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.

Thank YOU! We made our goal!



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!


Bulosan Center Launch + Final Hours of the Campaign

Hello, Friends!

Happy Monday! It’s mid December and we are in the thick of holiday celebrations. We hope you are enjoying your time with your family, friends, and the community.


Over the weekend, we gathered with several UC Davis students and Davis residents to celebrate the end of the year, as well as the launch of two books, Jack Meets Agyu and Black Lives, Brown Freedom by Kirby Araullo. We made holiday crafts- origami christmas trees and lanterns were the most popular- and enjoyed some lumpia and pancit. We also toured the Center and got to see the Fil-Am library with lots of books and other educational materials. The Bulosan Center was launched in September 2018 and already it is doing many events focused on advancing the Fil-Am agenda. Thanks to Prof. Robyn Rodriguez and her team who worked hard to organize and form this Center! Thank you to those who participated! We hope to see you again in other Bulosan Center sponsored events.


We are down to our last 37 hours (!!!) of crowdfunding. It all ends tomorrow. We are close to our goal. So close. And we still think we can make it because it’s not over till it’s over and we are optimists. 🙂 This is our last request for your support! If you are still able to donate a little more, PLEASE do. We would be so grateful!!!


Social Justice Fair + UC Davis Launch + Campaign Update

Happy Monday, Friends and Family!


We hope you are all well.


Thank you to those who attended the 2nd Annual Social Justice Children’s Book Holiday Fair which featured local bookmakers like us, local live performers, and taco trucks .It was great to see people get excited about finding our various books on diversity and social justice. Thanks also to bookmakers Innosanto Nagara, Maya Christina Gonzales, Laura Atkins, Janine Macbeth, and Robert Trujillo who organized the event! If you missed it or would like to check out the line-up of authors and bookmakers, check out:…


Francis Romasanta; Kamaria Lofton; Angela Dalton; Janine Macbeth; Laura Atkins; Nathalie Mvondo: Robert Trujillo; Maya Gonzales; Innosanto Nagara

This coming Saturday, December 15th, 2:00-5:00, the UC Davis Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies will be launching our book, Jack Meets Agyu, along with Kirby Araullo’s Black Lives & Brown Freedom: Untold Histories of War, Solidarity, & Genocide. If you’re in the Davis area, please join us as we discuss our work, share food, and create some holiday crafts to conclude this year. More info at:


Lastly, our campaign is still ongoing! We have 8 more days to close the gap between our stated goal of $11,000 and what we currently have, $8,390. PLEASE PLEASE continue to share about our campaign, contribute to our campaign (via link below), and encourage your friends and family to contribute. With your help, we are optimistic that we can do this! (Or at least try like crazy!)


Thanks for all the help! We will keep you posted. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy this beautiful winter weather.


Justine (and the Jack Meets Agyu Team)

Holiday Events + Campaign Update

Hello Friends,

We hope you are well and keeping warm. We thought we’d send you this quick update on our progress before the busyness of December starts.

The Jack Meets Agyu creative team is chugging along. We have now finished and colored all the interior pages. Our graphic designer is starting to pull the text and illustrations together. Our collaborators at Bukidnon State University are working on the translations. The book is coming along beautifully and, so far, we are on schedule.

We are also getting ready to ship the Mama, Mama book (with buttons) to those who have chosen to receive this book as part of their perk. As stated, we will be sending the book out by December 10. Please let us know if you’ve had a change of address or if you have other questions/requests/etc.

We were at the UndiscoveredSF Market this past Saturday, December 1st, for a holiday inspired palengke (outdoor market). Although it was in a smaller venue and it rained in the morning (there were gorgeous rainbows, including a full arc!), the event still drew a good number of people. It was great to see some of you again and also meet new people who were excited about our books. We raised more money for the book campaign and also got to kick it with many other vendors, including our fellow bookmakers, Sari-Sari Press and Bridge+Delta Publishing who share with us similar goals of making Fil-Am children’s books.

This coming Saturday, we will be at the 2nd Annual Social Justice Children’s Book Holiday Fair in Oakland. If you’re looking for local children’s books for these current times, this is the event  to attend. Bring your kids. Meet your favorite authors. Enjoy performances and kids activities. Get your holiday shopping done. All in one place!


Lastly, after thinking about our schedule for the rest of our year, we have decided to extend our Indiegogo campaign for two more weeks to try to get us closer to our goal. As of today, December 3rd, with two more weeks left, we have raised $7,197 from 121 backers. Please continue to share our campaign and encourage your family, friends, and community to support us in any way they can. Here’s the link again:


Maraming Salamat! Till  next update!

October Recap: Campaign and more Thank Yous

Happy November, Friends!

We zoomed through October, it seems! But despite the busyness, we still got to enjoy the many moments of beauty that October brought.

October was my birth month. So I had to make sure I celebrated it with the right kind of cake.


(Thanks to my friend, Anoosh, who orchestrated the cake decoration with loving intention.)

The biggest October event was our Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign launch on October 20 at the Undiscovered SF celebration of Filipino American History Month. We went into the launch with high hopes but not too much expectations. We knew it was going to be a huge event. We did not quite know how we would capture the attention of those going through the Barangay Tunnel on their way to the food stalls and the stage where an amazing line-up of Pinay artists like Ruby Ibarra were peforming.

But somehow we did! We had a coloring table as well as a set up of the Mama, Mama books plus all other merchandises we’ve decided to offer (e.g. mugs, shirts, postcards, buttons (which were a hit!), tote bags, and some candy.) From 4:00 until 10:00, we had a steady stream of people asking about the book and mostly pledging by buying the book/s. By the end of the night, we raised close to $3,000 of our $11,000 goal. Mike and I went home tired but super grateful for everyone’s support.

Another awesome news: the Bukidnon State University, Department of Letters has offered us their help in anything the press needs as far as translations to Binukid and access to Binukid materials. This is such a major help! We feel very blessed that all these people are coming forward to support us in our publishing journey, to offer us what we have been needing. Again, it is as if the world is listening to us!

Lastly, we were invited to Hilltop Mall’s Multi-cultural Children’s Book Store for a Meet the Author event. So we showed up!


And so we move forward to November. We have most of this month to reach our fundraising goal. Right now, with 24 days left, we are almost at the halfway mark. We currently have $5,100 of the $11,000 goal, with 75 backers. We are currently taking a break to allow for the busyness of election. We will resume our campaigning this Thursday.


(Getting there, ever so slowly…)

In the meantime, a shout out to Leila Santiago who provided us with photos of the Binukid dictionary so we could translate the colors for our Indiegogo campaign!

We hope you are all reading up on your propositions and candidates. Vote tomorrow, my friends!

Till next time.

October Updates: Campaign Launch + Thank Yous

Hello, Friends and Family,


We’re excited! We have 5 days until our Indiegogo campaign goes live on October 20! We would love it if you can come join us at our launch at the Undiscovered SF event where we will also celebrate Fil-Am History Month. Here’s the FB Page invite:

In the meantime, a few shout-outs and updates:

Thank you to Nathalie Mvondo of Multiculturalism Rocks Pop-up Store who took the time to have lunch with me and who inspired me to expand my nonprofit’s vision and press’ reach. She gave me lots of good tips, many of which I still need to execute (I’ll get there, Nathalie!!!), but more importantly, she made me think of the campaign in a more creative way.


Nathalie’s Website:

Thank you to Desi Danganan of Plinth Agency who pointed me out to so many resources and also invited me to launch the Indiegogo campaign at the Undiscovered SF’s Fil-Am History celebration on October 20.

Thank you to Andre Sibayan and Jan Swayze who, together, helped me start to explore and make sense of FB advertising, something that is totally alien to me.

Thank you to Von Hernandez, my bro in law (sort of), who spent many late nights during the week to help me put together the video for the campaign. Von has been so patient with my evolving ideas and took my numerous edits and changes to the script in stride.

Thank you to Kat Estacio and Pantayo, an all female Kulintang based music group in Canada, who gave permission to us to use their music in our video. Here’s their website:

Thank you to my sis, Jules, who never fails to provide food and tea for our late nights working on our video.

Thank you to my niece, Ella (below), who willingly read a part of the manuscript for our video, and my nephews, Dom and Anthony, for taking pictures with Jack.

Thank you to Robert Liu-Trujillo who, despite being busy caring for his month old baby girl, still took the time to share insights regarding crowdfunding.


Thank you to Leilani Buddenhagen for providing feedback on the script, the website, the perks, and life in general.

Thank you to my husband, Mike for helping me, from figuring out how to delete a FB ad that I accidentally published to making a coherent narrative out of the jumble of words that I dumped on the page.

Lynnor continues to color the pages. We are now halfway through!

This is all for now. Until next update!

September Updates: Collaborating + Crowdfunding

Happy Fall, Everyone! The heat is no longer as oppressive and I feel a bit of a nip in the early morning air as I bike race with my kids to school.


Lynnor and I both made it through the summer! We are back and very eager to continue with the book. Here, page 6, was where we left off:




A couple of updates:

We’re so excited to share that we are officially collaborating with three really amazing groups:

the Center for Babaylan Studies (, which “organizes events that bring about deep appreciation for Filipino Indigenous Spirituality”;

the Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies in UC Davis, which “aims to continue Carlos Bulosan’s legacy by advancing research, education, and advocacy for historical and contemporary issues faced by Filipinos in the United States, the Philippines, and abroad”; and

the Balik sa Dagat Bangka Journey which aims to “build and heal our communities by connecting to our cultural practices and our natural world”.

It means so much to us to know that these groups support our work and are willing to collaborate with us in our journey to tell stories of Filipino children in the diaspora!

Lastly, we are gearing up to run our crowdfunding campaign this October. We hope you will support us  by sharing with us your time, talent, skills, and financial pledges, or by simply spreading the word about our project and campaign to your circle of friends and family.

And so we go back to work. We’re ready!

Thanks for the support!

July Updates

Hello, Friends,

July went by too quickly! So many fun summer trips.

But don’t be fooled. Even with the many camping trips we went on with our respective families, Lynnor and I managed to spend some time on the book. Twice in July we got together and talked about the changes we needed to do.

A major one was switching the place of the story from the Bay Area (represented by the bridge that brought to mind the Golden Gate Bridge) to Central California/Valley (represented by the Tower Bridge in Sacramento). Once we decided to do that, several other features had to be modified, as well.



Another feature we were playing with was meshing Jack’s imaginary worlds with the “real” world. That is still a work in progress.

We also looked at patterns for the floor tiles and the banig, a Filipino style woven mat. I have to admit that this was the most fun part of the talk. I see patterns and colors, especially the reds and oranges, and I get super energized.


We also looked at other books for inspiration. For example, we looked at Junot Diaz’ Islandborn for inspiration on how to add indoor plants.


At this point, we have set all the pages and we are moving on to color! We are chugging along!

Lynnor will be taking a break for the next several weeks and I will, too, as the beginning of school year nears.

Enjoy the rest of the summer! Thank you, as always, for the support! Until next post.

Page Counting and Clothing

Hello, Friends!

Lynnor and I are on a roll! We’ve set the scenes and finalized the page counts.

I am making it sound like it was easy to get to this point. In a way it was. But it could have been harder.

I initially told Lynnor our book will be 32 pages. She created the thumbnails with 32 pages in mind. A few days after we looked over the thumbnails, I realized that I forgot (or just didn’t think!) to let her know that I needed four pages for translations, glossary, discussions about the Olaging epic, and a thank you wall. Lynnor calmly noted,”That’s a lot of pages…”

I looked into the cost of increasing the page counts and the answer I got was not ideal. Lynnor and I talked about it and she said she needed time to think about how to accommodate the four pages.

Fortunately, a few days after, Lynnor went to a workshop where she learned, among other things, how to maximize the use of space and in the process free up more pages! It was as if the world was listening to us!

So we google chatted, made a few changes here and there, switched some of the spreads into single pages, and managed to reclaim 4 pages. YES!


After we finalized the page counts, I thanked Lynnor for working it out with me. She said our relationship is like a marriage: we talk about the issues and agree or disagree in a respectful manner and with an open mind. She’s right!

Another thing we have to decide on is how the diwata and the babaylan look like. We both agreed that the long flowy diaphonous dress that diwatas are usually depicted in look and feel very western. We looked for more nature based diwata images and found some that felt more “right”. It’s work in progress, for sure!

And so is the look of the babaylan or a respected female elder. We looked through many of the Kaamulan festival photos for ideas. We found several.

We will keep you posted as we move along!

Thank you for supporting our work.