Celebrating Cesar Chavez Day, University of CA, Office of the President

On Wednesday, March 29th, I was the guest speaker at a lunchtime event sponsored by the Latino Staff Association/Asian Pacific Islander Association affinity groups at the University of California, Office of the President (UCOP). The event, entitled, “When Mexicans and Filipinos Join Together: The Farmworker Movement and Unity in the Making,” was in celebration of Cesar Chavez Day. After reading an excerpt from my novel, A Village in the Fields, I sat down with Belinda Vea, Policy and Program Analyst in Student Affairs for UCOP who did her graduate work on Filipino literature, in an “in conversation” question-and-answer session. Belinda is also co-chair of the Asian Pacific Islander Association.

Among other topics, Belinda asked me about the research process and my family’s story within the novel. The floor was opened up to questions from the audience, which numbered between 45 and 50, which was really nice to see. It was gratifying not only to respond to such thoughtful questions, but to see the interest in people’s faces. In addition to UCOP employees, the event was also advertised to employees from Kaiser Permanente, whose building was across the street in downtown Oakland.

I’m posting photos taken of the event, with gratitude to the photographers, Juliann Martinez, Employee Relations Specialist and chair of the Latino Staff Association, who kindly extended the invitation to speak, Alina Tejera, Pamela Palpallatoc, and Ben Tsai, co-chair with Belinda of the APIA.

The flyer advertising the event.

A wonderful poster welcoming the audience.

A nice spread of Filipino and Mexican cuisine.

A very nice slide show of Filipino and Mexican farm workers was shown before the event.

Reading an excerpt from my novel.

A close-up of my reading.

Belinda Vea “in conversation” with me after my reading.

Belinda at the ready with her questions.

One of the things I talked about was the value taking Asian American Studies classes at UC Davis both in my personal life and in my writing.

An animated me answering a questions while the audience leans in.

A beautiful basket of vegetables and two of my books were raffle prizes at the end of the event.

Me with Pamela Palpallatoc, who works for UCOP and is a UC Davis alumna.

Talking beyond the lunch hour about Filipino American history.

My hosts – Belinda Vea, Ben Tsai, and Juliann Martinez.

Top 10 reasons to attend the extra-special LUNAFEST 2017

I can see myself in all things and all people around me.
– Sanskrit phrase

We’re almost a month out from LUNAFEST East Bay’s annual LUNAFEST film festival – “by, for, about women” – which means it’s time for my annual Top 10 reasons to attend. This year is extra special, as you’ll see as you go down the list.

One of our perky ECHS ITA students serving at our VIP event last year.

10. VIP event
If you’re attending the VIP event, which precedes the film screening, you’re in for a real treat. First of all, you’ll be served fantastic food created by J. Gourmet Catering. The flavorful fare will be paired with an assortment of spirits – wine donated by Clif Family Winery and Folsom & Associates (Robert Mondavi and Franciscan) and beer donated by Lagunitas Brewing Company and Trumer Pils. You will get to meet our two guest filmmakers whose short films were selected for LUNAFEST this year. Listen to great music performed by El Cerrito High School student musicians while mingling with other VIP attendees who love film and raising funds for worthy causes. This year, we’ll all be raising a glass of champagne for a toast – but I won’t let on why until further down the list. Intrigued? Sounds like your kind of event? You can get VIP tickets here. But hurry, number of tickets are limited and they are selling quickly!

Head straight for the raffle tables in the lobby to choose what you’ll be buying tickets for.

9. Raffle prizes
Every year, LUNAFEST East Bay raffles off fabulous prizes, and this year is no different. Among the LUNAFEST 2017 prizes are a $100 certificate to Chez Panisse and $100 cash. Check out the raffle board at the VIP event and in the lobby of the El Cerrito High School (ECHS) Performing Arts Theater to peruse the themed basket of prizes, and then nab an ECHS Information Technology Academy (ITA) student who will be selling raffle tickets. $1 a ticket, 12 tickets for $10, and 25 tickets for $20.

Anna Schumacher (photo credit: Talia J Phorography).

8. ECHS alumna Anna Schumacher
Master of ceremony duties belongs to Anna Schumacher, whose short film, “Finding June,” was a LUNAFEST 2016 selection. Anna, who grew up in Kensington, Calif., is a local alumna of Portola Middle School (now Fred T. Korematsu Middle School) and El Cerrito High School. If you went to school with Anna, come on out and reconnect.

7. LUNAFEST filmmakers Lara Everly and Diane Weipert
This year we are lucky to have two filmmakers join us – both at the VIP event and in an on-stage interview. Diane Weipert, who lives in San Francisco, will be showing her short film, “Niñera,” “a story that looks at the bitter irony many nannies face: raising the children of strangers for a living while their own children are virtually left to raise themselves.”

Diane Weipert.

Diane Weipert has worked in film for over a decade. Her screenwriting debut premiered at the World Cinema Competition at Sundance in 2006 (Solo Dios Sabe – Diego Luna, Alica Braga). Her award-winning radio piece, “The Living Room,” was named best story of 2015 by Wired and The Atlantic, and is being developed as a feature film. Weipert is a two-time resident of the San Francisco Film Society’s Film House, where she is in development on her feature, Boyle Heights. Read my profile of Diane here. Then get to know her in person and ask her about her feature film!

Our second guest filmmaker, Lara Everly, hails from Los Angeles. Her short film, “Free to laugh,” is “a documentary that explores the power of comedy after prison.” Lara is a director, actress, and writer championing women in comedy – both in front and behind the camera. Her directorial debut, “Me, You, A Bag & Bamboo,” was awarded Best Family Film at the Canada International Film Festival and won the Viewer’s Choice award at the Ovation Short Film Contest, which led to a televised screening of the film. Lara’s short films have played the film festival circuit, won awards and procured distribution through Shorts HD, Snag Films and Oprah.com.

Lara Everly (photo credit: John Sutton).

Lara loves directing comedy, partnering with companies like FunnyorDie, Comediva, Hello Giggles, and College Humor. Web Series work includes “Love Handles” for FunnyorDie and a music-video web series called “The Queue” for PopularTV.  She most recently directed a musical comedy pilot called “Patriettes” about a mock government summer camp for teenage girls. Read my profile of Lara here. Be sure to meet Lara at either the VIP event or at the film screening – she’s as funny as her short films!

6. The Breast Cancer Fund and ECHS ITA benefit
When you attend a fundraiser, you want to ensure that it’s working to make the world a better place. LUNAFEST East Bay is supporting both a local organization and the Breast Cancer Fund. The Breast Cancer Fund “works to prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation linked to the disease.”

The nonprofit organization translates the “growing body of scientific evidence linking breast cancer and environmental exposures into public education and advocacy campaigns that protect our health and reduce breast cancer risk.” The Breast Cancer Fund also helps to “transform how our society thinks about and uses chemicals and radiation, with the goal of preventing breast cancer and sustaining health and life,” and finds “practical solutions so that our children, grandchildren and planet can thrive.”

ECHS’s ITA students – volunteering for LUNAFEST and gaining invaluable IT experience.

ECHS’s ITA is our local beneficiary. ITA is a small learning community supported by TechFutures, a nonprofit organization started by Mr. and Mrs. Ron Whittier. Their objective is “to give the underserved WCCUSD students an opportunity to have career focused courses in digital art and computer systems management.” From the funds raised by LUNAFEST East Bay, ITA has purchased, among other things such as art supplies, a three-dimensional printer, which is serving tens of hundreds of students. The students have created short films that will be shown at the film festival, which is paving the way for future filmmakers.

A great way to spend an evening with your women friends! Our LUNAFEST East Bay committee members raise a glass to another successful event!

5. Women’s Night Out
Historically, women have had to fight for too many things – the right to vote, protection of their reproductive rights, equal pay, and the list goes on and on. And we’re still fighting on many of these issues! Just as Black Lives Matter, there’s a reason why a film festival “for, by, about women” exists. It’s not meant to be exclusive. Rather, it highlights the fact that women have not had equality or equity in the film industry. Especially during these times, let’s celebrate the accomplishments of women. Let’s be right beside them when they dream big and make good on their vision. Let’s celebrate their artistic vision. If you went to one of the women’s marches around the Bay Area, gather your friends again and celebrate LUNAFEST by making it a Women’s Night Out.

My friend Wendy and her daughter, Lindsay, enjoy their evening out.

4. Mom/daughter night out
Following on the theme of the recent women’s march and Women’s Night Out, it’s important to think of our daughters, as they are the future of our world and what happens now affects their future. Taking our daughters to LUNAFEST is a way to introduce them to films with a woman’s perspective, to other cultures, to other ways of thinking and seeing. It’s a way of expanding their world and connecting them with people outside of our community. My daughter, Isabella, will be attending her third LUNAFEST. Technically, we’re not together in the audience since I’m in and out, behind the scenes, so she sits with a good friend of hers, who also comes with her mother. It’s a tradition that I’m thrilled to share with her, but it’s also something that she’ll take with her when she’s an adult – appreciating and supporting women filmmakers, raising awareness of the environmental impact on breast cancer, and raising funds for worthy causes.

A family of friends have some fun at the LUNAFEST photo booth last year.

3. Family night out – LUNAFEST is for everybody
So I’ve been advocating Women’s Night Out and Mother/Daughter Night Out, but I believe in inclusivity, so if you feel inclined, bring your whole family and make it a Family Night Out. In fact, my husband, David, and my son, Jacob, who is in the ECHS ITA, also attend LUNAFEST. I feel that it’s important for everyone – not just women and not just for preaching to the choir – to see films made by women filmmakers. Let your sons and husbands be exposed to and appreciate short films that speak to a woman’s view. It’s a great way to expand their capacity for compassion.

At last year’s LUNAFEST, the East Bay committee gets a little crazy at the close of the event.

2. 10th anniversary of LUNAFEST East Bay and 100th anniversary of City of El Cerrito!
It’s our 10th anniversary of bringing this fundraising film festival to the San Francisco East Bay. Sure, more than 175 cities across the country have been showing this year’s films, including local communities in the area. But we’re special: to date, in nine years, LUNAFEST East Bay has raised more than $27,000 for the Breast Cancer Fund, a distinction that has been recognized by both the nonprofit organization and LUNAFEST. We have also been supporting ECHS ITA for the last six years, raising nearly $11,000 for the learning community. We look forward to adding to those amazing totals with our 10th film screening. So come on out and celebrate this banner year! Our LUNAFEST film festival is also one of the official events recognizing the 100th anniversary of the City of El Cerrito. So, if you’re a resident of El Cerrito, join us in celebrating our host city’s centennial!

Still from this year’s LUNAFEST selection, “Another Kind of Girl.”

1. LUNAFEST films are fantastic
If you’ve been to LUNAFEST film festivals in the past, then you know how wonderful the films are. Quiet, rebellious, thoughtful, laugh-out-loud funny, sad, biting, gentle, animated, innovative, traditional – for the past 15 years, LUNAFEST has honored a broad spectrum of short films. If you’ve never been, join us and see why our event keeps growing in attendance every year, and many attendees return and make the event a tradition. We support excellence in short filmmaking. Be entertained. Be awed. Become full of wonder. Expand your world and your love and compassion. Get to know your neighbor in the theater and talk about which short film was your favorite and why. Connect and share. Walk away changed by the vision of these talented women filmmakers.

Note: For more information on LUNAFEST East Bay’s LUNAFEST screening, click here.

Alumni Journal Q&A in Syracuse University Magazine

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
– Maya Angelou, American poet, memoirist, actress, and American Civil Rights Movement leader, from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

I received my fall/winter 2016, vol. 33, number 3 issue of the Syracuse University Magazine in the mail today. In late summer I was interviewed by associate editor Amy Speach for a Q&A in the Alumni Journal section of the magazine. The Q&A is in the current issue.

Fall/Winter 2016, Vol. 33,no. 3.

Fall/Winter 2016, Vol. 33,no. 3.

The full-page Q&A.

The full-page Q&A.

You can access the online version here. Thanks to Amy for a great interview. And thanks to my alma mater, the Creative Writing Program, and mostly to my amazing classmates and writers. One day, I shall return.

Seattle book tour in review: Part 3, Yakima Valley

The origin of the name remains unknown, though there are legends that describe the derivation of the city’s name. The most popular legend explains that the daughter of a Native American chief from Moxie ran away breaking tribal rules and settled on the Yakima River. In this legend the name Yakima means “runaway.” Another derivation of the name is what the Native Americans used to refer to Yakima as, “Beginning of Life, Big Belly, and Bountiful.”
– Yakima Valley Museum

The last leg of my Seattle book tour, along with Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Marissa Aroy, was in Yakima Valley. Our tour was sponsored by numerous generous organizations, including Pinoy Words Expressed Kultura Arts (KWEKA), Alaskero Foundation, El Centro de la Raza, the Meaningful Movies Project, Filipino American Students Association (FASA) of the University of Washington, 4 Culture, Office of Arts & Culture (Seattle), Filipino American Community of Greater Yakima Valley, Imperial Gardens, Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) Chapter 26, and the FANHS National Office.

The perfect time to be visiting Yakima Valley.

The perfect time to be visiting Yakima Valley.

Amazing blue sky with cirrus clouds, fog in the hills, and fall across the valley floor.

Amazing blue sky with cirrus clouds, fog in the hills, and fall across the valley floor.

Not bad for taking photos through the window of a moving car! I wish I had time to stop and enjoy the scenery. Next time.

Not bad for taking photos through the window of a moving car! I wish I had time to stop and enjoy the scenery. Next time.

Maria Batayola served as our wonderful host for our book tour. She showed me a side of Seattle I had never seen (see my two previous news posts “Seattle book tour in review: Parts 1 and 2”), and for that, I am deeply grateful. On Saturday morning, October 22nd, my good friend John, who, along with his partner Kris, had welcomed me into their home for my stay in Seattle, dropped me off in Factoria, Wash., where I met up with Maria and Marissa, and away we drove to eastern Washington.

Layers of sky, cirrus clouds, foothills in fog, and forest.

Layers of sky, cirrus clouds, foothills in fog, and forest.

Just another photo of the spectacular sky.

Just another photo of the spectacular sky.

And mountains that will soon be covered with snow.

And mountains that will soon be covered with snow.

I’ve visited Seattle a number of times, but I’ve never been to the eastern part of the state. I had read David Guterson’s 1999 novel, East of the Mountains, and understood that where Seattle was lush, the eastern part of the state was arid. However, I was also told that the region would remind me of California’s Central Valley because it was rural farming land dotted with small communities.

Huge trees in Ellensburg, Wash.

Huge trees in Ellensburg, Wash.

Close-up of the blazing leaves.

Close-up of the blazing leaves.

The drive took some two and a half hours. Along the way, we saw some amazing landscape – clear streams meandering through different varieties of trees in spectacular gold, orange, and red. Bodies of water were low enough to reveal stumps of trees. And then we entered vast farmlands and signs for Honeycrisp apples. While Yakima Valley is the bread basket for numerous fruits and vegetables, the region is well known for its apples. Eastern Washington is home to more than 175,000 acres of apple orchards, with Yakima Valley being the largest apple-producing region in the state.

If you find yourself in Ellensburg, Wash., eating a meal at the Yellow Church Cafe is a must-do.

If you find yourself in Ellensburg, Wash., eating a meal at the Yellow Church Cafe is a must-do.

The interior of the restaurant.

The interior of the restaurant.

One of the best BLTs. Ever. Hands. Down.

One of the best BLTs. Ever. Hands. Down.

We stopped for lunch at this charming and popular restaurant called The Yellow Church Cafe (111 S. Pearl Street, Ellensburg, Wash. 98926, 509.933.2233), which, as you can guess, is a converted church. The food is heavenly, no pun intended. Whenever a BLT appears on the menu, that’s what I order. What was special about this BLT is that it made with their special bread, which tastes like a fluffy asiago cheese bagel, and instead of the tired mayonnaise, it had an aioli sauce. The chai latte was not overly sweet. The place was hopping. Afterwards, we wandered over to a brightly decorated house a few blocks down inhabited by happy artists. Ellensburg proved to be a quaint and beautiful town.

Entrance to the colorful and cheerful house at 101 N. Pearl Street.

Entrance to the colorful and cheerful house at 101 N. Pearl Street.

Beyond the colorful fence is a yard full of mischievous characters, including this runaway bear.

Beyond the colorful fence is a yard full of mischievous characters, including this runaway bear.

Art lives - indeed - and it also nourishes, brings beauty, gives hope, empowers, enables dreams, and so much more.

Art lives – indeed – and it also nourishes, brings beauty, gives hope, empowers, enables dreams, and so much more.

Key details and a hand waving hello and goodbye.

Key details and a hand waving hello and goodbye.

Found art of bicycle wheels makes a lovely tree.

Found art of bicycle wheels makes a lovely tree.

When we arrived in the town of Wapato, we were first met by Kuya Ray Pasqua, president of the Filipino American Community of Yakima Valley (FACYV). Kuya Ray is a leader in the community, but he also worked with Filipino American labor leader Larry Itliong during the years of the Delano Grape Strike and the United Farm Workers Union. It was an honor to meet him and to hear his stories of those difficult but very important times. FACYV’s Filipino Hall in Wapato, Wash., is the first Filipino Hall built in the United States. FACYV was preparing for its 60th anniversary the following evening, which is a big event that was anticipated to feed some 600 members of the community. It was too bad that Marissa and I would be leaving for home the following morning.

The first Filipino Community Hall in the country.

The first Filipino Community Hall in the country.

Let the 60th anniversary celebration begin!

Let the 60th anniversary celebration begin!

The Filipino Community Hall had a nice display of FACYV achievements through the years.

The Filipino Community Hall had a nice display of FACYV achievements through the years.

The Saturday evening event comprised a short reading from my novel, the screening of Marissa’s documentary, Delano Manongs: The Forgotten Heroes of the United Farm Workers Movement, and a panel discussion with Kuya Ray, Marissa, Maria and me, moderated by local reporter Ryan Yadao. Although attendance was light, the community members who showed up were very engaged in the subject and some had been involved in the farm labor movement, which was great to learn about and to meet them after the event. I can’t say it enough: It was an honor for me to hear of their sacrifices in the fields and across the country in the name of social justice for farm workers.

Group photo of some of the wonderful community members in Yakima Valley.

Group photo of some of the wonderful community members in Yakima Valley.

After the Q&A and book and DVD signing, we were invited to the home of FACYV members Fred Fontanilla, who is a retired chemist, and Bob Plummer, retired professor at Heritage University, for a wonderful dinner, which included great conversation among the 12 of us. And then FANHS Chapter 26 members Dori Peralta Baker and her husband Geoff Baker hosted us for the night. In the morning, we were treated to gorgeous views of Yakima Valley. Dori related the activity of casually counting the bald eagles and salmon in the streams, and how the hills are covered in snow in the wintertime. Dori had put together a display of local Filipino Americans who served in the Vietnam War. She told us the sobering news that Yakima Valley bearing the burden of being the region in the country with the most soldiers of color who fought in the Vietnam War. I should not be surprised, but I was still shocked by the fact that the high school counselors advised the Native American, Filipino American, and Mexican American boys to join the armed forces and serve in Vietnam War because they were not college material. I’m sure this practice was rampant across high schools in America at the time and to this day, but to have your home region bear that awful distinction is heartbreaking.

The beautiful view from our host's backyard.

The beautiful view from our host’s backyard.

Beautiful morning, looking for bald eagles.

Beautiful morning, looking for bald eagles. The hills in the background will be white with snow in the wintertime.

The canal feeds into the river, which I am assuming is the Yakima Valley River. Stunning.

The canal feeds into the river, which I am assuming is the Yakima Valley River. Stunning.

We left Yakima Valley early Sunday morning to return home. I learned so much while on this book tour and I met so many wonderful, giving people. And I saw another beautiful part of Washington State. I hope to return to Seattle and Yakima Valley in the near future – to this wonderful community that I now claim as part of my Filipino American home.

Heading back to Seattle and its fall foilage.

Heading back to Seattle and its fall foilage.

Mt. Rainier bids adieu.

Mt. Rainier bids adieu.

Positively Filipino book review of A Village in the Fields

We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.
– Anais Nin, French-born novelist and short story writer

Elaine Elinson, coauthor with Stan Yogi of Wherever There’s a Fight: How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California and the United Farm Workers representative for the grape boycott in Europe, wrote a “thorough and insightful” – quoting my good friend Kimi – review, which was posted on Positively Filipino, “the premier digital native magazine celebrating the story of Filipinos in the diaspora of nearly 13 million expatriates.”

Village postcard marketing regular size

 

You can read the review here. Elinson originally wrote it for the AmerAsia Journal, which is published by the Center Press out of UCLA and is the leading interdisciplinary journal in Asian American Studies. The review will appear in AmerAsia Journal’s upcoming Winter 2015-2016 issue. Stay tuned for that.

Elinson brought up a couple of issues in her review, which I’m grateful for her pointing out. I erroneously stated that Larry Itliong’s hometown province was Ilocos Norte, which is unforgiving, given the amount of painstaking research I conducted. While embarrassing, the error can be (and will be) easily fixed in the next edition.

Reading at the Fremont library during Filipino American History Month in October.

Reading at the Fremont library during Filipino American History Month in October.

The other issue she brought up, which is just as critical if not more critical to fix, is my not using the real name of a Yemeni farm worker who was an important picket captain in the union. As it was my first novel, I was unsure of how to approach real people in a fictional world. Initially, I wasn’t comfortable characterizing the famous people of the era, but somehow their very status helped me overcome the discomfort. I fictionalized in name and characterization these two other characters because I didn’t know much about their personal lives and I also wasn’t sure what my liability was if I did use their real names. But Elinson provides a compelling argument for using the Yemeni’s real name. The novel celebrates the “little people” of the grape strike, the ones who sacrificed and lost so much, and whose lives the world knows little about. So in the next edition, I will include information in the Notes section about who he was and his contributions. While I am deeply grateful for Elinson’s kind words about my novel, I am most grateful for her pointing out areas that need to be addressed because it means the novel will get better.

Where it all started on Labor Day Weekend in Delano for the 50th Anniversary of the Delano grape strike.

Where it all started on Labor Day Weekend in Delano for the 50th Anniversary of the Delano grape strike.

 

Book launch party: Eastwind Books of Berkeley

While we are living in the present, we must celebrate life every day, knowing that we are becoming history with every work, every action, every deed.
– Mattie Stepanek, American poet

I’m late in posting about my book launch party, which was held at my publisher’s bookstore, Eastwind Books of Berkeley (2066 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA), on Sunday, September 13th. I’ll admit that I was worried that not enough people would fill the tiny storefront. I’m happy to be wrong this time.

Professor Dawn Mabalon, who teaches history at San Francisco State and hails from Stockton, graciously introduced me to the crowd.

Professor Dawn Mabalon, who teaches history at San Francisco State and hails from Stockton, graciously introduced me to the crowd (photo credit: David Rossi).

Providing backstory before I begin reading from the novel.

Providing backstory before I begin reading from the novel (photo credit: David Rossi).

Crowd reaction, from Lunafest committee Rhoda and Raissa in the background.

Crowd reaction, from Lunafest committee Rhoda and Raissa in the background (photo credit: Robert Milton).

Harvey Dong, my publisher, teaches part-time at UC Berkeley’s Ethnic Studies department, and his students were in full force. Four of my Lunafest committee members came with a bouquet and a sweet note. Friends whom I haven’t seen in years came, which was a sweet treat for me. Neighbors, old and new friends, acquaintances, and strangers all helped me celebrate the release of my novel.

Reading as if I mean it. Reminds me of when I locked myself in the downstairs bathroom in my college apartment so I could hear how the words I wrote sounded.

Reading as if I mean it. Reminds me of when I locked myself in the downstairs bathroom in my college apartment so I could hear how the words I wrote sounded. (Photo credit: Robert Milton)

My old pal, Steve, whom I haven't seen in years and who I met when we were in the same workshop at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers in 2002.

My old pal, Steve, whom I haven’t seen in years and who I met when we were in the same workshop at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers in 2002 (photo credit: David Rossi).

I haven't seen my friend, Barbara and her husband, Matt, in years. So good to see them!

I haven’t seen my friend, Barbara and her husband, Matt, in years. So good to see them (photo credit: David Rossi)!

My artist/painter mom and good friend Tana. We inspire one another!

My fellow artist/mom muse and good friend Tana. We inspire one another (photo credit: David Rossi)!

Sid Valledor led a tour of Agbayani Village and other important places in Delano in 2002.

Sid Valledor led a tour of Agbayani Village and other important places in Delano in 2002 (photo credit: David Rossi).

Signing my friend Pam's copy.

Signing my friend Pam’s copy (photo credit: David Rossi).

Rhoda and me in B&W (photo credit: Robert Milton).

Rhoda and me in B&W (photo credit: Robert Milton).

My cousin Daniel and me (photo credit: David Rossi).

My cousin Daniel and me (photo credit: David Rossi).

Standing room only, plus overflow out the door.

Standing room only, plus overflow out the door (photo credit: Jeff Blyskal).

A big thank you to Braxtons’ Boxes for the sinfully delicious red-velvet and chocolate mini-cupcakes and to David and Isabella for all those chocolate chip cookies.  And once again, I am deeply grateful to family and friends who have helped me arrive at where I am today. Maraming salamat po!

The line for book signing grows, with my Lunafest family in front.

The line for book signing grows, with my Lunafest family in front (photo credit: Robert Milton).

Happy signing!

Happy signing! (Photo credit: Robert Milton)

Stack of books.

Stack of books (photo credit: Robert Milton).

I have arrived: New and noteworthy.

I have arrived: New and noteworthy (photo credit: David Rossi).