A column by Jullie Yap Daza in the November issue of "Sense and Style Magazine "
"It's an endearing story that adults will also enjoy reading the louder the better, complete with onomatopoeic sounds and sound effects. First prize winner of the Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature a few years ago, the book tells a heartwarming tale of family affection in a Philippine setting that is as familiar as it is relevant--no snow, no golden-haired princes, no talking frogs--without sacrificing whimsicality.
"When my daughter Pat-P was asked to read a story to her daughter's kindergarten class at ICA (Immaculate Conception Academy), I heartily endorsed Mrs. Chong's book. To put Gabbie's classmates in the proper mood, Mama Pat-P donned a shawl and wore eyeglasses without lenses. I don't know if she was able to bring a rocking chair to the classroom! But I do know that even her voice cooperated with the project because she had a sore throat that day and she came out sounding like a lola.
"And how did the little girls like her performance? They must have loved it, she said, because they didn't yawn, cry, fall asleep, or fidget in their chairs. If at all, a few of them played with the storyteller's shawl, tugging at the silvery blue yarn or twirling its tassels."
(Thank you, Ms. Jullie Yap Daza, for the endorsement. The book was inspired by real five lolas, above: my mom [center] and her four sisters. This old, rare photo was lent to me by my cousin Minna who discovered it last month in her mom Pat's old album. In the book, I used their real names and painted their characters as I perceived them. From left, Ruth+, Pat, Chitang+, Puring, and Pacing+. Writing this book was my way of thanking them for the values they taught me, and their other "grandchildren," through our growing-up years.)