Conferences and Events

Final AFCC Post: Singapore’s Children Literature Lecture by H.E. Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta and the Scholastic Asian and Hedwig Anuar Children’s Book Award for 2011

I thought that it would be best to blog about this separately since this is a major event within AFCC. This would also be my final post for the AFCC.

The Singapore Children’s Literature Lecture and Awards Presentation Ceremony is by invitation only and I was truly privileged to be asked to join the festivity and the Dinner Reception afterwards.

Here are some photos from the event:

From L-R: Ken Spillman, Australian author; Stephen Mooser from the US; Nury Vittachi, author; and Serene Wee, Chairperson of the National Book Development Council of Singapore
The illustrious Hedwig Annuar (for which the award is named) can be found in the farthest left.
Arrival of His Excellency Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta, Nobel Peace Prize Winner and President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. Flanked by two beautiful women: Serene Wee on the farthest left and Claire Chiang, Chairman of the Board of Advisors for the AFCC on the farthest right

Children’s book author, Nury Vittachi (keynote speaker from last year’s AFCC) gave the introductions for the very first Singapore Children’s Literature Lecture entitled “Society, Culture, and Children” as delivered by His Excellency Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta.

Nury Vittachi giving the Introductions

As I was listening to His Excellency give his lecture, I can not help but feel inspired and moved by his vision and his resolve to eliminate illiteracy in his country by 2015 through a partnership and collaboration with Colombian teachers.

Very inspiring.
Riveting talk that comes from the heart

He highlighted the importance of education which also emphasizes strong, ethical, moral, and family values. He clarified that the future belongs to the youth, yes – but to the youth who study and are provided with relevant education.

Stressing a point

He also shared how deeply he cares about children, having grown up in a large family (see video clip below) – and that this innocence is what he would like to recapture in his country that has been traumatized by past violence. He is called Father-President by his constituents. He noted that a lot of state leaders may have forgotten the power of compassion and humility.

Pensive. His Excellency is also considered and viewed to be one of the Philippines' true great friend having attended Cory Aquino's funeral.

He introduced another good friend of his (whose name unfortunately I was not able to catch) to share some of the headways that they are making when it comes to improving literacy and education in Timor-Leste.

The President doing the translation for his good friend

He also shared that he is inspired by this conference – which shows that Asia is not closed to the world. He related that there should be an openness to the world – and that through literature we could help inculcate curiosity about other people: looking at everyone as a source of knowledge and how this can help make our own people even richer.

Here is the video clip of His Excellency’s Speech.

The speech was followed by a short performance by The Little Arts Academy (featuring Primary 1 and 2 students from Macpherson Primary School) with their own adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Dream Hunters.

The lovely children doing their presentation

After the children’s presentation, the Awards Ceremony commenced with Comments by Chief Judge Ken Spillman for the Hedwig Anuar Children’s Book Award. Nury Vittachi, Chief Judge of the Scholastic Asian Book Award also said a few words before the winners were finally announced.

Ken Spillman, Chief Judge for the Hedwig Anuar Children's Book Award

For the 2011 Inaugural Hedwig Annuar Children’s Book Award, a total of 67 titles were received : 22 entries are novels, 44 entries are short stories or picture books, and one entry for Poetry. The winner is entitled The Book that Was Handed Down written by Yixian Quek, illustrated by Grace Duan Ying and designed by Goh Caili (source: Paper Tigers). Here are some of the photos, though from the actual awarding:

Another photo of Mrs. Hedwig Anuar (in the middle)
I didn't have a very good angle - too bad.

For the inaugural Scholastic Asian Book Award, a total of 144 manuscripts were received. 10 entries are coming from the US, 33 entries from India, 22 from the Philippines, 19 entries from Malaysia, 6 entries from Hong Kong, 48 entries from Singapore, 3 entries from Vietnam and one entry each from South Korea, Myanmar and Germany.

The second runner up is entitled Mudskipper, the First runner up was The Girl Mechanic, and the Winner for the 2011 Scholastic Asian Book award is Uma Krishnaswami’s Uncle Book and Me. Since Uma was unable to attend the festival, her award was received in her behalf by author Pooja Makhijani.

Pooja receiving the Award for Uma
Another angle. Congratulations Uma!

I am also happy to share that one of the contributing entries from the Philippines for the Scholastic Asian Book Award 2011 came from this charming young girl named Almira. She attended the AFCC along with her mother.

The Young Almira, a Writer in the Making
Almira and her mother
Group Photo with me this time around.

Since I took a bit of rest on Saturday, I won’t be able to recount much of the events which happened during the Last Day of the Festival. This, however, is the last picture taken during the Dinner Reception on Saturday for the Speakers, Guests, and Organizers of the Festival. Until next year, everyone!

Seated from L-R: Holly Thompson, author; Christine, Illustrator; Corinne from Paper Tigers, Choi Yang Sook from Korea, Author/Illustrator; myself; Aline from Paper Tigers; Tarie from Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind. The beautiful men standing behind are (L-R): the Man Himself, R. Ramachandran together with Kenneth Quek, Curator for Children's Book Illustrators.

9 comments on “Final AFCC Post: Singapore’s Children Literature Lecture by H.E. Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta and the Scholastic Asian and Hedwig Anuar Children’s Book Award for 2011

  1. Hi Myra, it was great to meet you and the other book bloggers at AFCC 2011. Thanks for your detailed posts about AFCC!


    • myragarcesbacsal

      Hi Ken! So good to have you drop by and visit here. I heard the open-mic party was a blast – too bad I missed it. I’m sure it must have been a wild and raucous night with writers, illustrators, publishers and fellow book-nerds. Hahaha. I hope you like the photo that I included during the dinner – beautiful men indeed! =)


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  4. Hi Myra, I really liked your coverage of this event — you seem to have done a better job than the “big” media! I put a link to your site on my blog, and even “borrowed” a couple of small images from it — I have credited them to you, of course. Please take a look:
    If you come to Hong Kong, give me a call and we’ll meet for coffee…


    • Hi Nury, so lovely to have you drop by and visit the site. I’ve left a comment on your fabulously witty post – it has definitely made my Monday much brighter (despite the overcast skies here now in Singapore). =) Love it!


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  7. Pingback: All about Ken Spillman – Part One of Four » Behind the Books

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