Sunday, October 20, 2019

CLAPI Seminar: Children's Literature Today

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The Children’s Book Writer and His/Her World View Part 2

One of the many amazing things I experienced during the Room to Read Writing Workshop in Bohol was to be mentored by peers and friends in the book industry. I was part of Lampara House’s pool of writers and we have a team of editors to walk us through the entire process of creating a story for children but writers and friends from the other publishing houses became mentors too.

Ergoe Tinio of Adarna House was my seat mate. I discussed with her my character study and she was generous in her advise on how I can make my character stand out. Award winning author, Genaro Gojo Cruz gave suggestions on how I can reconcile the plot of the story to my character’s choices and decisions. Palanca Hall of Famer Dr. Luis Gatmaitan is the best venting buddy. Writing two stories in five days can be tiring and frustrating, I tell you. And then, there is Teacher Tin Canon who took time to listen to my story dilemma. When I presented my draft to the big group, I received validations and affirmations. More possibilities to improve the story. More insights to digest so I can continue to grow as a writer.

In the middle of this exercise, I realized how varied and beautifully diverse the many world views I encountered. At the end of the day, I was able to chart a course for my second manuscript.

I also observed how my writer friends' world views are reflected in their stories.

Luis, being a physician, has a series of books on heath and hygiene. Every year, Hiyas/OMF Lit publishes a book for kids that discuss a health issue through the Tito Dok Series authored by him. He has a number of books that breaks the myths and folkloric beliefs on medicine, health and wellness. The newest is Tuli o Di Tuli, a middle grade book on circumcision. Ang Pambihirang Buhok ni Raquel (Adarna House) is a favorite read aloud piece as it depicts the strength of a child battling with cancer. Then, there is 'Sandosenang Sapatos (Adarna House) that tells the story of a child with no feet who badly wanted to wear ballet shoes and dance.

Teacher Tin, on the one hand is an advocate of peace education and inclusive instruction in the classroom. Her Salanga winning story, Bakit Matagal ang Sundo Ko is an empowering depiction of the child waiting to be fetched in school. Her child characters, Pitong and Karlo, in the books Pitong Patagotago and Sampung Magkakaibigan posses special learning needs.

Genaro's empathy and advocacy to empower the poor and the underprivileged seeps into his stories for children. Ang Dyip ni Mang Tomas, Ang Bahay na May Gulong and recently, an alphabet book for kids that show images and symbols of the lower-middle class family living in the city.

This would make for an interesting study. Besides the milieu, the author's world view affects his approach and treatment of storytelling.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

The Children’s Book Writer and His/Her World View

Of the four publishers who had an input session during the Room to Read Writing Workshop in Bohol last week, it was Joann Nicolas Na’s session on world views that made a lasting impression. She is the editor of OMF Lit/Hiyas. In her talk, which was like a brief writer’s recollection, she asked participants what we believe in. In a previous post, a wrote them down.

I reiterate them here.

There are three things I believe in. 

I believe in love. I believe in family. I believe, that with the use of appropriate teaching methods, reading and literacy can change lives.

These beliefs all funnel in my stories and the books I have published, so far. Almost all of the six books I have written and collaborated with amazing Filipino artists were all based from real life characters. Many of them are stories of loved ones and family members.

The Day Max Flew Away is the story of my family. Much of what the father told the main character in the story is basically what I often hear my husband tell my kids. In My Daddy! My One and Only!, I celebrate the bond between father and son. Big Sister, is my story. I became one when I was twelve years old. My father is a retired public school teacher but he worked abroad back in the 80s. This became my context for Dear Nanay Needless to say, the experiences a writer go through and the beliefs he or she values are reflected in his/her works.

This prompts me to review and examine the works of my contemporaries. In the coming days and weeks, I will be posting in the blog selected works of writer friends in the industry and their body of works. This is not an academic study of children’s literature but, who knows. Maybe after posting my featured articles on Filipino Children’s Book writers and their world views, I may continue this as a formal study of writing and Philippine Children’s Literature.

Visit the blog and find out the writers, or illustrators, I will be featuring in my quest to understand the writer and his or her world view.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

2020 Call for Entries : the PBBY Chapter Book Prize

The Philippine Board on Books for Young People (PBBY) is now accepting entries for the 2020 PBBY-Salanga Chapter Book Prize. The winner shall be given a cash prize of P25,000.00, a gold medal, and an opportunity to be published. Prizes will be awarded in an appropriate ceremony to be held during the celebration of National Children’s Book Day on July 21, 2020.

DEADLINE: Entries must be received by the PBBY Secretariat and time-stamped no later than 5:00 p.m. on November 8, 2019.

The contest rules are as follows:

1. Open to all Filipino citizens, as well as non-Filipino residents with dual citizenship, except those who are related to any PBBY member up to the third degree of consanguinity. For foreigners, they must have spent at least six months (can be accumulated) in the Philippines for the past six (6) years.

2. Stories should be intended for children aged 8–12, with not less than 15,000 words and not more than 30,000 words.

3. Entries may be in English or Filipino.

4. Plot may be anything that relates to a Filipino child’s experience.

5. Entries must be in hard copy, 1.5 space, Times New Roman 12 with 1-inch margins on short bond paper. 

6. On a separate sheet, contestant must identify the target grade level, number of words, and the synopsis of the story.  Contestant may also include suggestions to teachers for enrichment activities.

7. A contestant may send in more than one (1) entry.

8. Each entry must be signed by a pen name only. Five (5) copies of each entry should be placed in an envelope, on the face of which only the pen name of the contestant should appear.

9. Together with each entry, contestants must submit a second envelope, on the face of which the pen name shall appear. This must contain the contestant’s full name, address, contact numbers, a short literary background, and a notarized certification from the author, vouching for the originality of the entry and for the freedom of the organizers from any liability arising from the infringement of copyright in case of publication, and affirming that the entry or any variant thereof has (a) never been published nor (b) won any other contest i.e. that it has never won 1st, 2nd, 3rd, honorable mention in any other contest or otherwise been awarded a medal, a citation, or included in a publicized list of meritorious entries to a literary contest.

10. All entries must be sent through snail mail or personally dropped off at the PBBY Secretariat, c/o Adarna House, Inc., Scout Torillo cor. Scout Fernandez Sts., Barangay Sacred Heart, Quezon City.

11. All entries must be received by the PBBY Secretariat no later than 5:00 p.m., November 8, 2019.

12. Winners will be announced no later than November 29, 2019. Non-winning entries will be disposed of by the PBBY Secretariat.

Grand prize and honorable mention winners shall be subject to a bidding process to be facilitated by PBBY, to determine which publisher/s will publish their winning stories.

The winning story will be the basis for the 2020 PBBY-Alcala Prize.

For more details, interested parties may contact the Philippine Board on Books for Young People, at (02) 8352 6765 local 203 or email

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Kuwentong Musmos: Palihan para sa Pagsusulat ng Kuwentong Pambata

How many times have you gotten drunk so bad that a hangover is inevitable the morning after? A few times back in college? Recently? Just because.

Well, a hangover is never a good thing, except for events worth getting drunk in. The hangover lasts for days and it is a good feeling you wish to bottle and preserve. So you keep it in a flask. You take it with you wherever you go. For days when you need some sunshine and happy thoughts, you uncork the bottle and take little sips of the memory. Invigorating! 

The Kuwentong Musmos Writing Workshop for Beginning Readers I attended last week in Bohol is just like that, an experience that left me with a pleasant hangover. Who wouldn’t be if you are among your people, talking, listening, creating stories not just for Filipino children but for the children of the world. Organized by Room to Read (RTR) and Adarna House, the workshop was a Voltes Five moment!

Twenty Filipino writers from the country's leading publishing houses of children's books banded together. The result was forty manuscripts that tackled themes on identity, gender equality and inclusion written for beginning readers. It was hard work. And it was for a god cause. As  Al Santos of RTR said, "Your stories will be read by a child who has never seen or opened a book before." How can I say no to this project? The little things I do as a librarian, teacher and author suddenly expands. I become a part of something bigger than the round hole I plug my square peg in ( yes, I don’t fit most of the time and it’s a miracle that things work out sometimes).

The inputs made by the four publishing houses during the five day workshop weren’t at all new things for me but what they said amplified, affirmed and validated what I have always believed in. Invest in human capital (Anvil Publishing); Create imperfect characters and let them go through challenges (Adarna House); Take courage, use language responsibly and take risks (Lampara Books); Every writer has a world view that is reflected in his/her works (OMF/Hiyas) So, children’s book writer, what do you believe in? 

I believe in three things.

I believe in love. I believe in family. I believe that, with the use of appropriate methods, reading and literacy can change lives.

There were twenty of us who left Bohol last week. I would like to think that we came out of the experience as good writers and better persons. As of writing, many of us have received call backs from our respective publishers to revise the manuscripts in preparation for the illustrators' workshop in Baguio next week. The Kuwentong Musmos Writing Workshop is in-progress and the learning experience I took away from it, I will keep forever. 

Now, it’s time to share what I gained from the workshop. 

Thursday, October 3, 2019

PASLI Seminar on Research Skills Competencies

The seminar-workshop aims to: 

1) understand the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4th IR) in research; 

2) enhance the competencies of librarians in doing scholarly research that are responsive to the 4th IR library users; 

3) help improve services, resources and demonstrate library impact on student success through evidence based practice and research productivity; 

4) produce research outputs that can be shared in the next DLSP Libraries Research Conference.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Filipino Illustrations in Picture Books

I am sharing this exchange I had with a dear fiend in the book industry on identity and book illustrations. 

Bestie: Question! (This is research for one of my talks.) What makes Filipino illustrations Filipino?

Me: Simple lang yan for me. If the reader feels Filipino when he/she encounters and engages in the book or the art. Let the writer and artist create a book or art Filipino man siya o hindi. If there is a reader who sees himself or herself in the art, in the story and his/her culture and values as a Filipino then, that's it. 

Filipino author ka? Filipino illustrator ka? Sulat ka lang. Gawa ka lang ng art mo. If the book or the art connects to a Filipino reader, identifying values and culture that amplify his or her identity and sense of self as Filipino, then that's a book or an illustration that is Filipino. 

Now there are instances when a reader, not Filipino necessarily, is able to find himself in a book or in the art of the book made by a Filipino. I think it's because art and literature are great equalizers -- As much as death and tragedies do.  

Bestie: Follow up question 😁 Then what would make a foreigner identify illustrations as "Filipino" and enjoy / appreciate the illustrations as foreigners?

What he/ she initially knows about the Philippines and its people. Dianne de Las Casas thought of using the jeepney as cover for our book. Cramped. Overloaded with happy passengers. That's her worldview and perspective. It was Bernadette Solina Wolf's husband, Michael who is German, who made the suggestion to put colorful banderitas in the margin. Fiesta - that's how Michael identify Filipino culture. 

The enjoyment comes in when the reading or the engagement with the book begins. 

Bestie: Is there anything. . . "universal" about our illustrations?

Me: Themes and concepts, yes. But the style of art, I am not so sure. 

Maybe universality would depend on the illustrator's vision and rendition. Take for example Serge Bumatay's illustrations of Tight Times. It feels so, ah, European but, I also feel that I am reading a book made by Filipinos. 

Melag makes use of Baroque. But the use of space, balance and perspective reminds me of what life is like in Tuguegarao, my father's hometown. 

I love pepper Roxas's work in Mang Andoy's signs because it reminds me of two things from my childhood - the golden books series and my growing years in Pateros!

I also think that universality would also mean or connected to, aesthetics, beauty and even, ethics. We appreciate what is beautiful and good and we say, ah, it's art! 

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Pilgrim's Pit Stop: Through the Shadows and Into the Light

Many years ago, when Domeng and I were relatively new members of Magis Deo, we attended various formation activities organized and designed by the Magis Deo elders. The prayer deepening talks and workshops of  Eva Galvey and Monchito Mossesgeld made memorable impressions most especially. I learned a lot from their inputs, the sharing of experiences and their facilitation of skills in building an awareness of feelings. This was before attending a number of Annual Ignatian Retreats. 

These prayer workshops were all beneficial to my growth in Ignatian Spirituality. It helped me focus on my emotions as a way to inform my actions and behavior. I developed a better understanding of myself. This is one of the many benefits when praying the Examen and it leads to more wonderful discoveries. 

The “me” that I often find in the Examen is both beautiful and strange. Creative and destructive. This “me” is capable of generosity and can be downright selfish too. Praying the Examen makes me see my shadow and my light. While there in the shadows lurk my demons, there is always the light to turn towards to. Praying the Examine helps me see this play of darkness and light. It gives me the power to choose and to make decisions. This in itself is God’s gift. God’s grace. God protects and nourishes. And He too, empowers! Praying the Examen amplifies God’s magnificence in my life and in the wholeness of creation.  

I bring myself  into this reflections on prayer workshops, the Examen and Ignatian Spirituality because, recently, I have done something I am not proud of. I know I hurt many people. I realize I acted on behalf of myself without thinking through my actions. Then again, I did not regret doing it either. I am now ambivalent of the entire experience. However, I do find myself praying on this ambivalence. 

Perhaps God is just waiting for me to realize something more about the complexities of human nature. I appreciate that He is there, allowing me to figure things out on my own. All the more reason that I continue praying the Examen and to be sensitive to God’s movement in my life. 

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Pathfinder: John Lame Deer

The BA Library received a request from the CRE Teacher to gather sources about Rites of Passage. We came up with a Pathfinder focusing on John Lame Deer. We are sharing the file to everyone.

Content curation and selection of sources for your class are  services that the BA Library facilitate. You can send your request for assistance via email ( or Workchat. I can also facilitate a one-on-one session for you or for your class if needed. Content curation involves skills in locating, accessing, organizing and documenting sources. It may come in handy when working on long essays and research projects.

BONUS information: EBSCOHost and World Book Online both have curation apps embedded in their portals and e-learning platforms. If you have an app for curation or bookmarking functions, share it with us. We will see if we can upload them onto the iPads. Thank you!

Reference and Readers Services

Pathfinder: John Lame Deer
This Pathfinder is prepared for Ms. Roxas’ CRE class specifically targeting a text with a 900-1200 Lexile readability level. Ms. Roxas requested for sources that discuss rites of passage, vision quest and the experience of John Lame Deer, a Lakota Indian.

Key words: rites of passage, vision quest, John Lame Deer, John Fire, North American Indian, Lakota tribe, shaman

BA Library Resources: 
For a background information, definition and explanation of Rites of Passage, North American Indians, Lakota tribe recommended references are as follows:

World Book Online (WBO) -
Username: academy**
Password: griffins2018
Articles in WBO are lexiled

Explora in EBSCO -
Username: beaconacad
Password: green_blue19&20
Selected articles in Explora are lexiled

Online Sources
John Lame Deer and the Lakota Nation - with notes on American history, white expansion and colonialism

The Lakota Nation and Vision Quest Explained (estimated 1000L - 1200L) 

Lakota-Sioux Vision Quest  (estimated 1000L - 1200L) - with emphasis on the journey of young Native American Indians into adulthood  

Vision Quest  (estimated 1000L - 1200L) - includes the preparations made for Native American Indian rites of passage, with mentions on the use of hallucinogens

Companion to the recommended texts sourced online
Non-Fiction / General Collection

Deloria, Vine Jr. Red Earth white Lies: Native Americans and the Myth of Scientific Fact. Colorado: FulcrumPublishing, 1997. {398.08997 DEL}

_____. Shamans Through Time 500 Years on the Path to Knowledge. New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 2001. {291.144 SHA}

_____. Trickster: Native American Tales: A Graphic Collection. Colorado: Fulcrum Books, 2010. {741.597 TRI}


Kadohata, Cynthia. Weedflower.  New York: Anthem Books for Young Readers, 2006. 

Mikaelsen, Ben. Touching Spirit Bear. New York: Scholastic, 2001.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Research Supervision: The Extended Essay

I took off my EE Coordinator’s hat this academic year to rest. Leading the research in the Extended Essay is no mean feat. However, I was given a student to supervise and scheduled library consultations with the seniors. So far, I am weirdly enjoying it.

It is a given that as librarian, I assist and provide reference and readers services. But facilitating the first three steps in the Guided Inquiry process opened up new learning for me too. I do not only provide services. I teach and facilitate the application of skills. Plus, I get to interact with students. Listening to them and knowing their thinking processes help me understand their attitude and behavior. More on these points in future posts.

For now, I wish to share specific feedback I gave to my student. She has a research question but, she needs clarity on how to approach the research work in general. Our first meeting was spent dissecting and unpacking her research question. After identifying variables, I asked her to do more research. She came back with results. So, I replied.

As I said in a previous email, you have found good sources. I commend you for knowing each papers’ purpose for your EE. Now, you need to identify specific information from each source so that you can use in your presentation and discussion of the child narrator. I suggest you do the following:

- take note of definitions, phrases, paragraphs and quotes as well as information you deem relevant for your topic in general. 
- as you take note, include the source for example:
Child narrators are unreliable when they are used arbitrarily to show themes that often reflect the bias of the author. (Page 14, Gagatiga, Child narrator in adult fiction. Crown, 2017)
- after reading and taking notes, pause to reflect on the process you went through. Doesn’t have to be long. Be aware of what you did and ask yourself, what are my discoveries about my content and topic, and about myself? Did I enjoy reading it? Did I feel confident? What are my doubts? What do I have now? What did I miss? These reflections will help you direct your next steps further on. 

Lastly, here is a tip. List down synonyms and antonyms for the word “reality”. Don’t limit yourself to literal meaning. Use context as well. For example, imagination / knowledge. Then, try the synonyms using this truncation in the search box of Google or databases:


See what happens! 

I will post updates of our journey so visit the blog again soon!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

MIBF 2019 Moments

And so the 40th Manila International Book Fair came to pass. My new book didn’t make it to the launching date because of constraints in the printing schedule but I had fun nonetheless. I went there as a reader and storyteller.

I  cued in line for Trese 7. Picked up books for young adult and intermediate readers at Adarna House. Bought books for the library at the Ateneo de Manila University Press and UP Press booths. Bumped into old friends in the book industry and for the first time, heard mass in SMX. I met new authors in Kahel Press and chatted for a bit with their staff. As of writing, they are going through issues of infringement but Ruth “Wowie” Catabijan is making sure they learn from the mistake.

I judged the Lampara Batang Kuwentista Storytelling Contest. How can I say no to my publisher? All the while, Jun Matias and I have identified gaps in the children’s book publishing industry. Needless to say, he and I have more book projects to do!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Finding the Right Source

Miss, may I ask help in finding the right source?

This is a request I frequently get from some students, especially during research season. Before reminding them to use the OPVL assisting them on the use of the BA Library OPAC and research databases, I verify the following activities prior to locating sources of information in the library and online.

Did you understand and analyse the task or project?

Did you identify information you need to complete the task?

What important terms or words have you pulled out from the identified information? You can use them as key words for searching the BA Library OPAC, online databases and search engines like Goggle.
Are you familiar with primary and secondary sources?

If the answer to these questions are all in the affirmative, which rarely happens, we proceed to the OPAC and databases. Once a student finds a book, an article or an academic paper he proceeds with evaluation of the source, text and material. And then, citation becomes a concern. That would require another session. Another inquiry. Or, the student depends on a citation machine online.

Recently, I got bored with my pre-research interview and verification process. Searching EBSCOHost for ideas, I found a good material to further support me in library reference work and readers’ services. The Right Source is a short, easy to read article that may help me assist students in their research and inquiry. I recommend you read it too and download the file. Share it with another co-teacher and to your class as well.  

Is this the right source for me?

Not sure if this source is something you can cite in your research? Find your class assignment or research prompt and check the guidelines your teacher has outlined. Then, ask yourself the following questions about your source to see if it’s what you need:
  • Primary or secondary? A primary source is an account from a specific time period. If you’re writing a paper about the medieval political system, the surviving pages of Magna Carta would be a primary source. A book written by a medieval studies scholar that describes the importance of Magna Carta would be a secondary source—this type of source provides analysis and context.
  • Popular or academic? Popular sources are "popular" because they are meant for the general public. Newspapers and magazines are popular sources because they are easy to understand and widely available. Academic sources are more thoroughly reviewed than popular sources. They often undergo a peer review process, have multiple sections, and are generally much longer and more detailed.
  • Neutral or biased? Examine the word choices made in your source to determine if it is objective or trying to get across a certain point of view. If it seems to be interpreting facts with a specific agenda or goal in mind, the source may have gone past a specific viewpoint to outright bias.
  • Where did this source get its information? Look for a bibliography at the bottom of the work and see what sources were used. If they look credible and trustworthy, not only is your source likely a good one, but you now have a list of other reputable sources you can search for.
The "right" source for you depends on the guidelines your teacher has set for the assignment. If your teacher has asked you to see how an event was covered in newspapers, then neutral, academic sources won’t be the right fit. All sources—whether they are primary or secondary, neutral or biased—can be useful; it all depends on the type of source you need. If you’re not sure what kind of a source you should be looking for, simply ask your teacher.

Content provided by EBSCO LearningExpress PrepSTEP® for High Schools.
Retrieved August 26, 2019

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Recommended Reads: My List of Must Have Children’s Books at the MIBF 2019

This is batch four of my recommended must have children’s books to acquire at the Manila International Book Fair happening tomorrow. For this post, I am sharing titles of middle grade books, young adult novels and sequential art or comics.

1. Tuli o Di Tuli by Dr. Luis Gatmaitan,; illustrated by Manix Abrera, Hiyas 2019;
Philippine Children’s Literature’s resident doctor strikes again! Dr. Gatmaitan’s Tito Dok series tackles the science behind circumcission breaking myths and folklore along the way. 

2. Ako Ang Bayan by PD Guinto; illustrated by Manix Abrera, Adarna House 2018
Guinto writes about freedom as the most precious thing on earth. His exposition is clear and straight to the point. Abrera’s visual interpretation of Guinto’s prose is simple but satisfying. 

3. Moymoy Lulumhoy Book 4 by Segundo “Jun” Matias, Lampara Books 2019
Moymoy is now a teenager and his adversaries doubled. However, his greatest enemy to date is himself. Follow Moymoy’s adventures as he traverses a more challenging journey, finding his own self.

4. Janus Silang at Ang Hiwagang May Dalawang Mukha by Edgar Samar, Adarna House 2019. 
If you are a fan of this book, go grab a copy because the questions left unanswered in book 3 leads you closer to the end. 

5. Trese Book 7 Shadow Witness by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldissimo, Visprint 2019
Finally! Trese fans, we will get to know more about Alexandra’s mysterious brothers! 

Enjoy the MIBF 2019 and hope to see you there! 

Monday, September 9, 2019

Recommended Reads: My List of Must Have Children's Books at the MIBF 2019 (Batch 3 of 4)

The Manila International Book Fair (MIBF) opens on September 11, 2019! Have you made your list of books to buy? I am sharing my list of Must Have Children's Books at the MIBF.

Kahel Press is the new kid on the block and it has begun publishing non-fiction book for kids age 6 and up. I love their books about pets! Young pet lovers and animal enthusiasts will find the information helpful since the text is written in a casual and conversational manner.  

Did the title make you laugh? These books are worth keeping in your home's book shelf and perfect addition to the library's Sciences collection.
Saya/Saya by Auri Asuncion Yambao is a pictionary that lives up to its title. Ang saya-saya ng aklat na ito! Who would have thought that Filipino homonyms could be used to tell stories through illustrations and visuals? Tahanan was able to pull it off amazingly well!   

This book is perfect for learning new words and in the hands of an excellent storyteller, it can open up a world of meaning and sense to the listening child.

Go visit the booths of Kahel Press and Tahanan at the MIBF!

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Recommended Reads: My List of Must Have Children's Books at the MIBF 2019 (Batch 2 of 4)

The Manila Intetnational Book Fair 2019 will open and welcome readers of all ages from all walks of life next week, September 11, 2019. For the next five days, the SMX in Pasay City will host and witness once again the crowds and hoards of people who are eager buyers of books and fans of authors, artists and content creators. MIBF, here we come!

I have my own list of books to buy and booths to visit, of course. I mean to share them with you here in the blog. In August, I posted a list of 
MIBF Must Have Children’s Books. In the next days leading to the MIBF, I will post on the blog my recommendations for parents, teachers, librarians and young readers. So, here we go.

Mang Adong’s Jeepney by Tippy Kintanar; illustrated by Jose Maria Tristan V. Yuvienco. Published by Bookmark, 2018.

A couple of years ago, the news about the Jeepney Phase out disturbed many Filipino commuters, jeepney operators and drivers. The issue affected individuals and communities who own and run jeepney transport businesses as well as, the national consciousness. The jeepney is a symbol of Filipino identity, history and culture. Removing the jeepneys from the streets is like ceasing to be Filipino. 

In Mang Adong’s Jeepney, Kintanar helps us remember the humble beginnings of Salvador Sarao, the man who dared innovate the jeep. This is a story of  a man who changed the transport business and innovated the technology to build one. Man — and woman, love their machines because it is an object of creative expression. The book is part of Bookmark’s Modern Day Heroes series.

Marami Land of the Brave written by Melissa Salva; translated into Maranan by Lawambae Basaula-Lumna; illustrated by Kathleen Sareena Dagum. Bookmark, 2018.

This book is part of the Marawi Book Series, a project of the Gift of Reading Project of the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) The goal of the project is to use literature that  heals  and inspires children and  young people who were survivors of the 2017 Marawi conflict. The Bookmark collaborated with PBSP and the Department of Education Marawi to publish the books. 

The author, Melissa Salva, makes use of folk stories and legends that amplify the bravery of the Marawi people. A young boy narrates the stories to his younger brother with hope and belief, that the legacy of the heroes of the Maranao legends live on in the heart and soul of their people. Dagum’s watercolors evoke nostalgia and in some pages, render a tender picture of the loss the boys experienced. I cannot help but take pity on the child narrator and ask myself, what can I do? What can I do to help?

Lakay Billy: Defender of Indigenuos People by Luz B. Maranan; illustrated by Duday Ysabel Maranan. Bookmark, 2018. 

August 9 is Indigenous Peoples Day. This book, Lakay Billy, is a fitting read to celebrate the diversity and uniqueness of Philippine indigenous groups. Maranan narrates the life of William Funa-ay Claver, lawyer and elected Igorot delegate to the 1971 Constitutional Convention and his fight for representation and human rights. A year after, Martial Law was declared. Lakay Billy’s battle becomes more relevant to read and think about in this time and day when fascism and authoritarianism resurges.

Theses are all for now. I will be posting batch 3 of my MIBF Must Haves any day this week. Read and grow, everyone! 

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Library Book Displays: On Leadership

Our Student Council reserved the use of the library reading area last weekend. They had a leadership training seminar and training session. Composed of officers in the council and in the various clubs, they spent time in the library for quiet reflection and writing time. 

I thought of setting up a display of books on leadership. When we did, the teacher facilitators were appreciative of the gesture. 

On Monday, we received good words from the Dean of Student Life. She said —

Zarah and Flynn, what an inspiration to walk into the library to begin our leadership training to find your display of books on leadership and leaders.   We, the facilitators, kept sneaking peaks at the books during the workshop.  Thank you for your thoughtfulness and warm welcome.  We had a very productive workshop and you helped set the ambience that got us off on the right foot.

We will have a follow through of this information and readers service. So, visit the blog again or watch out for postings I do in all my social media sites. I don’t mind sharing and I would appreciate your feedback or comments. 

Monday, September 2, 2019

Bookish Conversations and Self Publishing

Von Totanes, Director of the Rizal Library, introduced me to Techie Lopez via Messenger. Techie is an aspiring author who is at a crossroads. She has written a story but could not decide where to bring her manuscript. Finally, after chatting online, she decided to self publish. 

When I met her last week, she was already applying for an ISBN. Overwhelmed but undaunted, she told me the process she has gone through so far. As a response, I showed her copies of my published books and told her of my own publishing story. She asked how I started out as an author. I introduced her to the system and the ecology of the book industry. She was pleasantly surprised to find out that a supportive community awaits her in Philippine Children’s Literature. 

Before we parted ways, I gave her copies of my books. We took a selfie, of course! It made it on social media and this is what she said of our meeting and about my books —

Zarah Gagatiga is a teacher librarian, a storyteller, a blogger, and an award winning author (both in the Philippines and abroad).  Her generous heart, encouraging spirit and passion to develop quality children’s literature in the Philippines is inspiring. Thank you, Von, for introducing me to her ❤️

Here are some of her other books, all meaningful, easy to read with great artwork by talented illustrators. They’re very affordable in bookstores. 

This is not the last I will be seeing Techie. I am sure of that! 

Friday, August 30, 2019

Author Visit at Keys School Manila

Thank you to the teacher librarians of Keys School Manila, Teachers Alfred and Van, for hosting my author visit with their students in kinder, grade 1 and 2 levels. I had a wonderful time sharing about my life as a writer, the stories behind my published books and the structure of writing I use for my stories. The Keys students were curious, confident and authentic inquirers. 

Thank you so much to my publisher, Lampara House for setting up a booth to display and sell my books. Signing copies of books that students bought took me an hour! I am excited to see my new book launched at the Manila International Book Fair this September.

The visit was like a reunion for I have met former co-teachers and children of friends I knew from my librarian days in Xavier School. Now I look forward to continuing partnership with the teacher librarians in Keys School as they have recently been authorized as an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School. It is in the IB where collaboration, resource sharing and networking truly happens. Let’s see what’s in store for us Filipino Librarians in the IB network!

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Nina Martinez, Wordless Book Prize Winner (2 of 2)

Here is part 2 of the interview of Nina Martinez, 2019 Wordless Book Prize winnwr. 

4. What moved and inspired you to create it? Why in the format of a wordless book?

I was inspired by the breadth of the imagination of children, whether it’s other children’s imaginations or my memory of my own. When we’re young and don’t know what something is like, we come up with the most fantastical concepts to fill in the gaps, just because we prefer excitement over logic. I wanted to imagine a young girl who, like me, was born and raised in the city, and had created whimsical versions of the sea and sky in order to understand them.

I found the format of a wordless book perfect for this concept because children don’t always have the extensive vocabulary to describe what they visualize in their heads – luckily, illustration can shoulder this responsibility every once in a while.

5. What projects, art exhibits or books you wish to promote?

I love writing and illustrating original komiks – you can check them out on my online portfolio at I always sell them at press fairs like KomikonKomiket, and everything in between. Come by and support local artists!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Nina Martinez, Wordless Book Prize Winner (1 of 2)

Nina Martinez, winner of the 2019 Wordless Book Prize, shares with us her five memorable books, why Math is interesting and briefly describes what her winning story is all about.

1. What are the 5 books that you will always remember? 

Estrellita: The Little Wishing Star by May Tobias-Papa -  one of the first ever books I read and also possibly the first to ever make me feel sad.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery – for its simple but purposeful illustrations.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – for the terrifying but believable world it was able to paint through first-person perspective.

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel – for its painfully real, lived-in illustrations, difficult subject matter, and its proving that even autobiographical graphic novels could have striking prose.

Blankets by Craig Thompson – another graphic novel with expressive illustration and the ability to turn a personal story into a tale worth reading.

2. What would you be if not a visual artist?

If I was not a visual artist, I would be a mathematician because I find math beautiful. They say numbers are a “made-up” language yet when used properly they reveal beautiful patterns and truths of our universe.

3. What is Ang Mga Sikreto ng Langit at Dagat?

Ang Mga Sikreto ng Langit at Dagat is my entry to the PBBY 2019 Wordless Book Prize. It opens with a little girl looking at a bird outside of her condominium window and wondering what the open sky and sea are like. We are invited into her imagination of those things.Being an archipelago, the Philippines is surrounded endlessly by both sea and sky, so much that they are both cornerstones in indigenous faiths, folklore, and art. If a child were raised in a highly urbanized environment, she may not be able to experience either of those until much later.

Part 2 will follow soon, so visit the blog again!

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