Renowrites blog!

Author of YA novel "Enlightenment" available March 2019!

Trese – Comicbook and Netflix Series

Mythology.

Each culture has its own derivative unique to their own people. For Filipinos, we have distinct mythology that pre-dates Spanish colonization. This is one reason my book series is called The Bathala Series. Bathala was a deity worshipped by native islanders. For pop culture authors and creators, this mythology is open for interpretation and a treasure trove for creativity.

For Enlightenment, I wrote a coming-of-age love story with Filipino history and mythology adding to the mystery and tension in Dorothy and Adrian’s relationship. I’ve added elements that had my pop culture side tingling with excitement while being careful to be respectful to my people’s history.

Besides the excitement of having my own novel released in March 2019, I’m excited that Filipino mythology is spawning more stories from various content creators like myself.

Trese is a comic book published in 2005 and is now on Netflix as an animated series. If you haven’t read the comic, read it. Like my novel Enlightenment, it’s one author’s take on Filipino mythology.

As explained in this Vice article, author Budjette Tan and illustrator Kajo Baldisimomined the treasure trove of Philippine folklore to tell the story of their titular, kick-ass heroine, a detective with mysterious skills and otherworldly weapons, who works with the police to solve crimes that defy science and ordinary motives.

There are six anthologies and they are all kick-ass awesome. Check out Trese on Goodreads! And watch it on Netflix by searching “Trese.”

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Tell your story

I’ve learned it’s okay to tell your story. Although this seems like a simple concept, it never was for me. I had to be silent most of my life in order to fit in to the environment I was surrounded by. I felt no one would understand how important it was to me to be both Filipino and American.

I was never quite American enough. Or Filipino enough. I was in between. Midwest Americans didn’t see me as a Midwesterner. Filipinos silently disapproved I didn’t speak Tagalog.

I’m still in between, but more creative types are coming out of the woodwork who have experienced this “feeling.” I can tell by their art. I attended my first Fil Am Creative Event on Friday 11/10/2017 and saw short films with Filipino American perspectives.

I was laughing, crying and covering my eyes during the screenings. Mostly, I sighed in relief for the first time since I was on set of “The Debut” film years ago, a film that focused on 1st generation vs. 2nd generational conflict. To see a slew of short films from all these talented Filipino American filmmakers and actors who are expressing themselves through art is what should have happened years ago. What happened after the Debut? Everyone has an opinion, but now…finally…there is a valid literary and theatrical Filipino American movement.

This year, the novel by Melissa De La Cruz “Somewhere in Between” gives credence to identifying as both Filipino and American. More Filipino American novels are being released by Arkipelago Books in SF. And my novel “Enlightenment” is being released in 2018.

“Enlightenment is a Filipino American novel tied to the history of our people prior to the Spanish arrival in the Philippines. This is a story I was afraid of while I was writing it. I was afraid of people’s reactions to the novel’s inclusion of both Christian and Islamic historical ties to the islands. I was afraid my Filipino American writing perspective would be considered invalid.

But now all these years after first penning this novel and literally burning the midnight oil while working a full time job, starting and running a 501c3 youth basketball program and raising a family, the novel is at its final edits. And hopefully, this is the first of many stories I’m no longer afraid to tell.

Thank you to all the Filipino American writers, directors, actors and organizers who are telling their stories.

You inspire me.

Filed under: Filipino American, Writing, , , ,

In the Country

I'm in the middle of reading Mia Alvar's "In the Country", a collection of nine short stories with a distinct Filipino perspective. One story is of a Filipino teacher in an Arab country. Another is of a white girl living in Manila. So far, I've found each story holding on to an unwritten fundamental authenticity that readers of all backgrounds would enjoy reading.

I applaud books like these. We need more storytellers, more writers to highlight the Filipino hues that make up the world's colors. Too many times, many Filipino writers and filmmakers have unintentional flaws in their storytelling. Some make the Filipino viewpoint an afterthought for the sake of satisfying a mainstream audience. Others make their stories have too many Filipino inside jokes and forget the important non-Filipino readers. It wasn't until I read Melissa De la Cruz's "Something In Between" did I finally read a novel that showcased the credible balance of a Fil-Am protagonist making their way n the world. Now with In The Country, I find another author working on this balance.

This gives me hope that Filipino American storytelling is evolving and morphing into a credible genre. We need to support books like these to prove to publishers there is an interested audience. I sure hope there is an interested audience. We need more successful Filipino writers, more impactful stories with Filipino protagonists.

Which has me biting my tongue about my writing. If all goes well, an announcement soon. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Filed under: Filipino American, Writing, , , , , ,

Something In Between

Something in BetweenSomething in Between by Melissa de la Cruz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this book in a day. My emotions were up and down with each page as I was strongly affected by a novel written about a Filipino American family. The title of the book “Something in Between” encompasses an emotional feeling for many 2nd generation Filipino Americans. We were raised in America, yet love our homeland unconditionally. We are held in high regard for our strength in English, yet a disappointment for our weakness in Tagalog and other dialects. We have American swag, yet a Filipino hue. Fil-Ams are so diverse in experience and perspective and there is finally a novel that encapsulates one of many Filipino American experiences,  This is a rare novel with a Filipina American as the main protaganist, and therefore, an emotional read for me.

Jasmine de los Santos wasn’t just a character, but in my eyes represents a young me. Yes I’m male, but the struggles and pain she felt in the novel resonated with the uncertainty I felt as a Filipino American teenager. I know there are more like me who can relate to this gray area feeling. Although I can only speak from my limited Filipino American self, I have a feeling this is shared by many American children of first generation immigrants.

I felt every aspect of Jasmine’s Filipino family and her struggles as a Filipino American teenager. In my mind, Melissa de la Cruz’s writing style in this novel gives readers a snapshot of what it’s like being Filipino American. Things happen quickly and it’s not served on a silver platter. Filipino American lives are jumbled, constantly switching between our “Filipino” and “American” identities. It’s an internal switch, undetected by most, unless you are attuned to this push and pull.

The author gives a realistic view of the general theme of immigration in America. There was an air of uncertainty throughout the book, yet their resolve to keep going and using humor as a coping mechanism kept me turning the page.

And the foundation is a love story between Jasmine and Royce, a love story on the cusp of sappiness until it’s pulled back just enough for me to read on. I can see some readers growing annoyed at Jasmine’s up and down feelings, but I didn’t look at this way. Jasmine was going through teenage love, and as we all can probably agree on, teenage love is an emotional ride of extreme highs and lows.

Thank you Melissa de la Cruz for writing this, for garnering support from Harlequin to publish this book. I’m strongly affected by “Something In Between” and highly recommend.

View all my reviews

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Vampires and goblins and werewolves oh my!

Entertainment Weekly’s June 27, 2014 issue (Page 22) points to a Slate Magazine essay by Ruth Graham who argues Adults should be embarrassed for reading Young Adult (YA) novels such as Fault in Our Stars, Twilight or any novel written about mythical creatures like vampires, werewolves, goblins and fairies. Ruth Graham went on to be lambasted on social media through the hashtag #NoShameYA.

Like any genre, there is mediocre YA, but there is also well-written YA novels with layers of themes that makes them borderline Adult Fiction. And people read books for their own private reasons that shouldn’t be judged or be criticized. It’s only the writers–the brave souls who put their work out there for public consumption–who are to be judged regardless if they like it or not. The readers need to be protected; readers provide writers and the book industry in general a chance at making a living–even with book sales on the downturn. What would writers have without the readers?

So if a 60 year old woman reads a YA novel about a 16 year protagonist in love with the high school quarterback–who cares! This is why we read books. Perhaps it to escape reality or maybe a reader connects emotionally with the story or the author. Regardless…

Who cares! Read on good people. Read on. 

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