Thursday, October 29, 2009

Extended: PBBY-Salanga Prize 2010

PBBY is still accepting entries for the 2010 PBBY-Salanga Prize. Entries must be received by the PBBY Secretariat c/o Adarna House, Inc., 2nd Floor, FSS Building, 20 Scout Tuason Street, Quezon City no later than 5:00 p.m. on November 26, 2009. The contest is co-sponsored by the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and The National Library.

There will be two winners, one for Poetry in English and another for Poetry in Filipino. Each winner will receive P20,000 in cash, a gold medal, as well as an opportunity to be published.

For more details, interested parties may contact the Philippine Board on Books for Young People, through telefax (372-3548) or e-mail (pbby@adarna.com.ph). Visit www.pbby.org.ph for more details.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Kenneth Yu's Flash Fiction

Kenneth Yu, writer and editor of The Digest of Philippine Genre Stories has a story in Fantasy Magazine. His story, Lost for Words is a finalist in the Top Three 2009 Halloween Flash Fiction.

Vote now! I just did!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Book Review: Catching Fire

This is long.

If you have the patience, read on.

If you're a fan, you will enjoy this.

If you have not read the book yet, forego reading this review unless you really want to know where the smoke comes from.

There are SPOILERS so don't say I did not warn you.

Catching Fire immediately started where The Hunger Games ended. In this second installment, Katniss and Peeta struggle to survive the post Hunger Games trauma. Both continue to promote their on screen romance although, for Peeta, it has always been as real as bread. Their dark, haunting dreams are aplenty, but facing the districts of the dead tributes when they do the rounds of the victory tour is a living nightmare. A grave threat looms over Katniss's loved ones, including her pretend cousin Gale, because, her performance and victory in the Games reek off rebellion. For Katniss, the fake suicide was was many things but it was primarily an attempt to save her life and Peeta's. For Panem's terrorized majority, it was a sign that the Capitol can be challenged. Soon, sparks of insurgency erupted in different districts prompting President Snow to bring back Katniss and Peeta, and a host of past victors to the third Quarter Quell, an upsized Hunger Games in remembrance of Panem's Dark Days. Katniss and Peeta once again face their adversaries only to find out that they were merely a part of a conspiracy plan to overthrow President Snow and the Capitol's ruling elite.

What worked
Changes. Challenges. Choices. These are themes that surround Catching Fire and its predecessor, The Hunger Games that readers can flesh out, put back and break down again and again. This is the beauty of HG and CF. It lends new insights, perspectives and possibilities to readers of all ages. Best of all, it opens readers to the complicated nature of the human spirit. Collins may have not consciously intended the books to be an avenue where one can profoundly examine the complexities of the human heart and mind, but I, at least, could not help but delve into the motivations of the book's characters and the reasons for their decisions. I even came to a point when I had to imagine myself in the shoes of her characters, some are flat, predictable and stereotypical. There are, however, characters in the round who transform and grow as the novel unfolds.

Collins has created flawed and conflicted characters you could not easily forget. There's Haymitch who is more than a drunkard. Cinna, Katniss's stylist during the games, who can create fantabulous costumes but expressed his own brand of rebellion half way through the book. I imagine him to be a young Michael Caine in the movie Ms. Congeniality. If I cried over Rue in HG it is Cinna whom I shed tears for in CF. My heart goes out to Finnick Odair, a popular victor of the Games who is in love with a deranged woman. Gale Hawthorne who I predict will be a Che Guevarra in the making is beginning to grow on me. But I remain in the Team Peeta flagship. Yes, I'm all the way for the boy with the bread.

Apart from Rue, Johanna Mason and Mags, Finnick's eighty year old mentor, are the female characters I admire. Mrs. Everdeen and Prim are accessories to highlight Katniss's strengths and weaknesses. They also contribute to the plausibility of Katniss' reason for being. She became a hunter to feed them. She learned mistrust when her mother withdrew from the reality of her father's death. Her relationship with Prim tethers her to the concept of family. And it is this connection that she holds on so dearly or else, she will lose her sense of self. Finally, I came to understand the girl on fire.

This vulnerability could only lead me to cheer and root for a Peeta-Katniss tandem in book three. But I doubt. In the end, I have a sinking feeling that Gale will win her over from this trilogy's resident nerd. It's unfair. The nerd deserves the girl. Gale's response to the rebellion is more aggressive. Peetah is the active non-violent kind who will exhaust all efforts for negotiations and dialogues. As for the rebellion, this is something Katniss continues to evade unsuccessfully.

Looking at the romance angle, it is an allegory on choices and self-identity. Katniss is in the middle of two different ideologies and identities for which she is too confused to decide on. Peetah and Gale are representations of two sides of the rebellion. Katniss kissed Gale in the woods. Peeta in the arena. What else can I say but, Go girl! By the end of CF, she loses Peeta and District 12. She may have woken up with Gale looking down upon her offering nothing but the truth, but (as I'm keeping my fingers crossed), it is Peeta whom she will be motivated to save from the crutches of the Capitol.

2010 seems too far off.

What did not work
The Point of View. I would have wanted to know the mind scape of the other characters.

I'm on my third reading of HG and CF. Call me a fan, but it's the psychological unfolding of each character and their responses to the external environment that keeps me going back to the books. In general, CF, like HG is being enjoyed by readers of all ages. This only goes to show that Collins has written a well crafted novel that does not use sex or the sensual appeal of the undead.

Source for image:
http://burdge-bug.deviantart.com/art/Peeta-and-Katniss-130892793?moodonly=1

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Live Blogging: The 2009 Petron Gurong Kaakbay

Today is the last day of the Petron Gurong Kaakbay (GK) Conference. It's a yearly teacher training conference for public school teachers run by Sa Aklat Sisikat. It boasts of an array of experts in the field of education.

This morning, I facilitated a workshop on Creating Classroom Resource Centers. I had a mixed batch this year so the result was both enriching and empowering. Responses from those who have not created a classroom library were very positive. They were inspired to adapt and adopt the tips and techniques discussed in the workshop. For teachers who have existing classroom libraries, they were glad to be affirmed that what they were doing was the right thing.

I could only thank them for making my work, as a librarian, more meaningful.

At 1PM, Dr. Ricardo Abad gave valuable techniques to be more engaging and animated in class. According to Dr. Abad, the best visual aid in the classroom is still the teacher. Technology is a support for the teacher. He left us all with CAMEL - Build a COMMUNITY of learners; Involve learners in ACTIVE learning; Use MULTIPLE learning strategies; Be EXPRESSIVE in voice and body movement; and LOVE teaching!

Right now, Aris Lim, HR manager and trainor continues to animate and infuse teachers with coaching and mentoring activities.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Enverga Library Blog

In my talk cum workshop on blogging at the PLAI STRLC conference last October 8, 2009, Madame Rose Villamater of the Manuel Enverga University Foundation proudly informed me of their library blog which was created using Wordpress.

I visited their new and spankingly clean blog a few weeks after. I could not help but admire the professional look of Wordpress templates. The Enverga Library Blog has all the basic information about their library. It is only a matter of time for the staff to beef up the content of the blog and offer something unique for readers of the blogosphere.

What I like most about the blog is its link to the Library Staff. Notice the big smile on everyone's face? Seems that they're a happy lot! One is never fully dressed without a smile, so they say. Now that's painting a positive image of librarians. To the staff of the Enverga Library of Lucena Quezon, I wish you success in your blogging endeavors! More happy blogging days to come your way!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Bagyo! Baha! Kwentong Pambata!

Creative Writing and Storytelling Workshop for child workers, teachers and parents. * Nov. 21, 8 AM-5 PM at the Museo Pambata.

Join and learn to write and tell stories for children. Discover how stories help children emotionally cope and heal from difficult circumstances and events. Workshop facilitators include Zarah Gagatiga and Dr. Luis Gatmaitan MD.

Zarah Gagatiga is a teacher, writer, librarian and storyteller. She explores the therapeutic claims of storytelling through experience and personal stories. Techniques and strategies to tell stories are also included in the workshop. Zarah is the president of the Philippine Board On Books for Young People. She is currently writing a book on Filipino Folk Tales in collaboration with international storyteller, Dianne delas Casas.

Luis Gatmaitan, M.D. will discuss the healing qualities of story writing and its effects on children. He has traveled to Mindanao and experienced first hand the healing process that children of war and conflict go through. Tips to improve one's writing skills are included in his talk cum workshop. Dr. Luis Gatmaitan is a Palanca Hall of Famer and TOYM awardee. For further details and reservation contact 09209602884 or 523-1797-98. Registration fee is at P800.00.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

PLAI Reaches In

I was at the The National Library (TNL) the other day for some book week concerns and PBBY business. What made the visit extra special though was the effort of the Philippine Librarians Association, Inc. (PLAI) to "reach in" members who were affected by Ondoy (Ketsana) and Pepeng (Parma). A couple of days before, Madame Susan Pador of the Ateneo Rizal Library sent me an email about a gift which PLAI has prepared for me. Who would not feel special with such an email? Apparently, Ms. Pador heads the Outreach Committee of of the PLAI.

There were around twenty people in the PLAI Office. The officers of PLAI even prepared snacks for us, Ondoy and Pepeng survivors and sure enough, stories of the great floods filled the room. One TNL staff could not help but mention how, in this time of loss I could still manage to smile. I'm alive and so are my loved ones. Friends have been very supportive with their prayers, donations of cash and kind, and all the help they can give our way. The communities we belong to were selfless in hearing us out and asking how we can be assisted in the recovery and rebuilding process. Our Ondoy ordeal made me see the best in people and the Filipino in particular. There are so many reasons to keep a smile. I'd like to think that the TNL staff meant it as a compliment.

In behalf of my husband and two kids, we thank the PLAI for their donation and financial assistance. The joy of giving was very palpable in the faces of the PLAI Officers that day. I could only accept this act of generosity with gratitude and humility.

Mabuhay ang PLAI!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Teen Read Week 2009



In my own little way, I am celebrating Teen Read Week by reading a host of young adult novels and short stories for teens.

I've just finished Collins' The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. I will give my reading eyes and mind a day's rest and will reread Laura Gallego-Garcia's The Legend of The Wandering King. I need something to inspire me in spite of my bubbly and perky disposition.

Then there's Eva Ibbotson's The Morning Gift. I've been meaning to have a copy of one of her books. Finally, I have one! Ibbotson writes the fantastic. The Morning Gift happens to be a romance novel. The book would make for an interesting read coming from a writer who shifted into writing another genre. Reviews will follow next, of course!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Book Review: The Hunger Games

Be warned! There are SPOILERS in this review!

By some stroke of luck, I was able to acquire a copy of Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games for free. Thank you Scholastic Philippines! Let's just say that I was at the right time at the right place.

It's been a while since I last read a young adult novel and yes, I was craving to devour one. Did the novel satisfy my hunger? Here's a rundown of what I thought worked and what did not.

What worked

The Hunger Games is set in post apocalyptic North America known as Panem. Advancement in science and technology is so profound that it has created a great divide between the Capitol, the seat of a tyrant government, and its twelve districts. The Capitol is the land of the privileged. The districts are impoverished places populated by groups of people who each work on a specific industry that keeps the Capitol alive and bustling. Peacekeepers are a plenty in each district and they do more than merely keep the peace. They instill fear and terror to prevent rebellion and uprising. In Collins' created dystopia, the past offers a rich history of destruction, war and violence.

It is in this background where I find Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, two teenagers who played in the Hunger Games and triumphed in the merciless arena set by the Capitol's Game makers. The Games is a Capitol run reality TV show that pits twenty four teenagers, age 12-18 against each other to the death. You read that right. DEATH. In Collins' Panem, death is a game and life is a candlelight that can easily be snuffed out. In this fictional world, the Hunger Games is the Capitol's way to control people and to stay in power. Sounds familiar, right?

There really is nothing new under the sun but a writer who can creatively render such themes and elements into something new produces magic.

This is where Collins succeeded. Her plot structures are well crafted that her lead characters make decisions that affect external and internal conflicts in the novel. For example, the external environment such as the killings that happened in the arena has a greater pull on Katniss' decision to save Peeta's life. The effect of her decision to fake a suicide bubbles up the conflict that has been simmering underneath every district (save for District 1 and 2). For Katniss and Peeta, dying together is better than killing each other off. To the Capitol, it spells rebellion. To the people of Panem who watched the Games, it elicited a host of impressions and ideas in varying degrees of intensity. A romance between Katniss and Peeta. An expression of rebellion. A stand to be true to one's self. A fight against a bigger structure and system manipulate and control individual and collective identities. These rising conflicts are further explored in the second book, Catching Fire, as well as the two teenagers' motivation in the fake suicide act. Was it done out of love or rebellion? Or both?

Collins advantageously made use of her knowledge of TV and broadcast media, its power and influence on televiewers. The Games is so convincingly real. Think Survivor or Pinoy Big Brother. She also brought back the classics through this book. JK Rowling has done that with the Harry Potter series, but Collins spins the basic thread of her story in the spindles of the science fiction genre. The Hunger Games reminds of three things: Greek. Grimm. Golding. Bravo!

What did not work

Katniss Everdeen. Her reluctant hero act is not as well established as Harry Potter's. She's the book's Cinderella, but I am apathetic to her. I'd rather drop a parachute of bread to Peeta in the arena to keep him alive so he can continue to charm the rest of Panem and the reading world.

Katniss is a hunter. She can fend for herself and take care of her family. Why would she find herself unsubstantial or ordinary?Claim it, girl! The denial act is so lame.

It's just me, I suppose. In a way, Collins once again struck the gongs of success by putting opposite characters to hate and love and love and hate at the same time. Peeta is witty and pleasant. Katniss is emotional and defensive. Peeta, despite having a nagger of a mother, is mature enough to make sacrifices. Katniss, in spite of her protective nature for her younger sister Prim, is clueless on Peeta's motives and the emotions that surges through her during and after the Games.

Over all, it's a GOOD read. So many characters have begun to grow on me that I'm excited to read about them in book 2, Catching Fire. My special favorite is Peeta Mellark, of course, but Gale Hawthorne and Haymicth Abernathy are interesting characters to watch for in the next book. Of course, I'll write a review.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Storyteller, Story Teacher!

I had another successful storytelling workshop for teachers last Saturday, October 17, 2009 at Phoenix Educational Systems, Inc. Most of them were preschool teachers who found the use of puppets in storytelling very useful. Apart from simple puppetry, we also had hands on activities in making Story Kamishibai and Readers' Theatre.

Teacher participants are huddled together as they worked on a kamisibai. They brought home their output of the day.

It's a joy to watch them work and blend easily with each other. They practically didn't know each other at the start, but halfway through the workshop we were all friends bound by the power of stories and storytelling.

Practice makes perfect, so they say! A group of teachers whipped up chants, songs and interactive actions to the fable, The Turtle Who Could Not Stop Talking, a readers' theatre piece taken from Dianne de Las Casas' Handmade Tales.

At the end of the day, there were plenty of smiles and laughs that went around. Plus, the confidence to tell interactive stories in the classroom.

Friday, October 16, 2009

PaperTigers Zooms On Philippine Chidlren's Literature

PaperTigers is currently featuring Philippine Children's Literature in their website. Reviews and views by Neni Sta. Romana-Cruz and Tarie Subido are great reads! Carla Pacis, Panch Alcaraz and Serge Bumatay are featured as well.

While this news is something all Filipino librarians specializing in children's and young adult library services must read, PaperTigers provides a comprehensive interview with Nancy Harrington. Ms. Harrington and her husband Dan are the proponents of a book donation and library development project in Mindanao and other parts of the southern islands in the country. Book for the Barrios has set up floating libraries in Agusan.

Thanks to PaperTigers! It could not have come at a better time but now.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Rehabilitation Process

Rico Blanco has a new song, BANGON, for all of us who went through Ondoy.

So he says --
Countless Filipinos have heroically gone out of their way to help our brothers and sisters in this time of need. This is just my humble contribution as a singer and musician. I hope, in my own little way, I can help raise additional funds for our countrymen affected by the typhoons, and perhaps give a little boost to their morale to help them get back on their feet again.


Now, the rehabilitation process begins. Bangon, Pilipinas Kong Mahal!

Philippine Blog Awards: One Blogging Nation

Winners of the Philippine Blog Awards (PBA) were announced last October 9, 2009 at the PETA Theater in Quezon City. This goes for Luzon blogs and bloggers only. There is a scheduled announcement of winners for the Visayas and Mindanao regions. With the theme, One Blogging Nation, the PBA aimed to cover and unify the Filipino Blogging Community.

Going through the list of winners this year, I was pleasantly surprised to find Jim Paredes' Writing On Air come out as the winner for Best Personal Blog. I love his writing and his reflections on life, parenting, music, art and culture. Since redesigning my personal blog early this year, I have not gotten back to putting the old blogroll. As for the Best Filipiniana Blog, Dennis Villegas beat out my personal favorite for the award. But no matter, there's still next year.

As an added info, Juned Sunido, true blue blogger and Filipino blog mover is part of the board and organizing committee of the PBA 2009. He is also a licensed librarian.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Workshops! Wheeee!

A week before Ondoy, I was in Baguio with the Philippine Public Librarians League, Inc. (PPLLI). There I gave a seminar-workshop on Children's and Young Adult Library Services. Our public librarians are carrying on despite limitations in funding and resources. It was inevitable to talk about the limitations but thanks to public librarians who've shown tenacity and leadership in the face of adversaries. They were able to inspire others with projects that they were able to implement.

What struck me from their sharing was their focused and practical approach to planning and implementing programs and services for children. It's a one-day-at-a-time technique for them. Coming from the big school set up, this was all something new to me. In the big school we plan in years --three years to five years planning with in between assessment and evaluation.

Yesterday, I was with the PLAI-STRLC for a seminar-workshop on bloggig. They are a social and congenial bunch of librarians, I tell you. Plus, I find the council's networking skills effective and efficient. From stories shared in the long table, the officers boasted of a well represented council. They only need to search and spot for a librarian from Romblon to fully complete the roster.

Their output on blog evaluation, they reviewed Von's blog and their council's, was inspiring since they're positive to explore blogging to render an improved reader's services in their own libraries.

And now, here I am at Phoenix Educational Systems, Inc. wrapping up a workshop entitled, I'm A Librarian. Hear me ROAR! Will blog about it next!

Who are these men?



video

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Collaboration with Dianne de Las Casas

Last week, as my family and I take comfort in the support and security offered by our immediate family and friends in the midst of our Ondoy ordeal, Dianne de Las Casas sent me very good news!

The book proposal we sent to Libraries Unlimited was given the green light!


This means that for the next three months until May of 2010, Dianne and I will write, research, collect and travel together for our book, Tales from the 7,000 Isles: Filipino Folk Stories.

Here's a sample of the folk tale series that Libraries Unlimited publish. This one is a book on Indonesian folk tales. It turns out that an array of folk lore from different countries of the world has been published by Libraries Unlimited save for Filipino folk stories. I'm delightfully excited at the progress of our book proposal. The Philippines boasts of fantastic stories from its folk tradition. Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, American and Arabian influences flavor our Filipino folk tales. These influences lend spice, humor, mysticism and wonder to our rich cultural and literary heritage.

Dianne is going back to the proposal as I prepare for the initial research that the project entails. Wish us luck!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Storytelling Workshop On November 7, 2009

Telling Family and Personal Stories : For Healing and Learning

The workshop explores family and personal stories for reading skills development and the fostering of cultural and family literacy. Different storytelling ways to collect and cull out these personal stories will be discussed. Telling techniques like read aloud, participative telling, and use of props and puppets are included in the workshop.

Saturday November 7, 2009
The Learning Library, San Juan
16 Gen. Vicente Lim St.
Little Baguio, San Juan

Workshop Fee: 500 Php (Professionals) 250 Php (for college students) per session
1st session - 8.30 AM-11.30 AM
2nd session - 1.30 PM - 4.30 PM

Proceeds of the workshop will be donated for the house repair fund for the family of an Ondoy survivor.

*Registration is on a first come first serve basis. Limited seats so advance payment of at least 60% can be made. Call or send text messages via 09209602884 for details.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

When it rains it pours!

My family and I would like to continuously thank all the people who sent donations in cash and kind to lift our spirits and help us rebuild and recover. The prayers and encouraging text messages of friends from KUTING, MAGIS DEO, Vibal Foundation and my friends in the library profession are greatly appreciated. The moral support is enormous!

Right now, I'm praying for strength and wisdom as my family and I work out plans and ways to rise from our Ondoy ordeal. We are still pleasantly displaced at my in-laws. We have not gone back to Pasig since water has not subsided yet. We have accepted what has happened and with the rain coming in every week (God forbid!) we have decided to completely let go of the house. We will go back and clean up when water dries up. Whatever state the house shall be in when we see it weeks from now is something we have to brace ourselves for.

For now, life goes on.

Our call for help is still on going. Donations are very much welcome. If you can lead me to sponsors and donors for my storytelling workshops, email me at zarah.gagatiga@gmail.com or send SMS via 09209602884 / 09182293587. Thank you so much!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Many Thanks!

I would like to thank the following people for extending an arm and a leg on my call for help --

Igor Cabbab, Neni Sta. Romana-Cruz, Luis Gatmaitan, Maricel Montero, Noreen Parafina, Chris Pangilinan, BCGG Mt. Olivet, Eli Prieto, Sally and Anchit Chuachiaco, Liwa Malabed, Kate Osias, Carlo Go, Carlo Chong, Mona Dy, Elyss Punsalan, Gwen Galvez, Dianne De Las Casas, Augie and Mike Rivera, Vanessa De Guzman-Natividad, Von Totanes, Louren Dacanay, Evelyn Nabus, Sally Labanda, Enoy Feriol, Vhina Dimanalata, Faye dela Cruz, Kenneth Yu and the many FB friends who made a repost of my profile for donations.


The help and concern that you have given me and my family came in various forms and in different kinds. Your sincerity is greatly appreciated. It definitely lifted my spirits and my family's too especially in this time of loss.

As of writing, I am busy planning and organizing a series of storytelling workshops to raise funds for our house repair project. My hands are full and I'm still confused and bit disorganized. There is a need to move on and continue with life. But greater is the pressure on our shoulders to rebuild and recover. Just thinking of the overwhelming response of people to reach out and help sees me through.

I know thank you is not enough. In the near future, my family and I will be able to pass this act of kindness and generosity. May God bless you and all of us who are going through this trying moment in our lives!
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