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Andrea Mapili and Byron Abalos

Meet the authors: Andrea Mapili and Byron Abalos

By Jessica Lewis Date: August 26, 2021 Tags: Meet the Author

Meet the authors behind the fantastical Through the Bamboo—Andrea Mapili and Byron Abalos!

Andrea Mapili

Describe yourself in one sentence.
I am a storyteller, multi-disciplinary artist, mother, partner, creator, Filipinx-Canadian and ancestor in the making, hugger of trees, walk taker, seeker and seer, water gulper, plant eater, Boggle aficionado, and lifelong learner who is always searching and aligning and is excited to take a chat break.

Tell us a little bit about your new book.
Through the Bamboo is about how Philly, our twelve-year-old Filipinx-Canadian hero, navigates her grief journey while traversing through the mythical land of Uwi to save her lola (grandma) and the world. It’s an adventure quest centred around a tale about a young person’s grief and how both can be tricky, topsy-turvy, and full of learning. 

What’s something unique about you or something you like to do?
I went to school in Kentfield in Northern California, and it was there that I met the great redwoods and really started developing my love of trees. I love to take walks and immerse myself in the energy of trees. It’s how I recharge. I am a literal hugger of trees with eyes closed, taking deep breaths, and listening with all my senses. Unbeknownst to me, my husband started taking photos of me in the middle of these hugs and now there is a series of me hugging trees around the world. I am pleased to say that I have passed this on to our daughter, who often finds a tree in the park in need of a hug.

What is something that you enjoy doing, and why?
I am deeply curious about people’s stories. I love asking people questions over a cup of coffee, wine, or coconut water and am delighted when people trust me with their life stories.

What are some of your favourite plays?
That’s so hard for me to narrow down but I will say that I love my husband’s play, Brown Balls. It is not a stretch to say that his Brown Balls inspired me. Seriously, it was quite a personal piece and it inspired me to tell my own story.

What are you reading these days?
I am currently reading the book Babaylan: Filipinos and the Call of the Indigenous edited by Leny Mendoza Strobel and I just bought Catherine Hernandez’s Crosshairs. She’s a friend and after reading and loving her first book, Scarborough, I am excited to read anything else she writes.

What’s something that makes you laugh?
This picture is something that I always have easily accessible. Even on the darkest of days it never fails to brighten me up and induce, at the very least, a giggle. 

A dog wears a scarf wrapped around its head. In the background there are pink umbrellas and beach chairs.

Photographer unknown. It is an internet meme of the highest credit. 

 

Byron Abalos

Describe yourself in one sentence.
I’m a Filipino-Canadian, Toronto-born and -raised, husband/dad, actor/writer/arts administrator who loves basketball, the Raptors, and vegan nachos. 

Tell us a little bit about your new book.
Through the Bamboo is a fantastical adventure for young audiences inspired by Philippine mythology told through a diasporic Filipinx-Canadian lens. At its heart, it’s about a twelve-year-old learning how to grieve after the death of her lola (grandmother). She finds herself in fantastical land called Uwi and, with the help of some of its creatures, tries to find her lola to bring her back home. But before she can do so, she has to help end the reign of the Sisters. Ultimately, it’s a story about how children and families grieve and mourn, and the importance of storytelling.

What’s something unique about you or something you like to do?
I believe socks are either meant for the left foot or the right foot, so I match them accordingly after doing the laundry. I have a system of classifying them as left, right, or in between before I match them and put them away. Apparently, this makes me seem unhinged to some people but really, I think it’s obvious everyone should be doing it.

What is something that you enjoy doing, and why?
Playing basketball. I find it meditative. It’s a way to connect to my body, get lost in the flow of the game, and play as part of a team. I also like jumping, though I don’t get as high as I used to and, truth be told, it wasn’t all that high to begin with.

What are some of your favourite plays?
Pick-and-Roll, alley-oop… oh, you mean those kinds of plays.
Miss Orient(ed) by Nina Lee Aquino and Nadine Villasin was transformative because it was the first time I ever saw a Filipinx-Canadian story on stage.
Banana Boys by Leon Aureus because it was the first time I saw Asian men on stage that I could relate to.
The Making of St. Jerome by Marie Beath Badian for its nuanced exploration of a racialized shooting by police and the effects on family.
Bigger Than Jesus by Daniel Brooks and Rick Miller because it helped me see the possibilities of what a play could be and because its creative examination of Christianity resonated with me.

What are you reading these days?
A lot of books for toddlers with my daughter. We just started chapter books!

What’s something that makes you laugh?
When someone breaks character on stage or on TV and laughs in a scene where they are not supposed to. The more they try to suppress it, the more hilarious it is. Like everyone in this SNL sketch.

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