Filipino writer uses modern parable to teach diversity –

Corie Laraya-Coutts

Corie Laraya-Coutts wants the legacy of prejudice her family has faced for generations to be a lesson in diversity. Descendants of a healing shaman in the Philippines, the Laraya family have been ridiculed for generations, despite the fact that her family stopped practicing the controversial shamanic arts that were prevalent in the region before its introduction to Christianity and continued for many generations.

Even today, her family is shunned in the Philippines by those who still harbor prejudices against the practices of her ancestors, which motivated her to write about it, but not directly.

“What my family and I went through in the Philippines is no different than what some children go through today in the United States,” said Coutts, co-author of DJ MacDonald: A Tale of a Malipayon Warrior (www. “Trying to tell our specific story might not have been very relevant to a generation that for the most part can’t even find the Philippines on a map. So I decided to take my message to a more genre acceptable for this generation and the next: fantasy.

Inspired by the success of tales like The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings, Coutts translated her story into a fictional kingdom of wizards and warriors set against the real world of today.

“I wanted to communicate a subtle message of tolerance tidy in a story of conflict and action, using a fiction of my ancestors’ mysticism and magic as fuel for the story,” she said. “For example, the main character’s mother is the eldest of twelve siblings who each married someone from another country, and most of them now reside in those countries with young families.

“As they all converge in the Philippines for the family reunion, the main characters unite with their cousins ​​from the United States, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, Jordan, Greece, ‘Spain, Kenya, China, France and the Philippines in a common honor cause.’

Even the book’s creative team has an international flavor. The author, Corie Laraya-Coutts, is from the Philippines. Her husband, Rod, has Scottish and English roots. Co-author/illustrator, Hanne Lore Koehler, is German and has French ancestry. Her husband, Stephan, was also born in Germany, but he has Yugoslav and Romanian ancestry.

“Pretty much every problem we have in this world can be traced to nationalist, religious or cultural disagreement,” Coutts added. “Having suffered the ignominy of a family history that was not my fault, I had the choice of rejecting them as ancestors – and perhaps also rejecting prejudices – or accepting them as part of me and to stand up to the enemies of diversity. I want to use my experience to open minds and hearts, because at the end of the day, these are the only assets we can use to safeguard our future and that of our children. .

Corie Laraya-Coutts (aka Corazon) was born on June 5, 1964 in Norala, South Cotabato, Philippines. The eldest of twelve children, she was an undergraduate student in sociology at Ateneo de Davao University in the Philippines, and also earned a degree in child psychology from the University of Pennsylvania through their undergraduate program. distance learning.

She worked as a nanny and caregiver in Kuwait, Egypt and Hong Kong before immigrating to Canada in 1996. Now an entrepreneur, who enjoys sports (especially golf, hockey and softball), she lives with her husband , Rod, and their pets. in Orton, Ontario, Canada.