Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Author Visits

In 2013, two of my illustrated storybooks were published by Lampara Books. I had the rare honor to work with two brilliant illustrators in the country today, Bernadette Solina Wolf and Jomike Tejido. To Jun Matias and his staff at Lampara, and to Bernie and Jomike, I thank you for this learning experience. 

My gratitude also goes to friends and school librarians who've invited me to tell stories and to talk about my books and my creative process to children and young adults. I value your support and patronage. You all inspire me to continue writing stories that matter.

Happy New Year!

A Very Bookish Wedding

Writers Beverly "Bebang" Wico Siy and Ronald "Poy" Verzo tied the knot yesterday at San Agustin Church. Reception followed at the Ramon Magsaysay Hall along Roxas Blvd. Congratulations Beb and Poy!

The Museo Pambata Book Mobile Van was the bride's bridal car.

This wedding was the most unique I have attended yet. It's a book themed wedding and the reception showcased what Beb and Poy are all about: writers in love! The bridal car was a book mobile courtesy of Museo Pambata; our guest tags were bookmarks from old catalog cards; the center piece on every table were books from the Verzo Family Library. The hall was filled with friends and familiar faces from the writing and publishing industry.

As in any wedding, there were songs and a dance by the couple. Again, Beb and Poy did their own take on this as the singers were poets who sang songs of love and life. Their wedding dance was a Dance Revo of Dirty Dancing's I have the Time of My Life theme. Lakbay Lahi performed their signature world music ensemble and three young poets delivered a Balagtasan on staying single or pursuing the vocation of married life.

Thank you, Beb and Poy for inviting me and allowing me to bring my hubby. It's an honor to be witnesses to your union. We wish you all the best and may you have more books and poems to write in the future!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Librarian- Storyteller: Gee Ahne Kathrine dL Giray

Librarian-Storyteller Gee Ahne Katherine dL Giray shares her answers to my questions before we had our storytelling session in Sambat Elementary School with Sambat Trust scholars.

1. What motivated me to volunteer? 

I was motivated to join when I saw your last bibliotheraphy for the Yolanda survivors. Ever since, I want to do a storytelling outreach not only for experience but also for the positive effects that it could do to the children. Reading/ listening stories are not only for leisure since it could instil such golden values that could hone their moral being; such values that they could keep while they are growing up.

2. What is my personal goal as a storyteller? 

My goal as a storyteller is to give food for thought and sparkling smiles. I want to touch the hearts of the listeners with the story and the way I’ll be delivering it. I also want them to realize the essence of listening to good stories that will eventually lead them to appreciate reading. I’ll feel very fulfilled if anyone of them shall become a book lover 

3. What is my volunteer-storyteller experience prior to this activity? 

I am a Grade School Librarian. We are required to have monthly Library Instructions for each grade level. We usually conduct storytelling sessions for Kinder and Grades 1 and 2.

4. What are my expectations from this experience?

A very moving experience that I could remember for the rest of my life

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Librraian-Storyteller: Cocoy Pineda

Librarian-Storyteller Cocoy Pineda shares his answers to my questions before we had our storytelling session in Sambat Elementary School with Sambat Trust scholars.

What motivated me to volunteer? 
 I am fond of helping children and wanted to learn how to effectively engage them through storytelling. 

What is my personal goal as a storyteller? 

To be the best! loljk. I just want to be that person who can inspire/motivate others.

What is my volunteer-storyteller experience prior to this activity? 

No “formal” experience yet. But I’ve tried storytelling before for LIS classes and library/community outreach.

What are my expectations from this experience?

Teach, learn and have fun.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Librarian-Storyteller: Michelle Arispe

Librarian-Storyteller Michelle Arispe shares her answers to my questions before we had our storytelling session in Sambat Elementary School with Sambat Trust scholars.

What motivated me to volunteer? 
I don't get to do library/literacy related volunteering anymore so i'd love to do it again. And it's different when you get to share what you can do without getting paid for it or whatever, feels fulfilling. 

What is my personal goal as a storyteller? 
There's nothing like being able to make kids happy after a storytelling, to make them enjoy a good story, to be able to provoke thoughts, and to be able to look at things from their perspective as every child is different in how his thinking is molded by his experiences at home, in the community, etc.

What is my volunteer-storyteller experience prior to this activity? 
None. Only read-aloud storytelling at work to kids from preschool to the second grade.

What are my expectations from this experience?
Every experience is unique, so i'd just love to be surprised and learn something new.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Librarian-Storyteller: Mennie Ruth Viray

Librarian-Storyteller Mennie Ruth Viray shares her answers to my questions before we had our storytelling session in Sambat Elementary School with Sambat Trust scholars.

What motivated me to volunteer?
Love for children especially how they see and embrace the world with such innocence and amazement.

What is my personal goal as storyteler? 
With stories, I'm hoping to inspire children to continue seeing the good things in our world, to hope and believe in the power of imagination.

What is my volunteer-storyteller experience prior to this activity?
 Before, I was invited to be a storyteller in our preschool unit. When I volunteer as yaya to my neices and when there were opportunities to do outreach programs involving children.

What are my expectations from this experience? 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Librarian-Storyteller: Darrel Marco

Librarian-Storyteller Darrel Marco shares his answers to my questions before we had our storytelling session in Sambat Elementary School with Sambat Trust scholars.

What motivated me to volunteer?
I really want to share stories as I know how powerful they are. They can touch and transform lives. They can even build a nation.
What is my personal goal as a storyteller?
More than the telling of stories, I want those who will be able to hear them, to share and pass on those stories. At the same time, I also want them to create and share their own stories. Stories are power that everyone has and anyone can afford.

 What is my volunteer-storyteller experience prior to this activity?
I've been telling stories to LG and EED students for 5 years now! Usually read-aloud, but now I'm trying to venture into ala-Ms Z-style and digital storytelling. I also love to do volunteer storytelling to communities especially the minorities.

What are my expectations from this experience?

A Christmas Greeting from My Family to Yours!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Filipino Librarians Volunteer as Storytellers

In this age of digital and social media, a good idea is often hatched online. Little did I know that a storytelling session with Leyte children at the Fabella center would inspire young Filipino Librarians to volunteer as storytellers in a session with Sambat Trust scholars. From a photo posted by Menniie Ruth Viray, CSA Makati school librarian, and my comment to an open call to volunteer as storytellers seven volunteers, librarians all, committed to meet and "greet" scholars of Sambat Trust last December 21, 2013.

To further germinate the idea and plans, Mennie set up an FB group where we can discuss and flesh out details of the session. After coordinating with the local field coordinator of Sambat Trust, Ate Wilma de Rojas, the plans were finalized and we soon found ourselves at Sambat Elementary School meeting the scholars.

With Darrel Marco, Ann Grace Bansig and Mennie Ruth Viray, leading the program, the scholars had fun playing games, doing origami and listening to stories told and shared by the librarian-storyteller volunteers. We had simple food for the scholars, bread and water, and we gave each one scholar a book. It was a simple celebration of Christmas!

In the following days, I will post write-ups of these seven young librarian storytellers. I asked them four questions that would help them focus as far as their storytelling journey is concerned. They are full of hope and idealism. This is enough to keep an old warrior like myself inspired to continue carrying the storytelling torch so that other librarians may follow this path.

Thank you to the school leadership of Sambat Elementary School, to Ate Wilma de Rojas and to Anthony Mariano for giving us this opportunity to touch lives!

My Top Ten Best Reads for 2013

This idea came from Honey de Peralta and I am a week late but, as the saying goes, better late than never. The guidelines of the meme are as follows:

Any book you include in the list…
  • should be something you finished reading from Jan. 1, 2013 up to Dec. 15, 2013 (just so there's a cut-off)
  • should be a new book read, not a re-read
  • doesn't have to be a book that was published in 2013
  • can be any book, written by any author, published by any publishing house, company, or person

And so, here are my ten best reads for 2013:

Graphic Novels:
 1. Sandman Vol. 1: Prelude and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman: Gaiman appears to simply write a good story but he takes me to the realm of the subconscious. Very Freudian. And I like Freud.
2. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang: Yang reminds me of the relevance of folk stories and how the teachings and philosophical beliefs embedded in these stories make up our moral fiber.

3. The Magicians by Lev Grossman: This is Harry Potter for adults. I did not enjoy it as much as the HP books, but it sure showed me another side of magic. If anything, Grossman has invited me to let go out of the HP universe. It's time to level up.
4. Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hr. Bookstore by Robin Sloan: A delightful read. I read this after The Magicians so it restored my faith back to good old romantic fantasy.

Books (print)
5. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman: Some books bring you back to childhood. This book made me recall what magical things and beings I met as a child. Wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful!
6. The Hobbit & Philosophy by Bassam, Bronson & Irwin: Learned loads from Father Tolkien and modern philosophers. Play is important to adult and child; Walk and know the lay of the land; Take courage when you're offered an adventure and seize it with both arms for the rewards are beyond gold and jewels; There are life experiences that will change your view of the world once you made the choice of taking that open road; Not all who wander are lost!
7. The Shallows and What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr - The human brain NEEDS print! Enough said.
8. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell - Ah... this is the definitive young adult novel. How can Rowell make reading so intimate?
9. Every Day by David Levithan - The main character is named A, as in absurd. But. The concept is so cool. Despite the many lacunas, the concept works because the reader wonders and ponders and thinks. A good book, despite its flaws can do that - challenge you, the reader to think about logic and how it can be defied through fantastic storytelling. My 16 year old son is loving it at the moment, and to think that he could not finish a thick book anymore!
10. The Mango Bride by Marivi Soliven - A very Filipino family drama that I wish to see on TV or in a movie house! Should this happen, I hope the scriptwriter retains the smart humor and the delicious descriptions of conflict that Soliven provided her characters with.

Here's to another productive year of reading in 2014!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Author and Illustrator Tag Team Interview: Dang Bagas and Aldy Aguirre (1 of 3)

In this tag team interview, author Dang Bagas and illustrator Aldy Aguirre answer my questions on their new story book, The Little Girl in a Box (Adarna House, 2013) their creative processes and dreams of future and past creations.

What's your most challenging experience while working on The Little Girl in the Box? Describe the collaborative process that you both went through in making the book.

L-R: Me, Heidi E. Abad, Xi Zuq, Dang Bagas & Liwa Malabed
Dang Bagas (DB): I faced many challenges in writing The Little Girl in a Box. One was that this story would be written in prose form. I’d been a TV scriptwriter for years and I’d been out of practice writing narratives in prose, at least ones that I meant to get published in a book.

I wouldn’t go into the differences between writing scripts and short stories at length but this time, there was no camera to rely on to capture the world of the story; there was no actor to embody the characters, for me. Letters and words were all I had to create a three-dimensional world.

So words had to be chosen really carefully. They had to be sensorial and synesthetic to engage the reader to travel to the world that I created that could be both familiar and new to them. And as I knew I wanted this story to be read aloud to children, the words had to sing, they had to flow together like a beautifully choreographed dance. So yes, the skills needed to write a narrative in prose was something I had to rediscover before I could even begin writing this particular story.

Another challenge, albeit the most enjoyable so far, was getting to know more stories that are already out there. Admittedly, my reading for the past twenty years were mostly young adult novels so in a period of three months, I read through a lot of picture books. And that’s when I discovered that the story I was originally brewing in my mind was similar to another one.

Dang Bagas with the audience she writes for
The Little Girl in a Box started out as a story about a boy who lived in two houses because his parents were separated and things got so chaotic for him that he ran away and ended up living in the streets, inside a box that would take him to so many magical worlds. But of course, there was always something missing in these worlds, his parents, so the boy chose to come back to his two homes.

Sounds familiar? Yes? The premise was similar to Papa’s House, Mama’s House, a story about children dealing with the unique family situation of separated parents. Good thing I took the time to read and read and read, right, or else I would have ended up with a story that’s already been told and most probably, would have been thrown in the reject file and not published.

Initially, of course, because of this, I wanted to throw my story out and write something else. But the element of the box in the story wouldn’t leave me. It haunted me, demanding to be written. So I went back to the drawing board, find a different premise but retain what was the unique and magical element, the box. The box still took the child to places and experiences but instead of taking the child back to his/her two homes, the box helped the child find the kind of home that’s just right for her. And that’s how The Little Girl in a Box came to be what it is now.

The last and greatest challenge was something every writer face: beating the deadline. Five hours before the deadline (PBBY-Salanga Prize), the page was blank. The words were still just in my mind, stumbling over each other, incoherent, not making any sense. And then I went back to what really drew me into writing it in the first place. Again, it was the box. And so I began, There was once a box, a cardboard box… and much like being possessed, the words came and they sang and danced beautifully and whew, I made it to the deadline.

Horrifying as it is for any self-respecting writer, I submitted a first draft. But I guess, there are just stories that demanded to be told the way they wanted to be told when they wanted to be told. Us writers, we’re just channels for these stories. We’re just wormholes for them to pass through until they reach the place of existence in the form of words on paper or pictures or even through a storyteller’s voice. But there’s really nothing like it, the moment one becomes a wormhole for these stories – horrifying, exciting, enervating. Beating the deadline was a great challenge, but an even greater one, the most fulfilling one, is letting myself be used as that wormhole for The Little Girl in a Box.

Dang Bagas with friends from the industry
The Little Girl in a Box is the first story I’ve written that is meant to be a picture book so I didn’t think myself to really have a hand in the illustration or even to have the expertise to have something to say about how it is to be illustrated and designed.

Back then, I was just happy that the story’s going to be published. I also knew that the story was in good hands with Ani Almario and Adarna House’s design team. Ani was good enough to share the test illustrations with me and get my opinion on which illustration would be best for the story, brainstorm with me on the design, update me on the development of the book but really, I trusted that whatever she and Adarna House decided on in terms of illustration and book design would be what is to be the best for the story.

When I learned that it was Aldy who would illustrate, I familiarized myself with his work and saw his sketches and sort of visualized on my own how Aldy’s illustration is going to look like. Then, we got to meet once and the only thing I asked Aldy to be particular about is to track the growth of the little girl as she gets to be too big for the box because this also tracks the plot of the story that could be missed if it’s not in the illustration.

And that’s about it. But I should say, if I was a wormhole for the written words, Aldy was the best wormhole for the illustrations and between us, we had great mediums in Ani and Eli Camacho of Adarna House. I don’t think we needed meetings, or back and forth discussions. Collaboration happened in the plane of having a singular intention: to come up with a beautiful picture book that we would all be proud of. And that’s exactly how the book turned out to be.

Aldy Aguirre (AA): I always try to give justice to the great stories that I had been luckily given to illustrate, maybe that pressure is one of the challenges. Since I really like Ms. Dang’s story, I wanted to somehow represent the story well with my illustrations, and still have their own appeal. From the studies that I presented to Adarna, Ms Dang told me what she had in mind on how the box should be seen as the story progresses, and I think that was crucial.

What is your box metaphor? 

DB: As a child, the box represented a lot of things for me. If my relatives sent it from abroad, then I knew it would be filled with surprises and goodies. Then, it became lots of other things: a hiding place, a house in bahay-bahayan, a car, a plane, paper to draw in, something to put treasures in, a place where one can sit quiet to read or just nap in when I’m supposed to be doing homework or household chores, or really just someplace I could daydream in.

Now, I look at the box as a person’s unique special place in this world, good or bad, fulfilling or not, filled with adventures or dull, happy or sad, quiet or noisy, in the colors of the rainbow or in black and white or in sepia brown, inhabited by humans or monsters or aliens or epic heroes or the sarimanok, a beach or on top of the mountain, with parents or siblings or a husband or child, a library or a playground.

These places could be different from each other at different times and unique only to us. And what kinds of world that would be is our choice and nobody else’s. And we could be there alone or take anyone we want with us. There is no limit to what the box could be and where it could take us. It could be filled with anything we want. The box is whatever we make our lives to be.

In the story, the box is a powerful metaphor. Readers may interpret the box into many things. As an artist, how can a "box" or "boxes" help you become better at your craft?

As a writer, I sometimes liken the box to my own limitations and to the limitations set by the industries I write for. I mean, working as a writer, there were lots of times when I felt “boxed in” or “trapped in a box” or “forced in a box”. But, and this I realized early on in my writing career, that this box can be moved, or one can work around it or shape it and color it any which way I want it to be. Doing that is certainly hard work but the only thing that should stop an artist from doing so is a lack of imagination and afterwards, determining choices that work, then determination to stick by these choices, at whatever cost.

Actually visualizing my craft as something like a box already helps me make it better cause then I know I could make it what I want it to be though I am still working on that: letting my imagination go freely, making the right choices, and sticking to these choices according to what is the best for me, and the stories that I write.

AA: I think it depends on what that box is needed for. A box as a safe place would be good memories and loved ones. Group hug!

Note: Part 2 of the interview will appear next week.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Bookmark and Wedding Invitation Rolled Into One

I got this bookmark from Poy Verzo and Bebang Siy last December 7, 2013 during the 3rd Filipino ReaderCon. If you look closely, you'll see two books standing on its spines. On the spines is an image of a couple in wedding attire. Below the bookmark is the word, Kasalan, Filipino for wedding. The groom is none other than Poy Verzo and the bride is the irrepressible Bebang Siy.

This bookmark serves as invitation to their forthcoming wedding on December 30, 2013. I am honored and privileged to be invited to their wedding.

Poy is a poet while Bebang is a novelist. Both have won in the Filipino Readers' Choice Awards.

Bebang has no idea how much this bookmark means to me as I have started a collection just two months ago. Thanks so much, Bebs!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Reader, What Do You Want?

Of course I got freebies from the recently concluded Filipino ReaderCon. Books, bookmarks, stickers, book plates, recommendations and tons of ideas that I can use in the library to promote books and celebrate reading. One of these ideas is the post-it board that organizers of the ReaderCon set up in the hall.

I think it trumps down the very formal, very boring readers survey libraries conduct every year. There's nothing wrong with those surveys. It's not just hip enough. If you work in a high school library, you need to reinvent the wheel and WOW the teens a lot. So, last week, being a Friday, I set up our own post-it board in the library.

By mid-day, the upper part of the post-it board is starting to fill out. I am excited to collect and collate data taken from this survey. It will help me: a) determine the reading interest of our high school readers; b) review acquisition goals for the next academic year; c) design a more formative reading guidance attuned to their needs; d) propose a collection development budget that uses readers' feedback as context and basis for the proposal; e) plan activities that will further promote books and reading in the community.

It's not a fool proof survey but for the high school students to write answers to the questions makes their thinking visible. It is one of the many ways librarians can get to know readers better.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

On My Way to Becoming A Fit Filipino Librarian

Okay. So I did not blog about my weekly progress in FITFIL Boot Camp at ATC but I did tweet highlights of every session I attended. And early today, I got my certificate as a FitFil alumna and advocate. What was the experience like and how did I survive? Did I achieve my goal? Where do I go now after completing the first step of my fitness journey?

Weighing In

http://lovealibrarian.blogspot.com/2013/11/i-want-to-be-fit-filipino-librarian.html">Looking back at my post last November 8, 2013,
I said that my aim is to set my own workout routine apart from keeping to a healthy diet. Indeed, FITFIL started me up back again to designing my own workout routine. With the help of physical trainors, coaches and nutritionist present during the entire fitness program, I am now more confident to begin the next leg of the journey.  Sessions in ATC were scheduled every Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays for four weeks. In between days, I worked on the workout routine I learned from the coaches. I will continue this on. There is no turning back. I have lost 5kgs. already (I have been weighing in every morning consistently for the past two weeks). I intend to lose more! My ideal weight is between 103-106 lbs. I am now 142 lbs. heavy. I started at 150 lbs., take note.

With Dang, blogger and librarian

Yes, I still have a long way to go. But I have learned to be patient with myself and I listen more now to my body than before when I was younger. I am turning 40 next year and my life is only beginning! Fit and fab at forty is my next goal! In June 2014, when I do my annual physical exam again in preparation for the new academic year, I MUST be 15 lbs., less. Wish me luck!

Food and Diet

I am now more aware of the food I eat. My meals are very green and very colorful. My food budget increased, yes, but I'd rather spend on healthy food than on medicines and consultation fees for doctors. I do not count calories. Jesus. Math is not my strength. But, I hang on to what my nutritionist told us the second time we had a nutrition talk: 50% of your every meal must be veggies and fruits. I still eat fish, chicken and meat, but I measure them in matchbox sizes and in the palm of my hand. I am back to bringing baon to work. Fortunately, there's a home-like pantry in the school where I work so I keep stock of my greens and fruits there.

My breakfast

At home, the fridge is bursting with fruits and veggies too. The great thing about this is that, even my family eats the veggie meals I prepare. What about eating out? I still do eat in restaurants but I go to those that serve salad, vegetable dishes. Our kids are 16 and 12 year olds and they love fastfood. I would beg off and we go to the healthier choice of menu. As for my husband, he has taken the route to wellness earlier than me. They have no reclaims. It seems that they understand this battle I go through. My kids and my hubby would tease me about my "plumpness". I know they do this out of concern. They see more and they can look beyond me. I no longer looked healthy and this is reason for them to worry. So you see, I do this fitness thing not just for myself but for my family too.

Tough Love

Now, my hubby and kids still humor the fatness of my belly in spite of the fact that I have trimmed down a bit. They're tough on me. Tough love it is.

Participating in the FITFIL Boot Camp in ATC is tough love too. The coaches are so strict only because they want to see the program work on each and every participant. There is team spirit and cooperation which is pretty strong. I often think not just of myself but of the coaches too. They spend time on this because it is their passion. I know a lot about passion.

With Coach Princess

When Coach Irene Rafil shouted, I know your pain, stay with me, during the meta-combat session, I know I am not alone. This was a comforting gesture. Even Coach Ed, our nutritionist, would give words of encouragement during workout routine sessions. Coach Princess is a great inspiration. She is a living proof that once you choose fitness and wellness, you will be victorious. This victory comes with great sacrifice and hard work. Again, this is tough love. And it is good.

The Road to Fitness Goes Ever On

With a few kilos dropped and a healthy food and diet regiment, I move on. I plan to do a workout routine after work since it is a privilege to use the school's fitness room. I recently discovered that we have kettle bells, lateral ladders, medic balls, weights, etc. in school. I will do a bit of research more on using my theraband. I have signed up in Zumba classes (also at work). Hubby is planning to get a new pair of sneakers. Then we can run together.

Kaya Natin! Kakayanin!
Long term, I wish to run too. I love the sound of my heartbeat, my feet in motion, the air running through my hair, knowing the lay of the land in our community and understanding its geography is a bonus.

From my FITFIL journey I will always remember two things: Coach Tonette squeezing my "bilbil" the first time I planked on day one; and Coach Jim telling everyone that the key to fitness is to keep moving.

I choose wellness!

SLIA's Dear Librarian: Sunk Bay Area

I got a question from Ms. Candy May Schijf of the DLSU - STC Campus:

Hi Ms. Zarah, I'm Candy May Schijf po from DLSU (Integrated School). Question po, are you familiar with the "Sunk Bay Area" used for Pre-School Libraries?

This is my answer:

Hi May!

A sunk bay area is like a pit where readers can sink themselves in and read comfortably or in any other position they like. They can roll on their stomachs, lay down on their backs, lie down on a pillow or cushions or have mom or dad lap read with them in there. It's also a cool place for storytelling in small groups - five to ten kids at a time.

The first time I saw this kind of arrangement for a reading area is at the old International School Manila Children's Media Center. The new one at the Fort does not have it, but they have bean bags and lounging chairs, sofas and little pockets of reading spaces for pre-school kids. The TK Park in Bangkok has one too, located in the children's area. They pushed the design further on by creating a reading tree house and reading hive. It is an amazing design for libraries that aim to service children. 

The "sunk bay area" at The Knowledge Park, Bangkok Thailand.
The idea of a sunk bay area, a reading tree and a reading hive is for kids to read as freely as their imagination would allow them. The design concept being that FORM follows FUNCTION. Reading as a form is seen as limitless, enjoyable, easy, not required, fun and creative. So, the design of a reading space lends to this function.
The "reading hive" at The Knowledge Park in Bangkok, Thailand
A preschooler, or any student for this matter, sitting on a chair with an open book on a table would suggest a more serious concept of reading. Reading for this purpose is serious and directed to specific learning goals. As librarians, we can look at reading and its purposes, both for fun and serious study and create learning spaces that adhere to these concepts. I think it is not only preschoolers who can benefit from a sunk bay area Even high school students need a place to read as leisurely as possible. Thus, high school libraries have carpeted areas where there are sofas and reading stools.

Reading may have its purposes, but it is for all. Everybody reads and libraries, I think must provide for this need to its readers young and young at heart.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Filipino Librarian: Joy Fajardo Nera

Filipino Librarian of the month is Mrs. Joy Fajardo Nera. If her last name sounds familiar to you, it is because she is the daughter-in-law of the one and the only, Madame Cora Nera of Philippine Librarianship. Once in a conference where we both had the pleasure of presenting papers, she candidly introduced herself as the "joyful" Nera. She is a bundle of joyful spirit. Assumption College San Lorenzo is lucky to have her as its head librarian of their integrated library.

In this interview, she reveals to us her library journey. It has been a delightful one. Read on!

What’s my your story?

First of all,  my baccalaureate degree is not Library Science. I’m a Bachelor of Arts major in Political Science graduate. I also have my Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service. I earned these degrees from the Lyceum of the Philippines University (used to be Lyceum of the Philippines) in Intramuros. I never imagined that someday I will  have a Library Science degree and that I will be working in a library. Although I have an aunt who was a librarian from Bulacan, Library Science was not included in my choices of courses to take after I finished my secondary education.

After  finishing my ABPS and BSFS, I was offered to teach part time  in Lyceum. While taking my MA in Public Administration (also in Lyceum), I taught one or two Political Science subjects (Philippine Constitution and  Intro to Political Science). Later on I was offered to work in the Sotero H. Laurel Library as a Library Assistant. Because I love to stay in the library  when I was still a student and perhaps out of curiosity, I accepted the offer  and I was assigned  in the Engineering Library.

Having no idea of what librarianship is all about, I decided to take up  first some  units  of  Library Science instead of  continuing  my MA in Public Administration. When I inquired in CEU for their LS  undergrad course, I was advised by Dr. Teresita Calma (the former Ms. Tess Hernandez) to enroll in the Graduate Studies program and take the required 18 units in the MA program instead of the undergrad. 

 I was very thrilled to study library science. At first, I  found the technical subjects very difficult especially the Cataloging and Indexing. What do I know about Library of Congress? I could explain the word congress  if it has something to do with the Lower House or Philippine Congress because of my political science background but not Library of Congress.  I had to exert more efforts  because I didn’t have any LS background at all. Some of my classmates were  senior librarians while a few were already Head or Chief Librarians.  Having Mrs. Corazon Nera as our  Cataloging and Indexing Professor added fuel to the fire.  I really had double my efforts   to be able to cope up with all the requirements.  Everyone was given the same  treatment whether one  was already a practicing librarian or somebody who was  “trying to become a librarian.”  But honestly speaking, I had so much fun and my LS education was filled with   lots  of wonderful experiences.
So to make the story short, after a couple of years, I earned my MA in Library Science in October 1995. I  took the  Board Exam the following year. Luckily,   I took my oath as a professional librarian in December 1996.

After being sworn as a professional librarian, I decided to give up my  teaching career in the field of Political Science or Foreign Service. I just found myself   having a great time in  my new found profession. 

However, having my MALS  diploma  didn’t stop me from studying more. I was looking for a university offering a Ph. D in Library Science. Because there was no university offering this specialization, I took my Ph. D with Specialization in Educational Management  instead with library science as my field of concentration. My dissertation is a qualitative study of the Phenomenology of the Information Technology : Its Demands and Challenges in Managing Academic Libraries.

What has been the greatest challenge you’ve faced so far as a licensed and working librarian? Why do you say it’s a challenge?

The greatest  challenge I’ve faced  being a librarian was when  I decided to give up my being an academic librarian in order to enter the world of  a school librarian. Working in  an academic library for almost 10 years, I was challenged to embrace a different set-up and services of a school library in 1998 when I joined Assumption College High School Department.

Having spent almost ten years in an academic environment, I had a temporary culture shock during the first few months of  dealing with high school students. I saw myself starting from scratch. Aside from the LC classification system, I also had to familiarize myself with DDC. From a once every start of semester library orientation to college students, I found myself preparing Library Instructions not only to High School but also to Grade School students which were scheduled on a regular basis. My  typical quite research type library  scenario for almost ten years was replaced with an environment where I had to remind little girls not to run and play hide and seek inside the library.

I thought I will not be able  to finish my contract and come back again to an  academic library. However, as time goes by, I realized that my new environment added more colors to my professional life. Dealing with children who are always dressed  up with their favorite book characters during our  yearly  Reading Month activities gave me a new meaning  and deeper understanding  of what a librarian really is.  Whether I am dressed as a character in the book  Chinese Cinderella  or as   Esmeralda in the book The Hunchback of Notre Dame is always something to look forward too every November.

It’s already my 16th year as a school librarian  and everyday when I go to my work,  I look forward to  an extra ordinary and more colorful library experience  I will have with the students.

What is your area of expertise in LIS?

Being the coordinator for almost 16 years, I guess its library management I can call my field of expertise.

What do you think are the requirements and necessary preparations necessary for becoming a LIS  professional?

Personally, I think if one would like to become a LIS professional, he or she should  be open to working with people,  technology and lots and lots of information.  He/she should be a “ jack of all trades and master of all too.”  Future librarians should have passion for not just for knowledge  but for everything of value and interest.

As for the other requirements, of course, there will always be  educational and licensure requirements.

When it comes to skills requirement,  a prospective librarian should have technical knowledge and training. He/She should be equipped with computer skills and knowledge. He/She  should also posses organizational and management skills,  interpersonal skills/customer service skills as well as research and evaluation skills. 

What rewards have you reaped from being a LIS professional?

I usually say I owe it to my profession why I became a member of the Nera clan. My life and love story might not be this way  if I didn’t join the field of librarianship. I met my husband through my mother-in-law who happened to be my professor and thesis adviser in my MA program. My life might not be this happy and colorful if I didn’t follow my instinct of becoming a librarian.

On a more professional note, I think the happiness I gained knowing that I am part of a child’s education and learning experiences is something I might not have felt  if I didn’t become a librarian.

I mentioned  before in one of the talks I shared to fellow librarians that it always makes me happy  knowing that I have shared the love of reading to children.  It’s a different fulfillment  every time a student  comes to me sharing me what she  learned from a book she  just read. The joy of knowing that I have inspired children to read is something I will always be proud of.  

Here are just some of the letters I received from students which  made me realized I was correct in choosing this profession :

Knowing that I have touched a child’s life to the extent that she  hoped  that I will have a happy, safe and healthy life is something I will  always cherish for the rest of my life.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas Displays @ the Library: Deck the Walls and Doors!

Books about Christmas / Novels set during Christmas

Book reviews by students written on Christmas ball cut-outs.

 I love it that they write what they think about the books they read.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Book Spine Poetry Contest 2013

A few days back, I sent via email a book spine poem I made to the school community where I work as high school librarian. It got good feedback and a suggestion that I run it like a contest. I did and sent this email out:

Book Spine Poetry Contest
How to do it: simply compose your own found poetry using the books' spine. If you're not done with your poem yet, you can leave the books you pulled out of the shelves with Mr. Flynn for only a day. He will return it back to the shelf if you did not come back for it the following day. Cut off time is 3.30pm.

If you have no intent at finishing the poem, YOU must return the book to its proper place in the shelf by following its call number.

Once you've composed your book spine poem, I'll take a photo of it; I'll tag your name and this becomes your batch's entry to the Book Spine Poetry Festival on March 21. Take note that March 21 is World Poetry Day. A poet will judge the poems during the finals.

We'll feature poems completed and submitted to us at the end of each month beginning this December. Deadlines are: December 18; January 31; February 28; March 19.

For the prizes: Monthly winner/s = healthy snack / Finals = Ice Cream / Grand prize winner = Pizza Party
And yes, you can work in pairs, in triads or in teams of four.
The reception is overwhelming! Students made use of the OPAC to search for books they want to Below are some entries of students to the Book Spine Poetry Contest.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The 3rd ReaderCon Panel on Kids and Their Stories: What "Kid" Readers Want

It's a gloomy day but there were bright smiles of kids in the hall at the 5th floor of the Rizal Library Ateneo de Manila University.

I was at the 3rd ReaderCon and the kids who were present during the panel, Kids and Their Stories were just as excited as the panelists themselves. Dr. Luis Gatmaitan (writer), Dang Bagas (author) and Fran Ong (publisher) were all in awe listening at the questions the kids asked.

How do you inspire kids to read? What keeps you motivated as a writer? What stories have you not written yet? These were but a few of the questions they asked. Majority of the kids present were grade six students from CENTEX Manila and grade 3 students of Holy Spirit Elementary School. The sixth graders particularly were very interactive. They huddled close together and in whispers coached each other for questions to ask the panelists.

These kids want non-fiction books; books about the world; genre literature namely, horror, humor, adventure, mystery (no mention of fantasy, perhaps it's because the kids have access to these genre of literature) and stories that show the importance of life. To these responses, the panelists took notes. Teachers of these students could not help but clamor for concept books written in Filipino. There you go, mother tongue! Such books can be used in teaching lessons and units as prescribed by the curriculum. There are textbooks, yes, but these cover only 20% of learning concepts. What non-textbook reading materials can offer are the possibilities of thinking beyond the designed learning plans and acquiring concepts that can be applied in real life situations.

We have our work cut out for us.

As a librarian, I could not help but do a mental scan of places and spaces where kids, parents and teachers can access books they want to read. It is a disservice when libraries could not provide for the needs of its readers. I was a bit disappointed to find out that teens were absent during the panel. Being a Saturday, perhaps they had other "gimik" or event to take part in. Maybe next time, if there will be a next time, book clubs in high schools should be invited to the panel.

The session ended with the kids asking for the panelists' autographs. Go authors! Go Fran, maker of books! You rock!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Monday, December 2, 2013

Book Spine Poetry

I discovered this at the high school library of Miriam College:

It's Book Spine Poetry! Books were stacked on top of each other, arranged in an order where the reader can read the titles as lines to a poem. This one reads: I am an emotional creature / Use your anger / Our voices / Help for hard times / Healing together. There are five lines to the poem but only four books lay on the table. I suppose the book on top has been borrowed as I saw the books on a table placed in the middle of the reading area very near the circulation counter.

I found the idea so cool that I made one myself --

Coming back to me
The sailor who fell from grace with the sea
To the lighthouse
Where we belong

Thanks to librarian friends from Miriam College High School Library for allowing me to take a photo of their book and reading promotion activity. I'll be trying this out in our school library and wait for results.

A Time to Be Together: Storytelling @ DSWD Fabella Center

Teachers Chinky and Tin; Darrel, LIS student Thel Suliva, and Mennie
Last November 23, 2013, I headed out to Manila with friends from the teaching and school librarianship profession. There were five of us: Teacher Tin and Teacher Chinky of CLP Create School in Merville, Paranaque, school librarians Darrel Marco and Mennie Ruth Viray, and myself. We volunteered to a storytelling session at the DSWD Fabella Center in Mandaluyong for the Visayas kids who were displaced due to typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. Apart from the storytelling session, we had books, crayons and coloring books for the kids. These are little gifts we hope to offer as bit of a relief to these children who had to leave their homes.

 Riding on Diksyunario Atbp., a NGO headed by Lia Manalac Del Castillo, we had a humbling experience as volunteers. Yes, we had fun and enjoyed each others' company (It was Darrel's and Mennie's first time to meet Teachers Tin and Chnky!) but being with the Visayas kids was our simple way of helping out. The smiles and responses of the kids were enough to convince us that the long road to recovery is possible.

 When disaster and tragedy strikes, people can come together or it can break them apart. I see a lot of people coming and working together. PBBY, Kuting and Ang INK concluded a very successful garage sale. The ALA echoed the PLAI's call for help. Artists and civic groups are banding together to help out. NGOs met last week at Museo Pambata to identify pathways to recovery. This coming Family Day in our Marriage Encounter Community, members are encouraged to bring in more donations. What happened to me and my friends last November 23 was proof. Many donations, in cash and kind, have been given. But, I feel that being one towards rebuilding the lives of many Visayan family requires vission, self-discipline and political will.

I am but one in a sea of frustrated voices. I am but one among many Filipinos who won't give up for the Philippines.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Ngumiti Si Andoy Blog Tour: The Xi Zuq & Dom Agsaway Tag Team Interview

a. During the NCBD, you both said that your parents allowed you to write (MJ) and draw (Dom) at home. How did this help you become a good writer and artist?
Xi Zuq (XZ): It gave me a lot of time to develop my skills in writing. In fact, when I was young, my family devoted most Sundays to writing poems, stories, drawing and other artistic activities. I remember that we used to make 'books' and gift them to relatives and friends. 
My mother was my first critic. One time, I asked her to critic and edit a mystery novel I wrote about my lost library card. When she returned the manuscript, I cried because every page was full of red marks. It toughened me, however, to strive to be good at writing.
Dominic Agsaway (DA): The love of my parents gives me power. Love is the most powerful thing in the world and it can break any spell like feeling uninspired or being unproductive. I have this strength coming from the love they have on me. With that love, they taught me to appreciate God, others, our culture and the love for art.
b. What is the most surprising historical fact you learned about Andoy while working on this book?

XZ: I've read a lot of things about Andres B. as a Social Studies teacher, but only during the nights I wrote the story that I started to feel his humanness. I thought about the pain he could have experienced minutes before he died. I could only imagine the faces of loved ones racing through his mind - Ciriaco who died during the encounter between his men and Aguinaldo's, Oryang whom he loved so dearly, his son Andres who died as an infant, his parents who died when he was young, his siblings whose condition he had no idea with, his co-Katipuneros who resorted to factions, and Procopio whose death he witnessed. 

DA: I was with this expression of "Whoah! Andoy used a gun!?" . That swept me off my feet. Even though it is a small detail on the illustration, I researched for the appropriate gun used in the late 1800's. The Itak-only battle was now put aside from my mind.

c. Do you think Andoy is underrated? Why?
XZ: For me, Andres B. was never underrated. But I understand the impression that most Filipinos know Jose R. more than him. One factor, I think, is Jose R. was relegated to a National Hero, which our cultural education highly focuses on. It has always been (at least since college) my agenda to reintroduce/'popularize' Andres B.

DA: I think he's still recognized lovingly side by side with the National Hero. The Filipino loves him and serves as inspiration to everyone. most Filipinos consider him as the Philippine symbol of bravery than any other heroes. I never heard any other heroes included on a kid's limerick stating "Andres Bonifacio, a-tapang a-tao, hindi a-atakbo." He has the air of a National Hero.
d. How can you help the younger generation be more aware and conscious of Filipino heroes' contribution to nationhood? Is your art enough to raise their level of awareness?
XZ: I am a teacher, and I think teaching is the best way. Writing for children, of course, is also a great avenue to raise awareness because it can be used to teach about their contributions in an entertaining and accessible manner.
DA: Kid-friendly stories and artworks can help kids recognize our heroes and make them aware of their contributions. Most kids nowadays enjoy humorous stories and creating a material that is fun but educational can bring them closer to the Fathers & Mothers of our country. Storytelling to kids is also a great way to reach out to them. The artworks I created are made with love for our culture and extending its arms to the kids with the best that it can.

e. What can you say about Dom, MJ? What can you say about MJ, Dom?
Dom Agsaway
 XZ: Domz is such an optimistic and positive person. He treats illustrating for children as a passion and an enjoyable thing to do. He also has a can-do attitude, and because of that I bully him to do some things for the promotion of our book. Haha. He is also an honest person. He shared me once that he faced challenges illustrating the book. He also told me about the persons special to him, especially his family.  
DA:  MJ is a remarkable young writer. I really thank him for coming up with a story  that is culturally significant, educational and yet fun. MJ is very cooperative and is fun to work with. He's also a good friend who listens and gives really good advice. There's a great future for this youthful poet with blessings from God pouring on him. He is a great role model for everyone specially to those aspiring writers.

f. What is your favorite book for children?
Xi Zuq
XZ: There's a lot actually. But my first favorite book for children is Alamat ng Ampalaya by Augie Rivera and Kora Dandan-Albano. I got hold of a copy (the paper was newsprint then) when I was in Grade 1. It was also my first Filipino book for children.
DA: Where the Wild Things Are is my favorite children's book. It inspires me in any sort of way. Everytime I read it, it never fails to take me to the world of the Wild Things and return back feeling good. That is one of the factors that a book is really good with its purpose if it will be able to do that to a person. I thank the late Maurice Sendak for creating a treasure that will keep everyone inspired.

Pangunahing Detalye
Kuwento ni Xi Zuq
Guhit ni Dominic Agsaway
Inilimbag ng Adarna House (2013)

Tungkol sa Aklat
Blurb: Ngumiti si Andoy. Ito ang simula ng kuwento ni Andrew na nagsimula sa kanilang Heroes Park. Gusto lamang niya na iguhit ang estatwa ni Andres Bonifacio nang matuklasan niya ang ilang lihim sa buhay ng bayani.

Sa pagdiriwang ng ika-150 kaarawan ni Andres Bonifacio, inihahandog ng Adarna House ang Ngumiti si Andoy, isang aklat tungkol sa buhay ng bayani. Batay ang kuwento at guhit ng aklat sa mga nagwagi sa 2013 Philippine Board on Books for Young People-Salanga at Alcala Prize [pbby.org.ph]. Hanapin ang Ngumiti si Andoy sa Adarna House showroom at sa pinakamalapit ng book store sa inyo.

Tungkol sa Manunulat
Si Xi Zuq ay isang guro, manunulat at mambabasa mula sa Lungsod ng Heneral Santos. Kasapi siya ng Kuwentista ng mga Tsikiting (KUTING) at Linangan sa Imahen, Retorika, at Anyo (LIRA). Bisitahin siya sa www.xizuqsnook.com.

Tungkol sa Illustrador
Si Dominic Agsaway ay isang ilustrador ng komiks at librong pambata. Siya ay miyembro ng Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan. Nagtapos siya sa Unibersidad de Santo Tomas (UST) at madalas rin tumambay sa parke habang naghihintay ng sundo. Maaari ninyo siyang ma-email sa  HYPERLINK "mailto:agsaway@gmail.com" \t "_blank" agsaway@gmail.com.

Goodreads Link:  HYPERLINK "https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18805674-ngumiti-si-andoy" https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18805674-ngumiti-si-andoy

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