Saturday, September 22, 2018

Writing for TV: An Interview with Augie Rivera

Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho’s (KMJS) episode on Child Pornography begins with a story written by Augie Rivera. It is for me, a new form of telling a true story as it shifts to actual reports and documentary on online sexual exploitation of children. Televised last September 9, 2018, you can watch the episode by clicking this link to Niña Inocente.

This week, dear readers of the blog, Augie Rivera affords us an interview about the issue on child pornography, human trafficking and online sexual exploitation, and writing for TV.

How did Nina came to be and what was your approach in writing a theme or a true life story on online sexual exploitation of children?


I was commissioned by KMJS Program Manager LJ Castel to write a children’s story tackling child porn to supplement their special documentary on the subject. I think it’s a fantastic concept— to present a very heavy and sensitive subject matter and intersperse it with light, colorful, whimsical take that will make the whole presentation more compelling/interesting to a wider audience market. More importantly, iwill help attract the younger age group whom we also want to target and enlighten about the sad plight of these children of cyberporn. (after airing: it worked! A lot of twitter fans took note that the concept of mixing the ‘heavy/serious and light/colorful made it more accessible to the audiences, even to young children. I read a comment that his 6-yr old was engrossed watching, and asking questions that were not clear to her, which was good!)


While I was reading through the voluminous research materials sent to me by the program, I came across this interview of an eighteen year old recounting the harrowing experiences she went through when she fell victim to cyberporn at the tender age of eight. She said: ‘hindi ko po alam na mali pala ginagawa ko… na nabibiktima na pala ako… ang alam ko lang, kumikita ako ng pera, nakakatulong ako sa amin.”This became my inspiration for ‘Nina Inocente.’


How did you conduct research for this project?


I have already written quite a number of children’s books tackling sensitive topics and children in difficult circumstances like: “Ang Lihim ni Lea” (on incest/child sexual abuse), ‘Mantsa’ (on verbal abuse), ‘Isang Harding Papel’ (on Martial Law), ‘Xilef’ (on dyslexia), ‘Batang Historyador series (historical fiction set during different historical periods) and others. And always, research plays an important part of pre-writing stage. Aside from all the research materials and interviews provided to me, I also brushed up on a lot of online articles and books on child porn, psychology, therapy, etc., as well as on other reported cases. I also consulted some Cebuano-speaking writer-friends on some of the Cebuano terms that I intended to use in the story.

Art by Juno Abreu

This is not your first story on a sensitive issue regarding children. What metaphors came up that formed Nina and characters in the story?


In tackling such sensitive topics, the challenge is always to come up with a story that young audience can easily relate to, with a character that’s compelling and memorable. Nina is not your typical pa-sweet, goody two-shoes little girl— she’s boyish, makulit, rough, techie-mahilig sa computer, active imagination, but also loves to play with dolls. Many kids love playing RPG or role-playing games on the computer, so I made use of that. The ironic thing is it was also the device used by the computer shop ownerAte Guwapa, who was like a wicked Pied Piper who lured her unsuspecting victims into the vicious web of cyberporn. The recurring image of the Sto. Nino in the story was utilized not for religious but for symbolic purposes— like a ‘silent witness’ to the ongoing abuses and exploitation of ‘niños inocentes’ or innocent children.


What is the purpose of this kind of storytelling, where fictional charcaters are meshed with real people and events? Will it solve issues and problems, particulalry the exploitation of children?


A simple story cannot claim to ‘help address (or even solve) this problem on child pornography.’ But it serves a two-pronged purpose: 

a) to empower and give hope to children who are going through similar situations first-hand; 

b) and to teach empathy to children who are lucky enough not to be in such difficult circumstances.


Nagbibigay ng lakas ng loob kapag nakita ng mga batang biktima na hindi sila nag-iisa, at may iba ring mga batang may parehong pinagdadaanan; kung kinaya ng bidang ma-overcome, kaya rin nila. 


Kapag ine-expose natin ang mga bata sa iba’t ibang karanasan, na kakaiba sa kanilang mga sariling karansan, pinalalawak natin ang kanilang pagtanggap at pag-unawa; sa vicarious experience, natuturuan silang mag-isip, maging kritikal, magtanong tungkol sa mga complex issues; at ine-empower din natin sila para alam nila ang mga dapat gawin kung sakaling malagay sila sa parehong sitwasyon.


Augie Rivera will give a talk on Using Children’s Literature for Learning About History at the Benitez Hall, UP Diliman on September 29, 2018, 1-4PM. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

My 2018 Manila International Book Fair (MIBF) Kilig Moments

Making this list and checking it twice! 

1. The MIBF is always a happy reunion with friends in the book industry.

2. A book signing session can be a kikay moment. I was seated with Beth Parrocha during the book signing event at Lampara Books. She is frank and honest and I love her for it! 

Here’s how one of our conversations went:

Beth: I like the curve of your eyeliner. 
Me: Thanks! Took me a year to master this curve. 
Beth: Ah, yes! Such things take time to master.

Spoken by a true artist!
3. I got to chat with readers young was and old. Adults who read Children’s Literatire are full of grace. Kids who read Children’s literature are full of hope. Parents and teachers who buy them for their kids and students are doing the right thing in heping them love reading.

4. An honest to goodness kilig moment is when my books were chosen as storytelling pieces for the Lampara Storytelling Contest.

5. Honored and humbled to sign my books bought by librarian, writer and illustrator friends.

6. Always a happy feeling when I meet librarians and teachers who have all attended my past and previous workshops and we greet each other like old friends. #wearefamily

So, on to MIBF 2019! 

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Featured Translator: Genaro Gojo Cruz

Marami ng nakamit na karangalan at medalya sa mga pantimpalak sa panitikan si G. Genaro Gojo Cruz. Bukod sa pagiging isang mahusay na manunulat, si G. Gojo Cruz ay isa ring translator. Siya ang nagsalin sa Filipino ng aming bagong aklat ni Jonathan Rañola, ang Ino the Invincible (Si Ino, ang Walang Talo) nilathala ng Lampara Books.

Narito ang interbyu ko kay Genaro ukol sa proseso niya sa pagsasalin at mga pangarap para sa Panitikang Pambata sa Pilipinas.

1. How do you approach translation work?
Paano mo sinisimulan ang pagsasalin?

 Binabasa ko nang maraming beses ang kuwento hanggang sa maging pamilyar na ako sa tone at mood nito.

 2.  What has been the biggest challenge for you as translator of children’s srories?
Ano ang pinakamalaking pagsubok ng isang translator ng mga kuwentong pambata?

Bilang translator ng ilang kuwentong pambata, malaking hamon sa akin na maging tunog pambata rin ang kuwento kapag naisalin na sa wikang Filipino.  Sinisikap ko ring maging natural o madulas ang gamit ng mga salita nang di halatang salin lamang ito.  

Ang Ino the Invincible, ang aklat na sinalin ni Genaro Gojo Cruz sa Filipino ay mabibili aa Manila International Book Fair.

3. Among your published works, what book is the most meaningful and why?
Sa mga aklat mo, alin ang pinakamahalaga para sayo?

Sa mga aklat-pambata kong naisulat pinakamalapit sa akin ang sumusunod:  "Ang Dyip ni Mang Tomas" kasi bahagi nito ay kuwento ng tatay ko na isang tsuper ng pampasaherong dyip, ang "Makinang Makinang" kasi bahagi rin nito ay kuwento ng nanay ko na isang mananahi ng mga damit-pambata noon.  

4.  Name five books that infuenced you to write for children.
Limang aklat na may malaking impluwensya sa buhay mo bilang manunulat.

Ito ang limang kuwentong talagang kasama lagi sa mga ikinukuwento ko sa mga bata at nagiging batayan ko sa aking mga isinusulat na kuwento: "Unang Baboy sa Langit" ni Rene Villanueva, "Papel de Liha" ni Ompong Remigio, "Sandosenang Kuya" ni Russell Molina, "Yaya Niya, Nanay Ko" ni Ma. Corazon Remigio, at "Chenelyn, Chenelyn" ni Rhandee Garlitos.  

5. Complete the sentence: Ang pangarap ko sa panitikang pambata ng Pilipinas ay...

 Pangarap ko sa panitikang pambata ng Pilipinas ay makaabot pa sa mga liblib na bahagi ng ating bansa.  Makarating sa bawat tahanan ng pamilyang Filipino.

Si Genaro ay may dalawang aklat pambata na inilathala ng Lampara Books. Book signing niya sa Linggo, Setyembre 16, 2018 sa Manila Intetnational Book Fair.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Ang Aklatan Ay Para sa Lahat Priming Activity: Inclusion and Diversity

If you are attending my talk on Inclusion and Diversity in Library Services and Programming tomorrow at the Manila International BookFair (MIBF) please watch this video. This is to activate your prior knowledge and schema on the topics of inclusion and diversity. After watching the video, write down three takeaways or impressions you had. It will fuel discussion and interest on the topics. See you!

The Museo Pambata Mobile Library

The MP Mobile Library is at rest in the museum grounds.
A Mobile Library is one example of inclusive programming. Most public libraries carry on programs like this to reach areas and communities where books are scarce and access to information is poor. The Museo Pambata, a non-government foundation, has been running a mobile library since 1995.

Charlot Cachuela, MP's librarian and resident storyteller tells us more about the mobile library's history, activities and future projects.

How did the mobile library begin?

The Mobile Library had its beginning in 1995, shortly after the opening of Museo Pambata. In fulfillment of the museum’s thrust to promote literacy, staff members and volunteers regularly visited underserved areas in Manila aboard a Tamaraw FX carrying 50 books and a simple sign that read "Museo Pambata Mobile Library". From then on, the advocacy program continues to serve to Filipino children especially when it finally had a real mobile library van.
What are its programs, schedule of visits to communities and activities?

The main goal of the project is to provide reading materials to children who doesn't have an access to books and from there encourage them to read. Thus we do, storytelling enhanced with arts and crafts. There is also an allotted time for reading the books. Different workshops, such as storytelling, creative facilitation and establishing reading centers are among the activities being provided to the volunteers and community leaders who are interested with the project. The mobile library visits communities every Saturday but can have activities on a weekdays during school breaks.

Charlot telling a story to kids in Museo Pambata

Why is it still operational? Name factors that have been helpful for you and the MP mobile library to function?

Through all the support from the people who believe in the project, whether they are sponsors, volunteers, community leaders, parents and friends, the mobile library van still rolling its wheels. The project will continuously serve the children as long as needed. The organization seeks funds to keep it moving. Collaborating with interested local government units and schools also make to the project sustain.

What are the future plans or activities of the MP Mobile Library?

One of our dreams is to make a smaller mobile library van which can go along narrow streets of Manila. We cannot bring the big bus into smaller communities because of its size plus its old already, serving us for 14 years. A new look, a new vehicle in the future to reach more children.

Visit the Museo Pambata website and FB Page for updates on activities and projects for kids and children's rights advocate.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Library Treasure Hunt 2018

Two weeks ago, I had a library treasure hunt with our grade 9s. This is already in the running for three years with the help of the Comparative Religions (CRe) teacher. We have made improvements since then. Sharing with you my reflections on the experience.

1. The session was a good follow up to the library orientation given to grade 9 students during Foundation Week. They had hands-on activities on the use of the OPAC and the three IB recommended databases that we are subscribed to. Each form of media was introduced as access to sources and information. I also mentioned that their academic integrity increases when they use library resources because these are selected based on reviews and recommendations from teachers who are knowledgeable of the IB and DepEd curriculum. 

2. Students had hands-on activities on the use of search terms(keyword) and Boolean strategy on the databases, OPAC and different search engines. They were asked to evaluate Google with another search engine based on three criteria, namely design, navigation and search engine results page. Unlike the two search strategies, this was not further discussed during the session when we talked about their answers.

3. Citation exercises were provided to students using web apps and citation builders. During the second session, the five fundamental bibliographic data were introduced: author, title, publisher, place of publication, copyright/year of publication, plus, format (print, digital, etc.) as key elements of a citation. The students were given books to locate these information. These books were all taken from 200-299 division of the General Collection. In library work, these five plus one data are a librarian's basis for OPVL. It leads a librarian to pursue further questions on the document's origin, history and relevance.

I think, what's good about this experience is the provision for schema development and activation, and priming of skills. Before doing research on a CRe topic, students were given an experience of the library as a learning environment where formal and non-formal instruction on research and IL skills happen. As a librarian, I am part of the students' learning journey. I am a partner and "sidekick" to the teacher who plans her lessons and sets out to deliver the learning objectives. 

Going back to two years ago, the English teacher asked me to do a session on search strategies and narrowing of topics for her grade 9 English class. We did mind mapping, keyword and Boolean searching. I was able to re-introduce our subscriptions as well as other media formats like maps, photos, paintings, kits, games posters, infographics, podcasts and the like as sources of information. It was only in passing that I told the class that each media format needs a set criteria when evaluation its purpose and credibility and that, these sources can be used in specific topics, research question or academic task.

Here are links to related posts:

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Book Review: Dialogue and Humble Inquiry

Every month, I send out our library's list of new titles or acquisitions. There are many ways to promote new books, but I still prefer to use email to inform and communicate with the community of our current books and resources. 

Our featured new books for the month of September
From the list, here are my top two recommended reads.

In Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together (Currency and Doubleday, NY 1999), William Issacs brings readers back to the flow of meaning present in conversations. He writes, "most people living today do not know how to create meaningful conversations" and traces the etymology of the word from the classics. He defines dialogue as a conversation with a center, not sides. A way of taking energy of people's differences and channeling it into a new creation. The aim of dialogue is to avoid and, in time, remove us out of polarizations, he adds.

What follows are stories and examples of men and women in the sciences, engineering, military and business who all have succeeded and made a difference in their chosen field because they have recognized the power, aesthetics and flow of meaning in dialogue. Contents include capacity building for effective conversations in the workplace, enhancing relationships through dialogue, an examination of the ecology of thought and the role of dialogue in organizational management, the new economy and today's fragile democracy.

Consider Edgar H. Schein's book, Humble Inquiry The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling ( BK Publishers, CA 2013) as a companion to Isaacs' Dialogue because, the former is written to build positive relationships and better organizations. It is only seven chapters long but it's a powerful read. It explains the value of humility as key to achieving personal goals and professional success by communicating with people we admire, respect and even dislike. It challenges readers to recognize one's limitations and that, the admission to be helped by another is a path towards establishing a positive working culture.

Chapters 2 and 3 deal with strategies on the humble act of asking people, case studies and practical activities to apply the asking vs. telling strategy. In the succeeding chapters, Schein discusses the culture of "do and tell", how we value "doing" more than "relating", the misinterpretation that "doing is relating", and how humility dissipates as people climb up the ladder of power and authority. The book ends with real life examples on the difficulty and challenges of being humble in these modern times as Schein provides ways and means to keep a small and grateful heart. 
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