Tuesday, December 29, 2009

SLIA 2009: In Review

In view of a blogging tradition, I'm posting 2009's monthly first post. This is not the blog's best of 2009 but I hope to do one right after New Year's day. It's more like a mirror or a glimpse to how my blogging life had been in the year that shall come to pass.

The Philippine Board On Books For Young People (PBBY) had an early Christmas party at Nina Lim-Yuson's lovely home in Makati.

The launching of the Crucible-KUTING Art Stories for Children series will be held on November 17, 2009, 3-5pm at the Filipinas Heritage Library, Makati Avenue, Makati City.

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

I've heard a lot of things about the Lopez Museum, its famed library and its collection cum vault of rare books and documents.

Corazon Aquino, the heart and soul of the original People Power died today at 3AM after more than a year's battle with colon cancer.

I have been terribly busy the past two weeks and to break this bit of news after a blogging hiatus in this blog is not very good at all. But news, good or bad, must be known to all. We are, still, in a democracy.

Sometime in 2006, I had a telephone conversation with Lizanne Alcazaren who runs Aklatan ni Mika, a children's library in a halfway house for children with cancer.

I've been running a series of teacher training seminars for the past weeks and I will fly to Donsol, Sorsogon for yet another teacher training seminar sponsored by CEMEX and Sa Aklat Sisikat this week.

During the celebration of National Children’s Book Day (NCBD) on July 21, 2008 in the
Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), the Philippine Board on Books for Young People (PBBY), after surveying hundreds of public school children all over the country (with the significant help of Sa Aklat Sisikat Foundation), unveiled the 25 Best-Loved Children’s Book Characters Exhibit by Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan (Ang InK).

This collection of posts in this blog from 2006 is long overdue.

This is juicy.

For the past two years, I have been posting the monthly first posts of the past year at the beginning of the new year.

Happy New Year! Thank you so much for the love and support for this blog!

Monday, December 28, 2009

PBBY's Fave Books for the Filipino Child Reader (3 of 3)


Rene Villanueva

Contribution to Philippine Children's Literature: He was able to write literature for kids in four formats – book, poetry, play,(theatre), TV.

Kept a journal for possible stories; Used a Pilot pen for writing because it has an easy slide on paper; Claimed that writing is the only thing he was good at, so he wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote; Was nominated for the Hans Christian Award of the IBBY.

Augie Rivera
Contribution to Philippine Children's Literature: Alamat ng Ampalaya – CLASSIC!

Augie is a disciplined writer. He works to write and his writing works!
He values research as a relevant part of the writing process. His approach towards crafting a story is always well thought of. He is a thinking writer. Alamat ng Ampalaya was a product of the 1995 UP Writer's Workshop where it earned praises and very good feedback from the panelists.

Dr. Luis Gatmaitan
Contribution to Philippine Children's Literature: Health and hygiene books for kids – Tito Dok Series. The series is a very accessible reading material for children on health and hygiene issues; Wan Dey Isang Araw – his radio program that reaches far flung areas of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. The show features Filipino stories written by Filipino writers for children.

Luis may be known for his Tito Dok series, but he is an excellent essayist as well. He read Funny Komiks as a child and was greatly influenced by it. Has an uncanny talent in listening to kids and their conversations and uses them as spring board for his stories. He uses the “what if” technique in writing.


Albert Gamos
Mentored and inspired the many children's book illustrators we admire today.
No personal info, but I love his classic style of illustration. There's something very old and antiquated about his drawings, yet it looks so new and fresh!

Totet de Jesus

I like the texturing of his drawings. It's like something I can touch and uncover layer over layer.

Jomike Tejido
He knows how to have fun. He is unafraid to break conventions and visually “teases” the reader through his illustrations. His works offer new perspectives and insights.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas From Us!

My family and I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Thank you to all who helped us see through the peaks and valleys of 2009!

Friday, December 18, 2009

PBBY Trio at Chocokiss, UP Diliman

Illustrator and former PBBY Chair Totet de Jesus, writer and PBBY representative Dr. Luis Gatmaitan, and myself were dinner guests of Teacher Portia Padilla's graduate class at Chocokiss, UP Diliman last Wednesday night, December 16, 2009. It was Prof. Padilla's class' Christmas get together and it was made special, according to her and her students, by our presence.

Since it's a children's literature class in the graduate level, conversations on the state of Philippine Children Literature in the country were aplenty. It could not be helped but discuss selection criteria for children's literature especially when judging entries in contests like the Palanca and the Salanga prizes. While I gave my own set of criteria as influenced by my being a librarian, teacher, storyteller, writer and parent I could only wish that the 1-2-3 selection of the "best" children's books of the year be changed. We're all living in a flat world now. "Best" is relative, besides. Hopefully, PBBY can do something about this 1-2-3 mentality.

The night was a mini-panel lecture cum dinner that showcased the uncanny humor of Totet de Jesus. He came complete with props. Just imagine the wows, the oohs and the aahs when he showed his sketches and storyboard for Tin Canon's book, Sampung Magkakaibigan by Adarna House. Luis Gatmaitan on the one hand gave valuable tips on writing, that crafting a story is up there in the totem pole, and that, writers for children should never forget their intended audience. He had books for everyone that night and the students got personalized notes and dedications from him.

You wonder now what the librarian did.

I ended the night with a story, Joseph's Overcoat, using paper and tearing parts of it as the story rolled along.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

PBBY Fave Books for the Filipino Child Reader (2 of 3)

Here is the second part of Museo Pambata's survey on the favorites of PBBY. The choices are all mine so it's subjective and very personal.


Children’s Rights
Ang Pambihirang Buhok ni Raquel / Adarna House
Author: Dr. Luis Gatmaitan
Illustrator: Beth Parrocha-Doctolero

Promoting creativity and imagination
Ang Pambihirang Sombrero / Adarna House
Author and Illustrator : Jomike Tejido

Promoted peace and equality
Sundalong Patpat / Adarna House
Author: Virgilio Almario
Illustrator: Ferdinand Doctolero

Shared rich Filipino culture
Alamat Ng Ampalaya / Adarna House
Author: Augie Rivera
Illustrator: Kora Dandan-Albano

Emphasize strengthening bonds of family
Tight Times / Adarna House
Author: Jean Patindol
Title: Serge Bumatay III

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Again, the Losyang Librarian

I finally got to watch In My Life, the Vilma Santos-Luis Manzano-John Lloyd Cruz love triangle. In all places, I saw it in a bus bound to Manila. I was on my way back home from Baguio after a successful storytelling session at the public library there. Somewhere on the road between Tarlac or Pampanga, the bus conductor popped a DVD copy of the movie for the entertainment of bored passengers.

It was a good copy. Bluray. The captioning was in English. No grammar mistakes and misspellings. What's more, it was well translated. It was not a pirated copy then. As for the movie, I enjoyed it so much I wrote a review at TCG.

But what I paid close attention to was Vilma Santos' character. This movie is one where the lead happens to be a librarian. It did not revolve on Vilma's character, Shirley, being a librarian though. Her being one was used to a amplify her monotonous and routinary lifestyle. She was once a Physical Education teacher -- lively, active on the go. Then life whipped her with failures and heartbreaks one after the other. Somewhere in between, she underwent a transformation. She retreated to a life made of procedures, processes and structures. Controlled and secure, she thrived in the library as a sarcastic, uncompromising and stoic person. Yes, masungit (grumpy), old fashioned and losyang (unglamorous). Bam! There goes the formula.

Here we see now the typical librarian as a stereotype. Note that in media, stereotypes are used to label something - a brand, a product, an object. Ideas and perspectives, information included, can be labeled as well. It is made. It is constructed. In printing and publishing, a stereotype is a metal plate cast from a model or a matrix. It is constant. It does not change.

Like it or not, the librarian stereotype exist. It will be used to present an idea of the profession as boring and it's practicing professionals far from being dynamic. What worries me more is the possibility of this stereotype to mutate as an archetype.

At the end of the day, we can all say that Vilma Santos' character as the stereotype librarian is merely a representation of an idea or a character used in a movie. But a movie is a form of storytelling. And storytelling is powerful. It does not help that In My Life is a well written and well crafted movie.

This stereotype will stick. The sad thing is, librarians, the ones who breathe and live outside the silver screen are far from the stereotype depicted in the movies and in literature. How can librarians reach their full potentials to portray roles that will help propel their institutions, offices and organizations to achieving its goals when this stereotype exist? How can this stereotype be broken when such a construct is already embeded in the minds of many an administrators and co-workers?

We, librarians, have our work cut out for us.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

PBBY's Fave Books for the Filipino Child Reader (1 of 3)

Museo Pambata sent the PBBY a questionnaire on our favorite Filipino books for Pinoy kids. This is to be used for a new area in the musem that is all about writing, illustrating and publishing books for children. I'm posting the first part today.

1.What do you look for from a good Filipino children’s book?

I look for content and deisgn. And then crafting. The book must say something relevant to the Filipino child's experience. But at the same time, it cuts across boundaries and cultures that it achieves a universal appeal. This would mean that, while the story speaks of unique Filipino experiences, content is also a significant human experience that other children from other countries can relate to. If adults are drawn to the story as well, then that's chidlren's literature magic at work!
Deisgn is crucial for visual appeal. It lends aesthetics to a book. It aids in comprehension too!

And then there's crafting. Yes. How the author creates and puts the story together is crucial. Content may be relevant and meaningful, but if crafting is poor then the story may turn out lame.

2.What should the next generation of writers and illustrators realize for the future of children’s literature?

Innovate. Never cease to create. Cover other forms of literature – TV, theatre, comics, online, etc. Always have the child reader in mind. You write and illsutrate for children in the first place, right?

3.What great things have you learned from reading, writing, illustrating and publishing children’s books?

I grew wings!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Storytelling In Baguio City Public Library

Some photos from my storytelling in Baguio City. Thanks to Mrs. Fe Requilman of the Baguio City Public Library, I had a wonderful time telling stories to their day care kids. There happened to be 120 day care centers in Baguio City. Only 80 centers participated so the 40 centers are up for schedule next year.

It was my first visit at the Baguio City Public Library, a three story edifice that houses two million print collections, thesis and dissertations from the CAR region, with WIFI connection, a cozy space for children and eight licensed librarians. Suffice it to say that the librarians have the support of the LGU - from moral to financial aspects. Kudos to the public librarians of the Baguio City Public Library!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Library Outreach Program Via the De La Salle Library System

I have been to several De La Salle schools this year. Of the many things common and consistent about them, apart from the green and white colors, is their outreach program that permeates horizontal and vertical departments of their educational system. The libraries of the De La Salle schools I was fortunate to visit include a strong outreach program for their respective adopted and supervised schools.

Once in De La Salle Zobel (DLSZ), LRC Coordinator Carol Ballesteros made mention of their mobile library program designed to help and assist public schools in Muntinlupa develop children's interest in books and reading. I remember seeing her in a PBBY sponsored workshop on Mobile Library Development and Implementation by Museo Pambata President, Nina Lim-Yuson last year. If not for Ondoy, I would have joined the DLSZ librarians in the launching last October at Tunasan Elementary School, Muntinlupa as storyteller.

This initiative is not an isolated case. De La Salle Lipa's mobile library has been touring different barangays in the district. I've heard of this before from co-writer and KUTING friend, Perpi Alipon-Tiongson way back in 2007. In the PLAI STRLC Conference I attended as speaker, Mrs. Lilian Rabino, head librarian in De La Salle Lipa candidly went about sharing the success of this project. I was even more glad to know that she's constantly involved in the improvement of their library mobile. When Neni Sta. Romana-Cruz got hold of a Singaporean book donor for PBBY's book donation project, we've agreed to send books to De La Salle Bukidnon because of its thriving library mobile. If this isn't Library 2.0, tell me what is. Access to books and information does not always have to be technology driven.

Apart from this, librarians of the De La Salle Library System are also involved in training and professional development of librarians and para-professionals of public and community libraries.

When I accredited De La Salle Green Hills last November, GS (Grade School) LRC (Learning Resource Center) Head Mrs. Ching Basagre was very proud to share about the training that she and her librarians conducted in one La Salle supervised school. Provision for books is one thing and accessibility to reading materials is another. But empowering the people who take care of the library and its readers is of primary importance. Mrs. Basagre and her library staff trained the para-professionals of the library who were recipients of their book donations.

Mrs. Sonia Gementiza, Library Director of De La Salle University (DLSU) Dasmarinas, Cavite has initiated training seminars and workshops for non-librarians of public libraries in the locality. A number of these non-BLIS (Bachelor of Library and Information Science) professionals were present during my storytelling lecture-workshop last week At DLSU Dasma. Mrs. Gementiza did not stop there. Together with her staff, they've organized another professional growth activity to help them organize and manage their libraries.

This outreach program may be unique to De La Salle, but it sure tells us a thing or two about collaboration, access to information and leadership in librarianship. There may be a dearth of reading materials and shortage of manpower in the field. Yet, the desire to build bridges and fill gaps is enormous! Kudos to the librarians of the De La Salle Library System!

The 1st Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Trailer

Watch it here!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Book Review: Library Mouse

What is it with men and mice that stories about them and their uncanny relationship litter in our literature? Flowers for Algernon. Of Mice and Men. Ben. A Mouse Called Wolf. The Tale of Desperaux. Ratatouille. These are but a few books and movies that fill our fancy for these seemingly benevolent creatures. Perhaps the fondness lies at the smallness and tenacity of these gnawing mammals. Considered pests, mice and rats posses enough smarts and a good level of adversary quotient to survive this cruel world. And they seem to prosper and thrive amidst the harshness of the ages.

In Daniel Kirk’s delightful picture book, Sam, the library’s resident mouse read everything and anything he laid his hands on. His reading choices were varied and diverse. Thanks to the many books in the library! He had a wide array of choices of books to read from facts to fiction. This led him to an attempt at writing his own book.

Gathering pieces of paper from the librarian’s desk and forgotten pencils that rolled from underneath the shelves, Sam went to work on his first book, Squeak! A Mouse’s Life. It was hard work. But it all paid off in the end because children in the library were able to read his books. Thanks to the librarian who shared his books to the kids during story time! Since the kids enjoyed his books so much, the librarian invited him for an Author Visit.

Sam had other ideas though. And it was an excellent one!

You have to read the book to know what it is.

Kirk's Library Mouse scores a perfect ten in my record book. It's simply wonderful! It's empowering! It celebrates the power of the written word and the essential role that libraries and librarians play in literacy development.

I further suggest you get a copy and READ it aloud to every child you know. Sam, the Library Mouse, endears to children. Cheers to the triumph of the little one!

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Fr. James Meany SJ Award

For serving ten PAASCU visits as Instructional Media accreditor since 2003, I received the James Meany Award this afternoon at the Club Filipino in Greenhills. It was conducted after the PAASCU Assembly where all accreditors gathered to discuss issues and concerns relevant to the improvement of accrediation in the country today.

Fr. Meany is one of the founders of PAASCU. It is now on it's 51st year of existence. This recognition means a lot to me because it tells me that even though I'm no longer a part of Xavier School's teaching force, I remain a Jesuit lay partner. And this I take to heart. This is an affirmation of one of the many missions I have in life, an answer to the call for universal holiness. My being a librarian is not only a profession. It is still my passion, but over the past months, it has become my vocation.

This afternoon, I met old acquaintances from past PAASCU visits. Mr. Marc Hernandez was there, of course. He was awarded for his 100th visit! I bumped into former Xavier colleagues and are we all glad that outside the confines of the Greenhills Campus, we are, retired and resigned faculty of Xavier School, still letting our light shine. I also recognized former professors from college and graduate school as well as batch mates from the Philippine Normal University. It was an afternoon of appreciation and thanksgiving.

Funny how this all happened after the feast of St. Francis Xavier. God has answered a prayer.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind

Tarie Sabido has a new blog!

She's giving the world a facet to Asian writers and illustrators for the world to see. Her first offering are interviews of Perpi Alipon Tionsgon and Candy Gourlay .

More power to Tarie! Here's hoping that the blogosphere would hear more voices from Asian writers and visual power from its illustrators.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

An Early Christmas Party

The Philippine Board On Books For Young People (PBBY) had an early Christmas party at Nina Lim-Yuson's lovely home in Makati. It was my first with the PBBY. In years past, there was always an event or a work related activity coinciding the group's Christmas party.

This year, my schedule was cleared of any event or work that I made it to Nina's. Finally. Nina's house was lovely. I love the wooden furniture. There's a touch of Nina's artistry in every corner, from bookshelf to rug. The company was wonderful. The food was good. There were enough spirits to go around and as often happens when the board gets together, it's the illustrator who earns the most "wows"!

The bookmakers in the board gave out new books. I got a copy of Neni Sta. Romana-Cruz's new book, The Teacher, a Doreen Fernandez bio. Ani Almario proudly distributed copies of Rhandee Garlitos' Ang Higante Sa Loob Ng Aming Bahay. Great gifts and tokens, really. But there is something very personal on the receipt of a hand made work of art. Totet De Jesus' prints were a knockout!

And what did the librarian give out? Bah-hambug!

Here's hoping for a better year ahead. Just one more month and it's already 2010! Merry Christmas, everyone!
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