Books Are Here + October Events

Hello, Everyone!

Happy November!

It’s been a busy October as we celebrated Filipino-American History Month and October 25th as Larry Itliong Day.  A quick recap is in order.

Jack & Agyu arrived in September, just in time for Jack’s 8th birthday. I was so nervous when I got the box- I almost didn’t want to open it. I was so so worried I’d find a glaring typo or something, even though we had checked and double, triple, quadruple checked the proofs. But of course my fears were unfounded. The book is beautiful and, unlike in my dream/nightmare, the pages have the words. Fittingly, Jack was the first person to officially read the finished book. He is mighty proud of “his” book.

Justine_OctoberEvents_BooksArrive

 

A few days after, and without too much fanfare, Jack & Agyu debuted at the Filipino American Educators Association of California Conference, Equity Through Ethnic Studies: 50 Years of Fighting for Educational Justice. Much thanks to FAEAC for inviting me to showcase the books.

Justine_OctoberEvents_FAEAC

 

In October, we celebrated FAHM at the local Davis library with a screening of a documentary on the Delano Manongs, Larry Itliong, and their contribution to the formation of the United Farm Workers Union. The screening was followed by a discussion on writing and publishing by a panel of authors that included me, Reno Ursal, and R. Zamora Linmark. It was a well attended event- the halo-halo and the lumpia disappeared pretty quickly! Thanks to the Mary Stephens Library librarians Katrina and Joan, and Robyn Rodrguez of the UCD Bulosan Center for collaborating.

Justine_OctoberEvents_LibraryPanel

Then we were off to the Fil-Am International Book Festival in San Francisco. Thanks to Christina Newhard of Sari-Sari Press who organized the Children’s Corner readings and events. So cool to hear the very positive reaction to the book from kids and adults!

Justine_OctoberEvents_FilAmBookFest

 

The weekend after, Mike and I attended the UndiscoveredSF event. And though the night was cold and the alley where we set up was pretty stinky, it was a fun time meeting more kids who checked out Jack & Agyu, hang out with our friend Gigi whom we had not seen for over 5 years, and talk shop with fellow Fil-Am small press publishers Christina Newhard (of Sari-Sari Press) and Gayle Romasanta (of Bridge + Delta Publishing).

Justine_OctoberEvents_UndiscoveredSF

 

At the end of the month, the rest of the books arrived! Just in time for my birthday. Woo-hoo!

JackAndAgyu_BooksArrive

And we asked our dear friend, Melissa Moreno, to help us give thanks to the Creator, and to everything and everyone that came together so that the books could arrive at this point in time and place; to ask the Creator for permission to continue on with our work of spreading our culture, identity, stories through this book; and to ask the Creator for the continued blessings as we continue on with our work. It was a simple occasion, attended only by my family, Melissa’s family, and my dad. It felt right. After the thanksgiving, Jack did the honor of cutting the cargo binding and opening the first box of books. My dad then stayed to help wrap the individual books and put them in envelopes to be shipped tomorrow to our crowdfunders. If you’re one of them, expect to see the book in the next two weeks.

JackAndAgyu_BookThanksgiving

 

What an exciting month it was! We’re looking forward to launching the book at different locations and times. We will keep you posted in case you can make it to one of them. We will also be setting it up so the books can be purchased via our website (our preference) and Amazon. This should be happening in the next week or so.

 

Also, we’re working on a website dedicated solely to the book. More about this soon.

 

In the meantime, I hope you are enjoying the beautiful fall weather.

 

Thanks again for all the support. Till next update!

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Post Summer Update + Visiting Bukidnon

Happy September, Friends!

We hope your summer (vacation) was relaxing. Is that even possible??? I spent mine going on a month long trip to the Philippines and teaching dance at a week long family performing arts camp in Cazadero. The whole summer felt both long and short, mundane and novel. And now we’re ready for the school year and for the rest of the year.

Since our last post, things have definitely moved forward. A few nights ago, I dreamt that the books arrived and I said, looking at them, that they’re very beautiful! In particular, I was looking at the page with the diwata and her glorious hair. But then I noticed that the words were missing. The horror!

JackAndAgyu_Diwata_Pic

(This Diwata now appears in my dreams!)

I also said in my last post that if no major changes needed to be made, we’d have the books by September. Well, apparently, even when the changes that needed doing weren’t major- a font correction on the spine, a random typo which mysteriously showed up even after the numerous edits done by several people, decisions to be made on whether to do a second review- the process still ate up weeks and weeks of going back and forth between us and the printer. It wasn’t until the first week of August that we finally approved everything. We now have a tentative arrival date of mid November.

This is a bit disappointing because I was really counting on having the books for the various October (as Fil-Am History Month) events like the UndiscoveredSF and the Fil-Am International Book Festival. But I won’t dwell on this, especially because, fortunately, we can get advance copies by the end of September. It isn’t ideal but at least we will have something to show at the events. So, we’re still in business!

If you remember, several months ago, I was very excited to share that I was going to collaborate with Bukidnon State University to work on more projects that highlight Bukidnon culture. Since them, they have asked me to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to document our intent to collaborate.

So, during my trip, I went back to my home town to sign the papers. I thought all I needed to do was go to somebody’s office, sign, and then be done. Instead, I got to be an honored guest and speaker of a program that was put together by the Dept. of English and Literature as well as the Bukidnon Studies Center!

 (The printed program  (L). The Bukidnon Studies Center which also houses a Bukidnon culture museum (R).) (Photo Credit: Christopher Cordova of Angelsweddingshoppe.com)

I was met and escorted by my high school best friend, Prof. Rizza Ramos-Consad, to visit the University President, Dr. Cabanelez. An official school photographer followed us around to take photos of my meeting with the President. It was… strange. 🙂

After the visit, we went to the Bukidnon Studies Center where many of the book’s collaborators gathered for a program. It was humbling to meet the many people who gave the book their time and effort by providing translations and research materials. I even discovered that I am related to some of them!

What an honor it was! It was so beautiful to hear the Bukidnon hymn sung in Binukid while sitting with men and women dressed in their official Binukid attires. The panika in the background looked grand. The talks from the various BSU officials inspired. I talked a bit about the process and the need for telling our stories, but mainly wanted to engage them in a conversation about how to create more works of art in a way that is respectful to the tradition but also fresh. I signed the Memo. I ate really yummy kutsinta. I visited the Center’s museum and saw several works of art by Bukidnon artists. And I received a hand crafted woven bag of Bukidnon design.

(Siting next to me, Prof. Ramos-Consad) (Photo Credit: Christopher Cordova of Angelsweddingshoppe.com)

JackAndAgyu_BSU_27

(Professors and Staff and Members of Bukidnon Studies Center and Bukidnon Studies Center. To my right: Prof. Ramos-Consad, Prof. Loreta Sol Dinlayan. To my left: Prof. Ivan Villanueva, Prof. Carl Binayao) (Photo Credit: Christopher Cordova of Angelsweddingshoppe.com)

My utmost gratitude goes to my high school best friend, Dr. Rizza Ramos-Consad, for facilitating all of these! I am looking forward to more collaborative projects in the future!!

On October 19 we will be at the UndiscoveredSF event in San Francisco https://www.undiscoveredsf.com/ as well as the 5th Filipino American International Book Festival on October 12-13, https://www.filbookfestival.org/. Hope to see you there!

May September and the rest of the year bring more opportunities for collaboration!

Till next update. Thanks, as always, for your support.

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Off to the Printer

Dear Friends,

Happy Summer!

Today, the 4th of July, as the US celebrates its independence with fireworks and BBQ and lots of outdoor merry making, I take the time to think about this country’s history of genocide and slavery, its legacy, and how I can personally grieve, move towards healing, and join the clamor for reparations. As somebody who comes from a country that has been colonized by the US, I am once again reminded to examine my complicated ties with the US and to celebrate the resilience of my people who struggled, and continue to struggle, for our liberation.

As for the book…

The files are finally with the printer! After a few weeks of waiting, we got back our Library of Congress Number as well as our PCIP (Publisher’s Cataloging-In-Publication) which gives librarians all the information they need to quickly add a record to their database or card catalog. I think it was well worth the wait.

Additionally, the proofs are on their way to us and should get here by next week. Unfortunately for me, I will already be out of the country (I’m going to the Philippines with my family!) so I won’t get the chance to preview the pages. This was what I was afraid of- that the proofs would get here while I’m gone! But not to fear- we are in good hands! Stefanie will receive the proofs and we will trust her designer sensibilities to give us good feedback. I hope for beautiful pages and colors!

According to our printer, if no major changes need to be made that would require pushing back our timeline, the books should get to us by September. I’m really really excited!

A lot was happening in my personal life over the last few months (e.g. going back to fuller time work, among other things) and I’ve had to take a break from this project. A few weeks ago, when I looked at the pages again after not having seen them for over a month, I was reminded of what a beautiful book it is that we are creating with the help of so many from the community. This book truly manifests all the love and care and support that so many of us have poured over it. I am proud of all our work and feel blessed to be part of this book’s journey into this world. Thank you for all your support!

Jack and Mama

(With my Jack who inspired the making of this book)

 

Fingers and toes crossed!

Till next update!

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Better Late Than… Incomplete

Happy Merry Month of May, Everyone!

 

We hope Mother’s Day Weekend was memorable and spent with the amazing mamas in your lives.

 

We have been working steadily over the last few months. We are so so close to sending everything to the printer.

 

Actually, I take that back—we have sent the files to the printer. Since April we have been attempting to get the files out and each “final” round of review yielded “one last thing” to be fixed/added/done: a missing space here, a word that needed to be in bold there, another typo here, and oh wait this is the old front cover file we’re working on which is missing the baybayin!!!! This all took a few weeks of anxious checking and re-checking and re-re-checking, especially of the baybayin scripts.

 

(A sneak peek of our front cover. It took us several weeks to arrive at this.)

When we finally got the texts and illustrations just the way we wanted it, we sent everything to the printer (and celebrated that milestone!) While waiting for upload, we did one final soul searching about the type of paper to use. We were initially set to do matte paper because our first book was. We didn’t really think to revisit this choice. However, somewhere along the way, we all started leaning towards a thicker uncoated paper, the kind that Island Born, by Junot Diaz, has. We finally checked with our printer and they put the uploading on hold while we explored more paper choices. After another week, last week we decided to print on uncoated paper. This changes a few things on our specs so Stefanie is now making the necessary changes, as we speak.

 

But wait… we’re not really done yet. Just when we thought we will FINALLY have everything done (after Stef makes the above changes) we realized that we need to add the Preassigned Control Number from the Library of Congress!!! Technically, we don’t need it but it would be good to have as it allows libraries to track our book more easily. This means we have to apply for a number. Normally, this would take two weeks. HOWEVER (because it can’t be that easy, you know!), that program that allows for PCN application is shut down until May 20th!!! Yaargh!!!

 

So, it is with our humble apologies and gratitude for your patience that we let you know that the Jack and Agyu book will not arrive at your doorstep in June, as initially anticipated. We are convinced that the unanticipated changes that we have made which lengthened our production period were/are all worth making.

 

We will continue to keep you posted! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR PATIENCE. As always, please let us know if you have concerns or thoughts.

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Cover Designing + Translations

Hi, Everyone!

 

Happy February! We hope you’re keeping yourselves warm and healthy. It’s coooold out there! We’ve been waking up to frost and I have been needing gloves to bike to school with the kids.

 

We’re steadily working on the graphic design. All our illustrations are finished and we have finally settled on a cover design. This was a decision that took a long time as none of us in the team could agree on the background color (should it be light blue? I said no- blue is too “boyish”; should it be yellow? Everybody chose yellow as their second choice; should it be brown?- I said YES, of course, this book is a love letter to brown!- but everybody else thought brown seemed too mature… and so on…) As with all creative processes, we somehow hit upon a solution that everybody was happy with and that met everybody’s need. We think you will be happy with this cover!

 

 

A lot of other “little” things and decisions are going on as well. Some of these things have been expected: How to layout the translations? How “kid-like” should the fonts be? But some are totally unexpected. The biggest decision so far is making peace with the fact that there just is not enough space for all four languages (English, Binukid, Bisaya, and Filipino) in the book! In an ideal world, every page will accommodate every single illustration and language we want without looking cluttered. The reality is that the page is only 8”x10”. Having accepted that we can’t have it all, now we have to decide which of the four languages we should keep and how best to present them. All these languages are important for different reasons and we have to dig deep and ask ourselves the reason/goal of this project to be able to come up with an answer we can live with.

 

For this reason, we have decided to dispense with the Donors Page and the Glossary Page so we can have more space for the translations. Instead, we will be creating a website dedicated to the book and this site will have more information about the cultural references we have made in the book as well as the names of our collaborators and donors.

 

IF this is something you, as a donor, feel strongly against, please let us know!!!

 

As we work on getting the book ready for the printer, we’re sure there will be more important (and they’re all important!) things that would need to be decided on. We will constantly remind ourselves why we’re doing this (FOR THE COMMUNITY!) and hopefully it will help us make good decisions.

 

Thank you for the love and support, everyone! Stay warm!

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Pamuhat: Starting 2019 with a Thanksgiving Ritual

Happy New Year, Friends and Family!

May 2019 bring us moments of joy and opportunities to engage with each other. I personally hope for more (karaoke) singing, dancing, laughing, and sharing our stories.

After a good holiday break, Lynnor and I are back. This time we are joined by our graphic designer, Stefanie Chung, who holds the challenging job of fitting all our texts and images together.

And I do mean challenging! Our collaborators at the Bukidnon State University have just sent us translations of the manuscript to three languages: Binukid, Bisaya-Cebuano, and Filipino. It’s a lot of texts! How do we fit everything? What can we take out? Everything seems important and can not be taken out. My first impulse is to clench my fingers and not let go of anything. But it seems that the limitation of the pages demands that we part with some of the translations. THIS IS GOING TO BE HARD!

We want to express our heartfelt gratitude Prof. Rizza Ramos, the Bukidnon State University English Department, and the BSU Bukidnon Studies Center for collaborating with us. They have offered our small press their resources. Through them, we are receiving the help of Binukid, Bisaya, and Filipino translators, as well as the expertise of Bukidnon scholars who are meticulously looking over the book’s cultural references to make sure that we are accurate, appropriate, and sensitive to the Bukidnon culture.

Last week, through the BSU and the Bukidnon Studies Center, a Datu (unnamed for now as I have not yet been provided with his name) led a pamuhat ritual to praise and give thanks to Magbabaya, Supreme Creator of the Bukidnon people, and to invoke Magbabaya’s blessings so that our book may be successful in its goals of continuing/reclaiming our Bukidnon ancestral roots in the Filipino diaspora. He asked for blessings for the writer and everyone else involved in the making of the book. He pleaded that the evil spirits would not cause ill and prevent success.

I can not begin to express how touched I am by the ritual. I’m grateful for the Datu who led the ritual, the translator, the community members who gathered, and for the chicken who gave their life and blood. I so wish I was there to witness the prayers and offers. The Center sent me photos and videos so I will share them with you right here.

As we forge on, I continue to call on the creative spirits to guide us. We still have much work to do, hard decisions to make, and questions to raise and answer.

Thank YOU for being part of this bookmaking journey! We’re happy you’re here.

 

Until next update.

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Thank YOU! We made our goal!

Friends,

 

We are feeling so much love from you all and we are tremendously grateful for the solid support you have shown our small press’ campaign for our book!

 

Because of all your help—your creative talents, time, ideas, access to your networks, use of your physical and virtual spaces, financial contributions, kind words, and the many other ways you’ve propped us up—WE REACHED OUR GOAL!

 

Although the campaign only lists 191 backers, we know that there are so many more of you who are not on the list. Thank you to each and everyone of you, our kapwa, our kadumahan!

 


 (We reached our goal with two hours to spare!!!)

We have sent out the Mama, Mama book to those who have chosen a perk level that includes it. If you contributed after December 10, your book will be sent out in the next few days. If you do not receive it by mid January, please contact us.

 

The rest of the items, including the Jack Meets Agyu book, will be sent out in May 2019 when the new book comes out.

 

We will continue to keep you posted of our progress! There’s a little bit more to do with the graphic design but we are on track with our schedule and confident that we will be able to send everything to the printer by the end of January, as planned.
 

In the meantime, we hope you enjoy the holidays with your family and loved ones!

 
SALAMAT TUNGKAY! DAGHANG SALAMAT! MARAMING SALAMAT! PADAYON!

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