Pamela de Castro Imperial is this year’s winner of the Lampara Books Children’s Story Writing Contest for “The First Star,” her first story for children.
Christopher S. Rosales’ “Pol Purol” and Ma. Cecilia C. de la Rosa’s “Punong Maiinggitin,” on the other hand, are second and third place winners, respectively. Honorable mentions are also given to Sabrina Kate D. Paner-Montiel’s “Alitang Alpabeto,” Raymond G. Falgui’s “How to Eat Halo-Halo,” and Mark Norman S. Boquiren’s “Sa Aming Bahay-Bahayan.” [Announcement HERE]
Pam’s story will be published by Lampara Publishing House, Inc. (LPHI), along with the runners-up and honorable mentions. She will also receive P30,000.00 and a scroll of merit during the awarding ceremony set later this year.
Pam is a freelance writer, musical theatre teacher, theater actor, and BA Humanities graduate from the University of Asia and the Pacific. As an actor, she was cast as Catherine Lyons in The Sandbox Collective’s Dani Girl, as Harriet in Singapore Repertory Theatre’s TLC production of Rapunzel, and as Crustacea in Trumpets’ Little Mermaid at the Batroun Festival in Lebanon, to name a few. She also worked as production manager for 9Works Theatricals’ You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, as assistant director/writer for Chancel Repertory’s The Choice, producer for The V-Life program of Channel [V] Philippines, and as activity host for Hello Kitty at Sea onboard Superstar Virgo.
According to Pam, her ultimate dream is to someday be able to use Arts and Theatre as means to inspire hope and change in the hearts of the underprivileged.
To welcome her to the world of writing for Filipino children, we asked Pam to share her ideas behind her winning story and other things about writing.
Hi, Pam! Can you tell us a little bit about “The First Star”?
“The First Star” is my imagining of how a star came to be, a long long time ago. In its essence, it is a story of friendship.
And what inspired you to pen this story?
I am a night sky person. Whenever I’m outside at night, I always find myself just looking up. Whenever I’ve had a challenging day, I always find that looking up at the sky is most comforting. I think “The First Star” is a result of all my night sky-gazing. It is a story very close to my heart. I actually wrote the first draft of it around ten years ago for a college project, and always dreamt of getting it published someday.
“The First Star”is your first work for children, right? Can you share with us why you have decided to write for children?
Yes, this is my first still-to-be published work for children. As a child, I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by books and by people who loved to share stories. As I grew older, I continued to fall in love with good stories, but no matter what else I read – I realized that I loved going back to the books and stories I loved as a child. I hope to share in that magic of good stories – if you capture the hearts of children, you will then be part of the rest of their lives. I am a believer of stories – that good stories help form good hearts and open, creative, inquisitive minds. I believe in the power of stories, and of how it can help children create a good and better world around them.
Wow, so children’s books have had a lasting influence on you. What are the most recent children’s or young adult books that you read?
I recently finished Shooting Kabul by N.H. Senzai – a young adult fiction book about Fadi, a teenage boy adjusting to life after their family escapes from Afghanistan to America.
The last Filipino children’s stories I fell in love with and bought copies of were Sandosenang Sapatos by Luis Gatmaitan and Big Brother by Grace Chong. Beautiful!
I also reread The Little Prince a lot.
LPHI is one of the publishing houses that create books for Filipino children and they have been organizing the writing contest for three years now. What made you join this year?
It was a spur of the moment decision, actually. I’ve always wanted to join, but never did. I believe I saw the announcement of the contest deadline a little more than a week before the deadline itself. I call it divine inspiration, because right then and there, I decided to rewrite (for the nth time) “The First Star” I wrote in college ten years ago, and submit it. I submitted it a day before the actual deadline. It was my leap of faith – I decided it was time to stop ‘just dreaming,’ and take a risk.
How does it feel winning the first prize, especially after knowing that there were 81 entries?
I was completely surprised! Then I felt elated and cried for a bit. The announcement also came a few weeks before Christmas, so I decided to receive it as God’s early Christmas gift. This was my first attempt at submitting a story; I was hoping to win something, but I didn’t imagine first prize at all. I feel very, very grateful.
Do you have a dream illustrator for this story or your future books?
Robert Alejandro! I also have dear friends whose illustrations I admire so much – I would love to work with them too, someday.
And what are we expecting from you now as a writer for children?
I truly hope (believing and claiming!) that this is the beginning for me – that I continue on this path of getting more children’s stories published – and read aloud in storytelling sessions! I also hope to someday write plays for children, and the young-at-heart. This is also one of my dreams, to contribute a material for Philippine Theatre.
We also hope to read more stories from you! Thanks for gracing our blog, Pam!