THE PHILIPPINES’ population of 80 million was dubbed by academics as a young population for nothing. With the release of Bagets: An Anthology of Filipino Young Adult Fiction (University of the Philippines Press, 2006), the changes and struggles in the lives of young adults who comprise roughly 35% of the population are unraveled in sixteen colorful short stories. But this anthology can also be read by anyone who still has vivid recollections of his teenage years.
With this compilation of eight Filipino and eight English stories, members of Kuting (Kuwentista ng mga Tsikiting), a group of dynamic writers for children and young adults, took the risk of promoting young adult literature, which has been existing in the Philippines for roughly a decade.
The stories revolve around the issues affecting and shaping the personality of young adults like teenage pregnancy, materialistic views, weight problems among young girls, drug addiction, childhood love affairs, homosexuality, and various relationships.
Kuting founder Carla Pacis, one of the editors of Bagets, said “young adult literature is generally issue-oriented.” Creating stories out of the different issues affecting Filipino teenagers was a feat for Kuting writers. They believe that when the story speaks from the standpoint of young adults, it drives them closer to reading Filipino literature.
Eugene Evasco, another Bagets editor, laments the stories high school students are required to read. He believed that the Luha ng Buwaya-type of story characterized as adult fiction should not be for high school students. Moreover, young adults tend to shy away from Philippine literature because of the lack of reading materials appropriate for their age. Thus, Bagets aims to provide young readers a taste of ‘their story.’
Evasco’s “Stainless,” tackles materialism pervading among teenagers. Philip, the main character of the story, ostracizes himself from his classmates just because his family does not have an expensive branded car. Instead, what his family owns is a stainless owner-type jeep so loved by his father for so many years. “Ilang milyong pogi points ba ang halaga ng CR-V? O ang magandang tanong, ilang milyong negatibong pogi points ba ang magmaneho ng owner?” Philip asks.
Junior Inquirer writer Agay Llanera was brave enough to tackle the issue of lesbianism “common” to all-girl high schools in the country. Anya, a sophomore student, innocently falls in love with a popular senior named Bronx in the story “Girl Meets Girl”. Anya’s ignorance of sex was taken advantage by Bronx.  “Where on the earth is Second Base? It might be some really cool and romantic place that Bronx wanted to take Shelly (Bronx’s ex-girlfriend) to, but she was just too snotty to go.” Anya does not know what she gets into when she enters a relationship with Bronx, and she learns that it definitely is not as simple as counting from one to ten.
With too much advertisement seen every day and everywhere, young adults have become so conscious of their physical appearance. Pacis’ story, “There Was This Really Fat Girl…” delves into every girl’s desperation to lose weight, to the point of taking diet pills just to fit into a beautiful gown on prom night.
The writers’ extensive use of colloquial terms that teenagers ordinarily use, like “pogi points,” “to da max,” and “tensionific,” liven up the stories, making one feel that he is just reading a normal teenager’s journal.
Bagets depicts the lives of young adults with the aim of empowering them and making others understand the issues they deal with. Teens of today are different from those who lived a decade ago, changes occur, and Bagets unmasks it all.

Montage Vol. 11 • September 2008


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