Wednesday, March 29, 2017

BSE Library Science Batch 94 Reunion 2017: Beaches

What I have resolved to do since my reappearance last year in my college batch's annual reunion was to join them every chance I get. We climbed a mountain in Pampanga that April 2016, a few weeks before my Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA). This year, thanks to God, I was able to spend a weekend with them in Cabongaoan, Burgos, Pangasinan.

It was a long drive. We never ran out of stories. We talked like we have seen each other just a day ago. Since we are all librarians, we talked about issues and controversies in the profession at large and lent advice to each other on our professional and personal endeavors in life. We missed the rest of the batch, seven of those weren't able to go. We wondered how they are and hoped they could join the reunion in the coming years.

In Burgos, Pangasinan, at the town proper, we went to market for our food the whole weekend. The adventure has truly begun! Buying fruits and vegetables we don't usually see in our urban marketplaces and groceries was delightful. There were cashews, lato, duhat, and even pako. Tagalog veggies and fruits in season abound. Baguio veggies were on sale too. Fish and seafood looked so fresh, like these were caught from the sea at dawn. And yes, it was! The fish meat was white, sweet and juicy! The veggies were crunchy and the fruits were refreshing

From there, we journeyed an hour more to Brgy. Cabongaoan. It is a remote place! We were off the grid the whole weekend!

We stayed in Roven's Place, a beach resort that is far from fancy. But, we liked it there very much. It is an idyllic place where we pumped water from artesian wells for our bathroom needs, where we grilled fish and cooked food using charcoal and where the sunset is as beautiful as our unspoken dreams. The beach is amazing, by the way.

Our stay there that weekend is a wonderful memory that I will tell my grandchildren.

Friendship is a delicate thing and only time can truly reveal friends who can walk with you through the road of life. Friendship is indeed a grace!

*Give your friend a helping hand, especially when she happens to be the group's designated driver and is tasked to bring you all safely home. 

*Appreciate the best cooks in the group. They can either feed you well or poison you with so much big sister sermon.  

*Help out. Pump water. Clean up. Wash the dishes. You may all be friends, but good friendships are rooted in trust, fairness and honesty.
 
*Listen. Listen to each other. Listen to yourself.

*Thank God. Because, despite yourself, He gave you this beautiful world to share with friends.

We parted ways with new resolutions: eat healthier, stay strong in faith and love, do our best to make this place a better place one day at a time. Whoever thought we would come this far? We were young and scrappy in the early 90s in PNU. The years have made us gentler, wiser, more forgiving of ourselves. 



I look at my friends and I am in awe at the beautiful people we have all become. Our lives are never perfect. For some reason, we smile. We stand strong. God is truly good!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Information Literacy Strategies: Identifying Sources of Information

I felt compelled to review important Information Literacy skills lessons for our year 10 students. My session with the class on Sources of Information, Citations and Referencing had its ups and downs. It left me asking more questions about my role in general and ways I can specifically bridge gaps in research instruction and guidance. These are stuff that one brain couldn't answer in one sitting. But, working with a team can lead to solutions.

Nonetheless, I sent out some suggestions to my co-teachers on how we all can help students think appropriately of the sources they can use in academic work (and hopefully, in real life functions).

Here's a suggestion that may help strengthen students' skills in identifying sources of information for research and investigation tasks. Instead of saying or instructing students to "use a variety of sources" or "use appropriate sources" try phrasing it this way:

- look for an article in an academic journal that tells you...
- find an article in a magazine or a periodical that identifies/differentiates/presents/explains...
- a first hand account of one's experiences during Martial Law by conducting an interview, reading a journal/memoir/diary entries
- a website from a Pathfinder/Libguides/Online Directories of organizations, agencies, institutions
- a chapter or chapters on skepticism in a Philo book/ebook...
- a model, realia, map, infographic that shows part-whole relationship or systems and structures
- a case study or an experiment in a scientific journal/article

This way, we are implicitly teaching students that primary and secondary sources have their specific use depending on the tasks and questions given to them. Some students may figure this out easily, but there are students who will depend on Google and the most popular result it sends back. This technique may also help students who are new at research and inquiry tasks.

Another way of setting directions is to refer students to use online databases and search engines that are less commercial and are validated by experts in the field for their content and reliability. For example:

- look for a variety of appropriate resources using: 
          the BA Library's OPAC
          Google Scholar
          Jstor
          EBSCOHost
          WorldBook Online
          The Day
As of writing, one of my co-teachers tried the first suggestion for his class in World History last week. I still have to gather feedback. So, this kind of work never really ends.

Monday, March 27, 2017

You Write To Me, I'll Write To You: A Manuscript Critique

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Librarians From Letran Calamba Visit The Academy

Last March 15, 2017, librarian friends from San Juan de Letran came to visit the Beacon Academy Library. Headed by their tenacious library director, Ms. Evelyn Nabus, the group was fortunate to observe my class of grade 10 students in the library. I had a session with the grade 10s on Academic Honesty, particularly on the topic of citation of sources and referencing.

Prior to my class, we had a round table discussion on library customer service, marketing and promoting the library, and creative ways to make the library visible and functional in the lives of readers and patrons. Another topic that was of great interest is Media and Information Literacy (MIL). As I have been involved in a consultation on MIL policies, I recommended that they seek more experts in the field to understand the complexities and varying skills involved in understanding and crafting a MIL program.


They capped off their visit with a tour of the school. Of course, I was very proud to show them the Academy's art gallery where we currently have exhibits by our Griffins. Another part of the school that made for a good picture taking spot  for the group was our Olympic sized pool.

It has been a month since the MUNPARLAS Librarians came to see us. Such visits by colleagues only affirm how libraries need each other to grow and extend resources that we all know are scarce, if not, are controlled by a few.

I think it is only a matter of time for librarians to fully capitalize on this opportunity to collaborate.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Book Donations and Library Outreach Activity

Back in November 2016, I received an email from Mariecar Fernando of the Ayala Foundation (AFI). In charge of the education and teacher training arm of AFI, Ms. Fernando asked for books that we could possibly donate to their #MagingMagiting campaign. Looking at the old and grown out books donated by our students, teachers and parents that our library has gathered for donation to libraries who need it, I thought of giving them all to AFI's campaign.

One of the letters by a CENTEX grade 5 student
AFI has an immediate recipient of the books. One of their projects is the CENTEX schools where the books will stay. They have the staff and the manpower to deliver the books to the CENTEX public schools. They also have training programs and operational structures to make sure that the books will end up in the libraries of the CENTEX schools. So, AFI sent their people to get the books from us last January 2017.

A week ago, I received an envelope full of letters from grade 5 students of CENTEX Batangas. Each letter contains words of appreciation, gratitude and prayers of goodwill for me and for the school I work at. I do not know who these children are, but their letters speak of the wonder and the magic that our book donations brought them. In a school community where books and reading resources are scarce, this act of generosity goes a long way.

This inspired me to formally launch the library's classroom library project for a public elementary school and put together a catalog of recommended reads during our school assembly.

The catalog will contain book reviews by our Griffins.
Last 2016, during the Beacon academy Fair, we had a book fair that earned us 30 titles of books to start a classroom library for a K-3 class in a public school. This year, we earned enough money from the school fair to buy 30 more books. But donating a classroom library does not begin and end with a box or a bin of books to a class. It entails knowing the readers who will read the books, the teachers who use the books for instruction and the issue of sustainability needs to be addressed as well.

There is much work to be done.

Book Review (SPOILERS): Traitor to the Throne

Traitor to the Throne
Alwyn Hamilton
Viking, 2017

I will begin my review of Traitor to the Throne, the second installment to the Rebel of the Sands, with the quoted paragraphs.

 "In this backdrop, Amani struggles to find herself while Jin has his own agenda. Jin maybe fighting alongside his brother, but he dreams of freedom; of being in a place where he can truly be himself; where he is not beholden to anyone else; where he could be the master of his fate."

"But this is a dream yet to come. Or not. My guess is, since Amani has only discovered her true power at the end of the book, Jin has to make a decision somewhere in book 2. Fight or Flight? Can he do both? Will Amani continue to become her own hero despite her growing feelings for Jin? Will the Rebel Prince prevail? Is there a traitor waiting in the wings?"

These came from the book review I wrote about Rebel around June last year. If you wish to read my review before this one, just click the link that is highlighted. There are spoilers in this review, so, don't say I didn't warn you.

I am glad that most of my questions that came up in Rebel were answered in TraitorAmani did become the hero in book 2 to the point of leading the Rebellion to the next installment. Jin was gone most of the time, spying and gathering intelligence for the Rebellion. Jin and Amani's relationship have grown more intense as well as the political intrigue that envelopes them both. Since Amani was traded as a slave to join the Sultan's harem, I got a good look of the nature of the Rebellion's enemies and their battle plan. The Sultan is really evil.  

Traitor bespeaks of many messages for the reader to take it all in at once. I am still digesting the whole novel, actually. One of the messages I took away from Traitor that lingers still is this: those who love and stay loyal to the virtues and values that make us human in a time of conflict and war eventually die and get hurt. This is a more compelling read, for me, at least. But that is not saying that Traitor is better than Rebel. The latter is intriguingly beautiful and captivating. The former is breathtakingly exciting and ruthless at the same time. 

Sam's mind scape as he sneaks into Shazad's room.
What Hamilton began as narrative layering in Rebel, she continued so skillfully in Traitor. The legends and djinn lore she used as padding to the world she built for Miraji and its characters is an homage to the Arabian Nights. The crafting was well done that the legends and djinn lore she introduced in selected chapters made Miraji and its inhabitants more believable in a folkloric sense.

I am glad there are more djinns this time. And golems too! Shazad continues to kick ass. There is a rainbow moment between a demji and a human. New characters were introduced and a few good ones died. Sam is one of my favorites to emerge. While I wonder about Jin's prolonged stay in Xichia, and who funds the rebellion of the Rebel Prince, I also wonder what will become of Sam in book 3.

I will read Traitor to the Throne once more so I can post my guide for teachers and parents who wish to discuss the book with their teens. Here now is the link to the resource and reading guide I whipped up for Rebel of the Sands.

Rating: 5 Bookmarks

Gene Luen Yang Is 2017 Teen Tech Week Spokesperson

Teen Tech Week 2017 Poster
During Teen Tech Week last March 5-11, 2017, I launched the Book Spine Poetry Festival 2017 in school and presented two possible outreach activities during school assembly a week after. Having donated three boxes of books to the #MagingMagiting book drive campaign of the Ayala Foundation, I thought of putting together a presentation on developing classroom libraries and creating a catalog of recommended reads. The latter is a public service campaign and the former is literacy and reading advocacy project. Both library activities/projects drum up this year's Teen tech Week theme: Be the Source of Change.

I shall write about the projects in another post. For this blog post, I will talk about Teen Tech Week and its spokesperson, Gene Luen Yang.

Mr. Gene Luen Yang as chosen by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) as his year's Teen Tech Week ambassador has this to say about libraries and its services to young people:

“Libraries have always been about both information and wisdom. Library staff teach us to be wise and discerning about the information we consume,” said Yang. “Because of technology, our world is now more information-rich than ever before, which is why we are more in need of wisdom than ever before.”
Mr. Yang has won a Printz and an Eisner for his graphic novel, American Born Chinese. 


When I read American Born Chinese a few years back, I was immediately endeared to the main characters, Chinkee/The Monkey King, Jin Wang, a second generation Chinese American, and Danny an American teenager of Chinese heritage. The three characters all display flaws that, thanks to a recognition of making the most difficult choice and learning from mistakes, became their saving grace in the end. Mr. Yang sure did give his characters a difficult time as well as allowing them to go through personal and socio-cultural struggles to rise up better than where they started. Such is the ethical and somewhat didactic journey of Jin Wang and Danny. However, the Monkey King's legendary value set as a backdrop for Jin and Danny made American Born Chinese a fascinating read. It has a blending of the lessons of the past to the present day and ushers a reassuring future for Danny.

Mr. Yang has more works that are worthy of acquisition for your library shelf if you are developing your library's graphic novel collection. I recommend, The Eternal Smile, Level Up and the historical two volume graphic novel, Boxer and Saint, about the Boxer Rebellion.

Of the four, Level Up is a personal favorite because it is a coming of age story where the lead, a young college freshman realizes his purpose in life despite pressure from academic work and big expectations from family. How Asian, right? But, I suppose, this is a conflict that many young adults encounter too, regardless of race, color or religion.

Finding one's self can take a person a lifetime to do so. Perhaps, as librarians of young adult learners, we can help a bit by recommending reading materials and designing programs and projects that will create oaths for them to find and discover their identity.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Book Spine Poetry Festival 2017

March 21 is World Poetry Day and we are bringing back the Book Spine Poetry Festival. It begins on March 13, 2017 until April 3, 2017.

It is easy to do!

* Compose a poem or poems using the spine of books from the BA Library.

* Register your book spine poem to Mr. Flynn.

* The poems will be put on display from April 4-8, 2017 and everyone is invited and enjoined to vote on the poems.

* We are looking for poems that:
     - make us say What The Freak (WTF) is that?!
     - give us the chills 
     - touch our hearts
     - inspire
     - make us wonder
* Griffins who have poems as entry to the festival will get 5 book points for the book quota.

For samples of Book Spine Poems, read the poetry made by former students. These are posted on the doors of the BA Library.


Advanced happy World Poetry Day!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

International Women's Day 2017

To every woman out there who plays the role of mother and sister in families, friendships and communities, I salute you!

Dear Nanay is a poem in verse about a girl who misses her mother who is an Overseas Filipino Worker in Singapore.

Big Sister is a story of all sisters, big and small, who annoy us but love us just the same.

Teen Read Week 2017: Be the Source of Change


Monday, March 6, 2017

I Love Libraries: The Quezon City Public Library

Congratulations to the Quezon City Public Library (QCPL) for having a new building that was launched and opened to the public last February 7, 2017. You can read the official press releases from these websites and social media link: the press release found on the Philippine Information Agency website; another one published in the Manila Standard; and this one is from the Quezon City Public Affairs Office. Indeed, the QCPL people and their administrators know how to make themselves visible in print and online environments.

I have written about the many events and programs that the QCPL organized in the past. Their librarians have always been active in many literacy events and campaigns. Their library porgrams for their communities serve young children, families and elders of the community.

Last year in October, I conducted a Bibliotherapy workshop with Darrel Marco as my partner with the staff of the QCPL Main library and the staff assigned in their barangay reading centers. There I discovered the library's cafe! My first encounter of a cafe in a library was when I visited the Iriga Public Library many years ago. I don't know if the cafe is still there for I have not been to Iriga in years.

After our workshop, our librarian friends led us to the site where the new building was being built. How excited were the QCPL librarians! How proud! They told us of the many visitors they welcome and serve in the library every day and the new building will surely attract more people to come and use the library's resources. I won't be surprised at all. Back in 2013, my writer friend, Ime Morales, wrote an article for the blog about her visit to the old QCPL with her son Bowi. Read her guest post by clicking the highlighted link.

What further amazes me with QCPL is their management of the different reading centers in the barangays of Quezon City. Like a hub, the main library functions as its center providing and extending readers services for all ages. In 2009, the QCPL ran a workshop on storytelling for its senior citizens. They do not need a mascot for they have a reading hero and champion in the persona of Heneral Basa. Behind the green mask is Mr. Alistair Troy Lacsamana who, together with QCPL librarians, regularly visit areas and communities in Quezon City where people do not have the means to go to the barangay reading center.

If you are the city mayor, wouldn't you support and invest in this dynamic and service oriented professionals? I would! Visit their website for more information on current news and updates! 

Now, do me a favor. If you are from Quezon City, visit the new library if you haven't yet. Spread the word and support your city librarians. Participate in their events, activities and programs. This will help them get feedback and improve their services. They also do a lot of outreach activities. Donate books. Volunteer to tell stories. Help the library grow! It is not only a place where books are kept. It is a community center where we discover many things about ourselves, the society we belong to and the world we live in!


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