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OFW artists collaborate with HK-based filmmaker in children’s book

05 May 2024

The book's cover names both the author and MDW illustrators 

Hong Kong’s first children’s book to be illustrated by migrant domestic workers and written by film director and scriptwriter Joanna Bowers, will be launched through immersive, hands-on activities, on May 11 at Asia Society in Hong Kong.

The book, My Extra-Special Aunty, features the works of Cristina Cayat and Noemi Manguerra, both founding members of Guhit Kulay, which is comprised of MDW artists in Hong Kong.

Bowers said that in her book, she wanted to capture the special bond between Hong Kong and their domestic workers, known colloquially as “aunties,” and play an integral role in the lives of many Hong Kong families.


“By sharing this enchanting story, we hope to inspire children and families to foster meaningful connections that transcend boundaries,” said Bowers.

My Extra-Special Aunty is narrated from a child's perspective, and aims to foster empathy, kindness, and respect among children, their families, and their beloved aunties. It is depicted in both English and Traditional Chinese.

Bowers had her first directorial debut with the documentary “The Helper,” which premiered in Hong Kong in 2017, followed by a theatrical release. It was screened at the Lincoln Center in New York City in February this year.


My Extra-Special Aunty is her first book.

Cayat, who was one of two OFW-collaborators on the book and has years of experience writing articles for The SUN, said she is proud to contribute her artworks.

“Coming from the northern part of the Philippines, I wanted to bring my culture into this book by using traditional design and clothing. I think it's the perfect tool to start a conversation, inspiring young readers to appreciate different cultures and understand their Aunties better,” said Cayat.”


Manguerra,  who is now based in Canada, said her role was to illustrate the characters in the book using watercolour, which is her favourite medium.

“I believe that through the power of art, we can bridge gaps and build understanding. I'm honored to be a part of this project that showcases the incredible talent and diversity of migrant domestic workers,” she said.

The team behind the book came together in 2018 at a charity event organized by Enrich HK, and agreed to collaborate on a storytelling project using various techniques such as poetry, hand illustrations, painting, and textiles, and focus on the emotional attachments between domestic workers and the families they serve.

My Extra-Special Aunty is now on sale at The Lion Rock Press and Bookazine outlets. 


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