Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Preserving the Role of Books

Posting this "old" PowerPoint from the 2nd Library Link Conference of the Filipinas Heritage in line with my talk at St. Paul College Pasig last week.

I won! I won! I won!

Not in the grand lotto.

But in the Harry Potter Giveaway contest at Sumthinblue's

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Who Copied Who

In light of the DOT hullabaloo, here are two videos made from the same mould.

The Lost Generation

The Future of Publishing

Note: PenguinUK made a citation and notated the source of idea and inspiration from The Lost Generation.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Earning a License

Sixteen years ago, I took the exams for librarians that would earn me a license.

If my memory serves me right, Dean Igor Cabbab was my exams-mate. He was seated a few chairs in front of me. I was seated in front of Abigail Capitin. I did not know them then. Yet, I remember both their faces. They were very confident. Years after, in some librarian event or the other, I was able to pick up their names and match it with my memory of their bright faces.

What I remember well was the way I was squirming in my seat those two days of the exam. Unlike Dean Cabbab and Ms. Capitin, I was a bundle of nerves. I was so unsure of passing the board exam. As luck would have it, I passed a few steps above the passing mark. Mahal talaga ako ni Lord.

Passing the librarians' board exam meant everything to me. I took it as God's way of telling me to be a librarian. Back then, I was teaching in preschool.

As a young professional and licensed librarian, ang yabang ko. A few years of actual practice made me realize how complicated this issue of librarians earning a license was. Human factor so they say, it is not perfect. At present, it remains so. What with many non-licensed librarians practicing the profession equal to their licensed counterparts. Sigh.

My simple message to those who passed the librarians' board exam: the moral and ethical obligations to obtaining and having a license is a personal responsibility. Use it well.

Congratulations to you!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Harry Potter Moments

I just joined a Harry Potter contest over at Bookmarked. Blooey Singson, the blog's owner, is  a huge Harry Potter fan so she's celebrating and giving away prizes in time for the movie. Though she says she won't watch it. But, if you're a Potterite like me, head on to her blog and see that many of us are up to no good! Kidding.

Here are my Harry Potter Memories.

HP Moment #1 - It was 2001 when I was at the height of my Potter obsession. I was pregnant with our youngest when I finished reading HP 4. In between 2001-2002, I bought Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages to while away the time waiting for Book 5. That school year, I was moderator of the Book Club. I had fifteen grade 5-6 boys combined. Not all of them were readers. They could read, but they're very selective at what to read. Thick chapter books with very few illustrations are a no-no.
Nonetheless, I urged them to read any of the HP series in preparation for Battle of the Books. They did and some even went as far as researching online. I had prepared my own set of activities to monitor their reading speed and space. On Battle of the Books day, we had FUN! As a wrap up activity, I had a write-the-author activity.
Yep. We dared write to JK Rowling!

I placed all of their letters in one big envelope and included mine as cover letter. I mailed it by snail to Scholastic New York. This was around Nov. or early Dec. of 2001.
On February 2002, Scholastic sent us sixteen letters and photos with JK Rowling's autograph!

I know it came from the publicist, or some marketing-PR person in Scholastic New York, but the important thing is, they answered back! My boys and I were on cloud nine. A good number of them became HP fans to this day.
HP Moment #2 - On the day HP 7 was released, I bought my copy at the Scholastic warehouse in Pasig City. I bought two copies actually - one for me and one for my friend, Mona Dy. It was my payback to her for something I owed. She claimed to have no memory at all on the debt.
HP Moment #3 - In the summer of 2008, my son has turned twelve and by the time school started in June, he has finished reading HP 3 - my favorite book in the series.
Looking back at the years when I was crazy over Harry made me realize that my HP moments extend beyond acquiring the books. It made me share reading magic to my students, my friend and my son. It made JK Rowling real to me as her publisher sent a letter recognizing our love for her writing and the books she created. There is love and wonder during those years that spanned age differences and geographic location. Books can do that. And if it is not magic, tell me what is?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Top Ten Librarian Board Exam Passers (2010)

The successful examinees who garnered the top 10 places in the Librarian Licensure Examination November 2010 are:


Source: http://www.boardexamresultsph.com/top-10-november-2010-librarian

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Lament on Our Public Library System

Neni Sta. Roman-Cruz, writes about her public library experience and laments the state of Philippine public library system in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Here's an excerpt --
I do feel deprived that no public library in the country has made a difference in my life, again stressing the fact that the world of books is not within everyone’s reach. If we go by official statistics, there are thousands of public libraries—I fervently hope they are touching the lives of readers, as I only know of the more progressive ones in Quezon City and Davao City. And I would be so happy to be proven wrong in my thinking, in my information, in what I am gladly willing to concede as irresponsible and rash observations. Let them be deemed false and misleading, please.

I have to admit that there are libraries in Metro Manila which have been so hospitable to research and learning—the Lopez Memorial Museum and Library in Pasig with the peerless Mercy Servida; the Rizal Library on the Ateneo campus in Loyola; and the Filipiniana section of the National Library. But where to go when one wants to read for the sheer delight of it? Sadly in Manila, it has been the bookstores where one has to make a purchase.
 Her article, National Book Week: Celebration or Lamentation, was posted on November 13, 2010 in the commentary page of the Inquirer.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Reading Librarian: Ann Grace Bansig

Librarians Read Series: Ann Grace Bansig is currently at Flanders, Belguim for a study grant. She was formerly a school librarian at the De La Salle Zobel School.
I am a late bloomer reader. But I will just share books that I enjoyed most during the first two years in college and a little during high school. When I discovered the richness of the Main Library, I started borrowing books that are not so related with the academics but gave joyful and great experiences for me as a reader. So here goes my list:

1. Roald Dahl’s books – I really enjoyed the wit and extraordinary humor of this guy. Even though his books are a bit eccentric and psychotic most of the times, I will still recommend his books. In a research I read for my master’s degree, I’ve found out why his books are a bit controversial in terms of the circumstances happened to the characters he created. According to him, bad guys should be punished! Read his books and you’ll see! =)

2. Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series – I think most us read if not the complete series, then some of the books which stars these famous young detectives back in college or earlier. What I love about Joe and Frank is that they are really good in reading the clues, same with Nancy. I even read the book where both the Hardy boys and Nancy Drew worked together in solving mysteries. They are very youthful, romantic sometimes and wholesome in content, no doubt about it! Through time, the versions of their book evolved too as they are now in famous graphic novels.

3. Da Vinci Code – I read this book long before it became so famous! I remembered that it kept me awake one night to finish it because there is a long queue for this by word of mouth from a friend who read it before me. I never regretted the hours I spent just to finish this!

4. Bridge to Terabithia – I’d say this one is sad at the end but the friendship it showed is one of a kind. This book made me shed tears because of the ending. It has a movie adaptation too and I’m happy to say that I was not too disappointed with the film version.

5. Star girl – This is book is about a girl named Susan Caraway, but she uses “Star girl” as a name. Star girl is full of eccentricities and is a non-conformist. She does things that are way beyond the norms. She sings “Happy birthday” to every kid in school even if she does not know them personally. She attends funeral of other people. She cheers the enemy of the school in basketball and leaves coins in the street. What's good about this book, is that it tells us to be true to ourselves. We don’t have to be anything that we are not for fear of rejection.

6. Harry potter series – I met Harry Potter in college through a friend that reads a lot.  She lent me the book one weekend, and starting that time, I became a Hogwarts’ student wannabe. JK Rowling surely knew how to win a reader because until now Harry Potter holds a place in my heart. Though the film versions are a disappointment, I still watch it with my friends because it became a “Harry Potter tradition”.

7. Gone with the wind – Wow, I have a classic on my list! I love this book though a bit thick and long! I persevered to finish it because I want to know the ending of Scarlett O’Hara. Set during the Revolution, women can surely learn something from the wicked ways of lovely Madam O’Hara as she did her best to survive war, famine and love.

8. B1 Gang Series – I don’t know if others were familiar with this series. I think this is the Philippine version of Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries. The gang is composed of four high school teenagers namely: Gino, Kiko, Boging and Jo. They solve mysteries and myths as they travel around the country. I remembered we used them for some book reports. I do hope that they continue publishing these books because they promote Filipino values, heritage and friendship. Plus they can also compete with the influx of foreign books. If we can patronize foreign books, we can also do so with Philippine materials. =)

Books I read in my post-teen age that I want to recommend.
1. Spiderwick Chronicles
2. Percy Jackson series
3. Hunger games trilogy
4. Princess Diaries series
5. The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel
6. Books by Eva Ibbotson
7. Inkheart series
8. Series of Unfortunate Events – good for building vocabulary words
9. Newbery Award winning books
10. Filipiniana books published by Adarna, Tahanan and Lampara

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Reading Librarian: Darrel Manuel Marco

Librarians Read Series:  Darrel Manuel O. Marco is the Lower Grades Readers' Services Librarian at De La Salle Zobel School, Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa City

I used to love these books. Some of them were suggested by my friends, some are of sentimental values, while some are just pieces to satisfy my curiosity.

1. The Little Prince -- I really got curious about this book not because of the title but because of the author, I really didn't know how to pronounce his last name! That's why I tried to read the book, and then I realized that, oh!, I'm nearly done and I enjoyed the story. Fantastic. Profound. Antoine de Saint-Exupery really had me going not just because of his last name but because of his captivating way in writing the story.

2. The Da Vinci Code -- yes, I am still young and I was like 18 when I read this phenomenal book. Shocking. Intriguing. Revealing. If you don't have a strong foundation on your belief (and some ounces of sweat for researching), you might as well be convinced, that somehow, these revelations might have really happened or might have truth in them. I give three cheers for Dan Brown for creating this fictional book which stirred the confidence of the "Christian" world.

3. The Five People You Meet in Heaven -- This was the first book I bought from my first attendance in the Manila International Book Fair (2005). Very inspirational. Once my mom was shocked when she saw me reading this book because of the title. She thought that it was all about deaths, killings, and the likes. But then, the young reader I was, I eventually convinced her to try reading it, and she told me that she cried after reading it.

4. Tuesdays with Morrie -- Yet another inspirational book by Mitch Albom. As my college classmates and I were having some small chats on the book that we were reading that time, some of them highly suggested that I should give this one a shot. Nevertheless, I loved this book. Read this for four times and it never failed to make me pour buckets. I guess this is also one of my inspirations why I love being a teacher-librarian.

5. Pride and Prejudice -- My college bestfriend, Ella, loves the classics. So, I thought, what's with them and what makes you hooked with them? They're boring and too dragging. She lent me one of her books, I tried Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and I was proved otherwise. I loved the Bennet sisters ever since. Then came the movie with Kiera Knightly and the rest is history. Now, I am trying to read the new edition, "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies".

6. Ang Alamat ng Gubat -- Got curious because my high school classmates were all passing it around. Thought it was just some graphic novel book by Bob Ong, where a naughty crab was the main protagonist. But I was wrong, it was totally a book of social relevance once you tried reading between the lines. Since then, I read all the other books written by Bob Ong.

7. Love Story/ Oliver's Story -- My former housemate, Nomer, is a fan of Erich Segal books. Those were the "hell week" times that I asked him if he could give me some diversions from my acads and he suggested that I read books by Erich Segal. I picked the thinnest book, Love Story, among his collections. And Viola! I was hooked. The story is not your typical love story and what makes it more fun is the wit of the characters, Jenny and Oliver. Then, of course, I was also hooked with the sequel, Oliver's Story. This made me realize that love after all is not just all about love.

8. Acts of Faith -- The Trinoma Mall in Quezon City was still newly established then, and the Powerbooks store there was the place where I munched this book. Everytime I'd go to that store, I would really look for this particular title and continue reading it until I'm finally done. I finished this book for about five times of visiting the store within one week. This is another book by Erich Segal where love dared to transcend even the extremes of the opposites.

9. Catcher in the Rye/ To Kill a Mockingbird -- In my freshman year, I was assigned to do a report on censorship in the library. While researching for my topic, I stumbled upon these two titles which were deemed censored. So the curious cat in me wondered why. Nomer, once again, lent me his Catcher while another friend of mine, Gel, let me borrow To Kill in exchange of my Da Vinci. Both books were profoundly written. I guess that's why they're censored. Hehe. Kidding aside, Catcher has some tinge of racism in it while To Kill has aspects of violence which I guess are not suitable for the target market, Juveniles.

10. Harry Potter series -- One word: FANTASTIC! I hate that it is being compared to the Twilight series. HP is legenday. The plot thickens along the way. The struggles become harder and tougher but in the end, our victor would still emerge, of course, victorious! It's children's literature for the whole family. Now, I am re-reading the whole series and I really want more!

May I also suggest some of the books that I love to read even though I'm not a teenager anymore? Here are some:
1. Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins -- never thought I'd love this series. I want more!
2. Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan -- who wouldn't want to be a demi-god/goddess?
3. Geronimo Stilton series by Geronimo Stilton -- Yeah, blame it on my babies! They love the series and I got infected. The humor is infectious and the lessons as well as guide in good writing is incomparable
4. His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman -- The first movie, Golden Compass might not have given it a good justification but the series is really good.
5. Lord of the Rings trilogy -- I started reading it when I was 20, not a teenager anymore. :P Epic saga. Very nice.
6. Books by Eric Carle -- yeah, I'm going back to my childhood years
7. Books by Dr. Seuss
8. The Polar Express -- Can't help but cry everytime I read this. Very touching.
9. Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull -- fairies, nyphs, satyrs and every magical creatures
10. Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi

I also hope that we read more Filipiniana books and enrich our Filipiniana literature by contributing more creative Filipino stories. Such creative books are:
1. Tuwing Sabado
2. Asan na ang sundo ko
3. Ang pambihirang buhok ni Raquel
4. Half and Half
5. Tight times
6. The Yellow Paperclip and It's Bright Purple Spots
7. Bruhahaha - bruhihihi
8. Filemon Mamon
9. Barumbadong Bus
10. Bisikleta ni Monmon
11. Pilandok series

I hope that as you read this article, you are now considering to try to read at least one of the titles. Or any titles for all I care, just so as long as you keep reading, you love learning and you never stop sharing what you've learned to the world. Start with one page at a time, and soon you'll find out that there really is no harm in reading.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What Does a Librarian Make?

For the first time, a Filipino author remembers with fondness a librarian who was influential, in part, for shaping her world to the wonder of words. Candy Gourlay writes about Ms. Evelyn Diaz, her grade school librarian in relation to her being nominated a Carnegie Medal.

Head on to Candy Gourlay's blog, read her post on her favorite librarian and win a prize along the way.

The Reading Librarian: Igor Cabbab

Librarians Read Series: Dean Igor Cabbab of the UP School of Library and Information Science. 

Please note that he made the list before his formal appointment as dean of the UP SLIS. Either way, congrats to the new post and more power to UP SLIS!

Oh, I wasn't much of a book reader way back then. I remember reading the following:

1. The Prophet by Khalil Gibran (library book, I really don't know why I picked up that book O_o;;)

2. Encyclopedia Brown, The Hardy Boys Series and The Nancy Drew Series (borrowed from cousins)

3. Complete Works of Shakespeare (around the house, my parents)

4. Mythology, Edith Hamilton and Age of Fable, Thomas Bulfinch (around the house, my parents)

5. Le Morte d' Arthur, Sir Thomas Malory (around the house, my parents, yeah, Dragonball Z even before Son Goku! Knight gets stronger during the day, weaker at sunset, three days of fighting nonstop. ^_^)

6. The komiks section of Liwayway (every week when I visit my aunt, Agua Bendita anyone?)

7. A ton of Komiks!!! (while tending my lola's store, hospital overnights, long bus rides... Wakasan, Funny Komiks, etc.)

8. DC comics 12-issue arc "Crisis on Infinite Earths" (loaned from my hs pals, hey, multiple universes and a seemingly invulnerable superhero like Supergirl dying f***s up one's childhood like no other)

9. TinTin and Asterix the Gaul comics (library books)

10. Elizabeth Barrett Browning poems: Sonnets from the Portuguese (around the house)

Oh, and a ton of Sweet Valley High and Sweet Dreams(?) paperbacks my sister leaves in the toilet for reading (ei, they're there, need to read something ^_^;;)

Come to think of it, this probably explains a lot why I am what I am today.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Reading Librarian: Von Totanes

Librarians Read Series: Von Totanes,  PhD candidate at the University of Toronto, licensed librarian in the Philippines and hibernating blogger in cyberspace.
Here are the ten that I kept reading over and over again in high school and beyond:

Adventures in the Screen Trade - William Goldman
Airport - Arthur Hailey
The Bourne Identity - Robert Ludlum
The Day of the Jackal - Frederick Forsyth
Doctors - Erich Segal
Evergreen - Belva Plain
The Firm - John Grisham
The Godfather - Mario Puzo
If Tomorrow Comes - Sidney Sheldon
Kane and Abel - Jeffrey Archer

I was 13 in 1986, when my dad told me that I needed to move up from the Hardy boys and handed me the Bourne Identity. He initially had to force me to read one chapter every week, but eventually I had to plead that he let me finish the book. From then on, I just kept reading what I thought of as grown-up books!

Perhaps the ones that need the most explanation are the lone non-fiction book--adventures--and the one by a woman. Adventures was one of the few new books at the library. I didn't really have any idea what it was about, but it looked interesting, so I borrowed it. And ended up getting hooked on a book that I later learned was THE classic book on screenwriting with the oft-repeated "no one knows anything," in reference to Hollywood.

I never saw the Evergreen miniseries, but I did see a few minutes on TV once and thought maybe I should read the book. After reading so many action-packed bestsellers, you'd think it was really not my style and give up. But back then I thought I HAD to finish every book I began, and eventually fell in love with its very slow pace, and ended up going back to it (i bought my own copy) every now and then. I tried reading a few of her other books, but I don't think i ever finished--and certainly didn't REread--any of them.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Reading Librarian: Fe Angela Verzosa

Librarians Read Series: Madame Fe Angela Verzosa and her books read as a teenager. 

It took me quite long to make this list (4 hours?), because I had hundreds of favorites during my teen years, when my early life was half-spent in reading good books by great minds. Because you defined the period from 13-18, I had to eliminate the first 3 formative years when I was still in High School and reading a lot of Nancy Drew mysteries plus the required literature readings from my English and Lit subjects, and concentrated on the latter 3 years of my teenhood to come up with this list. My favorite books, in the order of how they affected my adolescent thinking are:

• Platero y Yo by Juan Ramon Jimenez . I fell in love with the book and the author, a Spanish poet, who received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1956. This book was given on my 16th birthday by a bosom friend, with whom I had a passionate relationship later in life. From then on, I decided if ever I would write poetry, it would be in the style of Juan Ramon, a prose poem.

• The Little Prince (or Le Petit Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, a French aviator, who wrote the novella in 1943. I was so moved by the lines - "One sees clearly only with the heart. The essential is invisible to the eyes." – that for years, it was my favorite motto. My favorite chapter was 21: when the prince meets and tames a fox, who explains to the prince that his rose is unique and special, because she is the one whom he loves. ("It is the time you have lost for your rose that makes your rose so important.")

• The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm, is a book written by psychologist and social philosopher, another gift from my first boy friend. I still have the book published in 1956 by Harper & Row and treasures it to this day. This bestseller is a favorite companion to another book he wrote Escape from Freedom, where he postulated 8 basic needs: Relatedness (relationships with others, care, respect, knowledge), Transcendence (creativity, developing a loving and interesting life), Rootedness (feeling of belonging), Sense of Identity (seeing ourselves as a unique person and part of a social group), Frame of orientation (understanding the world and our place in it.), Excitation and Stimulation (actively striving for a goal rather than simply responding), Unity (a sense of oneness between one person and the "natural and human world outside"), and Effectiveness (the need to feel accomplished).

• Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, is an inspirational book that I continue to read over and over again, especially during times of soul-searching and agonizing need for peace and solitude. Anne Morrow Lindbergh (known as the first American woman to have a pilot’s license) was an admirable woman, and her stoic character was sharpened by many tragedies in her life.

• The Grass Harp by Truman Capote, a story of youth and loneliness, was among the great books I read in my teens. After reading this novel, I went on to read "Other Voices, Other Rooms,” and into more Capote works, and decided Truman Capote deserves to be among the literary giants in American literature.

• The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers, her first of many novels, about eccentric characters, portraits of the rejected, forgotten, mistreated and oppressed. Needless to mention, after this, I devoured the rest - Reflections in a Golden Eye, The Member of the Wedding, and the novella The Ballad of the Sad Café.

• Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence. I first read the expurgated version, not knowing I was missing some chapters, and after reading it from our school library, discovered that an unexpurgated version was available (from a friend’s library possession), and read it over and over again, graduating to more of his novels, Sons and Lovers and Women in Love.

• Jude the Obscure by Tomas Hardy, another English novelist and poet, who had a profound influence on my literary taste. I was first introduced to Hardy’s novels after reading The Return of the Native (a required reading), and after reading Far from the Madding Crowd , The Mayor of Casterbridge, and Tess of the d'Urbervilles, I decided the best was Jude the Obscure. I will never forget his precocious child, Little Father Time.

• Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn and Black Spring by Henry Miller, a revolutionary and controversial writer, whose first of this trilogy was banned in the US for almost 25 years, until the US Supreme Court declared it to be a work of literature and not pornography.

• The Alexandria Quartet (Justine, Balthazar, Mountolive, and Clea) by another English novelist, Lawrence Durrell, which fascinated me because of its exotic setting in the city of Alexandria. I read the tetralogy in hurried succession, after watching the epic movie, Lawrence of Arabia.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Librarians Read Series: The Reading Librarian

From November 8-12, 2010, the blog will feature one librarian per day and their list of books read as a teen. Yes, it's a spill over of Teen Read Week 2010!

This is what I got for having invited readers to join in the Teen Read Week list mania. No regrets! The more the merrier!

The five Filipino librarians who replied to my call for participation in this blog's Teen Read Week list mania is a very small percentage of the big group of  Filipino librarians out there who read. I've often met people from outside the profession who complain that librarians do not READ. Shame it is to hear and know about this. A librarian who does not read should re-examine his or her career path. Librarians MUST be models of the reading habit especially in the community of learners that they belong to. It is not a requirement to read every book there is in the vast collection of the library or online resources but, it is essential that the librarian is a READER.

Now I imagine teaching LIS (Library and Information Science) in college. If I were, I would ask the college applicant these two questions: Do you read? What have you read recently?

If you are a college freshman and is considering taking LIS as a major course (and brave enough to reply to this post), hit the comment button and share your reading list!

Happy reading!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Book Talks and Literacy Initiatives

The Reading Association of the Philippines' Asian Literacy Conference is on its second day of consummation. The program contained a mix of local and international teachers, practitioners, professionals and scholars in the field of education, reading instruction and library science. It has, if my memory serves me right, five to six break out sessions of paper presentations, panel discussions and poster sessions. There are also literacy categories for every paper presented, posters displayed and discussion panels.

Here's a photo of my friend, Kinchay Villafranca, who had two sessions on reading and IT instruction in the middle years. As for myself, I had a panel discussion on the literacy initiatives of the PBBY -- The Salanga and Alcala Prizes; Wan Dey Isang Araw; Salaysayan; the National Children's Book Day and the 1st National Children's Book Day.

Yesterday, I was at the National Library of the Philippines for a lecture on Reading and how it shapes the mind. It was organized by the Book Talk Society of the Philippines. It's president is Prof. Mike Cobaria who was my former professor at the Philippine Normal University.

I had the opportunity to book talk four of the books who made it to the Best Reads 2010 - 1st NCBA. I could tell that it was at that time when the participants were engaged all the more. Another highlight of the day was the inclusion of Sambat Trust's grass roots school library development project in Tanauan, Batangas. At the end of my lecture, donated books were turned over to Pathways to Higher Education for the high school libraries they help develop.

There are more library and literacy activities slated for the month of November. I'll be blogging about those I will attend and conduct. So stick around for more news on the literacy and literary scene in Manila!

CDR King's e-Reader

I just need to blog this -- a cheap e-reader for only Php 4,000 (rounded off)! Read more about it in Arnold Zafra's blog.

Now this does not mean I will run to the nearest CDR King outlet. The cheapskate that I am! I'll write Santa Claus a letter!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Folks Talk on Pinoy Folk Tales

One of the many rewards I got from writing the manuscript of Tales From the 7,000 Isles: Filipino Folk Stories was that, I had the opportunity to discuss with my writer friends the influences, inspirations and status of Philippine folk lore today. This proves that writing, though a solitary act, should never be done in isolation. The whole process involves a lot of reading, speaking and articulating and yes, listening to peers and experts in the discipline.

Augie River and Dr. Luis Gatmaitan were perfect for such discussions. The former provided me with references and leads while the later gave me tips to the many possibilities of retelling a well loved tale. Paolo Chikiamco lent his passionate opinion on Filipino Folk stories via the interview questions I sent his way a few weeks back. His blog, Rocket Kapre has a treasure trove of resources for the folk tale enthusiast.

Read on Paolo's thoughts and insights on Philippine folk lore --

a. What made you compile a blog link/site on Filipino folk tales other than an obvious interest on the genre?

When I set up the website for Rocket Kapre Books, I didn't want it to serve only as a bulletin board for announcements pertaining to our books and authors. I also wanted it to be a place that fosters the creation of Filipino works of speculative fiction, wherever these works are eventually published. I figured one way to do this would be by sharing some of the resources I've found in my own research, and I chose to do this first with Philippine mythology and folklore because there didn't seem to be a lot of online resources dealing with these topics, and because our heritage is such a fertile source of inspiration. Speculative fiction authors in other countries have been kept their old tales alive by re-imagining them and re-incorporating elements into new, modern stories, and I'd love to see more Filipino authors do the same (in the footsteps of people such as Arnold Arre and Budjette Tan).

Researching pre-hispanic Filipino traditions can be a daunting and time-consuming task because of the vast diversity of the cultures and people lived in these islands, and a relative scarcity of research materials, especially if you don't live near a library. The Myth List and Philippine Pantheons pages are my way of providing a starting point for writers who want to incorporate elements of our myths in their tales.

b. What Western and Eastern influences are predominantly found in our folk tales? Name at least five.

I'm not sure if we can really speak of a Western influence in our earliest folk tales, since most of the foreigners who visited our shores before the Spanish arrived were from Asia. Some writers believe that a few of the more popular creatures of folk lore were created because of or as a reaction to the Spanish--"Kapre" is said to come from the Arabic word "Kaffir" and could have been used to demonize the West, while the Manananggal could have come from an attempt by Spanish missionaries to demonize female shamans who were their competition in the spiritual realm.

Easterners, being our neighbors, exercised a more direct influence, but you'd need an expert (rather than just an enthusiast like myself) to quantify them. Some of our people, such as the Sama Dilaut, may have come to our islands from other countries and carried their own store of folklore which mixed with those who were here before them. Certain local myths also seem to be of a type that can be found in some form in many other Eastern cultures -- such as the many myths dealing with a man who, through deceit, marries a Star in human form. The introduction of Islam to the south of the archipelago also influenced folklore there heavily, and we received Islam primarily from our Southeast Asian neighbors.

c. What is the prevailing folk tale motif have you observed present in the folk tales you've read so far?

Again, it's hard for me to generalize given that I've been trying to read up on the folklore of our people from all over the islands, and there can be great differences in the tales of the north as opposed to the south, or the myths of the people who live in the mountains as opposed to those who live in the lowlands. Each culture will have their own particular concerns, and that will greatly affect the motifs present in their folklore. Herminia Meñez Coben points out, for instance, that "the attainment of immortality without having to experience death" is central to the Bukidnon, and that's something you can see from their tale of the Ascension to Heaven via the Salimbal, the heavenly ship.

d. As a writer and collector of folk tales, what is the greatest challenge you've encountered yet? Where do you attribute this challenge?

As a collector, the greatest challenge is finding material that not only gives a narration of the old stories, but also gives a proper context, one that explains what the myth as a whole or elements of that myth meant for the people and culture from which it originated. If I'm reading an epic, say, where the hero turns into a particular kind of animal, it's very helpful to know whether that animal has a particular cultural significance. The old tales were always more than just literal narrations of events - like the universe itself in the eyes of many cultures, the old stories had layers, and if one simply reads a retelling of the story, without any context, that depth can be lost.

As a writer, the greatest challenge for me is trying to embrace these old myths and legends as a part of my Filipino heritage, without wrongful appropriation. These are my stories and yet, at the same time, they are not, because many of the stories which are considered Filipino folklore emerge from communities which pre-existed the idea of a Philippine nation, or even a Filipino race, communities which still exist today in a sort of grey area where they are struggling to maintain their unique cultural identities.

e. What folk tale personify the Filipino?

I think many of our countrymen are die-hard romantics, so I think that the stories that best embody the Filipino spirit are those that deal with true love, particularly those that involve a pair trying to overcome nigh-insurmountable obstacles in order to consummate their affections. One example is the myth of the Ibanag which explains why there is a high tide whenever the moon is full. It involves the daughter of the sun god, the son of the sea go, and the violation of the laws of the immortals. It could easily serve as the basis for the modern form of narrative that so engrosses the nation - the Fantaserye.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Blog Discoveries

Delighted to discover the blogs of The Busy Librarian and I am Demigod Librarian.

Click the links and find out for yourself why it is such a delight to read them!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Neil Gaiman: Libraries Are the Future

November is here.

I am inundated with workshops and talks on storytelling, bibliotherapy, books, reading, why libraries and the printed word are still important in this day and age, and blogging. Not that I'm complaining, but it's another busy month.

So, for the first post of November, being Library and Information Services month, here's a link on Neil Gaiman's acceptance speech on winning the 2010 CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway award. His book, The Graveyard Book, was conferred winner as well.

He drums up the importance of libraries in his speech. In the end, he shares his sentiments at the closure of many libraries worldwide due to budget cuts.
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