Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Literacy Packed July

The National Children's Book Day (NCBD) celebration and the awarding of the National Chidlren's Book Awards (NCBA) last month are highlights for the reading and children's literature advocate. "Winners" are still in cloud nine. I can tell from their Facebook statuses. Among the 131 entries, only six were proclaimed as BEST READS. This only goes to show that there is still a big room for growth and development in the book production of the industry we call as Philippine Children's Literature. But I'm smiling a big one since it's a BIG one!

Apart from the NCBA and NCBD, other notable literacy events spiced up the busy month of July.

Candy Gourlay launched her book, Tall Story, at Powerbooks last July 21. Fans, family and friends were all present to celebrate the success of its publication abroad and in the country. I've read the book and it's a joy ride of laughter and tears. Will post a review soon.

Another writer launched a book too last month. Rica Bolipata-Santos, teacher and essayist, unraveled to her avid readers (I'm one of them!) Lost and Found, a new collection of essays, ruminations and reflections on parenting, motherhood and the mundane. Though I did not make it to the launch at the Ateneo De Manila University, she shared excerpts from the book when we met in a training workshop. It's a perfect gift for all my girl friends this Christmas!

In the art scene, Totet de Jesus opened his second one man exhibit at the Filipinas Heritage Library. News is that, nearly all of his art works were already sold! Congrats to Totet, Rica and Candy!

And of course, I conducted a series of workshops on Storytelling at De La Salle Taft, St. Theresa's College Quezon City and Miriam College. August has unfolded and yes, I still have a manuscript to finish. This early, my calendar is filling up but the book with Dianne de Las Casas must be done -- SOON!

Happy Birthday, Harry Potter!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Picture! Picture!

Monday, July 26, 2010

The People Behind the 1st NCBA

L-R Totet de Jesus; Dr. Nina Lim Yuson; Sally Labanda; Atty. Andrea Pasion-Flores (NBDB); Dr. Dennis Gonzales (NBDB); Rayvi Sunico; Dean Dina Ocampo; Zarah Gagatiga; Dr. Luis Gatmaitan.

* Karina Bolasco and Emily Abrera attended the awards ceremony but they had to leave for another appointment. Neni Sta. Romana-Cruz is currently abroad.

The 1st NCBA: Celebrating the Book & The Child Reader

I did not know the winners of the first National Children's Book Award until I signed the certificates ten minutes before the awards ceremony last Saturday, 24 July at The Mandarin Hotel. Bookblogger superstar Tarie Sabido, being one of the judges, blogged about the winners. It was a great event, a celebration of books and the child reader.

I'm still gathering up the photos so it won't be up until the next few days. For the meantime, I share with you my message during the ceremony.

National Artist Virgilio Alamrio; Professor Emeritus Amelia Lapena-Bonifacio; members of the board, NBDB and PBBY; members of the board of judges of the first National Children’s Book Awards;

Aren’t we all excited, if not anxious, to know who the winners of the 1st National Children’s Book Awards are? Please bear with us for a few more minutes as we follow the dictate of tradition. Dennis and I are required to give our staple message. This will be short, but sweet. Promise.

There’s a song used to spice up read aloud sessions with preschoolers. It goes like this –

The author writes the book
The author writes the book
Hi-ho! Library! Oh!
The author writes the book

The illustrator draws
The illustrator draws
Hi-ho! Library! Oh!
The illustrator draws

The publisher puts it together
The publisher puts it together
Hi-ho! Library! Oh!
The publisher puts it together**

Pretty cute, huh? Cuteness aside, the song has a serious message specially tailored for children who are beginning to discover the many wonders of words and the worlds that these words could open. Such is the power of books! Great is the influence and inspiration of those who create and keep them!

Today, we recognize them – authors, illustrators, publishers and the professionals who provide access to one of humanity’s greatest creations, the book. Today, we award the books that they painstakingly labored for. On top of the bookmaking troupe, however, is the child reader who, I believe is the reason for the NCBA’s inception.

The winners of the first National Children's Book Awards will definitely be delighted and honored. We share in your euphoria. As you receive your award today, you have etched your name in the annals of Philippine Children's Literature. No doubt that the award will make a good addition to your resume, a feather on the cap as the old idiom goes. Congratulations!

Then again, let us not forget, that the best award a book can get is the affirmation from its child reader and the enjoyment it gives its intended audience. Enjoy the ceremony! Thanks to all who made the first National Children's Book Day a reality!

** From Judy Freeman's Hi-ho! Library-oh!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

NCBD 2010 Post Partum

I'm still high from the celebration of NCBD yetserday. Tarie Sabido did a great cover of the event. Read her blog! Thanks so much, Tarie! And then there's Teacher Jerson who didn't make it but he blogged about setting up NCBD activities in school. Galing! (Great!)

The PBBY Board (L-R Back row)Karina Bolasco; Zarah Gagatiga; Dr. Nina Lim-Yuson; Rayvi Sunico; Roseette Crelencia; Hermie Beltran (L-R Front row) Ani Almario; Dr. Luis Gatmaitan; Sally Labanda; Candy Gourlay (Guest Speaker); Emily Abrera; Totet de Jesus

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sticks and Stones of School Library Automation

Automating the library operations poses numerous challenges for the typical school library. Regardless of the collection’s volume and the school’s population there are requirements and preliminary tasks to undertake before jumping in the library automation bandwagon. These would include the following: 1) library needs assessment; 2) administrative support; 3) confirmation of a working budget; 4) stable and robust IT infrastructure; and 5) competitive manpower. Except for the first, all four must be in place, if not, at least existing in the school system. The library needs assessment can cover other features lacking in the four areas. This way, recommendations for addition budget or manpower, software requirements and blessings from the administration can be included.

Library Needs Assessment

Assessing the needs for a library automation project in a school would mean identifying existing structures of operations and services. Interviews may be done as well as consultation meetings. Defining the library workflow and current problems encountered by library users and the library staff who provide services is a good starting point to contextualize library automation in the school community. A review of the library’s role and goals is essential as library automation implicates changes in systems, work skills and paradigms. Developing a library automation project may begin in a variety of approaches and may be followed through by different strategic plans. One way is to begin from the ground up, thus the important role of a library needs assessment. Then again, top-level management may take the lead in an institutionalized approach. Either way, the status of the library must be assessed in preparation for automation.

Library automation is a huge and challenging project but with careful planning it is an endeavor worth all the time and effort.

Some essential questions to consider when assessing the needs of the library (Kreger 2010):

• How does automating your library help educate and inform the public?
• How does library automation fit into your overall technology plan?
• How does library automation fit into your technology budget?

Kreger further enumerates the following areas when assessing library needs for an automation project: demographic statistics; environmental considerations; collection assessment; budget assessment and equipment assessment.

a. Demographic statistics – This would include the population of the school namely, teachers, staff, students, parents and alumni.

b. Environmental constraints – Refers to the physical conditions of the library and its capability to accommodate new hardware requirements: cables, servers, computers, etc.

c. Collection assessment – The volumes and titles of the library collection must be assessed to see how many materials are for conversion and automation. Records of acquired titles (print, serials, online and AV) for the past three-five years are important data to have on hand. Since encoding and conversion per title and volume is costly, a decision must be made as to what to keep and weed out.

d. Budget assessment – There is an existing library budget in a school year and if budget for a library automation project is included, well and good. Vendors of library information systems software can provide quotations that can be used as basis for budget proposals. Library information system that uses open source is an option too. While the system may be free, there are operational costs as well. Besides, other peripherals for library automation like bar code, scanner, printer and supporting software must be bought. This is just the start since library automation must be sustained. Funding may be a problem if the school could not raise library fees or pool sources for the project. Grants are available, however, so it is critical to plan long term.

e. Equipment assessment – Since library automation is technology driven, availability and purchase of hardware, site preparations and network infrastructure is basic to the project.

Other areas to look into would be the specific number of holdings the library has per division; circulation information and readers’ profile; selection and acquisition cycle; conversion and operation costs. In library automation, it is best to see the big picture. Once the results of the assessment are generated, deciding which software or system to purchase is the next step.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

PBBY & NCBD Fast Facts

Here are some fast facts about PBBY and NCBD being that it is its 27th year of existence.

* The first Chairperson of PBBY was National Artist for Music, Lucrecia Kasilag. Dr. Serafin Quiason, from the National Library was Vice-Chairperson.

* In 1983 PBBY was then a mere idea. A year after, on August 8, 1986 the Articles of Incorporation was approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

* The first PBBY Writers Prize was awarded in 1984 to Wynstan Dimalanta for his retelling of Mga Pakikipagsapalaran ni Pilandok and to Susan Baclagon Borrero for her adaptation of the folktale, Ang Tatlong Magkakaibigang Palaka.

* The PBBY Writers Prize in 1984 had a Category B for original stories written for children. The winner was Rodolfo Mallari for his story, Malikoban.

* Former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos was the guest of honor of the first NCBD in 1984.

* The NCBD is celebrated every 3rd Tuesday of July under Presidential Decree 2365.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Kindred Spirits

Bodjie Pascua, storyteller par excellence, has only these words to say for storytellers:

Know your moments so you can land on your moments, and make your moments land!
– Bodjie Pascua

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Dear Librarian: Public School Librarian From Koronadal City

Our Dear Librarian sender for this month is Mr. Arvin Tejada, a public school librarian from Koronadal City. He narrates his plight and experiences working as school librarian there.

Dear Ms. Zarah,

Thank you for inspiring us through your blog site. I often visit your site and it always gives me hope that we can make a change in the field of librarianship. How I wish you can also help us in our advocacy. I'm a Division Librarian of Koronadal City Division - Library Hub, Region 12.

I was hired as Division librarian just last December 2009. Before I decided to transfer in the library hub, I worked as academic librarian at Notre Dame of Marbel University for 13 years. But when I was told by one of the Supervisors of the Koronadal City Division of the new item (librarian), I began to weigh things. First, I enjoyed working in an academic environment. Second, I was trained and developed as a librarian. And lastly, I am working with a dynamic support from the administration. But these were the things I am also contemplating on why I should cross the bridge.

Basically, I want to make a DIFFERENCE in our Division, in helping change the image of public school libraries. Next is to initiate programs and activities that will promote libraries in the public schools, and finally, for the reason of security and tenure… government can assure of my future, somehow.

I tried to figure out what will be my role in the library hub since the concept of it is opposite to a real functional library. With my 6 months stay, I realized that I need to re-educate and provide more training to our school librarian-designate since they don't have that formal education in Library Science.

I already gave them orientation about the Library Hub operations as well as a short idea on how to develop their school library last June 2010 but sad to note that most of them really don't have library materials. I learned from your blog, and it’s true, they simply stack all textbooks inside the small room and call it their library.

[Quoting from a previous post]
“…Librarians can establish learning communities through the provision of learning resources and information…”

In our case, there were librarian-designate who have the will but were not supported by the local administrators

“…They can work with teachers to further one's professional growth. They can act as team "teachers" who lend support in teaching and instruction. Librarians can model the reading habit to children and guide teens on making decisions on simple to complex school projects. Librarians, just like teachers, can effect and affect change as he/she preserves the heritage and legacies of a culture and a nation…”

Maybe, if the higher DepEd authorities will realize the importance of a full- time librarian, public schools can certainly help school children develop the love of books and reading at an early age. I think the Philippine Association of School Librarians, Inc. (PASLI) can help on this matter. Submit a proposal to the DepEd. I don’t know, it’s just my idea.

We already started the ocular visit in every school to check the status of their library. The loaning of books to the schools through their librarian-designate is now an ongoing activity. There are so many plans that I need to do both for the library hub and for the school libraries. Maybe one of these days, we can invite you to conduct seminars for our teachers and school librarians. Thank you ma’am for spending your time...

I will reply to Alvin in the next couple of days. I have invited a guest blogger as well to lend encouragement and inspiration to Arvin. Keep visiting!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

PBBY Chair On Jollibee-PBBY Partnership

Yesterday, PBBY signed a MOA with Jollibee as major partner in the celebration of the 2010 National Children's Book Day. Museo Pambata was the perfect venue for this event.

To start with, the NCBD poster is sponsored by Jollibee. Activities celebrating books, reading and children's literature is scheduled until December. What I'm looking forward though is the chance of meeting AGA MUHLACH! Dear me, my childhood crush. PBBY and Jollibee will be working together to make MaAGA ang Pasko more meaningful by donating more Filipino children's books to its many donors. This does not mean though that the PBBY members who are in the publishing industry will sell or donate the books. Book donation is open to the public, especially, Jollibee loyalists. Since PBBY is a multi-sectoral and non-profit organization, other sectoral members can help in determining good titles for donations. As it is, we have a teacher, a researcher, a book reviewer and two librarians who can do this.

For the occasion, I was asked to give a staple speech. I've prepared something, of course. Read the piece below:

We all know what Jollibee is. In fcat, Jollibee is everywhere. In the nooks and crannies of Manila's congested cities you'd find an orange bee smiling at you, inviting you, your family and friends to partake a meal of Chicken Joy and Jolly Spaghetti. You go up north to Santiago, Isabela and there you'll find the bee. You fly to Catarman, Samar and the bee is present still. Down south in Cagayan De Oro, the bee's ever-jolly presence is there. It is in TV, in print ads, in the movies and yes, even online. I checked the website. It's highly interactive.

PBBY on the other hand is the opposite. But, for the past twenty-seven years, it has not ceased its passionate effort to develop and promote books, reading and children's literature. Every year, PBBY leads the nation in celebrating National Children's Book Day the best way it can. With awards honoring the best written (Salanga) and illustrated (Alacala) story for children; storytelling sessions, arts and book exhibits in malls and the National Library; workshops for teachers, librarians and parents and professionals in the allied disciplines; recognition of people who've made a dent in the Philippine Children's Literature and institutions whose projects support the advocacy, PBBY is also cognizant of the necessity to bring all these closer to the Filipino child.

It is for this reason why PBBY partners with Jollibee. It is the concern on the Filipino child's growth and development that PBBY and Jollibee have in common. In this time and age when we live dangerously, if not, with more risque than we can handle, values and literacy skills are tools we need to equip our children with.

What better way to do this but soak Filipino children in books written for them. Books that promote Filipino culture and values. Books that speak of the changing influences and dynamics of the Filipino family. And books that mirror issues relevant to their experiences.

In this coming together, PBBY and Jollibee collaborate to nurture and nourish the Filipino child. May this collaboration fuel greater activities and projects that foster a lifelong love for books and reading so that the Filipino child may grow responsible, culturally rooted yet globally competitive. Good morning to one and all!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Simpleng Buhay, Simpleng Kulay

Ruben "Totet" de Jesus will be having a one-man exhibit of pen and paper artworks on 23 July 2010 at the Filipinas Heritage Library. It's a loaded July!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Children's Books as Instructional Materials

In the recently concluded Teacher Training Workshop of the Sa Aklat Sisikat (SAS) Foundation at UP Diliman, teacher participants eagerly listened to their group facilitators (GFs) during a session on the Framework of Reading. The GFs presented one activity each for Pre-reading, During Reading and Post Reading.

These activities help in establishing a purpose for reading; arousing schema; making connections; building meaning; and creating constructs. What's cool is that local books by Filipino writers for children are used in the program. There's more to these books than mere enjoyment. These books can be used as instructional materials too.

GF Rommel shows the cover of The Crying Trees to his group. He is a public school teacher of Kalawaan Elementary School, Pasig City. He's been with SAS since 2006.

GF Cynthia explains the many values embedded in the book, Alamat ng Ampalaya. She shares how research into writing stories and a side trip to the back story of a book help in understanding the story as a whole. Cynthia teaches Reading-Grade 7 at the Grade School Department of Miriam College. She is a writer and moderator of Merry Pens, the school newspaper of Miriam Grade School.

GF Mariecar enunciates the beautiful play of words and symbols in Bruhaha! Bruhihi!. Mariecar is the coordinator of CENTEX (Ayala Foundation), a program for public school students who are identified as gifted.

Was it ever the author's intent to write stories for use in the classroom? I don't think so. A book is one of the best instructional materials in town. Textbooks, however, are another story.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Book Launch: A Tall Story

I missed Candy Gourlay give a talk last year. I will definitely meet her on NCBD. And yes, fortunately, I can drop by and buy her book on the 21st of July. See you!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

School Library Development at the Grassroots

Sambat Trust, a UK Charity, has been involved in the development of school libraries in Tanauan, Batangas. Since 2007, it has successfully set up four libraries in the following schools: Sambat Elementary School, Talaga Elementary School, Santor Elementary School and Banadero Elementary School. Its current project is the development of the Wawa Elementary school library.

Alongside the renovation of the physical library, its collection of books for instruction and pleasure reading is in the works. To start off, a good set of Filipiniana books is in review for acquisition. For its general collection, the UK based charity is partnering with Scholastic Philippines to further beef up the school library's book collection. As a prelimenary step to this endeavor, a reader's needs survey is being formulated for teachers and students, the primary users of the school library.

Insite these efforts, donations are welcome! Reply to this post if interested or send an email via

Monday, July 12, 2010

The 2010 NCBD Fever

Invites have been sent to friends and affiliates of PBBY for this year's NCBD celebration. PaperTigers has run a blog post on this year's NCBD. Many thanks to Corrine Robson and the many dedicated individuals who make the core of Pacific Rim Voices. They continue to lend support in spreading the news, and the love, on Philippine Children's Literature.

At the home front, Tarie Sabido will be covering this year's NCBD and a host of blogger-writers too!

Friday, July 9, 2010


The news is so flattering!

This blog is included in Walt Crawford's book, But Still They Blog,, that presents how liblogs has changed and evolved since 2007. Crawford has posted a sample data of what to find and expect in his book via his blog, Walt at Random. Clicking this link, you'd see this blog's profile based on Crawford's survey/study. What's more, he described this blog as "impressive". Probably due to its "reaction" lines? I hope it's for the over all impact.

If anything, this bit of good news will encourage me to keep on blogging!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Storytelling @ Miriam Child Study Center

I got back to where I started. In preschool education, I mean.

I was at the Child Study Center of Miriam College yesterday. After a day's house arrest for colds and fever, I was back on my feet for storytelling to preschool children. It was like wearing an old skin that fits so comfortably. Only a few know that I began a career in preschool before plunging into the librarianship. I was a Nursery teacher until 1995 when I started organizing Xavier School's Early Education library. The rest, as they say, is history.

The "gig" I did for Miriam preschoolers was in line with their first library visit. The librarian, Teacher Portia, was very warm and welcoming. She's a one-man librarian in the preschool department catering to six hundred, more or less, preschoolers in Miriam College. The library was spacious and child friendly. It's one of the better preschool libraries I have seen. Will post photos soon!

So, for this event, I did a bit of library orientation for preschoolers.

Apart from the staple read aloud, I introduced to the preschoolers their library. And of course, a majority of the kids know what goes on in the library. Though it caught me by surprise to hear one preschooler say that a library is found at the mall. How can you differentiate a library from a bookstore now? Books in the library are borrowed, of course, while books in the store are bought. Interesting contexts, see?

After this brief introduction, I showed the kids my first library card and memories of my first library visit as a grade one student of Pateros Catholic School. From there I injected the library rules and expectations I "learned" from my teacher-librarian. Soft Voices; Quite movements; Reading books and returning them in their proper place; Greeting the teacher-librarian using polite words. These are but a few of the things I shared with the preschoolers. Of course, my years as preschool librarian helped a lot in crafting these library rules for preschool users. I kept to the basics. Too much information will clutter the concept of library use. Besides, these kids are first timers in the use of the library.

Once done with the basics, I proceeded to the story of the "hour". I read aloud Margaret Read MacDonald's Mabela the Clever. This book is precious to me a sit was given by a dear friend, Dianne De Las Casas! What's more, it's autographed! I ended the session with two handmade tales. The Handkerchief Man and The Great Enormous Turnip using a string to tell it. Again, thanks to Dianne for these wonderful storytelling ideas and strategies! The whole event ended successfully.

Miriam College's Child Study Center gave me a call back on another storytelling session for their Kinder students in August.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Comment On A Commentary Part 1

I came across Mike Luz's Reform Agenda for Teachers over the weekend. I read it several times. On my third reading, I was pretty impressed with Luz's vision for the Filipino public school teachers. Having worked with public school teachers via the Readathon Prpgram of Sa Aklat Sisikat Foundation over the past years, Luz has hit the nail right smack on the head. Our teachers need to go back to the basics to be effective and efficient.

I agree on all his points: from the improvement of teachers' salaries to their working conditions; pre-service and in-service training; upgrading of competencies in the communication arts and computer literacy. Teacher development is one key to an improved educational system.

Here's what made me fall from my seat though --

All non-teaching assignments should be reviewed and minimized. Non-teaching assignments (e.g., librarian, bookkeeper, property custodian, etc.) take a teacher away from teaching. If these jobs can be done by volunteer parents, this would greatly improve “time-on-task” of teachers.

While I agree that teachers should focus on teaching, primarily because it is their job to TEACH, I beg to differ when Luz pointed out that the work and the job of a LIBRARIAN be given to parent volunteers. Teachers are given non-teaching assignments like library duty because there is a dearth of librarians in the public school system. Parent volunteers as LIBRARIANS is not the lesser evil. What can librarians do that parent volunteers can't?

Librarians can establish learning communities through the provision of learning resources and information. They can work with teachers to further one's professional growth. They can act as team "teachers" who lend support in teaching and instruction. Librarians can model the reading habit to children and guide teens on making decisions on simple to complex school projects. Librarians, just like teachers, can effect and affect change as he/she preserves the heritage and legacies of a culture and a nation. These are but some of the few things that librarians can do in a school. Build as many libraries as possible. That's good. Set up mini-libraries and literacy centers in the classroom. That's great! But with out the help of a librarian to manage the library as well as support the teacher in these endeavors, literacy instruction is incomplete.

Sadly, public school librarians are item-less in the Philippine public school. Besides, keeping a library and honing librarians to become partners in teaching and learning is an idea that has struggles to take flight in the Philippines. The eternal optimist in me is inspired to look for success stories and then some. More on this in future posts.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Librarian On TV Part 1

Here's a video of the TV guesting I did last April. The interview was soooooooo impromptu. I was not even given a list of questions before going live. But I enjoyed it big time!

The TV guesting is courtesy of the National Book Development Board's campaign for reading and literacy development.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Celebrate National Children's Book Day (NCBD) 2010

On 20 July, 2010 PBBY will once again commence the celebration of National Children's Book Day. This year, we're awarding the Salanga to Raymond Falgui for his beautiful poetry and the Alacala to Aldy Aguirre for his dreamy and whimsical illustrations of Falgui's poems. Ms. Candy Gourlay, fresh from the successful publication of her Young Adult novel,Tall Story, in the UK, will deliver the keynote address. The opening of the Albert Gamos Retrospective and the presentation of published children's books and YA novels are part of this year's NCBD as well. Three days after, PBBY and the National Book Development Board (NBDB) will announce the Best Reads of 2008 and 2009 at the Mandarin Hotel in Makati.

The NCBD is a one day event that will transpire at the Museo Pambata (for 2010). This, however, does not stop schools, learning communities, libraries and families from celebrating NCBD. This July, a host of NCBD related activities can be organized by individuals and groups of people who love books and the children who read them.

Here is my top ten NCBD activities for schools and libraries:

1. Conduct storytelling sessions in the classrooms and in the library

2. Organize a Filipino book characters on parade

3. Invite a Filipino Author and/or Illustrator to speak to kids

4. Display winners of the Salanga and the Alcala winners in the library with their accompanying authors and illustrators. The PBBY website has the list of winners

5. Stage your own Best Reads by parents, teachers and students. Remember to focus on Filipino books for children and young adults

6. Drum up the theme by showcasing Filipino books that carry this year's slogan: Ang Nagbabasa Ng Libro Laging Panalo! (A Book Reader Is A Winner!)

7. Hold contests on story writing and illustrating. This can be a follow-up activity from the author and illustrator visit

8. Publish or display reviews of Filipino story books by students online or in the school paper

9. Invite parents, school officials, teachers and other members of the learning community to talk about books they grew up with

10. Read a Filipino children's book or YA novel.

The NCBD celebration is not exclusive to PBBY. Bring it to your schools and families. After all, we are all here to celebrate reading, books and the Filipino young reader.
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