Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Keeping My Promise to the UN Sustainable Development Goals


Saturday, October 16, 2021

PLAI Congress 2021: School Librarians Responding to Changes During the Pandemic

Last July 2021, I sent a proposal to the PLAI NBOT in response to their call for papers in the upcoming PLAI Congress. See the proposal below:

Title: School Librarians Responding to Changes During the Pandemic

Name of Presenter: Zarah C. Gagatiga 

PRC License Number: **** 

Validity: August 15, ****

Institution / Company: The Beacon Academy / PASLI

Regional Council: PLAI STRLC

Contact Details: / / 09209672884


In a survey conducted among private school librarians, four relatively new roles emerged from the shift to online and the digital rendering of library services and programs. These are: 1) teacher of media and information literacy skills; 2) content creator; 3) research facilitator and 4) technology consultant. This paper further explores these four roles by identifying services and programs that were common to private school libraries before the country went on quarantine in March 2020. It is followed by a discussion of school librarians’ attitude towards changes brought by the pandemic and how they responded. It further argues the relevance of collaborative partnership between the teacher and the school librarian and the invaluable support of school leadership for library development especially in times of crises.

Keywords: School Librarian Roles, School Libraries, Pandemic 2020, Teacher and Librarian Collaboration 

Last week, I got the acceptance letter from PLAI.

Friday, October 15, 2021

DOST - PLAI Webinar: Pursuing Persephone: School Library Advocacies That Keep Me Alive

 DOST – PLAI Webinar 2021

November 8, 2021 / 2.30-3.00 PM / Plenary Session 1

Resource Speaker: Zarah C. Gagatiga

Zarah Gagatiga is a school librarian, author of children’s books, storyteller, and literacy coach. She is the PRO of the Philippine Association of School Librarians (PASLI). She is recognized by peers in the school library profession for her contributions to the growth of children’s literature in the country.

Zarah is currently developing modules and toolkits on the conduct of online book clubs, bibliotherapy sessions, and webinars and talks on the restorative values of stories through storytelling for children and young people.



Pursuing Persephone: School Library Advocacies That Keep Me Alive


The essay discusses children’s literature, bibliotherapy and peace education as advocacies that the writer has been pursuing for more than a decade. Contextualized in the school library experience, examples and stories of activities and programs on the above advocacies are pieced together. Collaboration and community involvement are given emphasis as key factors that drive the success of advocacy campaigns.

Keywords: advocacy, children’s literature, bibliotherapy, peace education, school library, collaboration, community development



Zarah Gagatiga


@thecoffeegoddess  (Twitter) / @authorZarahG815 (FB)  / @zarah815 (IG)

Thursday, October 14, 2021

PNU USAP Tayo: Women and Literature: Stories. Storytelling and Sacred Sexuality (3 of 3)

Allow me now to connect the two stories, what it implies to our general discussion, what we can infer from them and finally, lend answers to the questions I posed at the first part of the talk.

In the creation myth of Tungkung Langit and Alunsina, we take caution in treating women as mere accessories and assistants. Something creative and beautiful came about from Tungkung Langit’s grief but it dispenses Alunsina’s role as co-creator of worlds. This is the message of the myth that must not be forgotten. Men and women are partners in creation. We need to recognize this creative power of women and honor its source.

In Baubo and Demeter, we find that the energy fueling a woman to restore and to be born again is in her sexuality. We didn’t know what Baubo told Demeter but it brought her joy, laughter and the zeal to live again. We only know that Baubo looking like the fertility goddess of ancient civilizations is capable of pushing another woman to go back to the very reason why she is so. This sexuality is not bad. We need to allow ourselves, even men, to get in touch with this sexuality that suggests humor, joy and a bit of play since it can be a life-giving force. In Jungian psychology, it is called the anima. A feminine figure present in the unconscious. When a person is made aware of it, he achieves a wholeness of the Self, the knowledge of one's strengths and weaknesses that lies within and eventually, a balance of the lights and shadows that haunt the psyche (Stein, 2020)

How do I make sense of it all now? 

Using Alunsina, Baubo and Demeter as my mentors (fictional as they are) allowed me to revisit the stories I have written for children. In Big Sister, I depicted an older sibling that is spunky and gleefully annoying whose love and affection for her younger brother makes her all the more endearing. In My Daddy! My One and Only! Tejido and I asserted the male presence as that of a nurturing parent. Fathers are capable of showing their tender and vulnerable side and this make them all the more desirable and, ah… sexier. In our recent book, Masaya Ang Maging Ako, a bullied child can walk away from her bullies only when her joy and self confidence in herself is intact. We need to respect this child who knows her joy and that her queerness is a source of pride.

The two stories from folk literature that I shared with you today have indeed, helped me examine my own creative process and what prevented me from writing at the onset of the pandemic. The misogyny and the gaslighting of men in government left me barren and unfulfilled. I have to remember that like Alunsina, I can make choices. With the help of another artistic group, otherwise known as Bangtan Sonyeondan or BTS, (who I consider my collective Baubo – yes, those seven Korean boys are very much in touch with their anima), I had the opportunity to revisit my inner child. BTS as my Baubo encouraged me to play and to laugh at myself. Their art, music and poetry inspired me to create again. I now have a collection of poems to self-publish in Zine form with an artist friend and co-teacher. I said yes to a writing project among the company of women. My publisher is setting up a new time table for the book project we had talked about previous to Covid 19. The life-death-life cycle is very much evident.

To end my talk, I have three things to emphasize. First, do not be afraid to acknowledge your sexuality as an energy of creation or a force of good. Second, when you see a woman of whatever age having fun, laughing, being joyful and relishing the little things that make her happy, follow her path and understand where that exuberance is coming from. Never judge her. Instead, learn from her how she can continuously temper and wield this heat. This inner fire that can be warm and scorching. In time you will know when to choose one from the other and how to use it well. Lastly, I do hope that when you are in the depths of despair, a Baubo will come along to whisper something frivolous or exciting that your heart will find the courage to sing again.  

And when you have found it, write your story. Own your narrative. Tell it. Share it. Create it. Stay alive!




Estes, Clarissa Pinkola. Women Who Run With Wolves. NY, Ballantine Books, 1992.

Sentro Rizal : Si Tungkung Langit at Alinsuna. Sentro Rizal Filipinas. Adarna House, Inc. Likha-an sa Intramuros. MAV Film Productions, 2020 © National Commission for Culture and the Arts

Stein, Murray. Map of the Soul: 7 Persona, Ego and Shadow in the World of BTS. NC, Chiron Publishing, 2020.

Gagatiga & Tejido. My Daddy! My One and Only! Lampara House, 2013

Gagatiga & De Jesus. Big Sister. Lampara House, 2015

Gagatiga & Bauza. Masaya Ang Maging Ako! Room to Read & Lampara House, 2020

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

PNU USAP Tayo: Women and Literature: Stories. Storytelling and Sacred Sexuality (2 of 3)

I turn to folk literature and a book by woman writer who has become my companion at the onset of my early midlife crisis. Let me share with you the myth of Tungkung Langit and Alunsina and the folk tale, Baubo, The Belly Goddess from the book by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run with the Wolves (Ballantine, 1992). In these two works of literature, I find some answers to the above questions. For the time being, at least

-      Show video of TL and A from Sentro Rizal -

The language used in the myth to essay the roles of Tungkung Langit and Alunsina, as man and woman are pronounced as traditional stereotypes. This is evident when the storyteller said “…tinatag ang unang kaayusan ng mga bagay-bagay” and “isaayos ang kilos ng sanlibutan” pertaining to the work of Tungkung Langit in the universe, versus the description of Alunsina and the nature of her labors as “masayahin at mapagwalang bahalang diwata” and “pagtitipon at pagapapalipad ng maliligayang kaisipan”. There is already a dileniation in the roles that they play in shaping and creating the universe, the elements and the worlds with in it. Tungkung Langit as man suggests order and an organizer while Alunsina brings forth joy, beauty and a dose of frivolity. Tungkung Langit’s role is serious and essential in setting straight the complexities of the cosmos while Alunsina provides the aesthetic in the celestial heavens. This assignment of roles apparently is the cause of their conflict.

Tungkung Langit regards Alunsina as an accessory thus, when he went off to do his duties as god, he did not consult Alunsina nor tell her of his important work in creation. This led Alunsina to doubt. What happened next is a bitter break up wherein Tungkung Langit rendered himself vulnerable and forever in longing for Alunsina. In effect, the world was created out of this pain and grief. But what a sorry start to begin life and living about in a new world. Nabuo ang mundo sa hinagpis at sama ng loob. Alunsina’s joy and frivolity are nowhere to be found in this creation story. However, the story of Tungkung Langit and Alunsina is a creation myth favored by many feminists because the later did not submit to the whims and temper of the former (Almario, 2021). Alunsina, having  her own mind made the decision to leave. She never looked back.

Don’t you think there is a need to rewrite this creation myth or retell another version when allowed? Maybe come up with an extended version, like a myth making exercise where the roles of men and women in the process of creation are examined in equal footing.

The second tale I am to read aloud to you comes from the book, Women Who Run with the Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes. She retells Baubo, the Belly Goddess and how she pulled Demeter out of her depression eventually finding Persephone from Hades’ realm.

-        Read Aloud from Kindle: Baubo the Belly Goddess from Women Who Run with the Wolves (Estes, Ballantine Books, 1992)

What struck me in this story is the bond that transpired between two women deities and the manner in which one helped the other rediscover the source of her creative power. Baubo, being described as a woman’s reproductive organ is indicative of the valuable sexuality that females possess. It is a sexuality that moves women to acknowledge her role in creation and in the restoration or rebuilding of worlds either one’s own, that of another, and even an entire society or nation. This sexuality, therefore is sacred because it is life giving.

Estes speak of the life-death-life process in the entire book. A cycle that is present in the very nature of women. We go through cycles like the waxing and the waning of the moon. With it is the ebb and flow of our passions, our desires and inner strength. We grow and age along with the seasons. There we find the dying of the self but also, the rebirth unto our own identity. Whatever we find there, the source of our creative power is in the sexuality and sensuality of our being that is both healing and vitalizing.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

PNU USAP Tayo: Women and Literature: Stories. Storytelling and Sacred Sexuality (1 of 3)

Posting this essay I wrote for the talk I had with PNU's Center for Gender Studies and Development.

Good afternoon to everyone! I thank the PNU Center for Gender Studies and Development for inviting me to share my thoughts and experiences on being a woman, a writer and a lover of literature. I am teacher librarian, storyteller, children’s book author and literacy skills coach. I am not an expert on women’s studies nor am I a literature major who has spent years in teaching and learning the discipline. But, PNU made a call. I heeded the call. Para ito sa Inang Pamantasan kaya tinangap ko ang hamon.

My discussion on Women and Literature are in three contexts. Stories. Storytelling and the Sacred Sexuality. From here, we will explore and think about women’s roles in literature, specifically folk literature, as spring boards for future discussions. May this session, short as it is, aid you in developing programs, projects and activities centered on gender development and the study of a more equal and fair treatment of people.

In 2019, I attended a children’s book writing workshop. For five days, we sat in lectures, wrote drafts of stories, read the stories of co-fellows, gave feedback on each other’s work, revised and edited our work as necessary. Our manuscripts were then illustrated by a select group of children’s book illustrators.  In three months, our team of publishers was able to publish 20 children’s books that speak of human rights, gender equality, identity, self-awareness and community development aimed at women, children and their families that have no access to books and reading materials. The experience made a big dent in my writing life. It gave me a clearer purpose of my role as an author of children’s stories.

I learned and relearned so many things from those five days of engagement and participation. I learned and relearned that, a story, or stories are windows, mirrors and doors.

Stories are windows unto others’ world views, specifically that of the author and/or the creators of the book. By listening and reading stories, our own world views are enriched, even disturbed and challenged. This allows us to see how complex the human psyche can be and that the systems that we build around us is as complicated as our nature. As a result, we become kinder to ourselves and caring of others, if not, more considerate of another human being.

Stories are mirrors because it amplifies our dreams reflecting our joys and pains. Since stories are made and told by people like you and me, we find a connection of their experience with ours. We see ourselves in the pages of a book, in a character in a movie, in a scene or dialogue in a Kdrama series and in the lines or lyrics of songs and poems. This is very comforting. An assurance that we are not alone in our life journeys.

Lastly, stories are doors that show us opportunities for thinking and in growing one’s curiosity. You open the pages of a book and you step into a new world to imagine, to play and to wonder! We listen to stories from friends, news casts, from an audio book or a retelling and it inspire us to move or to take action. We watch movies, theatre plays or a video drama and there we discover an invitation to leave our comfort zones.

Well crafted stories have the power to convince us that we are capable of doing great things given the talents we discover and the skills we build along the way. We find enjoyment in literature and yet, it invites us to leave our comfort zones and take part in the bigger community.

It is at this juncture where I find myself continuously ruminating about the creative process and my writing life. If the stories that I create, craft and collaboratively produce with friends in the publishing industry hold such power, where do I find the energy and the force to keep my momentum going? In this pandemic age, when being productive poses greater risks on mental health, how is it even possible to publish and promote books and stories for young children? Since the form of the art that I pursue is written literature, especially made for an intended audience, otherwise known as children, how do I approach the imparting of messages that matter to me. What is my message that will also matter to my reader? Why do I tell stories? Why do I write in the first place?

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