September 20, 2019
JOIN Our 26th Story Writing Competition!

This is the question that CANVAS' Romeo Forbes Children's Story Writing Competition asks at each contest season.

The first and only of its kind, CANVAS commissions a local Filipino artist to come up with a painting or sculpture, and writers are invited to create a story based on the image. That same artist will then bring the winning story to life through a series of at least 20 new artworks. These are finally showcased in a mjor solo exhibition and used as illustrations for the ultimate offspring of this unique collaboration: a full-color children's book.

Becky Bravo's The Rocking Horse was the first story to win the competition. She bested 85 other Filipino writers with her poignant story of a father's love for his son. It comes as no surprise -- Becky Bravo is a multi-Palanca winner. The Rocking Horse won the Gintong Aklat Award in 2008 while Elmer Borlongan's paintings that  accompanied Bravo's story sold out in two short hours.

All books from the competition come in both English and Filipino translations and are downloadable for free here on our website. The competition is an integral part of CANVAS' One Million Books for One Million Filipino Children Campaign.

1. CANVAS' Romeo Forbes Children's Story WRiting Compeition is open to all Filipinos anywhere on the planet.

2. Entries must not have been previously published, and all entrants warrant the originality of their submitted entries.

3. Writers may submit only one entry, in English or Filipino, which shall be of one thousand (1,000) words or less. This word limit is a strict and absolute limit. Even just one word above the limit will be enough to disqualify an entry.

4. There is no particular theme, other than the use of this year's contest piece, a work shown above by artist Jericho Moral, as the inspiration or basis for the entry.

5. JUDGING. A CANVAS review panel will read and award points for all stories received based on the following criteria:

Originality and Storyline (35%)

  • Is there an exciting introduction or hook?
  • Is there an engaging conflict that needs to be resolved?
  • Does the story leave the reader satisfied?
  • Imagery (35%)

  • Are the characters interesting?
  • Does the story lend itself well to being illustrated and turned into a picture book?
  • Quality of Writing (30%)

  • Is the organization of the story clear and logical?
  • Does the dialogue (if there is any) sound realistic and interesting? Does it help to move the plot forward?
  • Is the writing smooth and fluid?
  • CANVAS will then send the two to three stories the highest scores to the Artist, who will select the winning story that he/she will bring to life.

    ***Note: There are many resources on the Internet that give lessons on how to tell a good story.

    Here are the tree that we found to be very useful.

  • TED Talk by Andrew Stanton: The clues to a great story
  • Ira Glass from This American Life talks about the "Building Blocks of a Good Story"
  • Three Elements Every Children's Story Must Have

    6. INSTRUCTIONS FOR SUBMITTING STORIES. Kindly follow these instructions carefully when submitting your entry:

  • Submit your entry as a Microsoft Word attachment to with the following subject heading: ROMEO FORBES CHILDREN'S STORY WRITING COMPETITION -- Robert Langenegger.
  • Please use the title of your story (or the first five words of the title) as the file name of your entry. Your attached entry must contain only the title and full text of your story. DO NOT include your name, contact number, address, or any other information, and do not attach any pictures or other identifying information.
  • Put your name, mailing and email address, and telephone/cellphone number in the body of your email when you submit your story.

    7. The deadline for submission of entries is 9:00 p.m. (Manila time), Saturday, October 26, 2019. CANVAS acknowledges each and every entry that we receive. If you submitted a story and do not receive an acknowledgement from us within 24 hours, please assume that your story was not received and kindly ressend it to us.

    Nevertheless, entries received after the deadline, even if sent earlier, may no longer be considered for the Competition.

    CANVAS shall not be responsible for entries which are not received, or which are received after the deadline due to technical failure or for any other reason whatsoever.

    8. There shall be only one winner, who shall receive a cash prize of PhP 45,000.00 (less applicable withholding tax) for his/her entry. The winner shall be responsible for all applicable taxes. The winning writer shall also be entitled to five (5) free copies upon publication of the book.

    9. The winner shall retain his/her full intellectual property rights over his/her story. However, by entering this contest, the winner agrees to grant and assign to CANVAS a concurrent, royalty-free, and non-exclusive right to exercise the same copyright and all other intellectual property rights granted to the author (and his/her assignees), with respect to the winning story.

    Kindly note that it is the intention of CANVAS to enable free and full access to, and sharing of the winning story to the general public, including making the same freely downloadable on the Internet, as well as publishing copies of books based on the winning story for free distribution to children in public schools and disadvantaged communities throughout the Philippines.

    The prize money that will be awarded shall constitute full payment of such concurrent, royalty-free, and non-exclusive grant of intellectual property and publication rights to the winning story. 

    The winner shall not be entitled to any other royalties or fees from earnings, if any, that may result from future publication, licensing, creation of derivatives, and other transactions based on the same.

    10. CANVAS shall not retain any other rights to entires that are not selected as the winner, except where separate agreements are reached with the concerned writers.

    11. CANVAS shall exercise full and exclusive editorial and artistic control over the publication of the winning entry and resulting book. While it is the full intention of CANVAS to publish the entry as a full-color children's book, CANVAS reserves the right not to publish the same for any reason whatsoever.

    12. The winner of the CANVAS competition will be annouced sometime in December 2019, if not earlier. The winner will also be notified via email/text on the same announcement date.

    13. The decision of CANVAS in selecting the finalists, and the Artist in selecting the winner shall be final, and no correspondence or inquiries into the same -- including requests for comments/feedback on received entries -- shall be entertained.

    14. Employees of CANVAS, and member of their immediate family, as well as the Artist's immediate family, are disqualified from participating in the competition.


    selections fromthe backroom

    CANVAS' online backroom, featuring selected artworks from our exhibitions that you may have missed. If interested in any of the artworks, please call 216-7750, or email


    The Center for Art, New Ventures & Sustainable Development (CANVAS) is a non profit organization that works with the creative community to promote children's literacy, explore national identity, and broaden public awareness for Philippine art, culture, and environment.

    CANVAS works with some of the best young artists to promote Philippine art, culture, and environment. To be placed on our preview list for future shows and exhibitions, or for more information, email us at