Sawaga River Press Celebrates Our Collective Memories

Hello Friends and Fam,

It has really been a while since our last update so we’ll try to make it up with a somewhat longer than usual update. This shouldn’t be too hard as October is the Filipinx American History Month (FAHM), the best month ever! Here’s to celebrating our joys and contributions and histories and resilience as a people!

First, an update about Jack & Agyu. And what an exciting update this is! Jack & Agyu was recognized as one of the books in the official list of published narratives on the history and culture of Malaybalay City chosen for “permanent preservation because of historical, cultural informational value” by the Office of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Malaybalay City. We don’t even know how to describe how immensely honored we feel. We are forever grateful to the Bukidnon State University, the Bukidnon Studies Center, and especially to Dr. Rizza Ramos-Consad and Dr. Loreta Sol Dinlayan for collaborating with Sawaga River Press and for ensuring that we are doing right by Magbabaya and our ancestors. We look forward to more collaborations in the future!

(Pausing here for a few because the above is pretty cool and deserves time before transitioning to the next announcement. Move on when you’re ready.)

In August, we were supposed to launch our Rooted in Practice: Pinays in Law reader at the 5th Pinay Powerhouse conference in Seattle but we had a little bit of a delay. We ended up getting pre-orders at the event and at the Filipino American National Historical Society Conference. We will be launching this October 29, 2022, as part of the celebration of Filipinx American History Month. Our local library in Davis will be hosting a FAHM celebration with food trucks, children’s activities, and a panel composed of local independent Fil-Am children’s books authors and some of the contributors of the Pinays in Law reader to talk about storytelling to preserve our collective memory and practice collective care. We are so excited!

On a somewhat more personal note, last June, I (Justine) had the good fortune to be part of Sammay Dizon’s Thrivation dance project which explored many of the themes we are exploring in the Mungan book: collective care; remembering our stories; honoring our past, present, and future ancestors; rituals (dance and songs). I have so many thoughts about this process and I have yet to fully explore them. In the meantime, suffice it to say that this was the kind of work I wish I had been exposed to back when I was young and eager to devote my life to theater and dance. As it was, mentorship back then was rare and I didn’t see a way to build a career in theater and dance with the kind of stories that I wanted to tell and with Filipinx artists who knew what it was about. I’ve always thought I just didn’t have the creativity to make it happen but what I learned while working with Sammay and the amazing cast and crew of Thrivation is that I didn’t fail, it was the system that failed to support me. Anyway. I bring this up here because I drew from similar ancestral memories that I drew from for Mungan. In my pre-show monologue, I sang a Bisaya song (Si Filemon, a nod to my grandfather, Filemon), spoke in a mix of Bisaya and English about not forgetting our (his)stories, and used dance moves inspired by the butterflies (which are featured in the Mungan story). Here’s a KQED article on the show.

While we’re on the topic of Mungan…Lots have been going on with this. We have been working on coloring the pages and laying out the spreads. HOWEVER… we regret to inform you that we are running behind our schedule!!! In our initial plan, we targeted to have the books published and launched by this month, October 2022, in time to join the exciting International Filipinx American Book Festival in San Francisco (which is happening October 15-16, and you should definitely check it out if you’re in the area!) Well, we are not quite there yet. One of our team members is dealing with health problems that require putting the project on hold. Because health and wellbeing are our priorities, we have decided to take the time that we need to ensure that we’re all healthy before going back to the work. We will be sure to keep you all posted. In the meantime, we would like to share with you the latest spread. We feel so much magic here and we cannot wait for the right time to continue creating.

This one was from May of this year. South San Francisco vice-mayor Flor Nicolas read Jack & Agyu to celebrate Asian Pacific Islander Month.

We’re also happy to announce that we are part of the Bay Area Women in Publishing Mentorship Program. We hope and strive to learn from our mentor, a thriving independent small press. We are on a mission to grow Sawaga River Press into something sustainable and enduring and relevant. More updates as we progress through our 9 month program.

Hope to be back with more updates before the year ends. In the meantime, enjoy FAHM, everyone!

Published by sawagariverpress

Exploring, celebrating, and sharing children's experiences in the Filipino diaspora through books and art.

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