Hello Friends and Fam,
We hope you are safe and well and making it through this truly difficult time.
I am pushing myself to write an update because I’m hoping that maybe something in this might spark some joy. Here goes.
We are slowly but steadily working towards our publishing date goal of October 2022. Holy Moly- that’s 4 months from now!!!!
Mark and Jo are now coloring the scenes. They said it took them a while to capture the feel of the story but they finally started to get a handle on it midway through the process of sketching and thumbnailing. When we met about a month ago, they showed their work for the second half of the manuscript and it showed a marked difference from the first half. I’m totally in love with the feel of magic and timelessness of their illustrations!!! Here’s a screenshot I took of my favorite scene, so far:
Although I wasn’t thinking of black and gold as a color theme for the book, after getting a glimpse of that one scene, I almost wonder how this book would look like if the whole book is illustrated in black and gold. It probably won’t work for the rest of the scenes but for this particular one, I think it’s perfect.
Another thing we’re grappling with is the storyteller character. When we brainstormed on who our storytellers were when we were growing up, the one character that we agreed on was our “manang.” When I asked other people what came to mind for them when they thought of a manang, many people said a manang is an older female, usually related by blood, who is wiser and takes care of others. Personally, the manangs I knew when I was growing up were our yayas or “helpers.” They were older (even though they were actually only in their late teens!) and responsible for taking care of us and keeping the household in order. And oh- the variety of stories our manangs told us, complete with sound effects and body gestures- from chismis of who’s doing what with whom, to balbal stories, to creation myths peppered with jesus christ references… I wish I had their talent for oral storytelling! Anyway. It seems that a manang, regardless of whether she’s related by blood or not, is a caregiver. So the challenge we have before us is how to illustrate a caregiving manang who is a storyteller. We’ve got quite a ways to go to figure this out. If you’ve got ideas, hit me up!
Lastly, we finalized the manuscript! In case I didn’t mention this before, like in our prior books, Mama, Mama and Jack & Agyu, we are incorporating Bisaya-Cebuano (the common everyday language in Bukidnon) and Binukid (the indigenous language of Bukidnon) in the manuscript. Except this time, we are not just providing translations. This time we’re exploring code switching and mixing. This is especially important as we emphasize the orality of the story through the use of a storyteller character. Although I don’t speak all three languages myself, I know that there are many who do and to be able to hear and read the seamless mixing and switching would be so celebratory! We put this story out there in the hopes of encouraging and creating more space for this kind of creative communicating. This is my prayer so that speaking our ancestral languages with our adopted languages on a daily basis becomes a regular part of our life in a world that allows our diversity to thrive. May it be so! I will be forever grateful for the help that the Bukidnon State University’s “Mungan Translation Team” extended to us. Thank you, Professors Rizza Ramos-Consad, Liza B. Yambagon, Rolyverb M. Sawalan, and Joann Ruth S. Paloma!
We’ve got a month or so to try to make our goal of publishing by October in time for Filipino American History Month celebrations like the Fil-Am Book Festival! We’re going to be hopeful…and work our butts to get there! Thank you for the support, everyone! Take good care