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?

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Workshop: Storytelling for Growth and Healing

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 library information system with an OPAC and it is up in the cloud!

From MyRizal, we are now using Pagemaster 5. We are trying and testing the system. Taking notes and learning its new features. This will prepare us for the training session which Mr. Romy Sebastian will conduct.

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.

It looks like this!

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 BiƱan. 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.

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