Monday, August 28, 2017

Dianne, Go and Sparkle!

Last August 27, 2017, Dianne de Las Casas' family and friends gave her a fitting celebration of life. I am catching up on the event through social media and on YouTube. Her brother, Gary, posted a slide presentation in video format on YouTube. You can view it here.  Speeches by her mom, brother, daughters, relatives and John can be viewed here.

For a week since Dianne's passing, I have posted my memories of her in my Facebook Page. It will take me awhile to shake this sadness away. I lost a mentor, a co-author and a friend. My "big" sister.

So. Here is my little tribute to Dianne. Four selected articles from the blog that celebrate her life and our friendship!

Dinner with Dianne, 2008  - We first met online, in a mailing list of storytellers back in 2003. In 2006, when I learned that she was in town for a workshop, I made it a point to be there. With a friend, we sat in her workshop transfixed, enchanted, amazed. I gathered up my courage to introduce myself right after and to my surprise, she remembered our conversations about Cavite, the Caracol and the gaping hole of Filipino Folklore in mainstream literature in the US. Her parting words for me then, "Do something different! Stir the pot!"

Dianne de Las Casas, Author of the Month, 2011 - I followed her online through Professional Storytellers, a network of international storytellers and her website/blog. I subscribed to the monthly newsletters that she put out and these were very helpful to my work in the school library. Story Connection Express is a great source of information and ideas! And, thanks to Facebook and Google, keeping in touch with Dianne had been easy.

When hurricane Katrina came, I sent her messages and prayers. I sent her a story, The Turtle of Koka, to offer support. It was all I could give her. Little did I know how much that meant to her because, in 2009, she sent me several emails asking me if I were alright after typhoon Ondoy. When I told her of our living arrangements, she sent financial support even though I wasn't asking anything from her. A month after, she surprised me again with a book proposal to ABC CLIO. We worked online on the proposal and in October, ABC CLIO gave us the green light!

Sagada with Dianne, 2011 - Dianne was back in the Philippines in 2010. We were together for almost two weeks! One of our memorable trips was the one where we went up north in Sagada. All the while I wondered what force in the universe had brought us together. We were very different. Back then, I marveled at Dianne because she saw past our differences. She looked at opportunities and the many ways in which a person can thrive in the face of adversity.

Tales From the 7,000 Isles and the World Storytelling Resource Award  - The book won the World Storytelling Resource Award in 2015. Two stories from the collection were taken by Margaret Read McDonald for inclusion in another collection, Storyteller's Sampler Tales from Tellers Around the World (ABC CLIO, 2015).

Dianne believed in collaborative work. As founder of Picture Book Month, she made me the Picture Book Month Administrator. It was an honor to work alongside her and 30 Picture Book Month Champions! Early this August, we have started inviting authors, illustrators, librarians and teachers as 2017 Picture Book Month Champions.

Now that she is sparkling in the heavens, I will always look up to her as my shinning star. She remains an inspiration. Thank you very much, Dianne! I love you. I miss you. I will carry on.

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