Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Porcupirate Plans the Day

This month sees the release of two books I've been working on. I want to talk about one of them.

Someone once asked me if I live a happy life and if that's what accounts for the cheerful stories I tend to write. I found the question very surprising given that the last ten or so years of my life have been filled with challenges and trials. I confess that these conflicts make great soil for good stories to grow. Porcupirate Plans the Day is a good example of this, and I'd like to give you a behind-the-scenes glimpse as to how this story came to be. Mind you, it's rather grim.

The first draft of this story was put on paper in October 2010. I wrote it while watching my father go through two weeks of hospitalization. My brothers had left for abroad with their families. My wife was taking care of my newborn son, Timmy. I was the only one left to take care of my dad. And into that two week stretch, I managed to go home for only a single afternoon to see my boy.

I'm certain that everybody, at more than one point in time, will find themselves in these undesirable (and oftentimes painful) circumstances. In those moments, when we can't completely understand why the world works the way it does, sometimes the best option available is to just ride the rapids through 'til the end. There were a lot of other places I wanted to be at that time. Just as I'm sure there were many places my dad wanted to be as well. But this was the situation we found ourselves in.

So it was during this time that I polished up the rhymes to the first draft of Porcupirate while my father was hooked up to a dialysis machine. He had grown very weak, and his low blood pressure was dashing any hope of sustained procedures. To make matters even more dire, the hospital bill was rising to a point we could no longer afford. My father's pension was all used up. I maxed out my three credit cards to pay the daily hospital fees. I even closed my personal bank accounts just to keep up with expenses. Through all of this, I sat long hours staring out the window of my father's hospital room. If I wasn't staring at the people riding in jeeps and buses outside the hospital, I was explaining to my father why he was in the hospital to begin with. If I wasn't doing that, I was worrying about how to pay for the next day's billing. And if I wasn't doing that, I was polishing this little Porcupine Pirate story.

By the end of the two week stay, my dad eventually passed away.

(Told you this was grim.)

However, this story does not end lingering in a sorrowful corner. Porcupirate may have been born out of a very trying experience, but it has grown into a highly cheerful tale! I guess I just can't help it!

And now it's a children's book!  I want to offer my deepest thanks to the expert editorial eye of OMF's publications department (specifically editors Joan Na, Lindy Hope, and Yna Reyes) for helping shape Porcupirate Plans the Day into a book that both kids and grown-ups can enjoy.

At its heart, the book is about handling days that don't go our way. And how sometimes, when we don't expect it, they may even turn out to be the best day we've ever had.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

More IS Kinder Blog Links

Here are two more IS kindergarten blogs which feature my visit. Again, a giant-sized thank you to all the teachers and kids who made my visit a memorable one! The Snakes: and The Superstars:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

International School Visit

Last March 19th, I spent the whole day at the International School and visited 5 kinder classes (the Dolphins, the Golden Dragons, the Sharks, the Snakes, and the Superstars). I shared my thoughts on what it was like being an author and illustrator of Children's books, then I gave them a story presentation of The Great Duck and Crocodile Race (with the assistance of my lovely wife Shirley).

Everyone was so nice to us, and the kids were the best! The photo here features Teacher Phebe and Teacher Eugene - who were both absolutely inspiring! I'm the immature kid in the middle playing with the class Shark.

Here is a link to the kinder-blog of the Sharks: http://comere.ism-online.org/

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ateneo Ventures Club

The mad rush of the Komikon took up so much of my time that I almost forgot to include this photo with the grade 6 and 7 students who comprise the Ateneo de Manila Grade School Ventures Club!

They invited me to speak with them on Nov 17th about my work as an author and illustrator. Alas, the one hour was too short a time for the wonderful exchange of ideas. Here's hoping for future encounters with the students! Thanks for making my visit a pleasant one, guys!

At the Komikon

Another successful Komikon has passed.

In case you didn't know, Polyhedron Comics has been a mainstay of the Komikon since 2008. It's funny to think back when we started with only two people sitting behind a table selling only one comic book - a preview book at that! Our growth has been sure and steady since then and our espionage title CADRE is on its 5th book. We have also expanded into other genres through an anthology book entitled Triple Punch Komiks. All these books were back in print this year.

Taking a break from table duties, I tried to navigate through the Komikon crowd to visit other tables. Seeing the new stuff was great, but I must confess my heart beats twice its rate when I see vintage comics from my youth. There will always be something magical about comics produced during your childhood years. As a result I ended up buying issues 6 and 7 of the latest G.I. Joe book from IDW (I used to read Joe adventures back in the 80's). And I picked up a couple of fun locally made indie titles as well!

One of the perks of the convention though is meeting up with friends. It's a terrific break from our stressful day jobs. I can't wait for next month when I'll be sitting down with them once again to plan the comics we'll be making for Summer Komikon! I've been hoping to bring back some of my characters from Shirley's Pets (the kid-friendly comics that ran in the Junior Inquirer from 2000-2007). I pray next year will see their return in an independently published comic book format.

Thanks so much to everyone who dropped by our table! It isn't easy making comics so your support is very much appreciated!

In the photo are my great pals - Standing from left to right are artists Nixon Na, Mike Lu, and author/ UP Prof Emil Flores. Sitting from left to right are writer/editor Ian Magallona and writer/artist Ron Escultura. A terrific, terrific bunch of guys!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The 7th Annual Komikon

Just wanted to let you know I will be at the 7th Annual Komikon! It's this Saturday (November 19) at the Bayanihan Center along Pioneer Street, Pasig. Here's a link on how to get there:


I will be at the Polyhedron Comics table where I will be signing copies of my books. Please drop by and say hi!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

First ever review for The Great Duck and Crocodile Race

Sure my wife loves my latest book, but don't take her word for it!

Read another mom's opinion of The Great Duck and Crocodile Race here.