February 26, 2024

A university professor who was born and raised in Baguio City and is now based in British Columbia is making waves as an international author with the publication of his debut novel by a Victoria, B.C.-based publishing firm.
“Juanita, Freedom Seeker,” a young adult fiction published by Friesen Press on Dec. 31, 2019, is the first book of Dr. John D. Marasigan, who found inspiration from his experience while teaching members of the younger generation here and abroad, and as an expression of gratitude for their family’s nanny, Juanita, after her whom the protagonist of his first novel was named, for her life-long service to family until she passed away.
The book is distributed in 39,000 bookstores around the world and available through a number of distributors like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo, and Kobo. 
Marasigan said “Juanita, Freedom Seeker” shares the story of a 16-year-old girl, who lives in the fictitious old Latin American City of San Carlos, who dreams of freeing her family from poverty and struggles to seeks freedom for herself. The opportunity for Juanita to do both came when a rich client of a cleaning company where her mother works offered to raise her in their mansion and treat her as her own.
Mature, intelligent, and responsible, Juanita is caught between choosing the better life and being separated from her loved ones, which would mean turning her back on her family; would she able to muster courage against bullying and finally have freedom to love the boy she loves?
“’Juanita, Freedom Seeker’ is a story of love, despair, and liberation. It depicts Juanita’s spunk as well as her serious side as she straddles the class barrier on her way to adulthood. She shares many valuable lessons to all, regardless of age, seeking freedom to transcend limits,” Marasigan told the Courier via email.
Marasigan uses the name Juan Cenon Marasigan as author, but he has always been known as Johnny when he was still in Baguio and while teaching at Saint Louis University where he finished his secondary and college education.
He is the third son in a family of eight boys, one girl, and an oldest half-sister. Immediately after graduating from his first bachelor’s degree at 19, he started his career teaching Biology in the private boys’ high school that he attended. He has a Ph.D. in Psychology, which he attained after three more degrees and a specialization through academic scholarships in different universities in the U.S., Mexico, and Belgium.
During this time, he taught Biology as the first male teacher at a private girls’ high school in Los Angeles and Psychology and Education courses in both undergraduate and graduate programs at SLU in Baguio.
After his Ph.D., he was offered to be the employment development manager at a high-tech company in downtown San Francisco, where his family of origin immigrated. He took his MBA on Organizational Behavior at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium.
From San Francisco, he worked in Sacramento as a test validation and development specialist, which was more aligned to his doctorate, for the State of California.
During his third year there, he was offered to be the vice president of testing at Key Executive Recruiters in downtown Vancouver. This took him, his wife, and two young sons to Canada in 1988.
He returned to the more rewarding environment of the classroom, starting as a sessional instructor at the University of British Columbia, then at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. In 1993, he was also offered to teach at Open Learning.
He retired from KPU after 25 years, but still teaches at Open Learning, TRU and at Corpus Christi College in Vancouver.
Marasigan, who wants to share all the values he has internalized from teaching and interacting with students, now hopes to share them especially with young adults, who are in the process of molding their life, through the new phase of his life as an author.
“My goals as an author are to entertain, to uplift, and to motivate. People read to escape momentarily into the world of the characters of the book, to experience their emotions, to feel their joy or sadness, to struggle or fly with them, and to express ‘ah, that was good!’ after reading the last word. The reader is the focus of this book to enjoy it to its end. I hope that each reader would thoroughly feel good, learn from the characters because each one, particularly Juanita, has a message to share, and transfer what is learned from them to real life in order to transcend limits,” Marasigan said.
He said aside from being born, schooled, and having had his first teaching stint here, Baguio is very close to his heart since his grandparents were among the early old-timers of the city. – Hanna C. Lacsamana