Acclaimed English fantasy writer Neil Gaiman reacted after a children’s publishing house was accused of supposedly “radicalizing” the youth with its books on Martial Law.
This was after Director General Alex Paul Monteagudo of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency claimed without basis that Adarna House‘s “#NeverAgain” book bundle was part of a communist plot to “radicalize” children.
He shared a picture of the book bundle on Facebook with the caption:
“This is how the CPP/NPA/NDF radicalize not just our youths, but our children. The Adarna Publishing House published these books and they are now on sale to subtly radicalize the Filipino children against our Governement, now!”
Spokesperson Lorraine Badoy of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) also commented on his post:
“The target audience of Adarna is from toddler to elementary level children. That early, they are planting hate and lies in the tender hearts of our children. Mga demonyo talaga.”
She claimed to another Facebook user that the publishing house is not “CCP” or the Communist Party of the Philippines but was supposedly infiltrated.
“Na pasok lang. Marami silang nice books,” Badoy wrote.
Adarna on Wednesday announced that its titles about or with subjects related to the Martial Law years are on sale and may be ordered in advance under the “#NeverAgain” bundle.
This came after former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was seen leading the partial and unofficial counts for the 2022 presidential elections.
He is the son and namesake of Ferdinand Marcos Sr. responsible for implementing a nine-year Martial Law in the country that saw various human rights abuses and violations.
Amnesty International estimated that some 70,000 were imprisoned, 34,000 people were tortured and over 3,200 were killed.
Critics used the phrase “#NeverAgain” to remember the period, and use it to protest and prevent the abuses from happening again.
Meanwhile, the books in Adarna’s bundle feature stories of children in that era and a Filipino translation of a book published in Spain in 1977.
“Ito ang Diktadura” illustrates the characteristics of dictators and features a gallery of them which includes Marcos Sr.
Other books are “Si Jhun Jhun, Noong Bago Ideklara Ang Batas Militar,” “Edsa,” “The Magic Arrow” and “Isang Harding Papel.”
The titles are not explicitly communist nor anti-government, but officials often equate the two with terrorism.
Rights group Karapatan said that Adarna’s books “are produced by renowned and multi-awarded Filipino children’s book writers and illustrators.”
It is an established family-run publishing house founded by National Artist Virgilio Almario.
Its vision, according to its website, is to mold a “Filipino child who loves and values his history, culture, and country.”
Its mission, on the other hand, is to create products and services ” used at home and in school to promote love for country, language, and learning.”
“Adarna House is a conversation that began in 1980, when it was founded to respond to the need of Filipino children to develop their minds through enjoyable learning opportunities and memorable literary experiences,” part of its “About Us” section said.
“Today, this conversation includes a multitude of treasured partners who share our enthusiasm for children, our commitment to education, and our passion for reading,” the publication added.
Adarna did not comment about the red-tagging issue but it only further encouraged Filipinos to pre-order the “#NeverAgain” book bundle.
The incident, however, caught Gaiman’s attention who read a news report of the publication being red-tagged.
“Not good,” he commented on Friday.
Not good. https://t.co/1fQJhwCyMg
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) May 12, 2022
His tweet has earned 10,000 likes, over 3,340 retweets and more than 530 quote tweets so far, with some Filipinos leaving comments on his post.
“Thank you for amplifying our voice. Please help us and our history publishers continue to hold the line,” a Twitter user said.
“Thank you, Sir. I grew up reading Adarna books. I just bought my son these books that the government is targeting because I want him to learn about history and literature. Your support means a lot to literature teachers and parents like me,” another online user wrote.
“Thanks for sharing this! As a Filipino children’s author living in the Philippines, I’m finding this so very alarming. Not to mention, members of my family were persecuted during Martial Law,” children’s books author Tanya Guerrero said.
A historian previously said that “contingency plans” were being drafted in terms of sources and references involving the Martial Law period.