1. How do you prepare for a commissioned book project?
Before I accept a commissioned book project, of course, first, I have to make sure that I also support and believe in its advocacy. And then I do a lot of research. For this book project on the harrowing effects of single-use plastics on the world’s oceans, I read a lot of articles on the topic and googled various images that hopefully can inspire me. In our long-running infotainment show, ‘Ang Pinaka’, we do a lot of animals-in-the-news episodes, and it was there that I came across real-life cases of animal victims of environmental abuse and neglect. One of the stories was that of an Olive Ridley sea turtle caught off the coast of Costa Rica that had a plastic straw lodged in its nostril. That inspired me to use a pawikan as my main character.
Another inspiration was the news that went viral in 2019 about a dead Cuvier’s beaked whale found along the shores of Compostella Valley that had 40 kilos of plastic waste in its stomach. On the other hand, the story’s almost-post-apocalyptic world under the sea was based on a shocking footage of a British diver swimming in a Bali ocean teeming with all sort of plastic garbage.
2. What is your personal stand on the use of plastic and waste management?
Even before I took on this project, I’ve already become more conscious in following an ‘eco-friendly’ lifestyle (i.e., I always bring an eco-bag, I bring reusable straws and utensils, I refuse the single-use plastics, when I have food delivery I always advise them not to include plastic utensils, I segregate my trash, etc.). Yes, it can be hard but every little effort counts when it comes to taking care of the environment.
The plastic waste problem in our oceans is now a huge problem. In fact, in a recent study, the Philippines has been listed as the third largest contributor of marine plastic waste in the world. (next only to China and Indonesia). The book hopes to inspire young readers to take action, and also do their share in trying to solve the problem.
3. Apart from previous books you have written, is there a difficult or controversial issue/topic for kids you still dream of writing?
Bayan ng Basura is published by Adarna House through Green Peace. Jill Arteche illustrates.