A book about grandparents and the grandchildren who love them

Author Iris Sheila Crisostomo-Lopez with her parents, the inspiration behind her storybook.

By Cristina DC Pastor

“Si Lola Apura at si Lolo Un Momento” is the latest storybook by children’s author Iris Sheila Crisostomo-Lopez. It is a delightful story about the way families and society perceive the elderly.

“It is not your typical story for children because the characters are two elderlies, which makes you ask: What could be interesting in an old person? Would a child be interested to read about them?” she said.

The recently retired Iris wrote the book in honor of her parents — Cesar and Justa Crisostomo – and so that her children would come to understand ‘lolo’ and ‘lola’ and their endearing ways. Grandma being the impatient one, and grandpa as the one who likes to take his time and not rush things.

“The main characters — Lola Apura and Lolo Un Momento — each has unique attributes. One is thin, the other not so much. One is fast and agile, the other is slow but sure. Each has his/her strengths, each one is special and neither is better than the other,” she said.

The book has been read in various schools, mostly during the “Buwan ng Wika,”  she shared with The FilAm. “One time, I even brought along Mama and Papa to those book readings. The  organizers were amazed because the characters were there in the flesh. It’s a magical moment, the idea of them being immortalized in my book.”

The book is popular reading in schools during the annual celebration of Buwan ng Wika. 
Book signing at Angelicum College.

Cesar and Justa are dual citizens. They came to America in 2002 after retiring from government service. Cesar is a retired lawyer who served in the Department  of Justice in Manila. Justa was an employee for many years at Veterans Memorial Hospital in Quezon City.

“My father was petitioned by his mother, then I think eventually by his sister which took a long time before finally they were able to go to America,” she said. “They did odd jobs, after meeting fellow Filipinos there in L.A. Being Catholic devotees, they would walk to church regularly, and stayed in my aunt’s apartment, paying half the rent. They wanted to stay to become citizens because they wouldn’t want to burden their children with their needs when they grow old. But we managed to convince them to go home to the Philippines. So they applied for dual citizenship and went home for good in 2012.”

Iris said the book is a “fitting reminder to love and care for our grandparents especially now that they are in their twilight years.”

Iris, 44, has been writing short stories since high school. She remembered writing romance fiction using an old typewriter. Two years ago, she retired from her job at an insurance company where she worked as the Corporate Communications Officer. She has been married 14 years to husband Allan, who is an on-call instructor in a training center for seafarers in Manila. They have three daughters Kim, 13; Kyla, 12; and Keona, 7.

“Writing keeps my spirits up,” she said.

She remembered the “joy and excitement” when publisher Adarna House  expressed an interest in her manuscript.  “Charming characters they said.”

When the book was published in 2016, Iris was invited to do book readings in schools, at one time even bringing her parents with her.  

“Apura” is the second book of Iris, who is a graduate of Communication Arts from UP Los Baños. The first, “Ang Bisikleta ni Kyla,” explores the theme of savings awareness  among children.

© The FilAm 2019

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