Sunday, December 17, 2017

Movie Review: Smaller and Smaller Circles

I am writing this from memory as I have seen Smaller and Smaller Circles in a special preview last February 25, 2017 in Cinema 76. The movie is still showing in selected theatres in the metro and in one movie house in Albay. Visit the movie's Facebook Page where you will find bonus scenes, previews, trivia and more reviews by film critics and experts. Copy-paste this link and you are on your way -

As a school librarian, a member of the education sector, here are my three thoughts on the movie, plus one - a personal comment which I hope to see happening sooner or later.

Thought #1 - Sid Lucero and Nonie Buencamino deliver compelling performances as Jesuits battling forces bigger than themselves. Buencamino is very convincing as a Jesuit. Smart. Sarcastic. Unafraid. Lucero essays the role with an intrinsic wonder and curiosity. There are moments in the film where he appears to be simply an observer but his presence as friend and ally to Buencamino's character never fades.

I am still hoping he gets to play a lead role in a romcom. He is too good looking to wear that clerical collar.

Thought #2 - This movie is based on a book by FH Batacan. There is a short story version, correct me if I am wrong. I remember, vaguely though, having discussed this story in one of the reading and critiquing group I used to attend a long, long time ago. Then there came the novella published by UP Press. And then, the novel was published. And now, the movie.

This goes to show how good the story is. So, please. Go watch it while it is still being screened in select movie houses!

Thouught #3 - The movie is set in the 90s so it offers the viewer the socio-cultural and political milieu of the decade. Not so much has changed. The same questions on faith, justice and God's presence permeate and remain unanswered. Well, at least to me, since I often grapple with these universal truths. In the midst of all these questions, the movie shows the woundedness of humanity and how much in need we all are of kindness and love.

Which brings me to my plus one. There are a lot of things and themes to unpack in the movie. It is intelligently made and the production value is of quality. I hope the producers could find ways to arrange a screening of the movie to high schools both in the public and private sectors. I hope parishes and communities are able to see the movie with Filipino subtitling. I hope school libraries can acquire DVDs of the film. Why not partner with public libraries like the newly built Quezon City Public Library, or the Ortigas Foundation Library and the Ayala Museum for public screenings? Today's libraries and museums have engaging and interactive programs for the community.

Perhaps it is time to involve the library and museum sectors in the distribution of relevant Filipino movies.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

November In Review: Art, Books and Music (1 of 3)

Catching up on blog worthy activities and experiences I had last November. Here goes!

Ang INK Workshop at ARTS ABOVE 

Ang Illustrador ng Kabataan kicked off November by conducting the annual INKFest Capsule Workshop, a series of art workshops for free. I signed up Zoe for basic sketching and we ended up in a quaint and avant garde venue in Arts Above, West Avenue, Quezon City.

Zoe enjoyed the workshop and she went home with sketches to show her art teacher in school. It was her first time to attend an art workshop. What made the experience enjoyable was the actual drawing session sans lecture. It was a learn by doing exercise where the facilitator, Kevin Roque, advised, gave comments and feedback to workshop participants. Besides, it was participated by artists and art enthusiasts of all ages. In this learning environment, participants, young and old, learn from each other.

Another interesting thing was that the workshop was held at Arts Above. Owned by Roeder Camanag, Arts Above is home to his theatre group, Artists Playground. Located at the Penthouse of the building, it has a theatre that can accommodate 150-200 people, a workshop and performance area and a cafe where crafters and artists have a corner to sell their art and crafts.

How lucky we were that day because we met Roeder Camanag! Back in the 90s, Roeder broke out into the local music industry as an OPM (Original Pilipino Music) artist. I like one of his songs, Sana Naman, where one longs for love to be reciprocated. At present, Arts Above welcomes artists, students and seasoned ones, to use their exhibit space, theatre and performance space for all artistic pursuits.

Visit their Facebook Page for inquires if you are looking for a space to use for events and artistic activities:

The Settlement by Mark Justiniani, presented by the Ateneo Art Gallery and CANVAS (Center for Art, New Ventures and Sustainable Development)

Zoe and I were in Ateneo De Manila University thrice last month and while there, we capitalised in enjoying the campus where traffic is well designed and there are paths to walk on. Since the Arete is the new home of the Ateneo Art Gallery, we made sure to pass by.

It was the installation art of Mark Justiniani that captivated us. I have no words to describe it and I recommend you go see it. Sadly, this blog post about Justiniani's public installation art ends today. Do check the website and blog of CANVAS, as well as the Facebook Page ( for news and information on the next public venue of The Settlement.

Here are two photos we took inside it.

The dinning table that mimics the one in the Aguinaldo Mansion in Kawit, Cavite
is one of the mesmerising art pieces inside The Settlement. 

Inside The Settlement are windows and mirrors that illuminate or confuse the viewer
into thinking and perceiving truths and lies of past and present events in Philippine history.

The Guy Simondac Studio's Homeward Bound

Mid-November, the fambam watched a benefit concert of the Guy Simondac Music Studio (GSMS). Master Edgardo "Sir Guy" Simondac is father, uncle, teacher, mentor and friend to many musically gifted and talented students. He was my son Nico's piano teacher after Teacher Cess Galicia taught him the basics for a year.

From Sir Guy, Nico learned not just playing the piano, but life skills and lessons to bring with him through life. Sir Guy and Teacher Cess were both instrumental to Nico's acceptance in UP Diliman and St. Scholastica's College. Choosing the former, Nico is now a third year student at the College of Music majoring in Music Education. He joined the concert as a guest beatboxer of the studio's resident acapella group.

Sir Guy Simondac at his best and in his element
Zoe, on the one hand, attended violin classes in Sir Guy's Music Studio under the tutelage of Teacher Dean Giron. Zoe has taken a break from violin lessons but her interest in music remains. From Teacher Dean, she has learned to be patient not only in learning new patterns of notes, but also in ways of thinking.

Back in 2014, I attended voice lessons under Sir Guy's coaching. I had a wonderful time knowing myself and facing my fears. Sir Guy helped me gain my confidence in reaching the high notes, placing my voice and breathing exercises that help me calm down and strengthen my vocal stamina. I will never forget my first performance in the summer presentation of the GSMS in St. Scholastica's College. On days when I need to sing again, I go back to him and we rekindle old times, old lessons and make new discoveries together.

The Guy Simondac Music Studio is currently raising funds to fully establish itself as the leading music studio and talent centre in these parts of Southern Tagalog.

Nico and Zoe with Sir Guy, teacher and mentor in music and life.
More power to, you Sir Guy! We keep you in our prayers! Visit the Facebook Page of the Guy Simondac Music Studio through this link:

Thursday, December 14, 2017

IB Online Workshop: Pedagogical Support for the EE

The two concepts that stood out to me after reading the Pedagogical support for the extended essay were the Reflection and the EE and the Student-Supervisor Relationship.

The Reflection and the EE

This concept stood out to me because this is new in the EE. To devote a criterion for reflection only goes to show how important this is. Besides, Reflective is one of the ten qualities in the list of the Learner Profile.

Previous to working in the Beacon Academy, I was a school librarian in a Jesuit school. As a lay partner of the Jesuits in educating and forming men and women for others, it was there, among Jesuits and their lay partners where I first encountered the relevance of reflection in a person's life. I learned from them the cycle of Experience-Reflection-Action. This permeates the teaching and learning practices of the learning community.

Back to Beacon. In my first year, I attended the IB Workshop and Training required of newly hired faculty and there I met the words Reflection, Action and Inquiry. Somehow, I did not feel entirely foreign to the IB as I have prior knowledge and experience to latch on new things that I will learn from peers and colleague who were IB trained. Over the years, my colleagues have been supportive of this continuous process of learning and some of them have become good friends. Oh boy! It has been unexciting ride as there are new things being incorporated in the IB within two or three years time.

In this journey of learning continuously in the IB, reflection remains at its core. The PYP is grounded on inquiry based learning and statements of inquiry are essential parts of unit plans. To reflect on process in the EE journey in the DP, as I take it, manifest as the capstone skill in year 12.

I believe in reflective teaching and learning. I enjoy reflection even though it is difficult to do at first and it is not akin to the Filipino psyche and culture. Reflection is something we need to consciously learn and teach. Despite the challenge, there are techniques to use and apply to help students (and teachers) become reflective learners. Once reflection becomes a habit, it is a life skill that can help a person push farther and further on in life.

This is where I find the TSM helpful, especially the section on Pedagogical support for the extended essay, because it has a slew of activities and strategies that prompts, helps and aids supervisors and students reflect in the EE. There are many things to unpack and set in place. In my plan of action, I included a Research Writing (RW) workshop for EE supervisors. I will add activities and points for reflection in the RW workshop that I will design with the help of my DP Coordinator and Dean of Faculty. I will definitely select and use the recommended activities in the TSM’s Pedagogical support for the extended essay.

The Student-Supervisor Relationship

Working with students in the EE for the past two years made me realise that I am building a relationship with them that is grounded on trust and mutual respect. Below is the description of what makes for a good student-supervisor relationship and the primary role of the EE supervisor. 

Taken from the Pedagogical support for the extended essay, I will keep these statements to heart:
A good student–topic–supervisor fit is likely when the supervisor:
  • knows the student well
  • shares the student’s excitement and curiosity about the topic
  • is comfortable establishing a clear work plan with the student
  • follows up with timely feedback.

The supervisor should:

Implementing policies and procedures of the EE may appear as highly administrative. But, beyond these administrative layers, a school community needs to work together and each member has a role to play. School leaders create the learning environment and systems, supervisors teach, administer and form students as knowledgable, inquiring, principled and reflective learners within the EE journey, and parents are needed for support at home.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Filipino Librarian of the Month: Neriza Delos Santos-Oraba (2 of 2)

Here is part 2 of the interview of Ms. Neriza Delos Santos-Oraba on the INELI-ASEAN Children's Literature Database Project.

What support does it need from Filipino librarians and allied professionals?

For the resources and contents to continuously grow, we need contributors such as authors, aspiring authors, institutions and publishers to supply the contents (published or unpublished children's literature) and content managers such as public librarians to manage/update existing content, collect & create new contents, and promote the use of the database to their library patrons and other stakeholders.

What has been the project’s notable accomplishment so far?

The project was able to compile children's literature e-resources. Contents are supplied with bibliographic information of the e-book, others have links to free download or online access, and location (address or Googlemaps location) of the nearest public library where the printed books are available and can be borrowed.

With the project, the team was awarded Best in Collaboration because it involved libraries and institutions in the region to resolve a common problem and to optimize results.


Although a new team leader was chosen, Kolap never really left the team because she's always there to offer her help and guidance. Because of her and her brother Bora, the ACL database was born. She promised she will continue the project with the team. Aside from the team's mentor Ms. Rashidah, Kolap was there to guide on how to lead the team. She supported Libranovators  throughout the project.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Filipino Librarian of the Month: Neriza Delos Santos-Oraba (1 of 2)

The blog's Filipino Librarian of the Month is Mrs. Neriza Delos Santos-Oraba of the National Library. She is the project leader of the INELI-ASEAN Children's Literature Database. In this interview, she narrates the challenges she faces in the conduct of the project.

Briefly describe the objectives of INELI-ASEAN and the Children’s Literature Database and your role in the project.

International Network of Emerging Library Innovators-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (INELI-ASEAN) is a three (3)-year project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Libraries (GL) initiative and implemented by the National Library of the Philippines (NLP) that involves ASEAN member countries to leverage appropriate solutions that will enable public library leaders who share a common vision for economic, political and socio-cultural development and integration particularly focusing and strengthening capacities of public libraries in the region.

The Collaborative Project’s general objective is to provide one gateway access to children's literature in ASEAN.  This is not only to bring the visibility of free online children and young adult literature from ASEAN to wider audiences and a way of meeting their needs, but also to promote better understanding between people of ASEAN through literature. Moreover, these resources can help instill multicultural understanding and appreciate the diversity of the ASEAN people. It also

I am the Team project leader.

How did you prepare for the project?

All of us are required to access the INELI-ASEAN online learning portal where we need to answer and complete the 10 modules that will help us to prepare and work towards the completion our project,  and be able to collaborate and communicate with the team members from different Asian countries.

The modules taught us on how to work on teams, develop innovation skills, manage team projects, develop communication skills, conflict management, time management, risk management, develop leadership skills, improve service quality and project completion.

What are the challenges you encounter and how do you overcome them?

The team encountered so many challenges that almost made the project unsuccessful. Pointing out  the major challenges below:

a. Copyright Issue
 - This is a major risk that challenged our team. Due to the Copyright Law, the team was not able to collect enough resources to be uploaded onto the database.

This resulted in the  shift, to create a resource list as part of the major content of the database.

b. Lack of concentration and focus towards the project - Submissions, targets, online meeting, and timelines were often neglected due to their full responsibility for the primary jobs that needs to prioritize and other concerns.

In spite of the problem with limited communication due to busy schedule, different time zones and unavailability of members, the team used and maximized communication tools available to communicate with available members, sending their concerns and queries at their most convenient time, responding with inputs or feedback as soon as matters/ideas/feedback were received/read.

c. Another challenge faced by the team was when Kolap, who was leading the team in the early stage, pulled out due to work commitments.

Through online discussions, the team  identified and selected a new leader. This was one of the tests of group dynamics amongst LIBRANOVATORS.

d. Inadequate skills for the project - A majority of the team lacked the knowledge and skills in information technology such as development, maintenance and troubleshooting of a database.

Creation of the ACL Database/Website was made possible with the assistance of professional IT personnel from Cambodia (Kolap's brother and colleague) who developed the ACL database/website for the team  free of charge. They also helped the team with the troubleshooting of any technical problems encountered during the test run.

e. Funding/Budgetary concerns
While the team was very lucky to get a temporary sponsor for the hosting of the database/website, however, the limited capacity/space available proved to be another challenge for LIBRANOVATORS.  Members were not able to upload all collected e-resources due to the limited capacity/space of the database.

The Paññāsāstra University of Cambodia (PUC) (Cambodia) temporarily hosts the database /website for the implementation and presentation of the project. We are hopeful that this challenge could be resolved if/when there is an institution that could fully host the database and provide sufficient space for the growing collection in the future. Currently, we are working out on a possible sponsorship for the hosting of the website/database

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

IB Online Workshop: Reflections on the Extended Essay

Sharing with you, dear readers, the reflections I have on the IB online workshop I am participating in for the past two weeks. This workshop is about the Role of the Supervisor in the Extended Essay (EE). I am not supervising a student's EE, but in Beacon Academy, I am part of the coordinating team helping and supporting teachers in the EE journey. 

 Something new that I learned about the extended essay: 
 * I am not the only one concerned with students' imbibing the values and codes of conduct that are essential in writing the EE. This gives me comfort. :-) To be in the company peers, colleagues and professionals in the IB and interacting with them is a big support for a learner like myself. There is more reason to teach and learn collaboratively.  
 * The EE is a process oriented task and therefore, reflecting on the process leads to learning beyond the subject and the topic of choice for investigation.  
 * Reflection happens or occurs in all phases of the EE, from the initial check-in sessions to the interim and final stage of the EE. That is why, reflection skills and strategies in teaching need to be planned and implemented in the context of the learner at the forefront of instruction.  
 * Formative assessments are the built-in structures that can firm up reflection and metacogntion. Some of the things I need to think about again are the current library services and programs we offer to our teachers and students that contribute to the development and strengthening of ATLs, also known as life skills. The value of reflection is for the development of skills in lifelong learning.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Book Review: Issued to the Bride : One Marine (ARC)

Issued to the Bride One Marine (Brides of Chance Creek Book 4)Issued to the Bride One Marine by Cora Seton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Back at Chance Creek. Back to familiar grounds.

Seton is consistently good at keeping the romantic tropes in line with the theme of the series. It has become a predictable read. Nothing else surprised me but for the General’s imminent return to Two Willows.

Logan is the funniest of the four men, so far. That he built a reading room up in the attic for Lena earned him points in my book. As for Lena, she is the most interesting of the sisters, so far. So let’s see what Alice ad Jack has to offer!

View all my reviews
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