Saturday, March 24, 2018

Cut and Tear Storytelling Technique: Joseph and His Overcoat

Around November last year, I was invited by a group of Library and Information Science graduate students of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines to give a talk on Media and Information Literacy. Needless to say, it was well received.

As I was on my way out, the group requested for a parting shot. I told them of Joseph's Overcoat, a cut and tell storytelling technique I learned from my dear friend, Dianne de Las Casas (+).

The opportunity to create something out of nothing is always present! Seize it!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Filipino Librarian of the Month: Mariquit “Kit” Pedrasa

The Filipino Librarian of the Month is Ms. Mariquit "Kit" Pedrasa, licensed librarian of Lyceum, Calamba Laguna. She is the 2018 Outstanding Librarian conferred by the Consortium of the South. In this interview, Ms. Pedrasa shares with us a slice of her life as a researcher and licensed librarian.

What was your approach and attitude during the panel interview?

During the panel interview, I shared my experiences to describe the background of my activities such as the organization of the National Commission of Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Library, writing a paper about it, and presenting it to an international conference, and some other activities which presented the range of skills I have which I think validated the submitted documents. 

I considered the interview as mere conversation with colleagues so I will not feel nervous. 

What has been the best thing that has happened to you since you became a licensed librarian?

There were numerous remarkable things happened to me since I became a license librarian

It includes writing papers, leading a team in organizing the NCIP Library, oral presentations, etc., but the most memorable for me is the experience of mingling with colleagues in an international event who listened to my paper presentation.

We exchanged ideas, which made me motivate to write more papers about our profession, present them locally and internationally to share whatever knowledge or learnings I have. 

Where do you place yourself in the bigger scheme of Library and Information Science (LIS) in the Philippines?

As of now, I still consider myself as newbie or novice in the profession who still has to learn the motion, but at the same time I would like to be governess to young LIS learners by sharing whatever learnings I earn while learning and mastering the waves.

 Tell us something about your research on Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines.

The research describes the challenges and opportunities in organizing an Indigenous Peoples Library. The challenges includes the classification, organization, and digitization of IP reading materials, and other artefacts, establishing library services, generating reports, installing a library system. 

These challenges were all addressed through an approved Library Operations Plan which served as the guide in implementing the innovations. The opportunities include the commission considered a job order for a full time licensed librarian to manage and sustain the implemented innovations, counting the NCIP Library in the commission's budget proposal, and the linkages with other agencies to strengthen its resource network.

What do you wish to see in the LIS profession today?

In the near future, I would like the LIS profession to become dynamic leaders not only in their library organization but to their mother institution as well, actively engaging in research and community services to make an impact to the society. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Filipino Librarians in the South of Manila

I have had the pleasure of attending three wonderful librarian events in the past three weeks: 1) the conversation with peers on the decision to award the Outstanding Librarian and Library Staff of the Consortium of the South; 2) the Reading Conference at Southville International Schools and Colleges; and 3) the MUNPARLAS Librarians’ Association Incorporated’s (MLAI) Librarians Walk for a Cause, a modelling stint where librarians walked with kids and teens with disabilities. Needless to say, these events are indicative of the active growth and movement of  school librarians in the south of Manila.

Librarians from the Consortium of the South, composed of schools and colleges in Pasay, Muntinlupa, Parañaque, Las Piñas and Laguna, organized the search for the Outstanding Librarian and Library Staff of the year. This is to recognise librarians and staff who have made valuable contributions to their learning communities. Reading and examining the documents of each candidate, I conclude that these librarians and library staff are of consequence to their learning communities because they are self-starters consciously aware to develop their personal skills and professional competence. During the interview, their confidence in themselves was shinning through and their gratitude to their mother institutions was heart felt. It was one of the toughest judging job I had in a while!

On March 2, I gave a short lecture on digital learning and how the library play an important role in support of digital learners. Organized by the librarians of Southville International School and Colleges, the conference was another experience of professional growth. I may have been the group’s guest speaker, but interacting with participants and organizers was a learning experience for me too. To educate and form learners of the future, we all need to work together. Each of us playing a role and making contributions big and small for the growth  of the profession.

Lastly, the MLAI’s Librarians’ Walk for A Cause was a well received event by librarians and “non-librarians” whom MLAI have partnered with. The fashion show benefits the education if teens with disabilities from the Cradle of Joy Learning Center in Quezon City. Kids and teens walked down the cat walk and the librarians who joined them were all fully dressed in their smart casuals with a smile!

Cheers to everyone! Looking forward to more
events and activities that foster compassion, friendly competition and collaboration!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Alternative Storytelling Strategies: Out of the Books Storytelling

The image that comes to mind with the word storytelling is that of an elder, a parent, a teacher, an “ate” or a “kuya” holding an open book to a listening child or to a group of young people. The story is read aloud from the book of choice that has illustrations aiding the storyteller in the dramatic narration of the story. The storyteller would then add body movements, a chant or a song, and would use the given space for theatrical effects. All of these efforts by the storyteller are directed to achieve engagement and interaction with the audience. 

This storytelling technique is known as Book-Based Storytelling, a hybrid of storytelling and reading aloud. Thank you to the ingenious Filipino storyteller for this invention. Book-Based Storytelling as a means to promote the book and to model the reading habit, deriving entertainment or the element of fun in the process is here to stay. In recent years, Book-Based Storytelling has been the norm in many activities that promote reading and in events that campaign for literacy development. In storytelling contests in schools, libraries and book fairs, adult and child contestants hold a book while telling a story. This technique has indeed become an accepted practice, however, there are teachers and librarians who argue that it is reading aloud and not storytelling.

Storytelling is rooted from the oral tradition. It is a living art. Natural. Spontaneous. Unscripted. A Read Aloud is reading a story from a book loud enough for a listening child or a group of kids to hear the story. Storytelling is a way to preserve oral history and personal stories of peoples. A Read Aloud celebrates the written word and the dynamics of language structures. Storytelling is a performance art not limited to the narration of stories but inclusive of music, dance and theatre arts. A Read Aloud is a good technique to teach children how to read and to love the printed book at an early age. Each has a purpose and a function. A storyteller should be wise enough to know when to use one from the other.

Nonetheless, who are we to stop Filipino storytellers adept at combining both techniques in an experience that is educational and entertaining? Then again, here is a caveat. The frequent use of Book-Based Storytelling may lead the storyteller into complacency leaving the listener bored and disengaged. Instead of inspiring the listener to imagine, to create and to play with words and visuals that the mind can conjure, the storyteller’s execution of the storytelling becomes a canned production. 

Storytellers are also artists who share the responsibility of keeping humanity’s sense of wonder alive and well. 

I believe that Book-Based Storytelling has its benefits, but using a variety of styles and different manner of communicating a story, especially to children, is good for the soul. Allow me to share a selection of “out of the books” storytelling techniques. I learned them from storytellers I have met in festivals, conferences and book fairs here and overseas. 

They are called “out of the books” because the techniques do not use printed books in storytelling. These techniques trace their origin in oral tradition, in folklore and in traditional games that children from around the world play and enjoy.
Storyknifing or Draw and Tell

A story knife is a blunt piece of wood used by young Eskimo girls to draw on the mud while talking about their drawings to friends around a story circle. Young Native American Indians use a knife to carve images on barks of trees that narrate their adventures and experiences in the fields or during hunting trips. In modern day classrooms, teachers use chalk or whiteboard markers on the blackboard or whiteboard to draw ideas and concepts that are too big or difficult to express in words. 

Storyknifing or Draw and Tell is the technique where a storyteller draws while he or she tells a story. There are many patterns that can be used and these are available online. One Draw and Tell story I remember to this day is Bingo, the Dog. (Attached is the drawing and the accompanying story or text)

Cut and Tell 

This technique makes use of paper, scissors and a story. For younger audiences, the storyteller can use his or her hands to tear away parts of the paper when telling. My favorite Cut and Tell story is Joseph and His Overcoat. I learned this story and technique from a dear friend, Fil-Am storyteller, Dianne de Las Casas (+) 


Kami is Japanese for paper and shibai means play or drama. Kamishibai storytelling is the use of flashcards, 12-20 pieces inside a box known as Kamishibai Theatre box. The storyteller pulls out each card as he or she narrates the story. This style of storytelling was a fad in Japan in the 1920s but soon diminished as the tradition of visual storytelling using picture cards was replaced by television and video games. 

Parents and early grades teachers can easily create story flashcards by first selecting a story for the listening child or for the class. Five to ten flashcards are a good starting point. Divide the story accordingly to the number of flashcards. Illustrate or draw each part of the story and color them. Many Kamishibai have story guides at the back. The idea, however, is for the storyteller to fluidly tell the story using the flashcards and the theatre box without looking at the guide written at the back of each card.

Use of props like handkerchief and malong
Remember the many folding games we played using handkerchiefs when we were children? Cat’s cradle. A bandana. A table napkin that looks like a candle. A folded boy or person which can be turned into a puppet. These can all be used in telling stories. 

The malong is another tool for storytelling. Wrap it around your head as a cap or crown. Wear it around your body as clothes. Tie both ends and carry it like a bag. Place the malong around your waist like a skirt. Use them all to tell stories, especially those that come from Mindanao. 

Use of hands and Finger Plays

When storytellers narrate a story, it is inevitable that they use their hands, arms and even shoulders. Body parts are props. The entire body is a tool for telling and communicating stories. Make use of your hands and fingers in the classroom or at home when telling stories. A well loved storytelling and Finger Play technique I use in my sessions is Mr. Wiggle and Mr. Waggle. (See the illustrations/directions with accompanying story and text.)

These five “out of the books” storytelling are but a few of the many techniques available out there for use by teachers, parents and librarians during story time. Knowing different strategies keep the creative juices flowing. But, knowing your audience and the appropriate time, event or occasion to use these techniques can also spell the success of a storytelling session. Have fun! 


de Las Casas, Dianne. Handmade Tales: Stories to Make and Take. Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited, 2008.

Feldman, Jean. Best of Dr. Jean Feldman Puppets & Storytime: More Than 100 Delightful, Skill Building Ideas and Activities for Early Learners. New York: Scholastic, 2005.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Book Project Preview: A birthday and a video game console

Here are two studies from new book project that I have been working on with a librarian-artist. 

Can you guess who the artist is?

Can you guess what the story is all about?

Friday, March 16, 2018

Creating a Wordless Picture Book

With Bernadette and friends, Peanuts Pañares and Totet de JesusOn Saturday, March 24, 2018 Bernadette Solina-Wolf’s rendition of the story I wrote, Sparrow Makes A Home (Lampara Books, 2014)  in a wordless picture book will be on exhibit at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Her illustrations (and I hope the manuacript too) on Sparrow Makes A Home is part of the art exhibit Peek-A-Book Children’s Book Illustrations by 13 Women Artists. In this interview, my dear friend Bernadette, shares her creative process in illustrating a a wordless picture book and tells her origin story in becoming an illustrator of children’s books.

1. How did you approach illustrating Sparrow Makes A Home since it was conceptualized as a wordless picture book?

 I imagined it like a comic book without the thought bubbles.

2. What makes it different from illustrating a children’s picture book or storybook with words? 

I really found it more challenging since I had to fill out all the gaps visually.  You see, in a storybook with words, there is more a give and take of the words/narrative of the author and images of the illustrator.  In a storybook with words,the writer can make make the transitions from page to page and the illustrator just makes sure the attention of the reader is captured and then supplements the text. In a wordless piicture book, the illustrator has all the responsibility to made a story/idea cohesive and yet visually exciting.

Sparrow Makes A Home is one of fhe 12 books in the Start Right Reading Series (STARS) for Kindergarten. The learning package includes a teacher’s guide and a parent’s manual. The STARS series is published by Lampara Books.

3. How long have you been illustrating books for kids? What changes in the industry have you observed that have made an impact on women illustrators?

I had the opportunity to illustrate children's books since the 1990's. 

Actually, when you now speak of gender...I can only speak for myself.  I got married and since then I stopped illustrating for children's books. To keep myself honed somewhat in my art, I would make Christmas and birthday cards and we would send them to my parents-in-law in Germany.  It took me another 10 years to find myself back to illustrating.  It was my mother-in-law who told my husband I had a a gift for drawing expressive people and she would always send me art materials. It didn't make a dent in me until...I made a trip to Megamall. Power Books had still a huge store there.  I was in awe.  A huge section of the store had  dedicated itself to Philippine children's books!!! I was nearly in tears!  (Philippine children's books have been recognized!)  Most of them were books illustrated by Beth Parrocha and Jason Moss! By then I said to myself, I'm going back to illustration. So, if your question if for "women illustrator", this woman illustrator saw the "light" in that moment. 

There is a Picture Book Making Workshop on March 24, 2018 before the Opening Ceremonies. It will be conducted by Frances Alvarez. On April 28, 2018, Liza Flores will be conducting a paper-cut art workshop in the morning and Adarna House will launch books in the afternoon. The Peek-A-Book exhibit will run from March 24, 2018 till May 6, 2018.

It’s Women’s Month and Mother’s Day is in May. Celebrate it by viewing artworks made by Filipino women artists!
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