Thursday, May 24, 2018

Pilgrim's Progress: Only God

I was cleaning my laptop a few weeks ago. Weeding out old files. Keeping the ones that hold sentimental value and the documents that prove our family’s reason for being to a safer storage. Oh boy, do I have a lot of memories stored in my laptop. One of these is a .mov file I made in April 2009 about the Family Encounter Weekend (FEW) we attended as family auxiliary. Of the numerous files I was organizing, this one made me stop from my inventory. I watched it and I was hurled back to the past.

I remember the Prietos, Tito Eli and Tita Edith, leading us through the three day retreat for families. We were joined by our MEW batchmates then, the Macalalads and the Antonios as assisting auxiliary. Fr. Ruben Tanseco was the spiritual director of that weekend and the family sharers were the Concepcions and the Escosias. How time has changed and so many things have happened since then. Some of the people in that FEW are still active in Magis Deo. Many have left us for a variety of reasons. A few faces I recall and I wonder where they are right now.

At the end of the video, I could only utter a prayer of thanks. We have grown and matured through Magis Deo’s formation programs and it enriched many areas and facets of our lives. We are grateful to belong to a community that nurtures couples as well as their children.

Nine years ago, both of our kids, Nico and Zoe, were young grade school students. Now, Nico is a junior in college in UP Diliman and Zoe is in 10th grade at the school where I currently work. I was, at the time, unemployed. I have just retired from Xavier School after fourteen solid years of service with and among Jesuits and lay partners. I was neither young nor old to sit in a rocking chair. I wanted to try something new. Something entirely different. For the next two years, I worked freelance. Domeng, on the other hand, was fully employed. To this day, he remains consistent, stable and steadfast.

That’s when another realization hit me. Domeng is my constant.

Right now, he is the reliable presence in my life. As I have learned in Magis Deo, one’s relationship with God reflects his or her relationship with his or her spouse.God is my home and it is in His strong and steadfast love where I rest. This fills me with contentment and joy. However, the mere idea of death and being rent apart from Domeng assaults me with sadness and deep anxiety. I often wonder how the widows and widower in the community manage life on their own.

I turn to prayer. I lift all these thoughts to God. For who else could fill the empty spaces and the vacancies in life? Only God.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Teacher on Center Stage: Annie Lee Masongsong of DepEd Oriental Mindoro

Teacher Annie shares her takeaways from the workshop.
The blog's Teacher in Center Stage is Ms. Annie Lee Masongsong who teaches Mangyan children in Labo Elementary School, Oriental Mindoro. She narrates how she learned the Mangyan language and the long travel she takes regularly to teach them.

I met her during the K-3 teacher training in Mindoro early this month. Her story as teacher to Mangyan children in Labo, Bacud Oriental Mindoro is inspirational. She writes stories for her students in Mangyan language so that she can further teach them how to read and write in level 2 language.

Read on and get to know her more!

If not a teacher today, what would you be?

If I am not a teacher surely I am a social worker or a founder of a foundation that supports and takes care of the children, like orphans.
What do you teach the Mangyans and describe your experience being with them in their community?

To become a teacher of the Mangyans is not easy.

It was a culture shock for me actually. Before one reaches the place where they live, one would need to walk for four to five hours on mountains and cross sixteen raging rivers. No cellphone signal. Going home before the sunset is not really possible because of the distance. The language used by my pupils is really alien to me. It is difficult to stand in front of them when I talk a lot in teaching lessons and in giving them activities that none of them would get the correct answer because of the language barrier. One thing more, most of them attended the class with an empty stomach.

There are times when I cannot eat well because I am thinking of them. Giving up to this kind of work came to my mind. I cried every night because I felt useless. Then one afternoon when I was about to give up, my pupils came around me and said they want to play with me. They held my hands and said, "Madam eglaro tam isna sa baskebolan ". It means I have to play with them in the playground. From then on, I realized that I have a mission in Labo and in the life of each child in the community.

Teacher Annie reaches her destination at mid-morning after crossing rivers and climbing mountains.

The next time I ascended, I brought food for the Mangyan kids and we cooked them simple food for lunch. We do this now every day. I started to solicit food from my friends, school supplies and used clothes for them. I studied their language and used them in my everyday teaching with the kids. I was happy with the result because I am in the stage of winning the battle. I am really happy to be with my students.
How did you learn the language of the Mangyans?

I learned their language by interviewing the adults of the community. I have a notebook of words and its translation in their native language and of course I used their mother tongue in school. It really works!
Now, I am writing stories just for them. It is written in their mother tongue with Filipino subtitle. I am communicating to one of my possible donors for a library. Honestly I just want to have published story books so that it would be my legacy to them when the time calls me to leave that place.

Teacher Annie (far right) with cultural workers in the Mangyan village at Labo, Bacud Oriental Mindoro
Do you wish to help Teacher Annie in providing books and reading materials for her students in Labo Elementary School? Post a comment or get in touch with me via email: I am organizing a book drive for the Mangyans in Mindoro!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Filipino Librarian of the Month: Arvin Delen of the DepED Oriental Mindoro

Arvin Delen holding a copy of A Tale of Two Dreams
The blog's Filipino Librarian of the month is Mr. Arvin Delen.

Mr. Delen is 27 years old from Leuteboro II, Socorro, Oriental Mindoro. He finished elementary education at Leuteboro Elementary School in 2003 and secondary school at Leuteboro National High School in 2007. He graduated from the Philippine Normal University (PNU) Manila as scholar (Trinidad M. Albarracin Scholarship) with the degree of Bachelor of Library and Information Science (BLIS) last March 21, 2012. He took Librarian Licensure Examination last November 3-4, 2012 and Licensure Examination for Teacher last September 25, 2016. His first job was in Don Bosco Technical College as High School Librarian for almost a year.

He met a vehicular accident in  2013 thus, he stayed at home for almost 2 years. Once fully recuperated, he applied to the DepEd Division of Oriental Mindoro as Librarian II, where he is serving as Division Librarian up to the present.

1. As a Division Librarian in the DepEd, enlighten us on the nature of your work and community involvement in Oriental Mindoro. 

As Division Librarian, one of my tasks is to manage, maintain and monitor uploaded catalogue of materials in the LRMDS Portal. The LRMDS Portal is a web based catalogue and repository of learning, teaching and professional development resources. It functions as a clearinghouse. That is, it provides information about the location of resources (hardcopy and soft copy) and allows users of the system to access directly digitized versions of resources that are published and stored within the LR Portal repository. But, this portal is still in the process of upgrading the system and as Librarian, I only provide technical assistance and identify the needs of the division Library Hubs and Learning Resource Centers.

2. What has been the most challenging experience you had, so far? How did you overcome the challenge? 

The most challenging experience I had was my accident last June 6, 2013. I overcome the challenge by praying and believing that everything happens for a reason and (that) I can survive.

When it comes to my job right now, the most challenging part was the acceptance of the culture shock I experienced during my first year in working here in DepEd. I overcome this by simply being me and to get along with everyone. And also, being happy and loving my work. I pray always.

With Arvin Delen (L) and Karol Manalaysay (R), Alice Panares and Bernadette Solina-Wolf
Standing are public teachers of Oriental Mindoro 

3. As a Division Librarian, how are you helping the Indigenous Peoples (IP) in Mindoro? 

As a division Librarian, I am helping our IPs here in Mindoro by visiting and knowing their needs when it comes to reading materials. It is very challenging for me because sometimes there is no allotted budget for them for their reading materials. I have to be very versatile and ask for help from other stakeholders and other institutions which can give support for them.

4. Why Library and Information Science (LIS)? 

Library and Information Science for me is a God’s will. It is His profession for me. This profession helped me to flourish as an individual. It is very important because libraries provide scientific services and fullfil social needs. It is essential in our society because human skills can be developed without any formalized training for some. Moreover, LIS is vitally important for development. Therefore, librarians, libraries, and library associations, as well as information systems, all play a role in fostering creativity, innovation, and dealing with people's needs and expectations.

Thank you and God bless!!! ☺

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Teacher Training in Mindoro: Bernadette Solina-Wolf, Teacher Trainer

1. What are your top 3 most memorable experience of the DepEd Mindoro Or. Teacher Training? 

For me, there were so many highlights in the workshop which made me realize the importance of book illustrators/writers to interact with teachers especially those in the provinces. 

 My most memorable was listening to the Hanunuo dialect in the tandem storytelling session of Zarah and Teacher Nesla.  It was both fun and moving because all the participants of the workshop got so engrossed in the storytelling and when the Mangyan teacher got so self-conscious after doing so well in her version of storytelling, all the teacher/participants would encourage her to go on by singing the Hanunuo lullaby in chorus.  It was all so spontaneous and uplifting to experience.

Another most memorable experience was meeting Teacher Annie Lee who teaches Mangyan children in the hinterlands of a place called Labo and took time to study the Buhid-Bangon dialects and write stories (with Filipino text) for both Mangyans and Tagalogs.  I do hope her stories get published!
My third most memorable is not to a specific person but that of the teachers as a whole---their open-ness to learn Zarah Gagatiga's storytelling techniques, Alice Panares' creative writing exercises and even understand the technicalities of illustration was really what any facilitator would wish for!

2. What are your non-negotiables when illustrating a picture book or children’s story book?

I was thinking hard on this.  A non-negotiable thing happens when everything has been agreed upon from the very start---the compensation, the manuscript and upon approval of the studies or what we call comprehensives--the final art.  It is not that as an illustrator, you'd want to have your way and period. It is just in my view, to allow the creative process to flow unhindered after all is discussed. Any change of storyline should be from the very start. When the final art is presented, that's it. Final.It has been studied through. Non-negotiable. Or else, it becomes more expensive.

3. Why nut art or bao art? How did it came to be? 

 NutArt or the my artworks in the bao was an idea presented by my husband Michael.  He said that the coconut shell is really under-estimated.  All the Filipinos can think of it as uling/charcoal.  Of course, souvenir shops do have items out of coconut shells but to use it as a canvas has been overlooked.  Michael thought of the porcelain plates in Europe where exquisite artworks are painted on them.  So why not have a Filipino version of those porcelain plates? He also developed a particular stand for the bao so the whole thing is really hand-made/home-made in every sense.  And then he said it should be named NutArt short for (coco)NutArt. So German. So no-nonsense.  

4. How to buy your books and acquire your bao art?

The STARS Kindergarten books can be availed or ordered in any Precious Pages Bookstores. Other books can be had online via my other publishers LG&M/Vibal and Bookmark Inc.

I have also a blogspot of the Nutart where you can see samples of what I have had produced so far.

I actually do them on commissions so email me at :

Monday, May 14, 2018

Teacher Training in Mindoro: K-3 Teachers Read, Write, Tell and Draw Stories

Oriental Mindoro K-3 Teachers Learn to Write & Draw Storybooks in DepEd Workshop
By Joy Solina

“Ito ang pinaka-da best sa dami ng mga na-attendan kong training!” raved a participant
from the 40 Kindergarten to Grade 3 teachers who attended DepEd’s first workshop
on book evaluation and design with storytelling and illustration last May 5 and 6, 2018
in Roxas, Oriental Mindoro.

“There might be a part 2!” program host and DepEd Librarian 2 Arvin Delen
told the trainers at the end of the highly successful workshop.

Sponsored by the DepEd Learning Resource Management Office of Oriental Mindoro led by
Superintendent Malou Servando and Lampara Publishing
House, the Division Training workshop on Managing Resources: Book Evaluation
and Book Design for Filipino Children with Storytelling and Book Illustration based on
Philippine Culture equipped teachers on how to evaluate a book, use existing children’s
books to promote reading, and create their own storybooks based on their particular
needs and local culture.

L-R: Arvin Delen (DepEd Division Librarian), trainers Zarah Gagatiga, Alice Panares, Bernadette Solina-Wolf and
Karol Manalaysay (Project Development Officer, DepEd Oriental Mindoro)

Its powerhouse trainers were art educator and curriculum reviewer Alice Panares from the National Commission on Culture and the Arts, multi-awarded children’s book author and storyteller
Zarah Gagatiga, and Ilustrador ng Kabataan founding member and established children’s book illustrator Bernadette Solina-Wolf. For 1.5 days, they taught the teachers techniques in storytelling, writing,
and illustrating their own stories in highly interactive sessions at the Kamayan Penthouse Resort
in Dalahican, Roxas, Oriental Mindoro.

Also present were the three teachers from San Teodoro Central School,
Oriental Mindoro who won the 2017 National Competition for Storybook Writing for Kindergarten
to Grade 3 Teachers for their originally written and illustrated book, “Si Tamaro at ang Kagubatan.”

They are Eleonor Q. Bicol, Mary May Rolaine S. Alvea, and Ginalyn S. Deniega.

Teachers Eleanor Q. Bicol, Mary May Rolaine S. Alvea and Ginalyn S. Deniega

DepEd organizers Arvin Delen and Project Development Officer 2 Karol Manalaysay

encouraged participants to share what they learned with other teachers and expressed
their desire to see Oriental Mindoro teachers win again in the next national storybook
writing competition.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Teacher Training in Mindoro : Tandem Telling with Teacher Nelsa

Last weekend, I was in Mindoro to run a two day workshop for K-3 teachers in the DepEd. In the next few days, I will be sharing this experience to you all, my dear readers, because we had a blast with the public school teachers there. Also, there were many learning experiences gained from working with DepEd Mindoro Oriental that are worth trumpeting out loud.

For the meantime, here is a short video clip of my tandem telling with Teacher Nelsa, a member of the Hanunio Mangyan community.

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