Telling home truths

Set­ting record straight with de­but book

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser - - News - Ian Bunting

A Coat­bridge au­thor has pub­lished her first book with the hope of ed­u­cat­ing peo­ple about life in her home coun­try, the Philip­pines.

Mum-of-one Emilia Ulep-Quigg, who writes un­der the pen name Emikat Jun and moved to the UK back in 1995, was in­spired to put pen to pa­per fol­low­ing the elec­tion of a new pres­i­dent back in the South­east Asian na­tion.

And Emilia is get­ting set to launch her de­but novel in her adopted home town with a meet-and-greet event in Coat­bridge li­brary this Satur­day.

The 48- year- old re­vealed: “I was frus­trated with the neg­a­tive in­ter­na­tional news cov­er­age con­cern­ing the new leader, Ro­drigo Duterte.

“So I pushed my­self to find out more about the sit­u­a­tion in the Philip­pines and then write about it.”

Emilia’s novel, Be­hind the Mask, fol­lows the ex­ploits of jour­nal­ist Maya Wara-Smith when she re­turns to the Philip­pines – after set­tling in the Scot­tish High­lands – to help find her cousin’s young daugh­ter, who has been kid­napped.

The tal­ented writer’s pages touch on some dark themes, such as pae­dophile rings, drugs prob­lems and po­lit­i­cal cor­rup­tion, but her book is also a love story and “full of hope for the beau­ti­ful coun­try where she was born”.

Emilia added: “I read a lot of dis­heart­en­ing cov­er­age about the pres­i­dent and my coun­try; this was my way of set­ting the record straight.

“Me­dia or­gan­i­sa­tions in the Philip­pines are owned by oli­garchs who are against the pres­i­dent, and so a very man­i­cured por­trayal of Mr Duterte ends up reach­ing the West.”

Emilia has praised Pres­i­dent Duterte’s re­sponse to Ty­phoon Mangkhut, which hit the Philip­pines last month, and says his for­ward plan­ning helped pre­vent many lives from be­ing lost.

The de­struc­tive ty­phoon struck the Cordillera re­gion, where Emilia grew up; she is one of 11 chil­dren and most of her fam­ily still live there.

She said: “My fam­ily had no elec­tric­ity or an in­ter­net con­nec­tion for three days.

“I was so wor­ried about them and had to keep check­ing on­line to make sure there were no re­ported ca­su­al­ties near where they live.”

While Emilia, who works as an ac­coun­tant, tries to visit her mum, brothers and sis­ters back in the Philip­pines reg­u­larly, she counts Scot­land as home now and as well as turn­ing her hand to the writ­ten word, has even com­pleted a Mas­ters in MLitt High­lands and Is­lands Lit­er­a­ture.

Emilia com­mented: “Scot­tish peo­ple are very friendly, but they also tell it like it is.

“I like that be­cause you know where you are with them.

“My own char­ac­ter has de­vel­oped quite a bit since I moved here and now I tell it like it is too!”

Emilia will of­fi­cially launch her de­but book at Coat­bridge li­brary on Satur­day, from 2pm.

She hopes to wel­come along as many mem­bers of the com­mu­nity as pos­si­ble to share her story and in­for­ma­tion about her former home in the Philip­pines.

Be­hind the Mask is pub­lished by the Lon­don- based Wrate’s Pub­lish­ing and avail­able from Ama­zon as an ebook and pa­per­back.

Write on Emilia will ap­pear at Coat­bridge li­brary on Satur­day

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