To mark the first anniversary of Typhoon Yolanda, the mom-and-daughter team of Minnie Francisco-Francia and Ella Louise Francia recently released an illustrated children’s storybook inspired by the tales of typhoon survivors in Bantayan Island, Northern Cebu.
Titled “Maria’s Colorful Banca”, the book chronicles the idyllic life of Maria in the island, how it was disrupted by the super-typhoon and how her friends helped her after the calamity. The central character Maria was named after Maria Dominika, a baby girl born in Bantayan shortly after the typhoon, amid the devastation in the island.
It was during a holiday in Bantayan Island that then 11-year-old Ella got inspiration for this story. She was there to see the bancas that she and her brother helped donate to a family in the island. Seeing remnants of Yolanda’s devastation in the island, and meeting other children who survived the typhoon, Ella thought she wanted to share their story and encourage others to keep helping Typhoon Yolanda’s survivors. Aside from writing, Ella also loves to read and dance ballet. She also plays the piano, guitar and ukulele. She is now in her last year at The Learning Tree Child Growth Center and hopes to continue her writing, dancing and musical interests beyond her grade school years.
Minnie is the mother of two children: Ella and Benjamin. A Communication Arts major at the Ateneo de Manila University, she is a freelance writer and editor. As a hands-on parent, she considers it a reward that her kids love reading and writing. One of her greatest joys is being able to pass on books to her kids that she herself loved while growing up.
This pioneering project is in collaboration with Cebu-based artists Janice Y. Perez and RJ Aquino. Janice lived in New York City for 10 years as a filmmaker, but grew up in Bantayan Island as a child. She returned to Cebu in the end of 2012 to direct her first feature-length film, “The Muses.” Typhoon Yolanda changed her mind about returning to the States and instead focus on helping out in the relief and rebuilding efforts in Bantayan Island. She formed the “League of Private Citizens Who Give A Damn” after volunteering in the island for 6 months. Along with a handful of good friends, she also co-founded the Motion Picture Society of Cebu (MPSC) in July of 2014.
R.J., on the other hand, was born and raised in Cebu City. He currently works as a prolific Director and Editor for Dreamline Productions, one of Cebu City’s major production companies.
Maria’s Colorful Banca
To order the book, please check out facebook.com/
It is also now available in National Bookstore and Powerbooks.
A portion of the proceeds from the book goes to charity. Among the recipients of donations is the Medical Action for Relief, Counseling and Healing (MARCH for Christ), an NGO active in post-disaster work in Central Philippines.