Renowrites blog!

Author of YA novel "Enlightenment" available March 2019!

Enlightenment Novel excerpt

He laughed a rare baritone-sounding laugh that gave me goose bumps. I knew I wouldn’t mind hearing him laugh more frequently. He was always so serious. He sat at the edge of the deck with his feet dangling over the water. “Believe me. You definitely have more power over me than you know.”

I took a breath and slid next to him. “I don’t know about that.”

Adrian gazed up at the moon. “Where I grew up in the Philippines, the locals say the moon has special powers. Have you ever heard that before?”

“You mean besides balancing the earth’s gravitational pull?”

Now it was Adrian’s turn to give me a nudge. “Yeah, besides balancing the earth’s gravitational pull.”

I laughed. “Okay.” I wasn’t sure what I was laughing at, but seeing him in a good mood made me happy. “So what special power does the moon have?”

He paused before answering. “It’s special in a lot of ways. But like anything special, it’s often neglected, even if it’s been there night after night during the darkest moments of the earth.”

A shiver shot through my spine. “Light is its special power?”

“From what the locals say, light from the moon illuminates the hidden existence of other things. But Filipino folklore says only certain people can see it.”

I gazed up at the moon that suddenly looked more enchanted. “Filipino folklore?”


“You mean ghosts and dead people haunting the living?”

“There’s definitely more than that.”

I leaned closer. “Like what?”

“The older generation say they see duendes running around.”


“Think of them like Irish elves, but instead of being green, they’re white and look more like dwarves or goblins. And instead of having a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, they’re running around causing havoc.”

I tilted my head, an index finger on my chin. “What kind of havoc?”

“Things like glass falling from a cupboard, or a car breaking down on the road. Things that happen for no particular reason.”

“So those things happen because of little white dwarves?”

Adrian smiled. “Ask any older Filipino about duendes and see their reaction.”

“My mom has never mentioned duendes to me, and she’s as traditional Filipina as you can get.” I raised my hands and fluttered my index and middle finger together to emphasize the universal quotation sign. “The duendes.”

“Yeah, the duendes,” Adrian broke out into another warm laugh. “Apparently older Filipinos see them clearly during a full moon. And if they’re particularly attune, our Lolos and Lolas can see duendes at crescent and half-moon nights.”

“Like tonight?”

He crossed his dangling feet and smiled. “Yeah, exactly like tonight.”

“Interesting,” I murmured.

“It’s understandable you sound skeptical. Not many people have heard of this stuff.”

I leaned back. “I didn’t even know Filipino folklores existed. That in itself is pretty cool, even if it’s just made up stories to keep locals entertained.”

Adrian nodded, his eyes twinkling in sync with the moon.

Filed under: Writing,

Booktalk in Los Angeles

ᜊ ᜆ ᜎ Booktalk at Philippines Expressions Bookshop in San Pedro on Saturday 8/31/19 had me in a great mood when a reader came up with a copy of Enlightenment from her library for me to sign. Memorable times with Tita Linda Nietes, Robert, MariLu Morris! Great to hang out with my homie Rex Sampaga and spent time exchanging stories with Eliseo Art Arimbulo Silva, Abe Pagtama and entrepreneur and writer Gabe Pagtama who has a new release on the Watsonville Riots. As I make my rounds to different bookstores and festivals around the country, I’m encouraged by the support and acceptance of Enlightenment and The Bathala Series in the literary world. Here’s to Philippines Expressions Bookshop for offering me and other Filipino authors a platform for our stories! #renowrites #authorlife

Filed under: Writing, ,

Self actualization

I’ve been thinking a lot about purpose. As I get older, I’m in a state of wonder at life’s journey.

I’m the son of Filipino immigrants who worked diligently to provide a good life in the States for me and my sister, JoAnna. We had a nice house and nothing to complain about.

However, there was a lingering feeling of something missing that was hard to pinpoint. I consider the days of my youth lonely times, the loneliness slowly burning a hole inside me. I played basketball and baseball which helped me not dwell on this loneliness. Sports was my great escape.

Books and music were my other outlets to combat loneliness. And when I started to write in high school, my haphazard stories became the impetus for me become a published writer. This was a dream I didn’t share with anyone. At the time, I thought my family wouldn’t take it seriously.

The last nineteen years, I’ve been privileged to be a husband and father. My kids have a good life in Northern California. Now they are teenagers and on their way towards adulthood.

When they were babies, I was resolved to keep a roof over their heads and not be homeless. As strange as that may sound, that was my fear — being a homeless family. That’s what drove me to go to work everyday.

Now that they are older, I have a sense everything will be okay. The fear still resonates at times, but I’m a in different place. I think less of homelessness and more about my life’s journey, my overall purpose to mankind.

My eldest daughter, a smart beautiful eighteen year old who I enjoy talking to about life’s philosophical questions, reminded me in a recent car conversation that this is self actualization, the final stage of development in Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. This stage occurs when a person is able to take full advantage of their talents while still being mindful of their limitations. In other words, its the desire to be most you can be after the most basic needs like shelter, a sense of belonging and esteem are met.

Self actualization. I realize I’ve been working all my life to get to this stage. My lonely days in my youth, to finding a sense of belonging in college, to building my reputation in music and writing, to taking care of my family. All of these needs have been met.

Now when I attempt to hit my daily minimum word count while balancing my day job and family life, writing serves as a mechanism for me to reach my potential, to test my limits, and to tell a story worth remembering.

And realizing I’m self-actualizing should make me feel blessed. Perhaps I’ll feel that way one day when all the books of The Bathala Series are written.

But I’m here. I’m writing. I’m in self actualization. And I’m hoping to enjoy the details of this journey, to breathe it all in, instead of always focusing on the destination.

Filed under: everyday, Writing,


My life is a dichotomy. Perhaps a trichotomy of sorts. I am a traditional, I am a basketball coach, I am a writer.

If you were to take away my coaching and writing lives, I live a successful traditional life. I’m raising three teenagers and have been married to Lynette since 2000. We own our home in California and have the amenities to be content with our lives. But it turns out I’m the soul who can’t stay still.

I’m also a basketball coach. I mentor students through the game of basketball. I’ve run a basketball organization since 2011 and have been a high school coach since 2012, being the Varsity coach at Mountain House High since 2014. I simply love basketball. Through this game, I’ve made great friendships and love my life as a coach.

I am also a writer. I’ve written songs that have been released by record labels. Today, I’ve focused on writing everyday in my Bathala Series. Book one of the series is my novel Enlightenment that continues to be the little novel that will. Published by an indie press Pacific Boulevard Books, it has the “will” to be among all the great novels released in 2019. The Bathala Series is now a lifelong mission to tell a Filipino story in the modern day centered around my homeland’s pre-Spanish existence. Some of it is factual with creative fiction mixed in, a 7 part story that makes me vulnerable.


Being vulnerable to criticism as a coach and writer is in direct contrast to my traditional life. Sometimes I wonder why I’m not content and why I’m looking to make an imprint on this world through writing. And that leads me to the ultimate question. What is the purpose of being vulnerable?

Vulnerability. It scares people. It scares me. Yet, I’ve found, vulnerability is a great motivator, an impetus to be more than who you are.

Growing up in Northern Michigan in the 1980s, I wanted to be a great 2nd baseman or point guard, but I didn’t put in the work to be great in sports. I only dreamed about it. And looking back at my adolescent sports aspirations, I realize I have always been a dreamer.

I loved pop music, video games and books. And it was through books, my imagination flew. My reality of being a Filipino kid in Michigan became morphed by all the things I wanted to do.

Today, my latest challenge is doing what I want to do without sacrificing the comfort of my family’s traditional life. How does a writer survive in California without a downturn in lifestyle? The majority of writers struggle financially. This financial vulnerability can lead to great writing and notoriety. Perhaps I should…but then again…I remind myself to be happy knowing I’ve done the best I can. And that whatever I’ve set my mind to in my life, I’ve accomplished.

And doing my best is what I should celebrate, because this imperfect journey makes me unique. At least this is what I keep telling myself, my adolescent sports aspirations crashing into adult me. I’ve done what was expected of me, and I’ve still kept my dreams afloat. Because like in the 1980s, I continue to look to the stars, dreaming of what I want to become.

I am a dreamer. And after all these years, it feels good to finally admit it.

Filed under: everyday, Writing

A whirlwind

Life has been flashing by! Since Enlightenment was released in March, I’ve been to 4 booktalks and 3 Book Festivals, all in the name of my Bathala Series! Tucson, Dallas, Los Angeles and Berkeley have been memorable experiences!

All the authors I’ve met have been supportive and for the most part, readers have given me love. Here’s some pics of the various events.

I’ve also had two blog tours so big shout out to Tita Kate Heceta for the Philippines Blog Tour and Sarah Slattery for the stateside tour.

Lately I’ve attended political events within the Fil-Am community to mobilize our community for the 2020 election. I hold a board position in a couple Fil-Am organizations and it’s been keeping me busy outside of my writing world. I’ve been trying to figure out how to talk about my Filipino community involvement while also promoting my Young Adult novel. I don’t want to alienate anyone since politics can be divisive. But my involvement is worth mentioning here and there, and that’s what I’m resolved to do through this blog.

At the same time, I’m working on meeting deadlines for Book Two of The Bathala Series. Some days are slower than others, but when I have a good writing session, I reward myself with sushi!

More to come this summer! Stay tuned! In the meantime, enjoy these random pics of events I’ve attended!

With Terry Nicholas and Des De Leon of indiepop band Julie Plug.

With California assemblyman Rob Bonta

At a LA Philippine consulate’s home!

Book talk at Mockingbird Books

With my Board members at the Fil-Am Caucus meeting.

Filed under: Writing,

Enlightenment at Bay Area Book Festival

I was recently on a blog tour and here’s one of the reviews by a blogger named Nox Reads. Thank you Nox Reads!

I’m loving the feedback on Enlightenment and it’s simply an honor that readers take the time to read my novel. Writing is a solitary activity and is a battle with yourself. To have it out in the world brings a sense of accomplishment, tempered only with a desire for more exposure; this cycle for wanting more goes up a level. In 2019, I’m grateful and hopeful for the next books in The Bathala Series.

On May 4-5, we had a table at the Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley. Great time meeting other authors and readers interested in Enlightenment. We were blown away by the authors around us! Thanks Bay Area Book Fest for having us and appreciate them for exposing Enlightenment to the readers in the Bay! What a great time!

Filed under: Writing,

Accio! Enlightenment!

Here’s a review of Enlightenment by Philippines blogger ZIA!

I found this super sincere and honest and I wish I could write reviews like this! And I love the name of her blog (Harry Potter reference people)!

Here’s an excerpt:

Some reviewers have likened this book with Rick Riordan’s mythology adventure series since Enlightenment brings Filipino myths and creatures in modern times but if you’re a veteran reader of young adult books, you’ll recognize that this book feels more like a YA paranormal/fantasy romance a laMelissa dela Cruz. Secret magical society, chosen ones, mystic dream sequences, inexplicable magical elements, and, most importantly, a hunky male main character that’s destined to protect the female lead – the recipe for a lot of YA paranormal romance in the past decade.

While I’m not one to enjoy a run-of-the-mill YA fantasy romance – I’ve read enough, some might even say too many, to know that that’s just not my cup of tea – I did find the use of Filipino myths and folklore a breath of fresh air in this book.

For the full review, click here!

Filed under: Writing,

LA Festival of Books

The LA Festival of Books took place April 13-14 on the University of Southern California campus. I had committed to coaching my son’s basketball team’s tournament in Irvine and after the Sunday morning game, we headed up to #bookfest!

We ended up catching the YA panel featuring Jenny Smith, Maureen Go and Melissa dela Cruz. What a great way for an author like myself to pick an author’s brain!

After the panel, I walked with my family motivated more than ever to be invited on a panel someday.

Here’s some pics!

Filed under: Writing,

Bookish Spotlight

Thank you to Camillea’s Reads! Check out her wonderful blog!

Filed under: Writing,

Philippines Blog Tour

Happy to announce the…dum dum dum….Twitter #enlightenmentblogttour in the Philippines!

If you’re on Twitter, use the above hashtag and you’ll see all the interesting goings ons with Enlightenment: Book One of The Bathala Series! Thanks to @titakate for hosting and promoting Enlightenment to the Philippines and Southeast Asian YA readership! A YA novel like mine that has Filipino folklore as its backdrop is one to at least give a read, regardless of the fact I’m the author.

Also as a sidenote, I’m currently working on Book Two of The Bathala Series. Less time blogging and more time writing has been my motto the last month and a half. While Enlightenment takes place in Vegas, Book Two takes place in the Philippines. With The Bathala Series targeted as a 7 Book Series, we are in the early stages of an unpredictable adventure.

It’s my hope YA readers gravitate to Enlightenment, learn a few things and become connected to Dorothy, Adrian and Stella. These three have been interacting in my head and on the page for years, so to share them with the world is a surreal feeling. Readers – be kind to my babies lol!

#enlightenmentblogtour on Twitter until March 30th! Hopefully you can check it out and be part of the conversations. 🖖🏼

Filed under: Writing