Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The 2015 NBW Blog Event: The Filipino Reader in the Era of ASEAN Integration

We conclude the National Book Week Blog Event of 2015 with this article by Roi Calilung. He writes about books and its role in the preservation of culture and heritage. Mr. Calilung is the Chair of the National Book Week Program. He is a licensed librarian and president of the PLAI Central  Luzon Regional Council.

Reading is the most important skill that a learner should develop at a very young age. Reading is acquired as culture is developed. Reading is a socio-cultural equalizer.

The theme of the 81st National Book Week, “The Filipino Reader in the Era of ASEAN Integration” is very timely. As I reflect on the theme of this year’s celebration, I often ask myself, “Where is the Filipino reader in the ASEAN community?”, “How well do I know about my culture and history?” and “What role do books and libraries play in the era of ASEAN integration?”

Definitely, the Filipino reader has a place in the ASEAN community only if he knows his culture and history very well.

One role that books and libraries play in this era is the preservation, conservation and promotion of our rich historical and cultural heritage as Filipinos. Through the books we read, we learn our customs and traditions, our history and culture, and language and literature. Through the books we read, we learn our identity as a Filipino and hopefully become proud of who we are as a nation.

It is also the role of libraries to promote good books that instill the sense of nationalism and patrimony to every reader. It is the role of libraries to promote our story and history as a nation through the books that these libraries acquire.

The need to be grounded on our national history, culture and identity cannot be dispensed with. We should aim to continuously discover our history, learn our traditions and appreciate our culture and heritage through reading so that our national identity will not be lost in the integration of cultures.

It is then imperative that the primary focus of our reading culture should give preferential attention to our national identity amidst foreign influences.

The celebration of the National Book Week is an opportunity where readers and writers can be gathered, where students, teachers and librarians can be united, and where other stakeholders can converge in one shared purpose: to instill into the young Filipino learners the love for books and reading towards producing independent leaders and lifelong learners.

As one Filipino people, let us be united in our efforts to promote good books and the joy of reading. Happy 81st National Book Week! Happy reading!

Monday, November 16, 2015

The 2015 NBW Blog Event: The Filipino Librarian and Their Library Readers

“Dream big, work hard, stay focused, and surround yourself with good people.”
This write up is part of the  2015 NBW Blog Event aimed at celebrating and drumming up the 81st National Book Week happening on November 24-30, 2015. With the theme, the Filipino Reader in the Era of ASEAN Integration, guest bloggers write, share and ruminate on being a Filipino librarian and reader in this age of ASEAN Integration.

We begin a new topic this week, The Filipino Librarian and their Reading Library Readers. Our guest blogger today is Ms. Rochelle Silverio. In this blog article, she answers the following questions: Who are your readers in the library? Why do they read? What are they reading? How do they Read?

Who are your readers in the library?

Demographically speaking, since I work in an academic library, the students that we serve are mostly in the age range of 16 to 21 years old, residing in the various barangays of Valenzuela City, and are taking different courses which include education, business administration, accounting, public administration, communication studies, engineering, and information technology. On a general sense, these Valenzuelanos are a merry and dynamic mix of young people with diverse backgrounds and interests.

How do librarians get to know their readers? 

There are many ways and one common method is the use of surveys. This year, the Library team conducted a satisfaction survey and we are glad that many are seeing the department’s efforts to support them in their academic run and to provide several programs for both educational and leisure purposes. The survey gave us a glimpse of who they are and what they need in terms of facilities and informational resources. Additionally, we also engage and communicate with students which lead us to learning more about them.

Yet afar from that, one may still ask who are they as readers? 

Thus, I approached several students and asked a few more questions beyond what we typically conduct. And so, I learned that most of them consider themselves as avid readers who enjoy reading and who make time to read. A few are dormant readers who still appreciate reading yet are having difficulty in finding time to read due to the myriad of responsibilities that they have. They all view reading as pleasurable which is a welcoming treat since there is this negative notion that many dislike reading nowadays.

As I have expected, they read materials of varied genres and formats. It is like being sucked in a Literature 101 book (which I’d be happy to be in, by the way).  Their interests span from fiction books to informational resources. Some of these include realistic fiction, fantasy, the classics, comics, factual resources such as the almanac and the newspaper.  Titles? There’s J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Reader’s Digest, Archie Comics, Trese, Odyssey, Bob Ong’s books, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, Sebold’s The Lovely Bones, and Wattpad books like Diary of a Broken Heart. It is also worth mentioning that they read all these other than the mandatory texts in class. They also like to read books in print form while some prefer the e-book format. Language wise, they do not have any issue if the text is in English or Filipino but one of the readers said that she occasionally prefers those written in the Filipino language so that she can “feel” the book better.

And for a bit of twist, I also asked them what books they will bring if they were to stay in an uninhabited island. The Bible tops their list followed by books on survival and fictional books.

How do they read?

Based on their answers, I have to say that a week does not pass without them reading anything. Many of them like to read continuously while some said that they have to stop from time to time, depending on the length of the text they are reading and other tasks they need to complete. One mentioned that he habitually read on evenings, usually before sleeping.

Just as I was interested in knowing the various angles of how these students are as readers, it is also fascinating to understand the whys and wherefores behind the act. Reading always comes with a purpose and we read for various reasons. The students particularly said that they read to learn something new and get more facts which I think is pretty rational now that we live in an information driven world. They also cited that they read to relax and entertain themselves as well as to enhance their reading comprehension and vocabulary. Some also expressed that they read as part of their required activities in class and to study in advance. I share these mentioned beliefs as well (including the last one) which made me see reading on another level. That reading is part and parcel of man’s survival kit.

It is a must for library professionals to know of their readers’ needs and interests as it is among the many bases of how a Library is and should be threading. On a more personal note, you see, readers can also be likened to one’s friends because it is wonderful to keep tab on them time and again. And from what I have just seen, these Valenzuelano readers are doing well.  
At present, Rochelle is the Librarian of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Valenzuela and is involved with the development of the Valenzuela City Library. She is serving the city’s constituents the best way she can together with a team of very inspiring Valenzuelanos. She also teaches Children and Young Adult Literature at the School of Library and Information Studies, University of the Philippines Diliman. At present, she is taking Ph.D. Reading Education from the College of Education at the same university. You can read more about her eatsploring sprees, musings, and ventures in her home city at the One Valenzuela blog. (link:

Photo Courtesy: Jane Frades

The 2015 National Book Week Opening Ceremony

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Filipino Friday #2: Five Things I Wish as a Filipino Reader

For this week’s Filipino Friday question, we ask you What are the five (5) Things You Wish as a Filipino Reader?
This could be anything! What stories do you want to see from our local authors? Which author do you want to visit the country? Would you want to see your favorite comic book become a live action movie? It’s time for you to share your ultimate wishlist from your perspective as a Filipino Reader. Go wild, go crazy!
This Filipino Friday reminds of a previous topic already assigned in the meme. Not complaining. I am actually glad to do the same topic all over again because, there are so many topics and stories out there that I wish to read. So, here goes.

What stories do you want to see from our local authors? 
More LGBT stories for teens. Stories about bullying that cover both sides: the bully and the bullied. Children's books that tackle or discuss indigenous groups and their cultures. Concept books and non-fiction books that can be used to support and enrich content areas, like Math, Science, Social Studies, Religion, etc. I want to see more deconstructed stories for kids and teens.

Which author do you want to visit the country?  
Authors I want to come to Manila: Dianne de las Casas, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Cora Seton and Tessa Bailey.

Would you want to see your favorite comic book become a live action movie? 
YES! Trese and Sixty Six!

Filipino Friday #1: Five Ways Reading Has Changed My Life

How do you think has reading changed your life? Please share with us at most five significant ways that will show how reading has influenced your life. These could be in terms of personality, career, studies, and other parts of your life this influence has taken place.

Here are five significant ways that show how reading has influenced my life:

a. Reading has influenced me to write. After four picture books, a children's book series and a collection of Filipino Folk Tales published in the US, I continue to read and write.

b. Reading has influenced me to pursue Bibliotherapy. Books and stories are for healing as well as the development of one's well being. Literature, apart from using this as instructional tool, is meant to be enjoyed. There is much to be learned about one's self when reading. Self knowledge is precious.

c. Reading played a big role in my career choice. As a librarian, I get to spend my working days around books!

d. Reading inspired me to advocate for books and reading.

e. Reading pushed me to take Reading cognates in graduate school.

 Looking at my list, I think reading is something I will do until I can and able to.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The 2015 NBW Blog Event: Filipino Librarians and the Essentials of Reading Books

This write up is part of the  2015 NBW Blog Event aimed at celebrating and drumming up the 81st National Book Week happening on November 24-30, 2015. With the theme, the Filipino Reader in the Era of ASEAN Integration, guest bloggers write, share and ruminate on being a Filipino librarian and reader in this age of ASEAN Integration.

The blog is still carrying on with the topic, Filipino Librarians and the Essentials of Reading Books. Our guest blogger is the Apolinario family. Nap and Rhea Apolinario, and their daughter Andie, talk about the books they love! Reading is a family affair!

We call ourselves, The Happy Family!  Indeed, we are a happy bunch who finds joy in everything  we do . .. be it eating, playing, or just simply “chillaxing.” 

I am Rhea, the Mama (boss) of The Happy Family.  My utmost happiness is taking care of the other two members of our family.  I am also a librarian who enjoys teaching and managing her own time.  When not at home and in school,  I am somewhere doing professional make-up to brides, grooms, the whole bridal entourage, models, guests, and to anyone who simply wants to enhance their beauty on their special day.  But what I love most is doing Mama things to Nap and Andie.

Papa Nap is our Handy Papa, who loves spending time with his family.   He also happens to be an Industrial Engineer and a Project Manager, who handles various projects in e-learning and business processes in both government and private organizations.   But to our daughter and I, he is the BESTEST Papa in the whole wide world!  He is a very hands-on papa who does not mind wearing pink (so we can all be “matchy-matchy”), changing dirty diapers, and doing “girly” stuff for us.  He is never too busy for his Happy Family.
The Apolinarios: Nap, Andie and Rhea
Andie, is our only daughter (but we are working on her sibling), who is now 8 years old.  She is mostly the source of our happiness and the main character of The Happy Family.  She loves painting, playing Lego, and going to the bookstore!  She also loves the beach like her parents and loves doing anything with them. 

Together, we will share with you one thing that gives us happiness . . . READING.  During the time that we were pregnant with Andie, we were already stocking her bookshelf with various books.  Thus, when she was born, reading to her has been our habit.  At 3 years old, she was already reading books by herself.  But there are still times that we read books to her at bedtime. 

What is the perfect book?

Andie:  HARRY POTTER!! Because it teaches me how to become creative and it brings me to another world!

Mama:  Hmmm ... is there really such a thing as a perfect book?  A very good book, perhaps?  Well, a very good book is the one that engages you immediately and steers up your interest after reading the first few pages.  The important thing is the perfect book sustains your attention and curiosity.  These are the books that even after you are done reading them, they will make you want to read them over and over again.  Or will simply just make you run towards them and flip some pages to remind you of very good parts. 

Papa: For me, the perfect book is a book that is interesting to read, easy to understand, and able to satisfy my needs and wants.

What are the top ten best books you have read in your lifetime that have made an impact in your life?

Andie:  Can it be 11? 
    •    I Will Always Love You More (Peachy G. Concepcion)
    •    The School for Good and Evil (Soman Chainani)
    •    Harry Potter series (again) (J.K. Rowling)
    •    The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
    •    Lucy the Diamond Fairy (Rainbow Magic Book series)
    •    Percy Jackson and the Olympians (Rick Riordan)
    •    Goddess Girls (Joan Holub, Suzanne Williams)
    •    Geronimo Stilton/ Thea Stilton
    •    Dr. Seuss books
    •    Tito Dok’s (Dr. Luis Gatmaitan) books
    •    Dork Diaries series (Rachel Renee Russell)

Mama:  Can it also be 11?   Wow!  There are a lot of books that made an impact in my life!  In reality though, almost all the books that I read somehow influenced me in some ways. But to answer your question, here are the books that easily came to mind.  These are some of the books that inspired me and gave me good memories. Sometimes though, I still find myself flipping the pages of these books, even if I have read them many times.  It is good to be reminded of the important lessons they taught me. 

Here are the 11 Books (in no particular order) that made an impact in my life.  You will notice that these books are representatives of the different stages of my life (i.e., as a kid, young adult, single, married, mom, wife, teacher).

Papa Nap's "childhood book"
    •    The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (Stephen Covey)
    •    The Purpose Driven Life (Rick Warren)
    •    The Secret (Rhonda Byrne)
    •    The Happiness Code (D Bertolucci)
    •    Harry Potter series (J.K. Rowling)
    •    Sweet Valley Twins  series (Francine Pascal)
    •    What to Expect When You’re Expecting (Heidi Murkoff, Sharon Mazel)
    •    The Power of a Praying Wife (Stormie OMartian)
    •    Rethinking Information Work: A Guide for Librarians and Other Information Professionals (G. Kim Dority)
    •    Everyday a Friday: How to be Happier 7 Days a Week (Joel Osteen)

Papa:  This is difficult. I used to have favourites when I was younger but now I just read books that I need to be able to perform my work or sustain my hobbies and interests. Anyway, here are a few books that I remember reading from cover to cover when I was young:
 •    Make and Do (from the Childcraft Encyclopedia) – I think I did all of the crafts and DIY toys in that book
    •    US Military Survival Manual – This was given to me as a gift when I was 9 or 10 years old. I read most chapters of the book except for the “Survival in the Winter” part because I cannot relate to all the snow digging and ice melting referred to in those chapters.
    •    I cannot recall the title anymore (maybe “Capsized”), but it was about a group of friends who went sailing in their sailboat which capsized in the open sea and drifted for more than 3 months before being rescued. The book talks not only about the practical survival skills that they employed to keep them alive but it narrated their personal and interpersonal struggles in trying times.
    •    Lots of management books and journals – In my line of work, I have to keep myself updated and informed with the latest industry buzzwords and management frameworks. So once in a while, I whip out my tablet and read ebooks and journals.

What are your recommended reads for other librarians? 

Andie:  Probably.... Hmmm...... It really depends on you . . . on the person . . . his/her interests and likes.

Mama:  As a wife, I suggest you read The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie OMartian and The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.  These books helped me to become a better wife to my husband. 

As a mom, it is important to know the interests of your child so you can give them books that feed their curiosity. But every now and then, it is also good to challenge them with new titles.  I also do not cringe when Andie wants to buy expensive books in the bookstores.  For me, books are treasures! 

Prof. Rhea's recommended read
For my fellow librarians, Rethinking Information Work: A Guide for Librarians and Other Information Professionals by G. Kim Dority is a good read.  It talks about the different career paths that a librarian can take and it discusses ways on how to grow your career.  My students gave good reviews of the book after I asked them to have a review of it (yup, that’s part of the requirements in some subjects I teach).

As you can see, our Happy Family has varied reading interests . . . and I loved it!  We learn from each other.  As the Mama boss of our family, I make sure that reading is always a part of our family activities. 

Photo/image source for books:

Make and Do:

Rethinking Information Work:,204,203,200_.jpg

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Book Reviews: That Salty Air & The Sleeper and the Spindle

That Salty AirThat Salty Air by Tim Sievert

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This graphic novel/novella made me feel uncomfortable. Maybe because, like the lead character, I am still coming to terms with my own issues on dealing with events beyond my control. What I liked about the novella is the presence of a loved one who is willing to stick around no matter what happens.

View all my reviews

The Sleeper and the SpindleThe Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The plot twist took me by surprise. Gaiman's handling of language is beautiful, as always. His trademark bending of old tales to combine and reconstruct new ones never cease to amaze.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The 2015 NBW Blog Event: Filipino Librarians and the Essentials of Reading Books

This write up is part of the  2015 NBW Blog Event aimed at celebrating and drumming up the 81st National Book Week happening on November 24-30, 2015. With the theme, the Filipino Reader in the Era of ASEAN Integration, guest bloggers write, share and ruminate on being a Filipino librarian and reader in this age of ASEAN Integration.
The blog is still carrying on with the topic, Filipino Librarians and the Essentials of Reading Books. Our guest blogger is Ms. Cristina Villanueva. Cristina works in a university library. During her free time she reads books, and visits bookstores for a change. Her greatest dream is to someday visit the Library of Congress and the Bodleian Library. But her more pressing dream is a functional library in every Philippine public elementary school.

Cristina in Japan last April 2015
My narrative will revolve around the theme, “Filipino Librarians and the Essentials of Reading Books,” while attempting to address the following questions: What is the perfect book?  What are the top ten best books you have read in your lifetime that have made an impact in your life? What are your recommended reads for other librarians? Offhand, allow me to say that to be effective librarians we need to be reading librarians.

Growing up, I never dreamed of landing in this profession. Just like anybody typically born into a family belonging to the lower echelon of society, all I ever wanted was make money after graduation. I never thought that my love for books and libraries would chart my future.

My passion for books started at an early age. Thanks to my elementary school’s library. You see, I was schooled in a private Catholic school. The Library was the most welcoming spot in school, ever teeming with readers during recess and lunch break. It was no bigger than a regular classroom. The shelves were neatly arranged against all four walls of the room. As early as the third grade we were required to visit the library after lunch break, undeniably the unholiest hours of learning and most probably teaching. We would form 2 lines, one for the girls and one for the boys, and silently proceed to the library. Since I was small, I was second in line thus had the advantage to first enter the library and select the best books. We had the option to borrow a book for a night and return it the following day.

I started with books on the Bobbsey Twins, Grimm brothers and Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales. In grades 4 and 5, I was introduced to Nancy Drew. Hardy Boys came later in grade 6. My fascination and addiction to these mystery books forced me to read all the titles in the series. What I was not able to borrow from the library, I borrowed from classmates who were better off. In exchange for the favor, I let them copy my assignments. I was required to return borrowed books the following day, forcing me to read until the wee hours of the morning sleeping only a wink before getting ready for school at 6:30 a.m. It was thus a big let-down when I came to know later on that Carolyn Keene and Franklin Dixon simply were non-existent.

Classics were a required reading in high school since we were required to turn in book reports in English classes. I read John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, and Grapes of Wrath, The Good Earth, To Kill a Mockingbird, Og Mandino’s The Greatest Salesman in the World, The Greatest Secret in the World, The Greatest Miracle in the World, and George Eliot’s Silas Marner. The Diary of Anne Frank opened my eyes to the diabolical horrors of the holocaust. It was not all heavy reading though, I also got hooked on to Sweet Dreams, Mills and Boon, and Barbara Cartland books.

It was in high school that I ventured into the YMCA community library. The amiable librarian was the sister of my sister’s best friend. These social ties became my pass to enter the library and loan out books. To this day, I make it a point to donate books to the YMCA as payback for the privilege accorded and for nurturing my interest in books and reading. 

My reading preferences in college transitioned to heavier stuffs like Irving Wallace, Judith Krantz, Louis L’amour, Jeffrey Archer, Colleen McCullough, Harold Robbins, Lawrence Sanders while appreciating briefly the works of Sidney Sheldon, Danielle Steel, Stephen King, and Mary Higgins Clark. The New York Times Bestseller magazine sort of became a guide for my book bucket list.

Today, I can name a good number of books that I have enjoyed and which I am sure children as well as adults will take pleasure in reading. Topping the list is E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, Og Mandino’s, The Twelfth Angel, and The Gift of Acabar, Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, Paulo Choelo’s The Alchemist and The Fifth Mountain, Roald Dahl’s Matilda, and of course, the all too familiar J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter fantasy series.

With Cristina, librarian friends and Ryota, a Japanese friend we met in Osaka, Japan
I still read books but not as often as I would have wanted to because of the demands of my work. Authors I favor, in no particular order, are John Grisham, Sue Grafton, Dan Brown, Amy Tan, Patricia Cornwell, Emily Giffin, Nicholas Sparks, the Chicken Soup series and a whole lot more. Oftentimes, I visit bookstores to know the latest bestselling books. Just marveling and skimming through the displays has been a stress reliever. In fact, I have accumulated books faster that I can read them. Reading is such an unparalleled experience, bringing the reader to parts unknown, real and imagined. Feelings are shifted vicariously, making them so palpable you can almost hold them with your bare hands. Reading cultivates one’s ability to critically analyze, think and decide.  And this is what we need in this era of ASEAN integration, a reading population that critically thinks and who can easily compete with our literate neighbors.

Until now, there’s no greater pleasure for me than curling in a chair with a good read in hand. Looking back, I’m grateful to be in a job where I get to be paid to do what I love to do—reading.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Book Reviews: The Year of Magical Thinking & Stargazing Dog

The Year of Magical ThinkingThe Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Didion tries to make sense of loss in the midst of her privileged and entitled lifestyle. Her lucid writing shines through illuminating the truth that death is the great equalizer.

View all my reviews

Stargazing DogStargazing Dog by Takashi Murakami

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The quote, "A dog is a man's best friend", very much applies to this melancholy story. A man's downward spiral to isolation is narrated in a matter of fact style. It is a statement of reality on the human condition.

Illustrated in black white, the whole experience of reading the novel is sentimental and avoids the sappy drama that goes with the usual broken heart-rejected formula of many life drama stories like this. While the dog is the true hero of the story and its presence in the whole narrative is the redeeming value of the main character's journey, the end shows a bit of hope for people who've loved and lost.

Read it when you're emotionally stable.

View all my reviews
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