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Why am I doing this?

No, I am not Filipino.

But I've created a few. My children are my inspiration, and they are the reason why I decided to write and illustrate stories. 

My husband is a full-blooded born and raised Filipino, and I am half Guatemalan and half American who grew up moving from state to state, country to country. I grew up straddling different cultures and not feeling like I belonged anywhere. I never felt like I was enough. 

So when my husband and I were expecting our first child, I wanted them to understand and love their Filipino heritage (after all, they were more Filipino than they were Guatemalan or American). I didn't want their culture to be diluted because of me. I didn't want their family to treat them like foreigners. I didn't want them to think they were not enough. 

While I was pregnant, we took a job in Thailand. Before we moved overseas, I went into a bookstore in Cebu and looked for reading materials in any local Filipino language. I wanted to get materials so my children would still have access to their language and culture despite living overseas. To my surprise, I couldn’t find children’s books in any of the Visayan languages! I asked family and friends in Iloilo and Bacolod to look in their bookstores, but they found nothing. When we went to Manila, I went to bookstore after bookstore, but all children’s books were in English. I visited elementary school libraries which were run down, and dusty, with old ratty outdated books in English. I couldn’t even find quality materials online!

I tried not to let it discourage me, so I gathered English children’s books and my husband helped translate them into Hiligaynon. We spoke as much as we could to our kids in Hiligaynon and cooked Filipino meals, but I felt like it just wasn't enough. 

How many more parents were struggling to raise their kids overseas with no compass pointing back to their home nation?
How many children are returning to their passport country and feeling that it is not enough?
How many children in the Philippines have no desire to read or learn because there are just no resources available for them?
How long before the Filipino dialects and languages die out because there are simply not enough materials to keep them alive? 

It became an ache in my heart to create stories specifically for Filipino children whether they live in or outside the country. Whether you are a Filipino or not, I hope you enjoy the stories I share and that they impact and inspire you. 

Whoever you are or wherever you came from or grew up—you are enough!

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