The Filipino American International Book Festival

Last Thursday, I left for San Francisco to attend The Filipino American International Book Festival held that weekend.  The owner of Philippine Expressions, Linda Nietes invited me to participate in this wonderful event.  Thank you Tita Linda for including me this weekend.

On Friday morning, I stopped by the Tauber Holocaust Library to see if I could find any more information about the Holocaust in Rome during World War II.


It was humbling to be surrounded by millions of stories about the Holocaust.

It was humbling to be surrounded by millions of stories about the Holocaust.

That evening was the author’s reception at the Philippine Consulate.  I met some amazing artists and listened to romantic Filipino ballads and poetry.  Listening to the ballads or Harana reminded me of the old Filipino black and white movies that I used to love to watch as a kid.  Harana is an old Filipino courtship tradition of serenading women. It is mostly practiced in rural areas and small towns.  The man, usually accompanied by his close friends, goes to the house of the woman he is courting and plays music and sings love songs to her.  The part I love the most is when the woman looks out the window with a big smile on her face — reminiscent of the Romeo and Juliet balcony scene.  However, in some movies if the woman is angry at the man, she would throw cold water out the window.

Singing "Harana" songs.

Singing “Harana” songs.

Here are other pictures taken at the Authors reception:

With award winning author Cecilia Brainard

With award winning author Cecilia Brainard

Marivi Blanco, Leslie Ryan, Albert Mortiz, Deputy Consul Gen Jaime Ramon Ascalon, Giovanni Ortega, Linda Nietes, Evelina Galang, Cecilia Brainard, Luisa Igloria

Saturday and Sunday, October 19 & 20, 2013 – Filipino American International Book Festival at the San Francisco Public Library


Giovanni Ortega and Alleluia Panis perform a Baybayan. I’m so glad I was able to capture their beautiful performance.

With author Adam Cafage and artist/illustrator Marconi Calendas.

With author Adam Cafage and artist/illustrator Marconi Calendas.





Will The Real Mrs. Ryan, Please Stand Up?


What’s in a name?  When you hear the name Leslie Ryan, how do you envision what she looks like?  Close your eyes and try to say the name out loud.  What do you see? You see a typical Irish lass, am I  correct?   Or when you hear the names Deborah Yamamoto or Lydia Bolts, what do you see? Would you think one is Asian and the other Caucasian?

Well, my friend Deborah Yamamoto is a fair skinned, red head of Scottish ancestry.  She married a Japanese American named Andy Yamamoto.  She told me that she always gets a look of surprise from people when they meet her for the first time.

What about my husband’s aunt, Lydia Bolts?  She is a petite woman with dark olive skin and black hair, whose family immigrated from El Salvador.  She told me that it wasn’t easy for her in the 1960’s when they got married.  They thought she was the nanny or the housekeeper, and couldn’t be married to my uncle who is Caucasian.  She has many stories to tell.  (Stay tuned for my next blog.)

Leslie Ryan doesn’t have blonde hair or blue eyes nor white skin.  She is a short Filipino American with tanned skin, brown eyes, and black hair – she is me.  I married a blonde haired, blue eyed handsome Irish American, took his last name and became Leslie Ryan.  It has been 13 years since we were married, and we still experience misconceptions and stereotyping based on my name.

If you tell me that when you hear those names I mentioned above you immediately thought Leslie Ryan is Filipina, Cindy Yamamoto is Caucasian, and Lydia Bolts is Hispanic, then you must be lying.  Thirteen years since I changed my last name to Ryan,  I have experienced several misconception on what a Mrs. Ryan should look like.  Here are my top five moments:

5.  Ten years ago, we moved into our home in a neighborhood that wasn’t very diverse. A salesman knocked on my door, and when I opened it, he asked to talk to the lady of the house.  I turned around and yelled “Hey, is the lady of the house in?”  Then I turned back to the guy, and I sweetly replied, “That would be me!” Then I closed the door in his face.  I guess I didn’t look like a homeowner.

4.   My husband and I were in the process of interviewing landscape contractors.  One morning, we had an appointment with the contractor, but  I had to drop off our kids to school and pick up my nanny.  When we got home, my nanny went into the front door first, and I was right behind her.  We were both in the entryway  when I saw that the two male contractors stood up and walked over to greet her and shake her hand.  My husband said, “That’s not my wife.  That’s our nanny.” Whoops! Their red complexions weren’t from working outside all day.  I took the high road and greeted them nicely. I think the guys tried to make up for their faux pas because they answered every question and concerns I had.  Sometimes when it comes to construction talk men usually would look and address their answers to their fellow men even if the questions posed came from a woman.  These guys knew how to get the contract because they looked at me and addressed me with their answers.  I think they knew that even if my husband liked them, I got the last word on whether or not they got the contract.  They had a lot of making up to do after the faux pas. They turned out to be the best contractors we ever hired.   They have always been respectful and went above and beyond to accomplish all my requests.

3.   Twelve years ago, I was on a flight home from Chicago.  I was almost six months pregnant, large as a house, uncomfortable, and dreading the six hour flight home.  With that in mind, my husband bought me a business class seat on United Airlines so that I was comfortable during the flight home.  After I sat down and put my seatbelt on, the flight attendant came over to me, huffed, and asked me in an accusatory tone “Where is Mrs. Ryan?”   By the tone of his voice, he probably thought I was from coach, snuck into Business Class and stole a seat.  If he asked me for my ticket and driver’s license, I probably would have lost my temper.  I politely replied that I was Mrs. Ryan, and the look on the flight attendant’s face was of surprise.  The only thing he said was, “Ohhhh…”  finally understanding how this short, dark, and pregnant woman could be named “Mrs. Ryan.”  He then turned around and marched back into the galley.  He was nicer afterwards.  Or maybe because he looked at my husband’s airline mileage plus status and saw that it was Platinum?   I couldn’t imagine how it was forty to fifty years ago when mixed marriages weren’t as prevalent.

2.   Recently, I had several really large and heavy pots delivered, and when I opened the garage door to let the guy bring the pots in, he asked me where Mr. Ryan was and if I worked for him.  Seriously?  I was even dressed up that day.  I was so annoyed, I made the poor guy move the heavy pots a couple of times.  Then I felt bad and offered him some water.

1.   This is the most recent and most ludicrous incident.  I schedule a one on one tutorial at an Apple store, and when I arrived, I was seated with three other women who were Caucasian. The Apple tutor I was assigned to went to the first woman and asked if she was Leslie Ryan.  She shook her head.  I raised my hand and said, “I’m Leslie Ryan.”  The guy ignored me and went to the second woman and asked if she was Leslie Ryan.  Second woman said, “No.”  He then went over to the third woman, who already shook her head before he asked her.  I was the only one left at the table, and he finally looked at me.  I gave him a look that says I’m the person he was looking for.  I couldn’t resist and asked him, “What, I don’t look like a Leslie Ryan?”  Awkward, right? The rest of the hour was a little disconcerting, to say the least.  Even though this incident happened an hour ago, I still left the store shaking my head in disbelief.

Some of the above incidents happened twelve years ago to just recently.  One would think there would have been progress where people no longer assume what a person looks like based on their name.

What about multiracial children?  My son’s name for example is Sean Patrick Ryan, but he looks more like me.  My husband and I thought it would be cool to give him a full Irish name.  Did we make a mistake by doing that?  Should we have included a Filipino name and hope that they would see he is half?  What is he going to experience when he grows up?  How will he handle situations of misperception and stereotyping?  I can only hope and pray that he doesn’t resent us for giving him that name.  So far, he hasn’t experienced any of this.

How do I teach my children to deal with misperception and stereotyping?  My husband and I discussed this matter, and we decided that the first thing is to make sure our kids have a strong sense of who they are.  As long as they are confident about themselves, nothing can break them.  Incidents like I have experienced will just roll off their backs and afterwards, they can laugh about how ignorant people can be.  The next is to lead by example.  If I get angry and throw a fit over every incident I have experienced, then that is exactly what they will do.  I usually say something funny or use humor.  It diffuses an awkward situation and makes the other party feel dumb.  However, if the situation is not based on ignorance but malice, then I will fight and stand up for what is right.  I pick my battles.  Hopefully my children will learn this as they grow up. I feel that I can’t protect my children forever.  Neither can I control what other people say and do.  All I can do is teach my children to be confident about themselves and try to lead by example.

Our country is the most diverse than it has ever been.   Mixed marriages are prevalent worldwide.  More schools celebrate and teach multiculturalism and diversity.  Parents seek to raise global children.  Traditional and social media often talks about multiculturalism and diversity.  Movies, television shows, and commercials are incorporating multicultural families to get with the times.  At some point in this century, issues like this will be a thing of the past.  One can only hope…


“I am Flippish!” is coming to San Francisco! – Filipino American International Book Festival, October 19-20, 2013, San Francisco Public Library, Main Branch – San Francisco, CA

“I am Flippish!” is coming to San Francisco!

Filipino American authors and artists have come together to share their stories at the second Filipino American International Book Festival.  Hosted by PAWA, a Northern CA based 501(c)(3) nonprofit arts organization and independent publisher of Filipino American lit.  PAWA’s main goal is to create and encourage literature and arts for the preservation and enrichment of Filipino and Filipino American historical, cultural and spiritual values.

I am honored to be invited by Mrs. Linda Nietes of the Philippine Expressions Bookshop to participate in this wonderful event.  Come to this free event and get your signed copies of “I am Flippish!” and other wonderful books written by my fellow Filipino American authors.  You can find our books at the Philippine Expressions Bookshop’s booth.

This event will be held:

San Francisco Public Library, Main Branch
100 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

My assigned schedule at the event is as follows:

Saturday, October 19, 2013

12:30 – 1:30 Fisher’s Children’s Center, 2nd Floor – Reading “I am Flippish!”

2:00 – 3:00 Book signing at Philippine Expressions Bookshop’s table – Table A

Sunday, October 20, 2013

1:00 – 2:00 Book signing at Philippine Expressions Bookshop’s table – Table A

Click Here For More Information About The Filipino American International Book Festival


#mondayblogs #hapa #multiculturalfamilies #biracial #mixeracefamily #filipino #irish #multicultural #kidlit #sanfrancisco


Wilmington Children’s Book Festival, Booth #35, Saturday, October 5, 2013, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. – Banning Residence Museum, Wilmington, CA

I had a wonderful time at the event.  Lots of enthusiastic children sharing their love for books.


This was my second year participating in this fun event. Thank you very much United Way, Tesoro, Valero, and other generous sponsors for making this event possible.

Click here for more information about this fun event


Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture (Philippine Expressions Bookshop’s Tent) — 12:00 – 4:00 p.m. Saturday, September 7, 2013, Point Fermin Park, San Pedro, CA

Come join me for a day of Filipino arts and culture.  I will be signing my book “I am Flippish!” at the Philippine Expressions Booth from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.  See you there!

Pt. Fermin Park

807 West Paseo Del Mar

San Pedro (Los Angeles), CA

Click Here For More Information

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A Plush for Plushkies!

My daughter had the pleasure of receiving Fabio – the Italian Plushkie as a gift.  Our family went to Italy for a family event and the kids learned as much as they could about Italy beforehand.  So when Linley saw Fabio, she knew instantly that he was from Italy because of his boot shape.  She also told us that Fabio wears the colors of the Italian flag.  What a smart concept for a cuddly toy!


I went to the Plushkies website and loved their concept of early multicultural education.  Teachers and Parents can use the Plushkies  to teach young children about other countries including the USA.  All Plushkies are shaped like their countries so that the children will recognize them on the map.  To finish it off, each country wears the colors of their respective flags.  I wish Ricardo and his team would make more Plushkies.   The ones available are China, USA, Mexico, and Italy.  My kids want Filipino and Irish Plushkies.  Especially if the Irish Plushkie is named Sean.

This is a great educational toy for young children.  Parents and teachers, if you are looking for toys to help shape your global children, then start collecting Plushkies!  The company’s website also has supplemental materials to go with their Plushkies.  Educational comments aside, the Plushkies are well made of soft materials that the kids would want to cuddle with them at night.  My daughter has had Fabio in bed next to her every night ever since she got him.  Now that’s a good sign.

I connected with Plushkie’s CEO Ricardo Jimenez and we shared our passion for raising global children.  Ricardo loved the concept of my book “I am Flippish!” and interviewed me for his blog.
Plushkie Interview: Raising Flippish Children

Author Visit, Target Free Family Saturday: Share Your Story! – Saturday, July 13, 2013 – Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles, CA




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I was invited by Heidi Durrow, New York Times Best-selling author of The Girl Who Fell From the Sky to be a featured author for the Target Free Family Saturday Event at the Japanese American National Museum.

After the reading “I am Flippish!” I gave a Keynote presentation on the stories behind my book, my illustrator, and other fun facts.  My audience also got to pin on my map (pictured) their countries of ancestry.  I will never take any of the pins off.  I will be counting how many pins I get by the end of the year.

Thank you Heidi Durrow and JANM for inviting me to share my book to the families.


Japanese American National Museum: Click Here For Details

Here are more details:

Celebrate the exhibition Visible & Invisible: A Hapa Japanese American History and share your story with your family and friends! You won’t want to miss out on this fun Target Free Family Saturday.

• Create a memory book to jot down stories about you and your family.
• Make a family portrait collage.
• Ruthie’s Origami Corner: Fold a fun origami camera.

11AM: Doors open.

11AM-2PM: Make a salad and salad dressing that will soon become a family favorite with Kidding Around the Kitchen.

12PM & 2PM: Bring your memories and prepare to write! Instructor Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo will help you write your own family stories.

1PM: Take a tour of our exhibit Visible & Invisible: A Hapa Japanese American History with curator Dr. Duncan Williams.

1:30PM: Join us for a ‘mixed’ reading with! Leslie Ryan will read her book I Am Flippish and Heidi Cole will read her book Am I A Color?

2PM: Join us for a screening of the documentary Searchlight SerenadeSearchlight Serenadeexplores the big bands that were formed by Japanese Americans while incarcerated during World War II.

2:30PM: We Tell Stories will perform multicultural tales in Proud To Be Me!

3PM: Allen Say will read his new book The Favorite Daughter. This tale, dedicated with love to Say’s daughter, is one for all parents who want their children to feel pride in their heritage, and to know their own greatest sources of strength and inspiration.

4PM: Doors close.

Generously sponsored by Target, these special Saturdays are filled with fun activities giving families unique ways to learn, play, and grow together.

In conjunction with the exhibition Visible & Invisible: A Hapa Japanese American History

Philippines Kalayaan 2013 Independence Day Celebration – Saturday, June 8th, 2013, Los Angeles, CA


It was a great fun filled event and cultural pride.



With my fellow authors Giovanni Ortega and Lorenzo Paran, author and publisher of Salamin Magazine.


With Gladys

Amazing dancers

Amazing dancers

The Filipino American Community of Los Angeles (FACLA) and the PHILIPPINE CONSULATE GENERAL OF LOS ANGELES PRESENTS:

The First ( 115th ) Philippine Independence Day Grand Parade in Historic Filipinotown Los ANGELES

I am very excited to participate in the Philippines Independence Day Celebration on Saturday, June 8th 2013.   Come and support the First Grand PH Independence Parade in Historic Filipinotown.  Philippine Expressions Book Shop is participating in the exhibit and kindly invited Filipino American authors to showcase their books.   I will be signing my book “I am Flippish!” with other Fil Am authors: Myrna de la Paz, Sumi Haru, Marvin Gapultos, Albert Mortiz, Giovanni Ortega, Ludy Ongkeko, Lorenzo Paran, and Jay Wertz.


Saturday, June 8, 2013


Silverlake Medical Center 
1711 W. Temple St., Historic Filipinotown, Los Angeles
Parade  9:00 a.m.
Program  11:00 a.m.
I will be signing books under the Philippine Expressions Booth from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m.
I hope to see you there.  Please help support our Fil-Am authors and make sure you check out their books when you visit the Philippine Expressions Booth.
2ND GEN Kalayaan flyer


Family Fair at the OC Mix, Saturday, May 18th, 2013 – Costa Mesa, CA


It was a fun filled event at the OC Mix in Costa Mesa with my fellow authors Dennis Yang, Alva Sachs, MaDonna Waszak, Ryan Afromsky, and Cori Paul.  The weather was sunny and beautiful and being in the company of these wonderful children’s book authors made the day even better.
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Author Visit at Nelson Elementary School – Friday, May 17, 2013 – Tustin CA

I spent a fun-filled event reading and speaking to the staff and students of Nelson Elementary.  We divided our day into three presentations.  Kindergarten and First, Second and Third, then Fourth and Fifth grades.  They were all well behaved and participated enthusiastically.

I spoke to the K-1st graders about the process of writing.  I even had a few budding authors in the audience – I was very impressed.

The 2nd and 3rd graders received a double treat of a presentation about the process of writing stories and a brief look into immigration and ancestry.  They learned a lot that day.

The 4th and 5th graders received an even special treat from me.  They got to listen to a few chapters of my new YA novel “Dream Quest: Sanctuary.” They wanted to hear more but the bell rang for lunch so I promised their teacher that I was going to send them more chapters and they can tell me what they thought of it.

Overall, it was a great day.