Book Launch: ‘Ang mga Alon sa Amin’ by Coleen Ramirez-Panahon, Gina A. Alfonso, and Rainey S. Dolatre

by X. G. Antazo

When heavy rain would pour down, my sister would quiver in fear, thinking of all the bad things that could happen. One of the storms that hit us was Typhoon Ulysses (Vamco). The wind howled. Every now and then, the door would pound open, and it would be super dark outside.

Ang mga Alon sa Amin by Coleen Ramirez-Panahon, Gina A. Alfonso, and Rainey S. Dolatre, released by AHA! Stories, features Mario, a Tagbanua boy from Culion, Palawan, who used to be mesmerized by the sparkle of the waves, but comes to fear it after a vigorous typhoon.

This book helped my sister face her fears. Now she isn’t scared of the rain anymore. It is obvious; there is something special about this book.

What is AHA!?

“Aha! There you are!”

“Aha! I got it!”

“Aha!” is an expression usually followed by an exciting and amazing discovery. After learning about the story of Mario, I can definitely say AHA! Stories has that same effect on the hearts of people.

AHA!, which stands for ‘Awakening the Hearts through the Arts’, is under MAGIS Creative Spaces, a center for healing and learning through the expressive arts. I love art, but what I love most about AHA! is their inspiring mission behind all these creative stories. You see, AHA! Stories works with the Cartwheel Foundation, which aims to give indigenous communities a future through quality education.

A story of courage

Whether reading it alone or to a whole group, I think the story will make anyone smile as it made me. Ang mga Alon sa Amin is a story about courage, and how Mario overcame his fear after being affected by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). It shows the beauty and resilience of the Tagbanua community in the face of hardships. Despite the tragedy, they reminded us to be grateful and to celebrate life through songs and dancing.

This book is a must-have and I genuinely enjoyed the story. Mario is a boy I can relate to, as someone with fears that I had faced myself, it made me feel seen and included. It feels as if it was me in the story. Ang mga Alon Sa Amin also contains simple and cute illustrations that portray emotions so well.

I also found out that AHA! Stories donates the money they earn from selling the book to the Tagbanuas that they met in 2018, in hopes of rebuilding their schoolhouse which was destroyed by typhoon.

The fun October 15 launch

Now, the story is a champion, but the book launch itself did not disappoint. The food and activities were epic!

The event started at 10 in the morning. We were greeted with stands of tasty treats: sorbetes, fish balls, kikiam, taho, and so much more. As a foodie myself, that already made the early-morning wake-up time worth it. My sister and I hit the fish ball stand like it was an unli buffet, maybe biting off more than we could chew.

Kindness is something we humans always appreciate, and we were welcomed with the warm smile and greetings of the authors, teachers, and all the organizers. Everyone was just so friendly; we did not feel like an outsider at all. The Learning Child, the event venue, felt like home away from home!

Moving on to the storytelling, I think I speak for all of the kids who attended when I say “That. Was. FUN!”

On the ceiling were drapes of blue and orange that resembled the gorgeous sunset and waves from the story. The stage had pillows and rugs for the kids to sit down on; a very homey vibe indeed. Surrounded by us little listeners, Rainey S. Dolatre sat down and read the book in such an interactive way that we kids couldn’t stop dancing. Every now and then, she would ask questions and we would giggle as we imitated ocean waves using our arms.

There was definitely a warm and welcoming energy in the room. Parents and other listeners were all smiles, as we all enjoyed the storytelling with the music and the kids’ laughter in the background.

After reading came the art activity that my sister and I enjoyed just as well. On the side of the stage were tables of paint and canvas, and when they asked us to show our favorite place, we started painting our hearts away.

We learned an important lesson, and in a way we still had great fun. This is why I am giving Ang mga Alon Sa Amin a sparkling gold five star rating! ☁︎

AHA! Stories invited Bookbed to the launch. Photos of writer and sister posted with permission. Accompanying collages by the writer.
Buy Ang mga Alon sa Amin here.

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