My son, Ryan Akira, designed the book cover, choosing to embed images of the stories which he felt carried special significance. And I think he nailed it. His perspective is unlike anyone else's not only because he has read multiple iterations of some of the pieces but especially because he's my kid. He has grown into a man with a special sensitivity about people and where they're at, so when he draws things, it's as if he conjures a bit of the spirit of the subject matter whether it be a place, person, or object.
The image in the top left represents the kids in "Jesus on the Wall," and captures the era by showing the television set with rabbit ears. The five kids on the bed and on cots beside the bed reflect the closeness of the children who, when at Grandpa Alfafara's house, slept all together in one bedroom. In fact, we were "The Altogether 5 Club." And yup, that is another story.
The next image below the title, also on the left side of the cover, comes from "My Grandma, Her Hands, " the fiddle leaf plant with its single dangling leaf, symbolizing the important role my paternal grandmother, Victorina del Rosario, played in nurturing me during my college years.
Moving back up to the upper right corner, the third mini-illustration represents my discovery of Carcar, Cebu, the birthplace of my maternal grandfather, Celestino T. Alfafara. This gateway to Carcar actually does have the words "Thank you" on the top and below the center emblem, "Carcar." I smiled as the van passed under this sign because the absence of a comma... well, that spoke to me too. I know I sound like an English teacher. Oh, that's because... Anyway,
(Thank You, (from) Carcar vs. Thank You Carcar.)
Lastly, the four unmatched flip-flops come from the Foreword: "...none of the flip-flops were the same size and each of them was a different color. Would I also be mismatched and out of step as I walked about my ancestral homeland?" The actual photo of those flip-flops is in the book, one of my first photos taken at The King's Hotel in Bacolod.
The gray brick wall into which these carefully chosen images are drawn is the wall outside the Medical Mission Sisters headquarters, (from the title story); it symbolizes the last obstacle to a source of insight that was yet unknown to me.
When I was in final edits with cover and text designer, Edwin Lozada, we discussed how the cover might give readers a mistaken impression that #30 Collantes Street is a young adult piece. He had even designed some alternative covers, all the while respectful of the author's concept and reasons for going with one design over another.
Do you agree that Ryan captured the true essence of #30 Collantes Street in his hand drawn and painted illustrations?