doing a book together.

Alongside my English text is a translation in Filipino by four-time Palanca Award-winning author Raymund “Rhandee” Magno Garlitos who is himself an author of several children’s books (Chenelyn! Chenelyn!, Ang Bonggang Bonggang Batang Beki).

“Here be Dragons” joins the library of children’s books by the Center for Art, New Ventures and Sustainable Development (CANVAS), a non-profit , non-government organization dedicated to promoting Filipino Art and Culture. CANVAS also provides these books to kids in hospitals and schools in underprivileged areas.

Thank you so much to Gigo Alampay (the indefatigable head of CANVAS), Jon, Rhandee and the Romeo Forbes judges!

Pat, Isabella and Sophia. You all appear in the book in some form. This one’s for you.

Lastly, if you are in Manila on Friday 21, August 2015 please come down at 5 pm for the book launch at the Canvas Gallery and Garden, 1-C Upsilon Drive Ext., Alpha Village
Diliman, Quezon City, Metro Manila Philippines 1119

Update: Thank you to everyone who came to the launch! More pictures can be seen here: Here be Dragons launch at Canvas