Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Book Review: Thunderhead (Arc of Scythe Book 2)

Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe #2)Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was hard to put down. I am slowly rereading each chapter to carefully track the changes in the plot and connect gaps that were left open in book 1. There was still no clear explanation on Scythe Faraday faking his death but, from his travels and trajectory in book 2, he sure will play a big role in book three.

In this second book of the series, Shusterman lets us in into the mindscape and emotions of the Thunderhead. Considering that the Thunderhead is a computer program, an Artificial Intelligence, it remains a product of humanity. It is an amalgamation of man's greatest dreams and worst achievements. Therefore, it knows the human heart so well and given its all seeing eye, cameras and bots all around, it can meddle with their affairs. Then again, it does not entirely do so.

As the utopian world where the Thunderhead exist as god unravels, it makes use of people it can trust and who, based on a mathematical computation and algorithm, can save the world from destruction. From what we learn in history, the downfall of one world takes time. Empires are not built in a day and so its. Book three will be a difficult read and I will be at the edge of my seat hoping for the heroes to rise and save the day.

Thunderhead retains everything I love in book 1: the irreverence, the humor, the murders that are cushioned with moral explanations and philosophical ruminations and the love story. The ending tore me apart and the only consolation I had at the closing chapter was the idea of how romantic it is to die for and with the one you love.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Book Reviews: Love for Christmas and Arm Candy

Love for Christmas: A Billionaires and SEALs Romance Novels Boxed SetLove for Christmas: A Billionaires and SEALs Romance Novels Boxed Set by Julia Kent

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Pretty much what I expected. A light, good read during the holidays to destress one’s mind from all the busyness of the season. Cora Seton remains my favorite for keeping the community spirit intact at Crescent Hall.

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Arm Candy (Hot City Nights #3)Arm Candy by Patricia Ryan

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I neither like it nor hate it. I just didn’t find Nora and David worth rooting for. Perhaps I have had enough of the billionaire-experienced guy meets ingenue romance troupe?

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Monday, January 15, 2018

Makerspace and The DLSU-STC School Library

One of the features that the DLSU-STC School Library have that struck me when I visited last December 2017 was their Makerspace. Have a look at these photos and the physical set up that the librarians prepared for their young readers and makers.

A Makerspace is a collaborative learning space where creative thinking and a maker attitude are the emphasis and not the tools. Though, tools and technology are needed to keep the creative juices flowing and the maker attitude up and going. Planning and setting up a Makerspace in your school library would attract more learners who may not always find joy in reading books. Makerspaces promote other forms of thinking and learning. This project may be a door way to opportunities that will help learners grow and the library's resources are used by them.

 Here is a link on Makerspace: Basic 101. I have set up a Makerspace in our library. I blogged about it, Makerspace in the School Library. 

A few months after, a reader of my blog picked it up! We had a chat over at Messenger and I documented that as well. Here are the links: Makerspace Convo 1   Makerspace Convo 2  Makerspace Convo 3.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Makerspace and the DLSU-STC School Library (1 of 2)

Here are photos of the DLSU-STC Library. These selected photos show how the library staff was able to manage the space to allow learners of all kinds, sizes and types to use its facilities, services and programs.

Computer terminals for the OPAC and the circulation counter very near it. Human engagement remains an important factor in the delivery of readers and reference services.

The reading area where one can sit and relax to his or her heart's desire while reading a book. Behind it are tows and rows of book shelves that make up the library's printed book holdings. 

A space for viewing, workshops, big group activities and storytelling. This area also holds the Fiction Book Collection.  

This area is a more quiet space for researchers who need silence when writing. The room at the back is a meeting room, viewing room and discussion room. Notice the glass walls that suggest transparency and openness. 

Internet terminals where students have access to the library's databases and online subscriptions.

The librarian's work area and office is beside two small meeting rooms and a room that has the Teacher's Resources. This suggests the role of the school librarian as instructional partner of teachers. The meeting rooms allow for staff meetings and individual consultation with the librarian.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

In Retrospect: #milclicks Posts of 2017

Curating and collecting all #milclicks post I made in 2017.

#milckicks: Where it all began  The round table discussion on Media and Information Literacy (MIL) last March 2017 prompted me to review and to look forward on plans for a MIL campaign through my blog. I wanted to blog every week on a #milclicks topic but only got to do seven in a period of one year.

I will be more realistic this year. From weekly posts, I will go for monthly #milclicks posts.

Pathfinder: MIL Sites and Helpful Links Basic readings on MIL. For starters, I recommend these links and websites.

Cultural Pluralism, Libraries and MIL One of the many terminologies that struck me in the MIL MOOC I attended last year.

#milclicks: Think Before You Click Use the library bulletin board for awareness campaign and information services on MIL.

Media Literacy and Media Education Media Literacy and Media Education are kins of Information Literacy. Know more about each of these concepts and identify library practices being implemented in school libraries in your area. Begin in your learning community. Assessment and appraisal is a good start to understand these concepts.

Unit 1 of the UNESCO MIL MOOC Sigh. Another unfinished business. Let's see if I can get back to complete this MOOC.

Digital Citizenship Where I left off last year on my #milclicks blog campaign.

#milclick Activity: Jinkee Paquiao and the Belo Ad A MIL activity I used for my session on social media during the 1st National Conference on Technology in Education.

I have more library lessons and Information Literacy activities posted in the blog. I did not include them here as I will put them in one post on Teacher and School Librarian collaboration. Watch out for more In Retrospect posts!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Book Reviews: High School Hacks and The Storyteller's Three Daughters

High School Hacks: A student's guide to success in the IB and beyondHigh School Hacks: A student's guide to success in the IB and beyond by Brianna Smrke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Insightful and impressive. Helpful to IB students who wish to succeed in their IB courses, as well as in life, in general. Teachers need to read the book with an open mind and with a humble heart. We all learn from each other in the IB, regardless of the results of the external exams.

Every IB school library must have this book!

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My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Not as exciting nor compelling as Tales of the Otori, but an interesting read nonetheless. Japan in the 1800s is on the verge of change. It affects everyone and everything in varying degrees and these are all narrated through the eyes of the storyteller. He observes and explores the lives of the people around him through Japanese culture and art.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Ang Larawan: Behind the Scenes with Alemberg Ang

Mr. Alemberg Ang (far right) with the Marasigan siblings.
The blog's opening salvo to 2018 is an interview with Mr. Alemberg Ang, one of the producers of Ang Larawan. In this interview, he shares some behind the scenes information in the making of the award winning movie. He has honest advise to young people who dream of pursuing a career in the arts and in film making. 

Bakit Ang Larawan?  If it was a passion project, what is in the source material, or in the process of making the film that you were most passionate about?

Ang Larawan is based on National Artist Nick Joaquin's play, Portrait of the Artist as Filipino.  It has been a passion project of our executive producers, Girlie Rodis and Celeste Legaspi to turn into a movie the musical they produced in 2017.  In the movie production, Rachel Alejandro who played Paula in the original musical's rerun and in the film version, joins them as one of the Executive Producers in this version.  This version features the translation by National Artist Rolando Tinio whose lush words are converted into the screenplay of the movie.

Two years in the making ang pelikula. Ano ang pinaka-challenging na experience mo bilang isa sa mga producers ng nito? How did you face or overcome the challenges?
3 years.  1 year of rehearsals, then just 15 days of shoot, tapos 2 years of post-production.  There are so many aspects that were extremely difficult.  The first one was looking for the perfect cast.  The ladies have long been casted already but it's the boys that were a little tricky to cast.  After several auditions, we were able to cast Paulo and Sandino.  

Then we casted the other members of the cast.  One of the most difficult things in preparing for the film are the rehearsals.  The schedules of the artists are almost impossible to make them all come together so that we'll be able to rehearse.  But somehow we managed.  Then we proceeded into recording the orchestra first.  With that, the cast rehearsed again using the orchestra music.  Then we recorded the cast.  After recording the cast with the music of the orchestra, they had to rehearse lipsyncing naman.  A very grueling process before we started shooting.  

Sa shoot naman, the toughest is having to leave super early for Taal, Batangas.  We leave siguro mga 2am so we can start filming around 8am.  Tapos, it was extremely hot and uncomfortable in the house because we had to cover all the windows so that we can later "locate" the house in Intramuros using computer graphics.  The most difficult scene to shoot was the La Naval procession where we had 600 extras.  Dressing them all up, blocking them and shooting them took a lot of time, patience and effort in making the scene work.  There was a typhoon pa at that time so we had to resched which we eventually was able to film.  

The two most difficult things naman in post-production are the sound and the visual effects.  People won't believe the amount of visual effects we have in the film.  For one, the painting.  We first held a photoshoot.  Then our photographer had to use some effects in making it look like the masterpiece being described in the story.  Then the sound.  The syncing of the lips and making the singing and the speaking appear seamless is a tough job.

3. What scenes resonate most to you? 

Don Perico's song, Hindi Simple ang Buhay.  Paula's Malaya na Ako song.  The final confrontation where Candida broke down.

Don Perico's song resonates with almost anyone who works in the arts.  Would you allow your family to starve while you pursue your arts?  Can you actually control your own fate?

Paula's song is what I would call an "anthem" in the veins of Defy Gravity and Let It Go. It literally feels like a song that sets one free.

Joanna Ampil showed so many emotions in that final confrontation.  Her range is just breathtaking and you are simply drawn to the multiple layers of her emotions in that scene.

With Paulo Avelino during the MMFF Parade 2017.

After winning Best Picture in the MMFF, what is next for Ang Larawan and for Alemberg Ang?
Well, we're still promoting.  We are slowly doing better in the box office, gaining back cinemas we lost and even more.  Audiences are actively advocating for our film on social media and that's drawing the audiences to watch our film.  We hope this will help in our box office which eventually, we'll recoup all our investors' money.  And once that happens, we have another musical in the pipeline, Alikabok.  But for now, it's really still trying to show Larawan to as many people as possible that includes schools, universities and organizations who would want to sponsor screenings of the film.

What would you tell a young person if he/she is interested to pursue a career in art, particularly in producing and directing movies?

Don't.  Hahaha!  It's important to know from the beginning why you're doing it.  If it's to earn a living, then it's not a lucrative field, unless you work for mainstream companies.  Working in the indies is a huge gamble and the odds of a film earning is extremely slim.  Of course, now, it's getting better.  More and more people are looking for alternatives and these eventually help draw more people to support indie productions like Heneral Luna and Kita Kita.  So, when you're making your film, it's very important to be honest to yourself and access what you are really doing and why you're doing what you're doing.  Otherwise, you'll just be lost in the system.

Mr. Alemberg Ang is an educator, film maker and producer. His first foray into film making and producing movies was in 2009 via the movie Ang Pangagahasa Kay Fe directed by Alvin B.Yapan. The movie has won several international awards. The rest is history, so they say since he has produced notable Filipino independent films that have won awards and recognition here and abroad. His dreams of one day making literature mainstream.

Photos courtesy of Mr. Alemberg Ang. Posted with permission.
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