Let TV and children’s book author Agay Llanera walk you through her book, “I Like Wearing Rainbows" featuring the art of Lui Manaig.
A heartwarming tale of unconditional love amidst a time of loss, I Like Wearing Rainbows takes readers through a colorful arc of wonder, gloom, delight, grief, and acceptance. Told through the eyes of a child, the words tug at heartstrings and touch profoundly. The hardbound book has 48 pages brought to life by the vibrant art of painter and strong advocate of LGBTQ rights, Lui Manaig.
The book is a product of a one-of-a-kind competition, which began with one artwork that invited Filipino writers to submit a story around it. Among 70 submissions, Agay received the judges’ nod. Her winning story was then turned over to Lui so he could continue creating more paintings to illustrate the book.
Below, Agay talks with Looking for Juan about her inspiration and creative process in writing this timely and empowering tale.
The story is inspired by someone dear to me who liked wearing dresses as a boy. I wanted to write something that wasn't preachy, but conveyed the message that children are allowed to experiment and break stereotypes. After all, dressing up, no matter what gender the kids have, is a form of play. It's us, adults, who like keeping the little ones in boxes based on our prejudices and other people's opinions.
What would you like the reader to take away from the story?
I wish readers can gain a different perspective after reading this story. I hope that the next time they encounter a child who does or likes something outside the gender stereotype, they will not be quick to judge.
How did you feel the first time you saw Lui Manaig's artwork? Did you immediately have an idea for the story?
Why did the dad cry in the end?
I think he cried because of several things--maybe he remembered his mother. Or maybe the dad regretted being harsh the first time he saw his son wearing a dress. Maybe he realized that life was too short for frivolous hate.
What is your favorite part of the story?
I liked the beginning, when the child was in his lola's room, trying on her old dresses. It was a light, happy part that made me think of laughter and rainbows.
It's a gorgeous piece of art. Lui did a spectacular job creating the visuals for the book. After my mother read it, she said it's her favorite among all my other books. I trust her judgment.