May 2020: Awards + Readings

Hi, Friends,

We hope you’re all staying healthy and sane while sheltering in place!

In the midst of this pandemic, we have some good news.

Last month, we shared that we’re one of the three finalists for the Benjamin Franklin Award by the Independent Book Publishers Association. Well, we won the GOLD! It’s a crazy thing for us to receive this award since we never expected anything out of our entry. We joined the contest just to see what it’s like. And now here we are–gold stickers on our books, a trophy for the press.

Here’s the link to our acceptance of the award:

And here’s the link to an article featuring our press’ publishing journey (at the very end):

Additionally, the Philippine Inquirer ran an article on our awards including the one we received from the Publishing Professional Network’s Book Show last February. Here is the link:

The Filipino Channel’s Bahay Book Club also invited us to do a reading for their programming and we happily obliged! It was so much fun learning about the intricacies of recording. I discovered that I tend to lean my head to the left (or is it the right? I’m not sure!!! The camera is tricky!!!) and that I blink a lot (but when I try not to, I have this crazy look). The cool thing is that I’ve fallen in love with recording and now we’ve got ideas to make mini-videos to help with the book, as well as curriculum for adults and kids to talk about the big and small topics in the books. Watch out for those!

Here’s the link to the TFC reading:

Finally, the Cesar Chavez Elementary School Climate and Ethnic Studies Committees invited us to read the book for the elementary students and host a couple of Q&A sessions to celebrate May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. This, too, was fun! We got to share about the publishing journey, from writing the story (e.g. the inspiration of the story, the story of the warrior Agyu within the story), to the illustrating and art directing processes, to crowdfunding, printing, and getting the books out. We got to share about the lessons of Kapwa (i.e. honoring our interconnection), indigeneity, the importance of sharing our stories, getting to know our ancestors, and a ton more. We’re so grateful for the opportunity to get in front of the kids to talk about these things because these are topics not usually covered within the school’s curriculum. We hope other (Davis) schools invite us to do the same at their schools, not just for APAHM but to build towards a mandated curriculum that includes Ethnic Studies.

To be honest, all the attention this month has felt a bit too much for us. Our inclination is to shy away from the spotlight and play the awards down. But then we realized that this is not about us per se. This is about getting our community’s stories out, continuing on the work of resistance against and liberation from oppression, honoring the land and our ancestors, and spreading love. We are just a channel through which the spirit of Kapwa flows.

Lastly, we are working on an adventure game based on Jack & Agyu. We are super excited!

We are beyond ecstatic and very motivated to continue on with our small press’ mission to publish children’s books that feature Filipino American kids in the diaspora!

Thank you all for your support! We’re at SawagaRiverPress.com if you’d like to check us out and/or order our books.

In solidarity!

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