Thursday, March 21, 2019

Alternative Class Days 2019: Bending Earth

From March 20, 21 and 22, 2019, the Academy is up and about for Alternative Class Days (ACD). This has been around as far back as I can remember. We are having nine ACD Classes or Sessions and one of them is Pottery. It is the same ACD Class I championed last year. Following the same format, what changed this year is a visit to the Cornerstone Pottery Farm in Silang, Cavite. There we met EJ Espiritu, potter and owner of Cornerstone Pottery Farm. Coming from a manufacturing and production background, his orientation and tour revolved on the process, the business and the chemistry behind pottery and ceramic art. 

The entire process still blows me away. From mixing clay to forming it, air drying to glazing, firing for 10 to 12 hours long only to discover the many mistakes and rejected pots and ceramics at the end of it all. Patience and perseverance are two qualities a potter must possess, apart from discipline and a sense of order. The highlight of the tour was EJ Espiritu’s demonstration at the electric wheel. Placing a mound of clay, he emphasised the importance of balance and centering. I felt a tug at my heart strings. It has been three months since I last held clay. 

Our students were impressed at his use of the wheel. He was steady, firm but gentle. He said it took him a while to learn how to effectively use it. Finding a sense of peace within made the process of using a wheel a bit easier to handle and to manipulate a material such as clay. We ended the visit by buying ceramic and pots from his shop. As a souvenir, I bought a simple bird chime. I love it!

On day 2 and 3, we will meet Maui Melencio for the hand building and sculpting workshop on campus.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Singapore Sunshine Day 4: IBAP Librarians Workshop Academic Honesty

On my fourth day in Singapore and the last day of the IBAP Workshop, we had the opportunity to have a round table discussion with Extended Essay (EE) Supervisors attending the IBAP EE Role of the Supervisor Workshop.It became a session of sharing of best practices and teaching techniques that work. I shared how, as a librarian, I would help students identify the keywords in their research question and use them as strategies in searching, locating, accessing and understanding information and its sources. The teachers found this an interesting technique. Happy to help! That’s why librarians are placed at the core of the Diploma Program (DP).

Concerns on time, academic work loads of students and self-management in the DP surfaced too. There is just too much content to handle in such a short time. While structures and mechanisms are in place, teachers are left tired and spent as much as their students. I am not alone then. The challenge of teaching is always the pressure to keep up or to be abreast with the way students learn and live. Teachers grow old, but their students are always young.

Another interesting session on the last day of the workshop was the session on Academic Honesty. My workshop leader had us do practical activities to teach the skills. We also had a group presentation that simulated a 10 minute presentation to teachers about Academic Honesty. We ended the day with the  writing of our action plans.

I appreciate attending this IBAP Librarians Workshop as it gave me a clearer direction to set new goals for the library. I went home with an action plan and with a readiness to face the changes necessary to update and upgrade our library services and programs.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Singapore Sunshine Day 3: IBAP Workshop for Librarians 2

The sessions on the second day of the International Baccalaureate Asia Pacific (IBAP) workshop were all about Inquiry, Approaches to Teaching amd Learning (ATL) the DP Core namely Theory of Knowledge (TOK) Extended Essay (EE), and Community Action Service (CAS), and a visit to the libraries of the Canadian International School. Imam Ragab, our workshop leader, connected the ATLs and the DP Core to library services and functions that cater and support the DP curriculum. We read a lot of IB documents, discussed current library practices in our schools that support the DP, unpacked the EE criteria and accessed MyIB, the IB portal for all authorised schools and IB applicant schools.

During the session in accessing documents in MyIB, we were made to skim and scan pertinent documents to the ATLs and the DP Core. I had a review of my role as EE Coordinator this year. I told my workshop leader how, as a librarian coordinating the EE, I would get derailed from the expected roles I am meant to play. 80% of my efforts go to administration and procedural functions. To this, my workshop leader gave me an empathetic smile in recognition of my frustration.

I mean to do something about this sooner or later. There has to be a balance between running a program and teaching skills so students can meet the requirements and standards of the program. 

The day ended with a visit to the CIS libraries which lifted my spirits. The smell of books reminded me of the Children’s Media Center of the International School Manila. Ah, memory of my childhood! 

The librarians who welcomed us, were warm and friendly. Lisa Miller, the Library Coordinator shared valuable experiences in teaching research skills. What I found common to their experience with ours is the ladder approach to skills instruction. In each grade level beginning in 7th grade, a research skill is put into focus for instruction. For example, search strategies are taught alongside extracting information, concepts and content from sources as applied to tasks in different subjects. In 8th grade till 9th, focus on skills like evaluation of sources, in-text citations, knowing the right sources to use in a research paper, following a process of inquiry are mapped until the DP. The expected output from students in the EE is 4,000 word essay with a focused research question and evidences to back it up. Imagine the skills a 17 year old would need to learn and apply at the same time. The key is to prepare them early and nip the problem in the bud.

The Bulletin Board at the Canadian International School promotes the Extended Essay a a journey.

Research is a big concept that involves global and unitary skills. To teach it, a knowledge of its parts and the micro skills of research helps the teacher or the librarian make students understand them better. Teachers must recognise the support librarians can offer them and librarians must listen to teachers and students to be able to provide this support in very complicated and cognitive tasks.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Singapore Sunshine Day 2: IBAP Librarians Workshop 1

The first day of the International Baccaluareate Asia Pacific (IBAP) Librarians Workshop kicked off yesterday. This workshop is one of the many IB workshops happening simultaneously at the Canadian International School in Jurong, Songapore. There are 800 delegates from IB schools all over the world. In the librarians workshop, we are only 16 people and our workshop leader.

Day 1 was spent with knowing the fundamental IB terms, concepts and approaches to teaching and learning. The highlight of the day was a trip to the Jurong Regional Public Library. One of my takeaways in the workshop is this sentence I read in one of the IB documents, Knowledge will lead to caring and caring will lead to action (Ragab, 24). It sums up the wholistic philosophy in teaching and the experiential benefits of constructive learning.

Another important concept that struck me is "international mindedness". I have heard this before from our academic coordinators, but it was only in the workshop where in I had a clear view of it. It helped that I had group mates to discuss this concept. At the end of the activity, we were asked to define it as we understood it. We said that, International mindedness involves multicultural thinking patterns where in a person perceives himself/herself as a global citizen.

The field trip in Jurong Regional Library was an enjoyable one for me because, I saw many literacy programs for kids and teens being implemented by the library staff. Clearly, the library is a community center because the programs involve parents in the reading development of their kids as well as people from different demographics in Jurong. Outside the book depository, a mother and her child were returning books while a younger child looks on. In the Yound Adult section, there is a CHILLAX Zone, a stage for performances, an exhibit area and bulletin boards and display areas for teens to post their book reviews. In the magazine section, the elderly read quietly while few listen to audio books. While the availability of non-fiction books is not very visible, the library has a strong belief in community involvement and literacy development.

How I wish all our public libraries in the Philippines are like this. But, we have to deal with what life has to offer. And it's like dancing the cha-cha.

There are many challenges for Filipino Librarians to make the library system a sturdy one. With the rise of many non-government organizations and local government units with successful barangay and city libraries, perhaps the leaders in the public library system in the country can share these stories especially to schools and learning communities. This month is Public Library Awareness Month. How apt is this visit to Jurong and these ideas, thoughts coming into mind. On a positive note, I will do what I can and live life, one day at a time.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Day 1 : Singapore Sunshine

I flew in Singapore this morning along with three colleagues from the Beacon Academy. We are here for four days to attend the International Baccalaureate Asia Pacific Workshop at the Canadian International School. I will attend the librarians workshop while my three colleagues will attend their respective teachers sessions. 

This is my second time in Singapore. I was here back in 2002 for the Storytelling Congress. That experience was life changing. It was then that I realised the difference between reading aloud and storytelling. 

And so, while preparing for the trip a few weeks before the flight, I got in touch with Sheila Wee of the Storytellers Association Singapore (SAS) to touch base with her. She has been very active in the storytelling movement here and was a mover during the early years of the SAS.

Sadly, the meet-up didn’t push through. But Sheile made sure, I will be taken good care of . So she encouraged Swee Yean and Panna Kantilal to meet me for dinner instead. 

My first meal in Singapore was ban mian.

We did. It was like meeting old friends when in fact, it was my first time to personally meet Swee and meet Panna after seventeen long years! This is how things go with storytellers. More on the details of our conversation in upcoming posts.

Needless to say, this state city with its stringent rules, welcomed me once more with smiles and sunshine!

Recreational and Intentional Reading: The Library's Role

Friday, March 8, 2019

Dear Ms. Z: Answers to Your Life as a Reader

For Teacher Twinkle, and to loyal readers of the blog.

1. What is your earliest memory of reading/of a book?

I can still remember the smell of the book my mother read aloud to me when I was a child of five or four. It was a book about a little red hen and a cunning fox. I can no longer recall how the story goes but the smell, I remember well. It smelled of mantekilya and fresh pandesal. 

And then, there was the dinosaur book my mother brought home from the library where she worked. The book was big and so were the dinosaurs that regaled every page. Most impressive for me were the diplodocuses that moved in herds. One spread of the book showed how long a diplodocus is by lining up several buses to illustrate its length and stacking up a good number of people to show its tremendous height. I wondered if such animals really existed so I asked my mother this question. She had nothing to say but, a few weeks after, she brought home a children's encyclopedia volume D. That was my first lesson on research and reference sources. 

How can I not love books when the ones that made an impact on me as young child amazed me and aroused my sense of wonder. Furthermore, I had associated a book read aloud to me with comfort food. What joy!

Later on, my mother brought home Dr. Seuss, Frog and Toad are Friends, Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. She brought me to the library where she worked and there, I met cool librarians and teachers working with kids my age and older. In the library where they worked, they have shelves for the works of children who wrote stories and books. In the library where they worked, I was allowed to choose books I could read. 

One particular summer I visited the library, I met King Midas, the Greek Gods and Jose Aruego's Juan and the Aswangs. I read Dumbo and Peter Pan, and as the years progressed, I was introduced to Judy Blume and Katherine Patterson. All the Newbery and Caldecot awardees of the time, I got to read them as well the Printz Prize winners during my high school years. Yes, I read foreign authors.

It was only in college when I read my first Filipino novel. 

2. What or who made you like reading/books?

I think I answered this question already. See number 1. 

But I wish to stress that if not for my grandmother's knack for storytelling, I wouldn't enjoy my mom's reading aloud as much. The stories my grandmother told me prepared me for more fantastic stories found in the printed page.

3. Did anyone read to you when you were a child? If yes, who was this? 

Refer to questions 1 and 2 as I have mentioned people in my family as influential to my reading journey. 

My school teachers read aloud from textbooks. Our school library was limited. My grandmother, other than being a fascinating storyteller, had a sari-sari store where komiks are rented out. So, there. That was another literacy experience of reading from my childhood years.

In high school, I had a small circle of friends and we were all book lovers. We had book swaps and reading time. Then we talk about the books we have read at lunch and at recess. Ah, my wonder years!

4. Do you still like reading until now?

Yes. It is the reason why I never left school librarianship. What I discovered over the years is that, those who love books and reading are willing enough to share this love with others. Now this is the reason why I am still in the board of the Philippine Board on Books for Young People (PBBY).

5. Why do you like reading/books?

Books spark joy! I want to share the joy books bring with others. 

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Dear Ms. Z: Your Life as a Reader

I got this request from Teacher Twinkle Caro, my  friend from PBBY.

Good day! 

I’m giving a talk on motivating children to read and I would like to cite some real-life experiences of avid readers like you. I hope you have the time the answer a few questions:

1. What is your earliest memory of reading/of a book?
2. What or who made you like reading/books?
3. Did anyone read to you when you were a child? If yes, who was this? 
4. Do you still like reading until now?
5. Why do you like reading/books?

Thank you very much! Your answers will be very much appreciated. 😊

I will post my answers in the blog tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Renewing My Professional License (1 of 3)

My experience renewing my librarian's license had been very smooth and easy. Thank you to the assistance given to me by officers of the Philippine Librarians Association Inc., Southern Tagalog Regional Council (PLAI-STRC), particularly Dr. Lindie Masalinto and Mr. Rene Manlangit. Now, I can proudly attach the initials RL (Registered Librarian) after my name as mandated by law.

I am Zarah C. Gagatiga, Registered Librarian. There, I just made myself a noun. A proper noun.

I met very young and helpful staff at the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) branch that I went to. They looked like my students in senior high school. The guy in Window 6 reminded me of my son. The girl at Window 4 kept calling me Madame. I lingered for a few more minutes to find out if she would address other ladies the same salutations. She did not. Just saying. 

When the staff at Window 3 asked me for my requirements and proof of units earned in Continuing Professional Development (CPD), his face broke into a wide smile when I handed him a thick clear book and the plaque of recognition which the Philippine Association of School Libraries, Inc. (PASLI) conferred to me in 2017. 

He told me, "Ma'am, over and above the expected and required CPD units na po kayo!"

I replied, "I document all my CPD activities. Kaya makapal ang clear book."

He smiled and said, "Sa plaque po ako natuwa sa inyo, Ma'am. May print out po ba kayo ng citation niyan?" He pointed to the plaque.

"Wala, e. Sorry ha..." I said to him.

He nodded. "Check ko na lang po yung certificates ng accredited PRC CPD provider sa file ninyo."

They were all courteous and eager to help despite the lateness in the day. I actually forgot my password to my account by the staff knew what to do ease my worry. In less than an hour, I received my new ID. Proof that I am a law abiding citizen. Evidence that I commit to my moral obligations. Testament to my allegiance to Philippine Librarianship. I stay true to my oath. 

Well, I do the best that I can.

A PRC license does not completely make one a professional. But adhering to the law and to ethics make us so. I think this is the relevance of this exercise and earning CPD units, no matter how small, is another indicator that we hold our integrity to the highest of standards.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Poetry: Listen to the mustn’ts, child

Listen to the Mustn'ts, Child
By Shel Siverstein ( 1930 - 1999 )

Listen to the mustn'ts, child
Listen to the shouldn'ts,
the impossibles,
the won'ts.

Listen to the never haves,
then listen close to me...

Anything can happen, child.
Anything can be.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Book Review: Sirena Ba 'Yan?

Sirena Ba 'Yan?
Is That A Mermaid?
By Candy Gourlay
Illustrated by Francesca Chessa
Billungual Edition
Adarna House, 2019

Sirena Ba 'Yan? (Is That A Mermaid?) is Candy Gourlay's new picture book. It is about a dugong (sea cow) claiming itself as a mermaid to the chagrin of two kids who met this gentle sea creature by the shore. Together they go on an adventure with the dugong consistently keeping its claim, I am a mermaid!

The book is both humorous and thought provoking. On the surface, the dugong sounds and looks silly but there is unwavering conviction each time it articulates its chosen identity. The children learned to accept this and allowed it to be. As gentle and tolerant as the dugong, they empathised and understood. What harm can a sea cow, who thinks it is a mermaid, do to them?

There are many layers to this playfully illustrated picture book that could lead to conversations about facts on sea creatures and marine animals, choices and self knowledge. What else could you expect from the award winning author of Tall Story (Anvil, 2012) but a tale of contradictions and opportunities to think and ask questions.

The book launching is on Saturday, March 16, 2019 2PM at Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Poetry: Hymn to Time

Hymn to Time
By Ursula K. Le Guin

Time says “Let there be”
every moment and instantly
there is space and the radiance
of each bright galaxy.

And eyes beholding radiance.
And the gnats’ flickering dance.
And the seas’ expanse.
And death, and chance.

Time makes room
for going and coming home
and in time’s womb
begins all ending.

Time is being and being
time, it is all one thing,
the shining, the seeing,
the dark abounding.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Art Fair Philippines 2019

Sculpture by Robert Acosta
Because it's Arts Month, the fambam made it to the Art Fair Philippines last February 23, 2019. It was a requirement for the youngest to be present there and the rest of us required ourselves to be there for her and to see art, of ocurse.

This is the second staging of the Art Fair PH at the The Link in Ayala, Makati. Three floors of parking space was designed to showcase artists and their art works that different galleries run for them. This is the business side of art that I still have to understand. Because our daughter is a budding visual artist, not only does she need support in developing and honing her craft, but sustaining her art too. Needless to say, it was a fruitful experience for her and the three if us, her older brother, mom and dad happily tagged along.

On a personal note, the 350 Php entrance fee is a steep fee, especially since I am no art collector or buyer but a mere "supporter" of the arts. Then again, as an afterthought, it is worth it because time together with the fambam and seeing the diversity of art works on display at the fair really exceeds monetary value. Can you really buy aesthetics? Or, put an amount or cost to it?

Ah, but student's fee was only 150 Php. Ok na rin!

My favorite in the Art Fair PH is Robert Acosta's terra cotta sculpture which is a bust of a woman holding a guitar, a boy on her left shoulder and an owl on her right. She has a talisman on her forehead and big grin on her face. I love it because this woman, old and wizened, seems to know a secret she can only share to those who are willing to listen. Acosta captures the joy in her eyes, the owl's watchfulness and the boy's loving embrace. The sculpture exude and an earthly joy, compassion and wisdom. How I wish to have all these. In time, I hope. In time.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Back Into the Belly of the Big Bad Wolf Book Sale

I went to the Big Bad Wolf Book Sale (BBWBS) 2019 last Thursday with two colleagues from work. With a working budget, we selected books that are valuable to our reading needs and curricular offerings. While we were able to select books that mirror our curriculum, the Big Bad Wolf Book Sale does not really offer much for academic reading. It does support and feed the personal reading interests anc choices of people. And because a hardbound book is priced at less than 200 Php, it was worth our time and effort!

We had one trolley of books that contain a few science and math non-fiction titles, Roald Dahl, Firzgerald and of course, Shakespeare. We picked art and design books, self help and skills books like story boarding, tips for every day creativity and mindfulness. We were happy with our selections and yes, these books gave us sparks of joy!

If you are going to the BBWBS, do bring big bags or a luggage. Hoard if you must eapecially if books brinf you joy! The sale is 24 houes and runs until March 4, 2019.

My First Komiket: One Big Collective of Filipino Artists (3 of 3)

Overall, my first Komiket experience was really a lot of fun! It was therapeutic too!

It was an exciting place to be knowing the pulse of young readers and the directions that this generation of artists, komikeros, fan boys and fan girls and its supporters are taking. As a parent of two budding artists, one is a musician and the second is a visual artist, I know how to support both of them in honing their craft.

There are future Komiket events scheduled until October 2019. My daughter and I are considering participating as sellers. We have the next seven months to plan and prepare. It is time to do some research and development. More than anything, the Komiket I witnessed last week gave a big support to Filipino artists, young and old, to start ups and established ones, publishing houses big and small, indie artists with a cause and fans from all walks of life.

How I wish life, in general, could be this diverse yet, unified.

As a teacher librarian, I have many takeaways.

Teenagers learn better at their leisure, especially when they make choices for themselves. The nature of zines as a DIY, ala-makerspace product and self publishing platform for one's art and identity is a game changer. This should be a wake-up call for teachers and school librarians like me. How are we teaching and facilitating learning to teens of this generation? This is a radical idea, but I do want that school textbooks be kept as mere references. Use authentic and student made materials to teach reading and writing. Listen to kids critic each other. Trust them more. Agree on actions and its consequences when the trust is broken. Grow up with them! 

Until next Komiket, Gen Zees!

Friday, February 22, 2019

Dear Ms. Z: Advise on Ereaders and Apps for Ereading

One of our seniors sent me this query:

Good evening, miss! 
Just a quick question, I was wondering what you thought of E-readers such as the Kindle? Are they worth it? I know that nothing compares to the feeling of a real book in my hands and actually flipping through pages and even the scent that books carry. 
But, I have been considering a Kindle in order to consolidate a lot of my books and have them a lot easier to access on-the-move. What are your thoughts?  
Thank You!
This was my reply:

If your purpose is to consolidate ebooks and online references, it is practical to use an Ereader. I recommend that you use the Kindle app in an iPad or an Android. This way, you can download other apps for ebooks and PDFs like Adobe, Mobi, ePub, etc. Kindle E-readers are pretty limited. You cannot open other EReader apps in a Kindle.  

An iPad or an Android  allows you to purchase apps that will support ereading for note-taking, annotations and writing short reviews. Always be aware of digital management rights and creative commons when acquiring and reading digital materials. Other apps you can explore when using a pad or a tablet is the journaling and syncing apps. You would need a back-up for your ebooks and the notes you take while reading on a digital device. 
Hope this helps! 
What about you? What is your Ereader and Ereading app of choice?

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

My First Komiket: 3 Amazing Things (2 of 2)

There are three things I find amazing about Komiket: one, you will bump into old friends and make new ones whom you share the same interests and passions; two, you will get a good feel of the komiks industry and its artistic siblings; and three, it is a place where you buy the same things as the most konyotic girl you ever saw to the avant garde artist. Plus, you will find a good number of titos and titas here and there who truly are fans of komiks.

The friends I met there are young and not so young Filipino artists and creatives. Many are full time professionals who have day jobs but manage to find time to create art. I met  Olan Amago, one of the creators of Carnal: Banahaw, a komiks recommended by Prof. Igor Cabbab when he did a guest post in the blog last month. I didn't get his works but, I have his calling card. I also met the komikeros who are engineers, landscape artists, businessmen, teachers and college students. Their works range from genre fiction to non-fiction. Mer Malonzo, Manix Abrera and Pol Medina Jr. were the bog names who were present during the Komiket. Big time komikeros as they are, they are simple and down to earth.

The format of the komiks and zines on sale at the Komiket were varied too. From the cheapest 8-fold A3 bond paper to the well designed zines, these self published, DIY reading materials have truly gone a long way since my first encounter with the media back in 2012. The message and themes are diverse as well as the language used. Not only are there zines written in English, but also in Filipino and in different mother tongues like Kapampangan and Ilokano. There were zines about social development, human rights, LGBTQ, race and religion, and issues that established publishing houses would not support. I look forward for more daring, risk taking topics that the Filipino komikero and zine maker will produce in the future.

I did not pass acquiring works by Gerry Alanguilan, Sarge Lacuesta, Jess Santiago and Andrew Villar.  

Laslty, the Komiket is such a wonderful place to be because, the GenXer that I am, I never felt out of place in there.

Monday, February 18, 2019

My First Komiket (1 of 3)

Komiket Poster: Zsazsa Zaturnah by Carlo Vergara
What is a Gen Xer doing in Komiket?

This was the question I asked myself the moment I stepped into The Elements at Centris for the February Komiket 2019. Of course, I was there as chaperone for our Media and Lit Club members, as well as a librarian looking for good comics and zines to buy. Turns out, the Komiket is an event for people from all walks of life who loves art, literature, culture and entreprenuership. At the Komiket, one gets to buy stickers, prints, art, comics and sequential art, zines, bookmarks and all sorts of "anik-anik" alongside the super konyotiks to the avant garde artist. At Komiket, one will have the pleasure of having a favorite art commissioned. From K-pop to anime, indigenous art and pop art, the Komiket has everything for the nerd, the geek, the scholar, the Titas and Titos, bekis, beshies and business people. It is a good place to establish linkages and networking. 

There were adults my age too who were shopping for art and literary materials. One guy asked the sellers at Kawangis Komiks on the new issues of Mai-I and the activity booklet that goes with it. He admitted that his wife is a teacher and that they own a school. His advocacy is to keep kids away from gadget addiction and to use them as tools for creating art instead. I bought from Kawangis Komiks the wordless comics that they sell and the picture book they published that was written and made by a young boy. More of this in the next blog post.

Komiks and zines for the library

I met friends from the children's book industry and former co-teachers and students in Xavier School. Why they are everywhere I go is beyond me. Fr. Johnny Go SJ was right when he said "you can leave Xavier School, but Xavier will not leave you". It was a happy reunion that confirmed my ties to the past will forever be connected to my present. 

I ended the day with a bag of comics and zines which our students and Media Arts club moderator helped select. For part 2 of this post, I will write about the comics and zines we acquired from Komiket.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Author Visit at Assumption College Antipolo

I was at Assumption College (AC) Antipolo last week for an author visit. Many thanks to Ms. Tersie Montesines for the invitation, I felt like a rockstar. 

Here is why:
Student: You are the second most popular person I have met, Ms. Zarah.
Me: Awww... Who is the first?
Student: Vice Ganda!

This happened during my book signing at lunch break. There was a long line! To my amazement, my books have been identified as summer readings by the grade school teachers and librarians of Assumption College. So, writer friends, befriend the school librarians and the teachers you meet in school visits, book signings and launches. They provide access and gateways for our books to parents and the bigger community. My books were all sold out!

After my author talk in the early morning, I was a privileged guest in AC Antipolo's Speech Fest where I saw and heard students perform our book, A Tale of Two Dreams (Gagatiga, Solina-Wolf, Lampara 2013). It was a first for me. 

I felt I have gone full circle too as I have seen and witnessed how teachers make use of the stories I write for children. 

I met friends, old and new, like former Xavier School teacher Mrs. Winnie Posadas Santiago who teaches fourth grade Language Arts and Mrs. Luisa Buenaventura whose son happened to be my son's friend in college. I learned from Teacher Winnie that she used My Daddy My One Only and The Day Max Flew Away for their Morning Circle. This is the advisory period and quieting time of the community. A time for devotionals. Bible stories are amazing and passages are filled with life lessons. For young students to have a better appreciation of it, Teacher Winnie uses stories for kids to make the life lessons more accessible.

Teacher Luisa was my companion the whole day. We had wonderful conversations about life in general, writing, sharing of one's work, health and well-being and the graces that can be had in service to community.

Antipolo is a long way from where I live in Laguna, but the trip, tiring as it was because of the terrible traffic in the metro, was all worth it. Thank you, AC Antipolo!

Friday, February 15, 2019

The More Loving One

The More Loving One

W. H. Auden, 1907 - 1973

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well

That, for all they care, I can go to hell,

But on earth indifference is the least

We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn

With a passion for us we could not return?

If equal affection cannot be,

Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am

Of stars that do not give a damn,

I cannot, now I see them, say

I missed one terribly all day.

Were all stars to disappear or die,

I should learn to look at an empty sky

And feel its total dark sublime,

Though this might take me a little time.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

International Book Giving Day 2019

Today at work, I did two things that gave me genuine happiness — one, we sent out pop cakes to teachers with recommended books to borrow and read and two, we received visitors from Keys, a progressive school in Mandaluyong.

As a reading and book campaign promo, the pop cakes plus recommended read give away turned out pretty good. Of our fifty faculty members, half responded to our invitation to borrow a book I picked for them. I had a blast observing and taking in their social ques. Most of them were up for the challenge. It is enough for me to see them appreciate our gesture. It is already an accomplishment to have them step in the library to borrow and read books.

By mid-morning, expected visitors from Keys arrived and we spent the rest of the day conversing about the Diploma Program. Teachers Al and Van are both librarians. They are preparing for IB certification. The visit gave them ideas on where to start building the library collection in congruence to the IB certification requirements.

Before they left, I gave them a copy of my book, My Daddy, My One and Only! What a way to celebrate the day of love and International Book Giving Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Library Information Service: Web OPAC 101

Our library has finally migrated to a new OPAC and it is in the cloud! We are trying it out this week, taking notes and learning its new features. This will prepare us for the training session which Mr. Romy Sebastian will conduct in partnership with KMCS.

To prepare our community and to inform them too, I have written a short easy-to-do guide in accessing books and citing them. I posted this in the Academy’s chat room. Here is how it looks like.

Why are we smiling every time we use and access bibliographic information in our new web OPAC? It has a built-in citation builder for APA, CMoS and MLA formats!  Here are screenshots of the OPAC and easy to do instructions when using the citation feature. Click each photo to read the instructions. 

If all else fails, just holler. We are here to help!


Go to the BA Library Web OPAC. URL is 

Type in the search box a subject or topic of choice. If you know the author or title of the resource, you can use them as keywords too.

The OPAC will show results of your search. In this case, the resource is a book. Choose a title of a book from the list.

The OPAC will present the book’s bibliographic data. At the right frame of the web page is the button “Cite” and an image of a pen and paper. Click it!

There! Copy-paste your citation format of choice to a Word document.

You can also view the book’s bibliographic data in “card display”. This layout is similar to the formatting styles of APA, MLA and CMoS since it provides the author, title, publication data, and copyright of the resource.

Monday, February 11, 2019

The Lighthouse Diary 2019 #14: Don's Tree

The Beacon Academy had its 4th annual school fair last Saturday, February 9, 2019. Congratulations to the Beacon Academy Student Council, the Fair Committee, my co-teachers who moderated the clubs and mentored students, the Operations Team, the School Life Team and the School Leadership who gave their support in making this year's fair another successful event. There were booths, a variety of food, merchandise on display, a talent showcase and a Battle of the Bands.

In previous years, I have volunteered to man booths and assist students in the showcase. There was even one school fair when Nico and I performed with a colleague. We sang a duet of Joey Albert's hit songs in the 80s. Nico was so nice to accompany us in the guitar.

This year, I chose to enjoy myself.

I watched Zoe perform with the Dance Club and sing with Wednesday Firsts, one of the many school bands in the Academy. There are less than 150 students, but around three to four bands exist. There is also a faculty and staff band who performs during special events and occasions like Christmas and Buwan ng Wika. This goes to show how much we love music. It's that, or work can be really stressful we needed an outlet. Either way, it only goes to show that we can chill. And I did just that last Saturday. It is the most relaxing fair I had in my nine years of work in the Academy.

Chillin' at the Beacon Academy Fair
Spreading a mat under Don Salubaybay's tree, I sat, sprawled and lay down to my heart's content. People were doing the same thing all around. Some were eating at the food boths. Others busy buying merch, plants, zines, etc. In what school fair can you sit under a tree, named after a dearly departed colleague and not be called out? It is these little things I cherish these days. Yes, these are signs of growing old. But to me, I call it pacing. Taking my time. Resting.

While under Don's tree, I couldn't help but remember our beloved art teacher who died of aneurysm three, four years ago. He was a dedicated cultural worker, passionate artist, loving father and husband. I lost a friend that year. We would talk about different aspects of art; Indonesia since we have been there for different reasons. Him for his art. Me for my work as school librarian. We both love the coffee and the chocolates in Bali. His art has appeared in a children's book and he donated a copy in the library. One of our precious titles. He is a storyteller too. He uses paper, light and darkness. Shadow Play. I once asked him if we could do a book project together and right away, he said yes. Sadly, he left us all too soon. We planted the tree in memoriam to Don.

Then it occurred to me, while lying on that mat under Don's tree, the many things and the people I have lost while working in the Academy. A lot of things have happened in nine years. What have I lost? What have I gained? What have I given back? What am I learning in the process? Why did I stay? Why am I staying? There are so many answers. So many things that cram in my head that needs unpacking. There are memories that surfaced, not all pleasant but filled with learning experiences all the same.

Oh boy...

Don't be surprised if in the next entries of The Lighthouse Diary, you will read about my reflections of nine years working in the Academy. I feel excited about this little project. I have a good feeling about this. My gut tells me so.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Rediscovering Tagaytay (3 of 3): Flowers, Plants, the Lake and the Cat and Dog Cafe

Is that you, Garfield?
The last leg of our Tagaytay day trip rounded up with a trip to Mahogany Market, a view of Taal Lake and the volcano and a 45 minute stop-over at the Cat and Dog Cafe.

As expected, Mahogany Market is a showcase of Tagaytay and its lovely personality. Flowers, plants, fruits and coffee were the stuff we bought from the market. It was a colorful and texture rich experience. Driving down to Silang road, we experienced heavy traffic. Ditching the drive in Picnic Grove was a smart move since we did not wish to be trapped in Tagaytay as there was work and school the following day.

Stopping by at yet another flower and plant store by the road, Zoe was able to get a view of the volcano. With a fast right hand at sketching, she was able to draw the contour of the lake and the volcano in one spread of her sketch book. She is taking her art lessons to heart.

What replaced the Picnic Grove visit was a stop-over at the Cat and Dog Cafe. This is a place where you can enjoy your beverage of choice in the company of cats and dogs. The girls, Alnah and Zoe most especially, enjoyed petting the cats. For 200 - 300 Php, one can spend 30-45 minutes destressing with these four legged, furry animals. From there, it was a smooth trip down to Sta. Rosa and Binan. We closed the day with dinner at Chicken N Beer in Paseo de Sta. Rosa.

This day trip had been educational for the girls, rejuvenating and refreshing for us "titas" of Laguna and definitely a bonding moment to celebrate friendship and sisterhood. Cheers to more day trips and travels in the future!

Friday, February 8, 2019

Rediscovering Tagaytay (2 of 3): At Sentro Botanikos

Yummy veggie meals!
Our next stop was Sentro Botinakos. This was our first time to visit the organic farm where food is served farm to table style. We had reservations made a week before our visit so, the owners knew we were coming. They greeted us with a warm welcome.

Sir Noel, an organic farmer and his wife, Ma'am Ruth explained how they grow their herbs and vegetables. The mushrooms have been harvested early that morning.  They highly recommended that we try their mushroom dishes. We obliged, of course.  We all loved the mushroom tempura served as our appetiser and the two variants of vinegar as condiment. Their menu are all vegetable and vege-meat dishes. Health buffs will truly enjoy dining in Sentro Botanikos. The price is very affordable too when compared to the older and commercialized organic farms-cum-restaurants in the district. We tried the veggie kare-kare, adobo, sisig mushroom and tofu and more mushroom tempura. My hobbit heart is happy!

The selection of rice can be brown, turmeric and moringa. There is brewed coffee in the menu as well as herbal green tea. The pineapple shake was served fresh but we missed tilbok, a local dessert popular in Cavite and Batangas. On the display rack are more veggie goodies: crispy mushroom chicharon, D' Bagoong, veggie seasoning, cassava cookies, chilli sauce and pinya-chilli suace.

Sir Noel, organic farmer, is also a storyteller.
Sir Noel regaled us with stories of how they built the cafe and restaurant and how they pooled their resources with two more friends in setting up Sentro Botanikos. He was happy and proud talking about his farm farther down Alfonso, Cavite. How different were the harvest and yields of his organic farm from that of the veggies they plant and harvest up in Sentro Botanikos. Altitude and the kind of soil they have at Sentro are two factors that determine a higher and plentiful harvest. He further amazed us with the story of the rare black mushroom of Cavite that grows aplenty when it is struck by lightning. Now that is a piece of story for a children's book, right?

We also met Ma'am Ave who runs the place like your provincial "hermana" - matronly but pleasant and welcoming. The cafe at Sentro Botinokos is ideal for the conduct of small and intimate workshops. Once the bed and breakfast service is ready, Sentro Botanikos would be a good place to hold arts and writing workshops in. Besides, the materials used to build the cafe were all recycled and the roof is heat resistant. There are lots of inspiration to draw from the site itself.

We learned that there was a tree house in the yard and we invited ourselves in. It was a perfect place t take a nap. Needless to say, we learned the delicate art of doing nothing at Sentro Botanikos.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Rediscovering Tagaytay (1 of 3): At Ilog Maria

On Chinese New Year, Zoe and I went up Tagaytay with my librarian friends, Darrel, Grace and Audrey.

The itinerary for the day was a trip to Ilog Maria, Sentro Botanikos and Picnic Grove. Ilog Ilog Maria is a bee farm where honey, propolis and derivative products can be bought. Sentro Botanikosis a newly opened organic farm in Alfonso, Cavite where vegetables from the garden are harvested for cooking the dishes in the restaurant. A good view of Taal Lake can be seen at Picnic Grove. It was a day trip meant to commune with nature and to prepare us for the coming busyness of the next two months.

We all met for breakfast at Cafe Breton in Paseo de Sta. Rosa where the serving is hearty and huge. We expected a long, full day and with two teenagers in our party of six, they need the carbo and protein sa much as we do.

The drive up Silang road was easy though so, we arrived at Ilog Maria on time. It was my first visit there and being a bee farm, the place was fragrant, serene and relaxing. We did not avail of a guided tour, besides, the bee museum is not yet ready for visitors.

There were honeycombs all around and bees, both stingless and stinging kind abound. We saw their soap factory, walked the path where rainbow eucalyptus trees grow and bought soaps, repellents and scents from the store. The highlights of the visit in Ilog Maria were hugging and smelling a rainbow eucalyptus tree and meeting a group of retired teachers from Biñan. My kababayans! They looked happy in their greying years. When I asked them the secret to long life, one replied to simply laugh at challenges and problems that life throws your way.

For a brief moment, I understood how it is like to be a koala. For a brief moment, I was reminded how humor and laughter can strengthen one’s soul. Plants rejuvenate. Bees need to be saved. And with true friends, I know I can get by.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Masaya sa Pasinaya 2019

I kicked off the month of hearts with art.

After church last Sunday, February 3, I headed to the Cultural Center of the Philippines. It was the last day of Pasinaya 2019, an arts and artists festival that CCP stages yearl. It gathers all performing artists, visual artists and literary arts for showcases and presentations.

The eldest, Nico, who beatboxes for ConChords, was scheduled to perform at 4pm. Arriving early, I looked around and met friends in the industry. And I was not even inside the CCP yet! I was outside the building, at the complex where there is a "tiangge" or flea market picking out accessories when I bumped into writer friends I have not seen in a while, NGO people and cultural workers I had workshops with, and teachers from DepED who brought their students to watch the shows.

Moving up to enter the building at the front entrance, I saw the fountain alive and spurting. A good, strong crowd was lined up the lobby. I am often at CCP for shows and the annual National Children’s Book Day celebration but this Pasinaya was the first for me. And this was the first time I saw CCP filled with people, young and old, from all walks of life. For 50 Php, you could watch and see, experience art all you can!

Congrats, CCP! I look forward to attending next year's Pasinaya.

Happy HeARTS Month! 

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Teacher - Librarian Collaboration: Discipline and Skills Building

I had a productive meeting with our Dean of Faculty last week. 

What started out as a consultation on the updating of library guidelines on student discipline inside the library branched out into concrete plans for skills building. We were able to agree on putting in the Student Handbook the library's essential agreements and the belief that a library is a shared space. My takeaways from our meeting is that skills building requires discipline and that the library is part and parcel of this process. 

Specifically, I spread out and proposed a structure for skills building through the library.

1. Teacher Librarian welcomes ASquads who will schedule sessions with her on research and use of library resources. ASquads can advise students to plot Librarian Assisted Study Time during their free time in consultation with the Teacher Librarian.
What skills can the Teacher Librarian assist in or help students learn: development of topics for research, identifying potential sources in line with the statement of inquiry, how to develop, use and revise search strategies from a variety of media and tech sources, evaluate sources and information, advising or consultations on referencing, citations, knowledge of Creative Commons and copyright and documentation of sources.
2. Bibliography of Journal and Periodical articles, arranged or categorised by reading levels - low, average, high. 
Instruct and mentor BA Lib Assistant in the creation of book lists and academic articles following a standard citation or bibliographic format. This will be communicated to faculty and students on a regular basis. Teacher Librarian will catalog and curate the lists into directories following the MYP and DP subject groups. 
Teacher Librarian will seek interns, college students, BA students who can participate in this project as CAS activity hours.

This is how we are in the Beacon Academy. We strive to make connections in learning.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

3x3 Round Up: Filipino Librarians Recommended Reads

As the month of January draws to a close and  we welcome the month of hearts and art, here is a quick round up on the 

Joseph Marmol Yap sent in his list of books, two of which have been adapted into 
movies. His 3x3 made me consider setting up a “BookFlix” display in the library. Powerful stories and well crafted storytelling are reasons that inspire film makers and movie producers to render a book into another media format. Johann Frederick Cabbab, librarian by day and comic book and graphic novel writer by night sent in three titles of Pinoy made comic books that were all bought from the annual Komikon and Komiket. I still have to attend both events soon! 

Ann Grace Bansig, school librarian and civic volunteer, recommended titles of young adult novels. 
Do you have these books in your library yet? Last but not least, Kevin Conrad Tarrobal Tansiangco lists down self help books and inspirational readings for when bumps and humps are encountered along in the journeys of life. Think bibliotherapy!

So, that’s it pancit! Who are the librarians the blog will have as guests to share their books to us? Your guess is as good as mine!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Library Bulletin Board: We Are All Fish!

We set up our library bulletin board this month and we stay true to our themes of inclusion, diversity and empathy.

Our table's book spread offers recommendation for readers. Two of the books displayed were already borrowed. Yay!

There are some missing fishes though. Well, there will always be outliers. Now, we are off to find Nemo!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The Lighthouse Diary 2019 #13: Reading And Differentiated Learning

Once a month, we cancel work and schedule a professional development session at the Academy. This January, we had a session on Reading Comprehension and Differentiated Learning. The facilitators were all in-house. Mr. Victor "Teacher Vic" Villanueva handled the session on Reading Comprehension, while Ms. Amor "Teacher Motie" Andal conducted the Differentiated Learning workshop. Teacher Vic is currently our English and Filipino  teacher, while Teacher Motie is our Learning Support teacher.

Teacher Vic was my professor in graduate school at the University of the Philippines Diliman. I was then enrolled in the Reading Education masters course where I took Reading in the Content Areas under his mentorship. For librarians who are looking at furthering their professional development in school librarianship, cognates in Reading Education make for a good match.

In Teacher Vic's session, I took away three things. One, coherence in the planning of lessons for students to learn reading skills is a requirement.  This would include the teacher's assessments both formative and summative. Two, a consistent skills building activity leads to automaticity. Reading is thinking and this thinking skill, to be sharp, polished and to continuously develop needs regular practice in the classroom and at home. Three, because Teacher Vic checks on our process of understanding his input, metacognition or an awareness of what happens as we learn is a skill that teachers need to apply in the classroom. Sometimes, modelling is na effective way to teach and learn. Teacher Vic did just that in his session.

From Teacher Motie's workshop, I realised the importance of selecting texts for different kinds of learners. She made us read three kinds of texts and written in different structures. There was little preparation for us, participants of the workshop, so, speaking for myself, I had to depend on my own skills and strategies. Imagine a high school student to read an academic article with little familiarity on the vocabulary of the subject and understanding of academic writing. A nightmare.

As the teacher librarian, I need to constantly communicate to teachers the many benefits they can get from using the library resources and services. Since I started in the Academy, our collection have been varied and differentiated, our online subscriptions lexiled and with readability indexes. We even have kits, games, posters and multimedia in our collection.

This question comes back to me, though: why is it that the library circulation reports, analytics and statistics are low?  
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