Renowrites blog!

Author of YA novel "Enlightenment" available March 2019!

Being Enlightened

Why is my debut novel entitled “Enlightenment?”

The word “Enlightenment” conjures up images of 17th and 18th century Europe when philosophers of that time used rationale thought in interpreting human beings relationship with God. Deism took hold which encompassed a diversity of people from various religious beliefs.

Translate this Age of Enlightenment to modern times, I feel we are at a similar crossroads. In my opinion, the world is in another Age of Enlightenment where social media has emboldened people to give their opinions on all things celebrity, religion and politics. Each community uses technology to organize, using their sense of reason to accomplish their common goal. But within this new age of enlightenment, there is sometimes confusion behind the rhetoric of leaders in our communities, religious faiths and countries.

In this new Age of Enlightenment, individuals look for a connection to their past to help rationalize who they are today. As a Filipino American writer, I’ve looked to see how my homeland, the Philippines, has shaped who I am. Within this personal journey, I’ve come across revelations about the history of the Philippines that has been nearly forgotten.

Pre-Hispanic Philippines.

There is a resurgence of educators around the world who have looked at this ambiguous time period. The Spanish colonized in the Philippines in 1565 after native Cebuanos fought off Magellan in 1521. Many natives beliefs were transformed into Christian beliefs which over time, has made the Philippines (named after King Phillip of Spain) a predominantly Christian nation. These are things many people know already.

But many historian and educators are still assembling historical pieces of the Philippines prior to the Spanish arrival. What was the Philippines like in the 1100’s? 1200’s? 1300’s?

It is educated conjecture.

My Bathala Series delves into this setting in a hopefully entertaining story centered around a Filipino American eighteen year-old girl in modern times unaware of her homeland family lineage. The first book, Enlightenment, is told from her very American perspective as she connects the dots to extraordinary and supernatural realities of the past.

And I am so excited to announce it will be released in January 2018. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for its success.

 

Filed under: Writing

Enlightenment

I ask this question to any debut novelist: Is traditional publishing worth it if you are not a celebrity or established writer?  My experience has proven having stories built around Filipino American protagonists is not supported by the Big 5 publishers and not compelling for the majority of literary agents. I understand agents approach any new author with skepticism, yet sometimes I wonder if the ancestry of my characters plays a role. Perhaps it’s my writing…duh! But then I wonder if there’s something else.

There are exceptions such as “Somewhere In Between” by Melissa de la Cruz, yet I wonder if this title is considered a big seller compared to the Descendent books? There are other Filipino writers published by traditional publishers; Mia Alvar. Jessica Hagedorn. Tess Uriza Holthe. I admire them beyond imagination!

Perhaps I don’t see the full landscape. I’m a minnow swimming in the dark seas of the world of publishing, but I notice anytime I state my characters are Filipino American, the agents and fellow writers I talk to seem uncomfortable. As in the excitement dissipates and I’m left wondering  if I should follow the numerous suggestions by the literary “professionals” to change my characters to white, black or Hispanic.

Yet I refuse because being Filipino American is my voice, my being, the only perspective I know. Yes, I want to sell to a mainstream audience, but I’m hoping my stories themes are universal enough to attract readers of all backgrounds.

I guess I’ll find out shortly. My debut novel “Enlightenment” will be released at the start of 2018.  The book’s cover is complete and will debut on my Instagram renowrites during Filipino American month.

Keeping my fingers crossed.

 

 

 

Filed under: Filipino American, Writing, ,

DACA Phaseout is UnAmerican

What is American? This is a question I’ve asked myself many times over my lifetime. My writing has a distinct American slant.

If you ask this question to a classroom full of high school or college students, I would expect a diverse set of answers. Emotional answers. Answers stemming from one’s own personal American experience.  History books teach us about the wins and losses of America’s past. It’s primarily a European-based history, a history I don’t discount or take for granted, yet a history that downplays the American contributions of minorities.

As a Filipino American, American is not apple pie, but leche flan. Baseball, basketball and football, three sports I grew up playing, played a big part of my youth as I went home to a Filipino household.  America to me was not just the blue-eyed blonde or brown-eyed brunette, but also includes the black-haired and darker-skinned Native American, Filipino, Chinese, Korean, Hispanic and African American. You see, my version of America is truly mine.

In my life, I’ve experienced a welcoming America, an America that welcomes me for who I am. Yet we are an America with honest trepidations about the future. I’ve found that regardless of our different perspectives and beliefs, there is more commonality than differences socked away at our core. It is our shared belief in the common goodness of man that keeps us “United.” I am a proud American citizen who believes in our country’s core values.

This is why it’s important DACA shouldn’t be phased out. It is truly unAmerican. The kids of immigrants who have lived honest, American lives. Through no fault of their own, a phaseout of DACA puts them at risk of being exported like food items and inanimate objects America manufactures and ships out to other countries for profit. Thanks, but no thanks. We’ve had enough of you.

This is not the America I want to know.

Mr. President — these are human beings, people who cannot be treated so unfairly. They should not be deported for having dreams. It is simply unAmerican. 

But my words fall short of truly expressing how I feel. But Number 44 said it best on Tuesday September 5, 2017. These are words I stand behind.

“What makes us American is not a question of what we look like, or where our names come from, or the way we pray. What makes us American is our fidelity to a set of ideals – that all of us are created equal; that all of us deserve the chance to make of our lives what we will; that all of us share an obligation to stand up, speak out, and secure our most cherished values for the next generation. That’s how America has traveled this far. That’s how, if we keep at it, we will ultimately reach that more perfect union.”

Filed under: politics, , ,

Family support?

Check out this feature on Vince Rodriguez of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. I can certainly relate to being encouraged into a stable, traditional job. I think — am I doing this to my own kids?

http://www.balitangamerica.tv/vince-rodriguez-iii-on-how-pinoy-parents-impact-fil-am-actors-in-hollywood/

Filed under: Writing