Once again, Anne Curtis proves she's beautiful inside and out by donating her time to a worthy cause. More celebrities should do the same. I believe that when you're famous, you need to use your fame to help others, and that's exactly what Anne is doing.
Ever since Anne Curtis called me her “Dyosa twin” in 2007, I’ve always felt a special kinship with her. She was one of the first celebrities who added me on BlackBerry messenger, and it was during one of our first conversations on that app that we discovered our shared love for 90’s music. But that’s not all we have in common. If Anne’s latest passion project—a children’s book she wrote for UNICEF—is any indication, we also share a love for reading and writing.

Anne’s book Anita, the Duckling Diva, is one of six books in the UNICEF Children First! Storybooks collection. According to the press release that was handed out at the launch, the collection was produced with an eye towards promoting reading among children. Out of the collection's six books, five were illustrated and written by Filipino artists and writers. But any good cause needs some star power for it to gain as much attention as possible, and that’s where UNICEF Celebrity Advocate for Children Anne came in.

Each of the six books tackles a problem kids these days contend with. When deciding on a topic for Anita, the Duckling Diva, Anne chose to focus on overcoming shyness, because she’s all too familiar with that struggle. Anne used her own experience with coming out of her shell as fuel in writing the book, but she also did a little research on shyness in kids as she went along.

“I often interact with kids, and I noticed that a lot of them tend to be really shy. I was also like that when I was growing up, so I decided to write a book to help kids deal with that,” Anne explains. “I wanted to tell them that it’s OK to be shy and to tackle it in a certain way.”

The story of Anita, the Duckling Diva focuses on a duckling who loves to sing and wants to join a talent show, but is too crippled by her own stage fright to make a serious run at the top prize. Now, everyone knows Anne also loves to sing, so during the book's launch at SM The Block, my reporter mother Tinna Bonifacio asked Anne if she based Anita on herself.

“Well, there’s definitely a lot of me and a lot of love in the book,” Anne replied, laughing.

My mother was the one who influenced me to read and write, and Anne revealed that her parents also did the same for her by reading to her when she was younger. To this day, she believes that that's a great way for parents to bond with their kids. She also had what she describes as a "book collection." Among her favorite reads when she was growing up were E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, and Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry's The Little Prince. Mine were—well, anything I could get my hands on, but Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women stands out most in my mind.

Like me, Anne also developed the habit of journaling. “As a young girl, mahilig na ako magsulat sa diary, and kakaiba din yung way ko ng pagsulat, parang story na,” she shares. For me, writing in a journal really helped me hone my skills as a writer, and Anne says the same is true for her. So much so, in fact, that when she approached UNICEF with the idea of participating in this project, an early draft of her book was already done. However, it took Anne four more drafts and a lot of hard work before it was finally deemed ready for puiblication.

It makes me really sad when I think that these days, most kids would rather do anything else but read. It’s my hope that when kids see Anne talking about what reading and writing means to her, they’ll think those things are cool too. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll ask their parents for a copy of Anita, the Duckling Diva, which I hope will inspire them to read more in turn.

Interested parties can order any of the six books in UNICEF's Children First! Storybooks collection online at stores.ebay.ph/unicefph or at the UNICEF office from Monday to Friday, 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Anita, the Duckling Diva and the five other books are priced at P100 each. Since all proceeds will be put towards UNICEF's programs for children, I'd say each book is worth your money.

It’s really great that someone like Anne is lending her star power to such a worthy cause. More than the glitz and glam attached to her name, I think her good heart is what makes her truly divalicious.

Here are a few more photos from the event:

Anne with UNICEF Philippines' Lotta Sylwander and illustrator James Abalos, with whom Anne collaborated on Anita, the Duckling Diva. This photo was taken at the book exhibit on the third floor of SM The Block.

After a quick tour of the book exhibit, Anne held a storytelling session at the atrium of SM The Block, which was attended by lots of children. Seeing all those kids getting enthusiastic about a book warmed my heart.

Anne with Lotta Sylwander and the other authors and illustrators behind UNICEF's Children First! Storybooks. I wish I could've gotten to interview some of them, but there wasn't enough time, so I'll buy their books instead!

All photos courtesy of Therese Gamilla, Senior Media Relations Specialist, M2Comms PR Agency Philippines.


The old Julian can't come to the phone right now.

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