Book Talk: Children’s Story Writer Agay Llanera of “I Like Wearing Rainbows”

Posted by Looking for Juan Online Store on

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.

What is the inspiration behind the story? Is this a true-to-life experience?
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?
I saw the artwork, and immediately fell in love with Lui Manaig's style and use of colors. I shared the post about the contest on my social media account, but didn't think about joining. I don't know exactly what happened, but one day, I suddenly thought of my loved one who inspired the story, and thought it would be a good fit for the artwork. I wrote the story on my birthday in my parents' house--the first time I spent the night there during the pandemic. The story flowed naturally--divine intervention was definitely there.

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.
How did you feel after finally seeing the book?
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.
Celebrate Pride Month by adding I Like Wearing Rainbows to your child's reading list while helping raise a generation that reads! For your every purchase of this beautiful book, Looking for Juan will match it with book donations to children from disadvantaged communities to support our partner beneficiary, CANVAS, and their One Million Books for One Million Filipino Children Campaign. 

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