Teaching kids a deeper appreciation of their heritage

Christine L. Villa

Author and publisher Christine L. Villa brings ‘Zoobooloo’ with Filipino translation as a tool to teach Fil-Am children the language

WHEN author and publisher Christine L. Villa started her small business, Purple Cotton Candy Arts, she was just aiming to explore her love for arts and crafts.

Since then, she has done more than selling crafts as she has published children’s books, two of which just won first place in the 2018 and 2019 Northern California Publishers and Authors (NCPA) Book Awards.

Her book, “Zoobooloo: With Filipino Translation,” bagged first place for Children’s Books and second place for Cover & Design at the recent 26th Annual NCPA Book Awards Competition.  Villa, in all humility, did not expect that her book would win anything.

“Every year, the Northern California Publishers and Authors group invites members and non-members to join the competition. I didn’t expect to win but was humbled and honored to receive the recognition for my efforts. There were many other deserving titles in both categories,” she said.

Fil-Am author and publisher Christine L. Villa eagerly waits for the start of the event at the function room at the Nicanor P. Garcia Elementary School. The banner and balloons, courtesy of his brother Perry Villa, have just been installed.

She added, “It means a lot to me because it makes me appreciate my life’s journey—where I came from and who I am today. My achievements and successes are partly due to my upbringing, values, cultural and educational background. As an American citizen, I have had access to the boundless inspirations and opportunities to explore my creativity in more ways than one.”

“But a dream will never come true if one does not sit down and write. Start writing today and be brave to tell your story. Hone your craft. Revise. Revise. Revise.”

Villa is also proud to add that behind “Zoobooloo’s” success are two Filipinos: illustrator Kathrina Iris and translator Angelo B. Ancheta.

“Zoobooloo” is about zoo animals that are not contented with their own body parts and decided to switch with each other.   Just like her picture book, entitled “Mud Spots and Candy Sprinkles,” “Zoobooloo” aims to teach kids self-love and acceptance in a non-preaching manner, sprinkled with humor and wit.

“The story also points out the valuable lesson that we should be contented with our gifts and talents.  All of us were created to be unique individuals with a special purpose,” Villa said, adding, “All of us were created to be unique individuals with a special purpose. In a materialistic world, where outside appearance and superficial attributes matter more, it is so easy to be envious of other people, to whine about what we don’t have, and wish we were as beautiful, talented, or smart as the others. Instead, we should accept and appreciate who we are, look beyond our flaws, and utilize our gifts and talents to bring joy to others.”

After a hearty lunch, each Filipino kid happily received a copy of Zoobooloo and some school supplies.

Originally, the English version of “Zoobooloo” was published in 2016. The idea, however, to re-publish it with Filipino translation came in July 2018, when Villa brought the book to read to a group of Filipino American kids at a summer class organized by the non-profit Eskwela Natin.

“Since part of the curriculum was teaching these young kids to learn how to speak Filipino, I read the story in English and introduced some Filipino words to the children as well,” Villa said and then continued, “To my amusement, both kids and adults chuckled from the beginning of the story till the end. After the book reading, a few parents eagerly suggested that I write a book with Filipino translation so that their children will learn the language. An idea popped inside my head! Why don’t I self-publish ‘Zoobooloo’ with Filipino translation?”

Now with “Zoobooloo’s” success as a book with Filipino translation, Villa intends to do the same with a few more of her published work.

“I think it is important to have books with Filipino/Tagalog translation so that parents will have the tools to teach their Filipino-American kids the language and inculcate a deeper appreciation of their heritage. Adults who wish to learn the language can also benefit from these books,” she shared.

Educating Filipino kids

Just last February 8, Villa successfully organized a book reading event at the Nicanor P. Garcia Elementary School in Makati City, Philippines, with the help of funds she raised via her GoFundMe campaign, “Help Chrissi Educate Filipino Kids.”

During the book reading, Christine read the English version and while Kathrina read the Filipino translation to the kids.

She also was fortunate enough to work with U! Happy Events (www.uhappyevents.com), a non-profit that provides a platform for sponsor and volunteers to reach out to beneficiaries through creative and meaningful activities.

“They (U! Happy Events) took care of everything that I wanted for the children such as games, prizes, school supplies, lunch packs, and face painting. It was a dream come true!,” Villa said.  “By reading my book, ‘Zoobooloo: With Filipino Translation,’ to the kids and making sure that each one of them had a copy, I was able to educate them and bring smiles to their faces. Would I do it again? Absolutely! I hope to raise more funds next year so that I can go back and empower more children.”

Being an accomplished author and self-publisher, Villa shares this advice to those looking to walk the same road as her:  “Dream. Write. Publish.”

She added that every aspiring writer has a story to tell, and that it all starts with a dream.

“But a dream will never come true if one does not sit down and write. Start writing today and be brave to tell your story. Hone your craft. Revise. Revise. Revise. Join a critique group, become a member of a writing group, attend workshops and conferences, or enroll in a writing class. Do whatever it takes to give your dream wings. And then publish! Whether through traditional or indie publishing, your story deserves to be told and shared with the world,” she shared.

Villa is currently working on a picture book about Philippine tarsiers and Carlito Pizarras, a hunter who turned into one of the foremost protectors of the endangered species. “Zoobooloo:  With Filipino Translation” is available on Lulu while her other books are available on Amazon, but signed copies can be purchased directly by e-mailing her at chissivilla@gmail.com. You can also check out Purple Cotton Candy Arts at www.purplecandyarts.com.

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