The Center for Art, New Ventures & Sustainable Development (CANVAS), Inc. began when its Founder Atty. Gigo Alampay ran across an animated film, The Man Who Planted Trees which was based on a short eco fable by French writer Jean Giono. The movie’s title was also its entire premise: one solitary man simply decides to plant one hundred acorns each day in a barren and forgotten section of Provence in France, over the span of 50 years. In the process, his life’s devotion transforms the landscape and “creates a masterpiece truly worthy of God”. The US adaptation became a bestseller and the movie won the Academy award in 1988. It spoke of the power of an individual to change the world. This made an impact on Atty. Alampay and he embarked on a personal project to publish an adaptation in the Philippines. In 1999, he began inquiring about securing the rights to adapt and publish Giono’s tale. The editor in chief of the book informed him that “legend has it that no one – no person – and no company or institution “owns”the copyright to the story. The writer Jean Giono believes that he has given the rights to the world, granting anyone the opportunity to translate or reproduce his tale.”
In 2004, Gigo hired a young children’s book writer Augie Rivera to work on the adaptation and later convinced a relatively young unknown artist, Romeo Forbes, to create the artwork that would bring the book to life. In 2005 the book and the artwork, Elias and His Trees finally launched and gained commercial success and was selected finalist in the National Book Awards the following year. The belief in ripple effect and Jean Giono’s example is the reason why CANVAS has always made its stories freely downloadable on its website and chooses to give books to children in poor and disadvantaged communities for free.