Gwen and Joey

Around the same season two years ago, I posted the entry below. For some reason I can’t remember now, I took it out. Today, while browsing through my drafts, I stumbled upon this again. As of this writing, Gwen is now six. But how I wish the sense of wonder is still in this young child’s heart.


My officemates warned me about the call. I giggled when I heard Joy told me about Gwen. She’s probably cute, curly and chubby.

A pre-schooler called our office wanting to talk to Joey.

From the bookstore where I was temporarily stationed for the day (to make up for manpower shortage during the bookfair season), I climbed up the stairs to regain my bearings in my corner spot at the fourth floor.

She calls again. And this time, I could take the call meant for Joey. Licette hands the receiver to me.

Hello. Sinong hinahanap mo? [Who are you looking for?]

Si Joey.

Anong pangalan mo? [What’s your name?]


Ilang taon na ikaw, Gwen? [How old are you, Gwen?]

Four po.

Kumakain ka ba ng gulay? [Do you eat vegetables?]

Hindi po. [No.]

Naku para ka palang si Joey. Anong nangyari sa kanya dahil di siya kumakain ng gulay? [Oh, you’re like Joey. What happened to him because he wasn’t eating vegetables?]

Nanghina po siya. [He grew weak.]

Alam mo, ako din, nung bata pa ako, di rin ako kumakain ng gulay.[You know, when I was a little kid, I didn’t eat vegetables too.]

(I could almost hear some readers object and say, “Hanggang ngayon! [Up to now]” And to that let me say, “I have a reputation as a vegetable-hater-turned-vegetable-eater [not necessarily lover] author to protect here.” Haha. But I really do eat veggies now!)

O Gwen, dapat bago ka mag-five kumakain ka na ng gulay ha? Ako nga pala si Beng, yung sumulat ng book. [Okay, Gwen, before you turn five, you should be eating vegetables already. By the way, I’m Beng, the one who wrote the book.]

Andito po kayo sa book? [Are you in the book?]

Oo, tingnan mo yung last page. May picture ako diyan. [Yeah, look at the last page. I have a picture there.]

Kayo po ba yung nasa tomato? [Are you the one in the tomato?]

Ah, oo. Ako nga. [Ah, yes. I am.]

San ka nakatira? [Where do you live?]

I did not stifle my laughter any longer. Who else but a young child would ask the most basic of questions? But then again, what did I expect her to ask me? My definition of love? I answer her and then shortly after, terminate our conversation with an advice about her eating habits.

Gwen called looking for a character in one of my books for children, Si Joey at ang Gulay Gang. Her excitement was the streak of yellow in my otherwise gray day. Here was a child, believing that a character in a story truly existed and tried to call him on the phone. Was she disappointed when she put down the receiver, having talked not with the boy character but a grown woman instead? I hope not. For a second she sounded giddy talking to me. Children never fake their emotions.

That 3-minute phone call was the highlight of my Thursday. Because it’s always refreshing for a dry, tired soul to be splashed with the cold, refreshing water of innocence. It suddenly made me realize that life is not as sullen as it may sometimes seem to be. And all it took to knock me out of the day’s bleakness was a four-year-old named Gwen.

3 Responses to “Gwen and Joey”
  1. carlotta says:

    nakakatuwa naman si gwen. ibang saya talaga ang nabibigay ng bata, no? 🙂

    wow, may published books ka pala. magiging available ba yan sa bookfair? 😀

    Hi Carla, if you come to the fair and I’m there, I’ll give you a copy. 🙂 Hope to see you then!

  2. bernadette says:

    good luck sa bookfair for you and all publishing houses around! My sis Joy tells me that it really is tough for the book industry nowadays with buying books not in the priority list of budget-conscious Filipinos. I know that because I really miss buying books myself. I often wear invisible blinkers when I walk through the malls…or when I get to the children’s book section, I just sigh.

    I’m still a bit like Gwen. I still believe that the author of a book is THE hero there. Sino nga bang nagsulat? Congrats talga, Beng, maski hindi na ako nakakabasa ng libro—puro internet na lang!

    My dream here in my island (heehee…inangkin) is to come up with a public library complete with a nice ambience of butterfly and herbal garden—maintained by the readers themselves. Sarap mangarap!

    Thanks, te Bernadette! Yes, it’s a tough industry but by God’s grace, we’ve been staying afloat. At least many are still realizing that they need hope in print. That is what we are trying to sell.

    You have illustrated quite a number of children’s books yourself right? I remember seeing a copy many years ago. Maybe through Ate Joy.

    Really, you’re a bit like Gwen? OK nga yun eh. It’s good to be able to suspend our disbelief sometimes and go crazy with our imagination.

    As to your dream, dream on. Who knows? God might be spreading the joy and pleasure of reading through you in your own, little Greece.

  3. vbless says:

    talaga may tumawag na bata? 🙂 ang cute! 😉

    hindi ko na matandaan kung binigyan mo ako nito or bumili ako ng copy ko ng book na to. 🙂

    may sale din ba ang bookstore ninyo sa Davao? hehehe



    Hi Karina, yes, tumawag ang bata. Cute nga niya. Di ko alam pano sabihin sa kanyang si “Joey” nasa utak ko lang! 🙂

    I also can’t remember if I gave you the copy. But hey, I’m happy to know you have it. 🙂 It might prove helpful when you know a kid–or an adult–who doesn’t like to eat vegetables.

    I’m not sure if we have a special sale in Davao, probably not. But hey, I’ll try to find a way for you to get a discount. 🙂

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