Thursday, May 31, 2012

Me as a Teacher

The 2012 Sa Aklat Sisikat Gurong Kaakbay Conference commenced yesterday at the Science Education Complex, Ateneo de Manila University. There were 250 teacher participants, more or less. It kicked off with the expected opening ceremonies in the morning and a team building session by LUBID (Learning - Understanding Behaviors - Insights for Development). In the afternoon, Dr. Isagani Cruz gave an inspirational message which was followed by the first workshop/break-out session of the conference.

As tradition would have it, all of SAS's Master Trainors (MT) and senior Group Facilitators (GF) conducted the workshop, Me as A Teacher. It was a bitter sweet moment for me for reasons I could not explain yet. And to think it was only the first day of the conference! Something is up there in the air, suspended and bloated just waiting to pop. Could it be the theme of this year's conference, Nurturing Teachers as Readers and Writers that made me feel "emo"? It suggests of SAS's reason for being and history. It is so sentimental. Or perhaps, I'm touched by the happy reunion among MTs and GFs during SAS training workshops and conferences? We only get to see each other once or twice a year and always, there's laughter from memories shared and experiences together in many teacher trainings in the cities and in the regions. It could be all these I missed so much.

With teacher participants at the workshop of the SAS Gurong Kaakbay Pilipinas Conference 2012

The teacher participants I had yesterday were very serious. They took notes and listened attentively. They were very much involved in the discussion. These are expected responses after all, since the participants went through a stringent application process.

I enjoy this session every Gurong Kaakbay Conference. As a teacher, I learn a lot from my colleagues. Being with teachers makes me a better school librarian because, I get to understand their context. I continuously learn from them: how they use varied strategies in teaching; what they are truly passionate about; their joys at the success of their students; their hopes and dreams for a better educational system. Teachers simply want to teach well (despite of and in spite of).

I will be back in the Conference on Day 3 to do a workshop on Bibliotherapy. Tomorrow, Day 2 is a star studded event. The roster of plenary speakers and workshop facilitators includes Palanca Hall of Famers, Poet Laureate, award winning writers, teachers with international caliber and sought after trainors. It is as if SAS is giving its all for this year's Gurong Kaakbay Pilipinas Conference.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Mauban, One More Time

The good writer-doctor, Dr. Luis Gatmaitan and I, together with CCP's Bing Tresvalles and Hermie Beltran spent a five day stay in Mauban for the Batang Sining Workshop 2012. Last year, we did the same workshop but with teachers of Mauban. This summer, we had children ages 6-12 years as participants. They were a joy to be with!

The Maubanin children were participative and very much eager to learn. They liked the movement activities and visual art projects. They were natural storytellers and writers of stories. If pick-up lines are trendy among Manila kids, Maubanin kids are crazy over those too. Thanks to the reach and power of TV and media, Dr. Gatmaitan and I had our fill of pick-up lines from Day 1 to Day 5 of the workshop.

 Another wonderful thing about the children in Mauban is that, they're in touch with their town's unique culture and local knowledge. Their group cheers bespeak of  Rizal Hill, the fabled hill where locals attest to seeing St. Elmo's Fire; Gat Uban, their local folk hero, a Dumagat who drove away the Moros; the Maubanog Festival, their town fiesta; and other tourist spots like Cagbalete, Alitap Falls and La Fella Resort.

The local government unit has something to do about this. The visible projects set out by the LGU's Tourism Office help raise the awareness of Maubanin culture and way of life. I have written about the many historical and geographical wonders of Mauban, as well, as gastronomic delights in previous blog posts. Going back there again revealed fascinating aspects of Mauban charm.

First, we met "Mamay". She is the town's buri weaver who looked like my maternal grandmother. The woven flowers I am holding in the photo is made by her. I did not ask Mamay how old she is, but it's obvious that weaving buri products is something she's done all her life.

Mamay is very grateful for the revival of this industry. The Tourism Office is working on a manual for those who will follow Mamay's footsteps. Buri weaving is a traditional art in Mauban it is being saved from extinction.  From this art, the LGU of Mauban has produced an industry that sustains the buri weavers and the collective livelihood of the towns people. I bought some of the woven flowers and buri bags as souvenirs.

On our free day, Ms. Anie Calleja, Mauban Tourism Officer showed us the Public Bath which was built in the 1700's.

It was a fascinating relic, an architectural ingenuity! The picture on the left shows Dr. Gatmaitan standing beside a water sprout. The basin like container catches the water that came from a spring which locals call Batis na Malinis. The batis (stream) is long dead and has dried up over the course of time. But the public bath stands till this day as a testament on the creativity, resourcefulness and local smarts of Maubanins.

How many public baths are there in this archipelago? This was a first for me and yes, I was impressed. See, it really is more fun in the Philippines!

After that trip to the public bath, we headed to Cagbalete Island. It was my second time there. I loved it on my first visit. As the saying goes, it was lovelier the second time around.

 Thank you to the LGU of Mauban; to CCP and PBBY for this wonderful experience of knowing my country piece by piece, one island at a time.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Best Reads of 2010

The 8th iBlog Summit

I still remember the first iBlog Summit I attended in 2005. The following year, I was a speaker presenting a topic on blogs in education. How time flies! How far has Pinoy blogging gone since then?

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I am being maudlin all over. Here is the link of the presentation I gave in 2006 during the 2nd iBlog Summit. The title of my presentation was, Blogs as Teaching Tools.  The full paper can be read via this link: Blogs in Teaching and Learning.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Responsible Blogging

My blogging topic schedule has been disrupted by many events the past few weeks. I am staying true to my promise of setting eight blog posts to celebrate the blog's eighth birthday. So here's the first on responsible blogging, a lesson I have learned over the years.

Blogging has given me a voice. At the start, it was a shaky one. Unsure at one point and very opinionated at sometime. That was not good. If you want readers to believe you, your voice must not only be convincing. It should have conviction. Mean what you say and say what you mean. Readers will know when you're bluffing and when you're saying your ideas with all sincerity.

Having said these, what you want to communicate out there does not always have to be your opinion. Maybe you have an idea, a strong opinion on a topic but these have to be well established on facts and information. A personal belief is one thing. An unsupported opinion is another. Hold that opinion or personal idea for a while. Research. Investigate. Try out your hypothesis. Cite your sources. Do not claim what is not yours.

A blog is a media that does not undergo strict editing. So, the blogger is his or her own editor. When I started blogging, there were no blog awards yet. But, there was the iBlog Conference in 2005 where influential bloggers came and gave talks, lectures and tips for beginning bloggers like myself. One unforgettable blogger in the group of speakers was Connie Veneracion. She was a living testament to responsible blogging. One memorable line she delivered then was this: "Our online persona reflects who we really are." That would mean, that despite a pen name or anonymity, we show our true selves when we blog.

Blogging can be fun. And yes, there's a promise of earning a bit of cash. But, the voice and the freedom of expression found in blogging must be taken with great responsibility.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Fan Girl Photos

With Dr. Paraluman Giron

Yes, Dr. Fermin. I am a believer!

Dr. Ed Fermin on Role of Information Specialist

And so the PASLI Forum ended at past 12:00 noon with Dr. Edison Fermin's lecture on the role of the Information Specialist in the K-12 curriculum. He was such an engaging speaker. He exuded confidence the moment he took the mic. Stand and deliver, he did! He's a seasoned resource speaker as evidenced in his PowerPoint presentation and delivery.

As I listened to him, I thought, "You have to be really smart to get his jokes. You need to be a good sport to access his humor, secure enough at yourself that you can laugh at the truths he uncovered about traditional librarian image." Not many school administrators support their school librarians the way Dr. Fermin does. He should be invited to many seminars and fora for school librarians and administrators.

In his lecture, he simply posed three questions:

a. Who may be considered as information specialist?

b. Why is K-12 program worthy of the attention of information specialist?

c. How can the K-12 to program succeed with the help of info specialist?

He provided all the answers and participants were apt listeners. In a nutshell, Dr. Fermin emphasized the need for librarians to break out of the stereotypical roles and assume proactive roles that are tuned to the times, especially, in servicing digital natives of the 21st century. Information specialists (librarians, in traditional terminology) are very much needed in the K-12 curriculum because information to develop it is in their hands. The teaching of study skills identified from K-12 is no longer the sole responsibility of the teacher, but a shared learning experience that Information specialists and teachers design for students. Information specialists are called upon to be effective library managers, collaborators and communicators of information and knowledge, and instructional technologists.

This is not new stuff for me, but I need to be reminded once in a while since staying in the status quo cab be unhealthy. I liked the localized curriculum because I believe it is one strategy to achieve global mindedness. Overall, the forum was a success because it showed school librarians the scenario of the K-12 curriculum from the top. It will take a brilliant middle management to set strategies for its implementation in the ranks.

Congratulations to PASLI for a successful forum!

Live Blogging: PASLI Forum K-12 Curriculum

The PASLI Forum on K-12 Curriculum at Miriam College is well attended by school librarians from public and private schools. There are also a number of teachers from both sectors who found the forum helpful. Dr. Giron gave a brief but substantial presentation of the K-12 curriculum. Some highlights I took note of while listening to her talk:

Dr. Giron: the vision of K-12 curriculum is to produce holistically developed Filipinos who have 21st century skills and are prepared for higher education, middle-level skills development, employment and entrepreneurship.
Dr. Giron: The role of the school librarian permeates in all aspect of the Filipino graduate: IT and Media Skills, Learning and Innovation Skills, Effective Communication Skills, Life and Career Skills.
Dr. Giron: The K-12 basic ed curriculum is enhanced following the spiral progression approach.
Dr. Giron: Kindergarten under K to 3 is adopting MTB - mother tongue-based multilingual education.
Implications of the K-12 curriculum to school librarians: librarians are expected to be the information specialist in the school; helping students navigate the information landscape.
Dr. Giron: Get ready with your LIBratory! Librarians MUST teach!
In light of the K-12 curriculum, school librarians MUST bridge the digital divide among students, teachers, administrators, and the learning community at large.
Dr. Giron: Consider new ways of promoting reading; seek your professional development that will help you grow even if your school doe snot provide for your expenses.
Dr. Giron: Help our K-12 Curriculum succeed!

Dr. Ed Fermin begins his talk on the Role of the Information Specialist in the K-12 Curriculum.

Summer Reading List

Local schools will begin school in three weeks time, but for a few schools, summer is just beginning. Here's a summer reading list I whipped up for the learning community where I currently work.


1. A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper
2. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
3. Dragon’s Keep by Janet Lee Carey
4. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
5. Enrique El Negro by Carla M. Pacis
6. The Seven Rays by Jessica Bendinger
7. Chenixi and the Foreigner by Sally Rippin
8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
9. Nectar in a Sieve by Kamala Markandaya
10. Broken Memory by Elisabeth Combres
11. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
12. Children of the River by Linda Crew
13. Oracle Bones: A Journey Through Time in China by Peter Hessler
14. Invisible by Pete Hautman
15. Click: One Novel Ten Authors
16. Serendipity Market by Penny Blubaugh
17. Looking for Alaska by John Green
18. No easy Answers edited by Donald R. Gallo
19. Nothing Like You by Lauren Strasnick
20. All We Know of Love by Nora Raleigh Baskin


1. A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel
2. The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad
3. Jewels by Victoria Finlay
4. When They Were 22: 100 Famous People at the Turning Point in Their Lives
5. This I Believe: Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women
6. The Scientist As Rebel by Freeman Dyson
7. Unmentionables: From Family Jewels to Friendly Fire
8. Choices: The Skin You’re In by Dianne Webber
9. Choices: Sisters and Brothers by Elizabeth Siris Winchester
10. The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard

Picks from the list

Broken Memory by Elisabeth Combres (Canada: Groundwood Press, 2009).
Emma is a victim of war. With the help of a Hutu woman, she was able to survive. Her journey to self healing was made possible by people who, like her, had an experience of war and hatred.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon (New York: Random House, 2003)
Christopher, an autistic savant, solves a mystery and discovers a secret about his mother.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (New York: Dell Books)
Julie Ashton recovers from the aftermath of World War II through stories told to her in letters by members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. While London shaked and trembled under German blietzkrieg, the little island of Guernsey in the English Channel bore the burden of being occupied by Hitler’s army.

Enrique El Negro by Carla M. Pacis (Mandaluyong: Cacho Publishing House, 1997)
Yabon was fifteen when he travelled to Europe as one of Ferdinand Magellan’s crew. A boy from one of the tropical islands of the Pacific, he spent many months and years seafaring with the famed Portugese explorer. Renamed Enrique, he set foot in Spain and a new life awakened him to the many cultures of peoples and the world.

A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel (New York: Penguin Books, 1986)
This collected essays on books and reading by Alberto Manguel presents the historical and cultural relevance of reading and the book we’ve grown to love and appreciate inspite of the changing times. 

When They Were 22: 100 Famous People at the Turning Point in Their Lives edited by Brad Dunn (Kansas City, US: Andrews McMeel)
A compilation of success stories and poignant vignettes from celebrities, luminaries and popular personalities in various disciplines. Stephen Hawking found love at 22 years old and rose from depression; Estee Lauder enjoyed cooking creams in her uncle’s kitchen and, at age 22, she sold homemade lotions like pancakes!

Choices: Sisters and Brothers by Elizabeth Siris Winchester (New York: Scholastic, 2008)
Are you the eldest in a brood of many? Are you the youngest sibling or the middle child? Are you an adopted child or a child of a mixed marriage? Winchester lends tips and advice for the teenager grappling with sibling issues in this handbook and guide. Applicable for parents, teachers and professionals working with/for teens.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Puppets for Storytelling: Making Stick Puppets

In my storytelling sessions, I love doing read aloud from well chosen picture books and illustrated story books. I also do participative telling from the oral tradition.

Since storytelling is also a visual art, I make use of flashcards/kamishibai, cultural artifacts like gangsa, rainmaker, malong and tubao. I use puppets as well. These various devices and tools keep the storytelling encounter exciting. It drives boredom away. Props and puppets aid in extending the imaginative power a notch further leading young listeners to a clearer understanding and enjoyment of the story.

Here's a simple step by step procedure in making a stick puppet. The needed materials are as follows: bond papers, patterns or cut outs, coloring materials, scissors, adhesive tape, chopsticks or barbecue sticks.

 a. Draw on a clean sheet of paper the chosen animal, plant or object, person or thing for puppet making.

b. Free downloadable or reproducible art or graphics may also be used. For this purpose, I used a set of animal patterns from the book Best of Dr. Jean Puppets and Storytime.

c. Color the patterns using crayons, oil pastel/craypas, markers or color pencils.

d. Cut the patterns. Be careful! Very young children may need assistance or a blunt pair of scissors when cutting.

e. Get some chopsticks. Paste or stick the cut animal patterns on the chopstick using adhesive tape.

That's it! Ready for story time!

I use these puppets for the folk story, Father Rat Finds a Midwife from Tales From the 7,000 Isles: Filipino Folk Stories (de Las Casas and Gagatiga, 2011). Click the link for a story script that can be used for a puppet show.
Have fun!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The 1st Klasrum Adarna Early Childhood Education Conference

I had a wonderful storytelling workshop with preschool teachers at the 1st Klasrum Adarna Early Childhood Education Conference this morning. The positive response from teachers was automatic. From the moment I told them that I started out as a preschool teacher to the last slide of my PowerPoint, they were all ears, engaged and inspired.

It feels so good to touch base with teachers through storytelling. I met friends from CENTEX, Right Start Foundation and former co-teachers from Xavier School.

My workshop program opened with gangsa playing and me singing Salidommay. I asked teachers what they are thankful for: family, good health, friends, being alive. These I incorporated in the song. It wasn't difficult for teachers to hum and join in the singing. One participant mentioned how the gangsa is used for rituals and celebrations. I segued to storytelling as a ritual and a celebration. She smiled. I think she figured what the gangsa has to do with storytelling.

After this, I gave a group activity where teacher participants got to know each other better. Then, I processed the activity to move into my input on storytelling, its relevance and purpose. From there, we moved on to workshop proper which they enjoyed the most. I provided samples of various storytelling forms and techniques. Storytelling as a creative art form is not limited to one style. The storyteller is an artist who can experiment and push the limit of conventions.

I ended the session with a presentation on a storytelling program that can be used in classroom instruction and practice.

Infographic: Trends In Information Literacy

Friday, May 4, 2012

Tandem Telling: Juan Tamad and The Rice Pot

The Regional Conference on School Librarianship: Directions for the Future of School Libraries in Bacolod was, indeed, a memorable conference. I had a great time with friends, old and new, from the profession. Presenting a paper and a workshop was a good breather for me now that I keep a full time job.
When school librarians go out of their schools to see the bigger learning community, horizons are broadened and linkages are fortified. This help in establishing professional learning
network (PLN) that is essential for continuing professional education. In an industry that changes so fast, thanks to technology, a support system via PLN is a compass for the school librarian who navigates a library in a sea of constant influx. PLNs also offer collaborative opportunities to further strengthen programs and services.

The thing with collaboration is that, it can be done in many ways from the simplest to the most complex of tasks. Take for example the storytelling workshop I had in the conference.

In my storytelling workshop, I took the opportunity to tandem tell with another librarian who hails from Bacolod. Mr. Melquiades "Milky" Alipo-on graciously said yes and together we told the story of Juan Tamad and the Rice Pot. This folk tale is from Batangas and is found in the collection Tales From the 7,000 Isles (de Las Casas and Gagatiga, 2011). Batangas is a province in the Southern Tagalog Region of the Philippines. The tandem telling was impromptu. Milky Alipo-on translated into Hiligaynon the Tagalog version I told. And he was awesome! He even sang a lullaby in his mother tongue, the Dandansoy, to add in the story a Negrense flavor. A link of a video clip can be viewed here.

In light of this experience, I could not help but think about the issue on developing resources and materials on the mother tongue. Language is learned orally. To listen and to speak the language leads one into acquiring and learning from it and about it. I will make it a point to always include a tandem telling using the mother tongue in all my workshops.
Now I have to thank Margaret Read McDonald, Dr. Wagupta Tosaa of Thailand for demonstrating this technique way back in 2002  at the Singapore Storytelling Carnival; and to EthnoTec for performing in tandem at the 1st Manila International Storytelling Festival. It was inspirational to watch you all, fantastic storytellers! My gratitude goes out as well to Dean Dina Ocampo of the UP Diliman, College of Education for giving me the opportunity to run a storytelling workshop during the Mother Tongue Instruction Institute in 2009 where in I asked participants to do tandem telling of their favorite folk tale in Filipino and their mother tongue. Such experiences would not have led me to continue on experimenting ways to use tandem telling.

If we all work together and collaborate, surely, we are effectively using our time and putting our talents into good use.

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