A few years ago, over numerous coffee cravings and lunches at Rodic’s, Andrew and I would talk about anything – from memories when we were kids, current events, showbiz chismis -basically anything under the sun.  We most often than not end up in fits of laughter over the most trivial things.

Our talks would sometimes take a serious turn when we talked about our dreams and entries we want to check off our bucket list.  We shared the same dream of wanting to continue to encourage the younger generation to read, hence the birth of Gully Books. We both grew up loving reading books, so somehow, it is something we want to leave behind – to encourage others, especially the younger generation, to read.  Along with that dream, Andrew would often share his dream of wanting to write a book.

This didn’t come as a surprise to me, having known Andrew since we were (literally!) in diapers, I know how vast his imagination is and how creative he is.  From visualizing our set for a school play, to writing a radio play for a school requirement, to winning inter-school writing contests, Andrew was there excelling, and I, a witness.

So, who is Andrew the author?  How did he end up writing about a folklore from his childhood?  Let’s get to know him a little bit more beyond the spotlight of his first published book, “Gimo Jr, and the Aswang Clan”.

Andrew’s creative side was very evident, even when we were kids.  I would credit the community where we grew up in in honing his creative juices. Growing up where we did, he was exposed to the traditional folk lore, where urban legends were stories easily passed on, At the same time, because foreign nationals live in the same area for work, the presence of American TV shows broadened his thoughts and imagination.

Dole Philippines School

Why Tiniente Gimo? Growing up in a rural town where people are home before dark, elders would tell us stories, passed down to them by their elders, of ghosts and aswangs.  Andrew’s former yaya told him stories of TIniente Gimo and Maria Labo.  Mostly it was for entertainment, but the stories bode a hint of warning to children what might happen if they stayed out after dark.

One rarely, or maybe even never, hear about the stories of Tiniente Gimo and Maria Labo anymore. So, Andrew’s retelling the stories with some twists is a perfect way to reintroduce these characters to the kids today.

When did the book start to take shape?  Just like most everyone else, the lockdowns and the pandemic hit Andrew a little different.  From living in the fast-paced world in the city, the pandemic “trapped” him in the province.  With nothing much to do as the world went into slow motion, Andrew took the “down time” to work on the book.

But like most every task, writing the book came with some challenges for Andrew.  For one, the initial plan was to write a children’s book, but it was very difficult to find a good illustrator that would perfectly capture and vividly picture what his story was all about.  So, Andrew shifted his writing to target an older demographic.

With that hurdle aside, another challenge was focusing on the writing and finishing the book. Because Andrew’s focus shifts from one thing to another, giving more time to write took a backseat for some time, Then, came the writer’s block stage where for a few months last year, the manuscript was set aside.

Fast forward to today. The book is finally out and published.  There are still some challenges to hurdle along the way.  But like the characters in his book, Andrew faces them head on to overcome them.

Gimo Jr and the Aswang Clan

I was one of the lucky few who found out that the book was in the publishing stage, and I couldn’t be happier for Andrew.  This book is long overdue.  His talent and creativity are long overdue to be seen and read by many.  I know from years back, a former teacher has unknowingly delayed what was meant to be.

But to me, this is the perfect timing for the book.  I enjoyed reading it and I am waiting for its sequel.  I hope to see more books on the shelves written by my best friend, Andrew Jalbuena Pasaporte, in the near future.