Saturday, April 14, 2018

Filipino Librarians At the Crossroads: Exclusivity vs. Inclusivity

This is a residual post from the blog entry last April 11, 2018, What Kind of Librarian Leader Are You? where I identified my takeaways from the panel on leadership and Filipino librarians today. The invited guests in the 39th Gabriel A. Bernardo Memorial Lecture were Dr. Vernon Totanes, Mr. Michael Pinto and Mrs. Fides Abad.

Of the three, it is Fides Abad’s presentation I enjoyed the most because one of her slides holds a truth that we, Filipino Librarians, have not spoken out loud amidst the #NationalNonLibrarian issue but a sentiment many of us feel.


Photo credit: Prof. Johann Frederick A. Cabbab's FB Post of a slide presentation of Fides Abad's presentation during UP SLIS' 39th Gabriel A. Bernardo Memorial Lecture. Theme: Library Leadership at the Crossroads.

Of course, this has been said in social media and in TV interviews on the issue of  the #NationalNonLibrarian, but the context in which Abad presented this truth, as I take it, is one that shows prejudice and exclusivity to another professional whom we, in the LIS Profession, have no personal knowledge of. Our colleagues from the National Library of the Philippines (NLP) remain to be as quiet as mice.

This silence speaks volumes.

A law was violated. We have so many questions. We need to hear answers. We deserve to get a response.

On the other hand, I am also thinking beyond this manmade law. It seems that the law and adherence to it has turned us into absolute thinkers. Has RA 9246 turned us to be exclusive, turf oriented and prideful professionals? 

Insulted by the appointment of a non-librarian in the NLP, we fail to look at Director Adriano as a person too. A human being who has a set skill, though different from ours, that can contribute to the growth of the NLP in particular and LIS in the Philippines in general. In one conversation I had with librarian friends, I said, baka pwede ma-convince at ma-inspire si Director Adriano na mag Masters in LIS? After a long stretch of silence, my friends deep in thought, one replied, pano pa yun ma-inspire kumuha ng MLIS, binato at binatikos na sa social media at may nakaabang pang complaint sa Ombudsman?

Is it too difficult to stretch a kind hand to one who is different from you? 

Ang yayabang natin, ano? E lahat naman tayo, tao lang. 

In a time when the divide and conquer strategy is being applied left and right by the current powers that be, kindness, goodness, empathy and compassion are all too hard to come by.

Tooth for a tooth. Eye for an eye.

We will all go blind then.

Unable to see.

Disabling speech and open dialogue.

I wonder who among us, those outside of NLP, like the PLAI, the BFL and the rest of the library associations have talked to Director Adriano in person.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

What Kind of Librarian Leader Are You?

Last March 23, 2018, the University of the Philippines School of Library and Information Science (UP SLIS) hosted the 39th Gabriel A. Bernardo Memorial Lecture. There were three invited panelists who expanded and expounded on the theme, Library Leadership at the Crossroads. The respected licensed librarian panelists for the lecture were Dr. Vernon Totanes, Director of the Rizal Library; Mr. Michael Pinto, President of the Philippine Librarians Association; and Mrs. Fides Abad, licensed librarian, retired school librarian and administrator, and professional skills trainer. They were tasked to discuss leadership in the Library and Information  Science (LIS) profession today, particularly looking at the issue of the appointment of Mr. Gilbert Adriano, a Human Resource manager from the Davao City Hall as the director of the National Library of the Philippines.

I was not there at the lecture in UP Diliman, but peers and colleagues in the UP SLIS posted photos, snippets, sound bites and a live video of the panelists' input on leadership. If you are following the issue of the #NationalNonLibrarian in social media, and you have seen and/or heard Totanes and Pinto during the lecture,  both gentlemen were consistent on their stand on the issue though each has a different approach in dealing about it. I will not flesh this out because much has been said already. What we need to hear are more voices other than the ones we have heard over and over again.

The links and history of the #NationalNonLibrarian issue can be reviewed and revisited in Totanes' blog and the PLAI's Official Facebook Page. I encourage you to go back and reread, if you need a refresher. For this blog post, I am focusing on the leadership styles that I took away from the three panelists. More than the pressing issue at hand, the three library leaders have displayed their brand of leadership. For LIS professionals, this would make for an interesting research and study. Younger LIS professionals may find a mentor, a coach or a lodi (idol) LIS professional to follow or emulate.

1. From Dr. Totanes, I realised how important communication skills can be in a position of leadership. Totanes knows how to use language and in great effects to media marketing and promotion. I have a friend who is a poet and philosopher tell me once, that a man who can wield language has the most power in this world. How true!

A leader knows what he is thinking about and is able to clearly and lucidly communicate this to his or her intended audience.

Totanes is also quick to action, decisive and approaches an issue in a let's-get-this-done-because-really-it's-as-simple-as-123. No beating around the bush. The agenda is laid down. Take it for what it is. No room for sentiment or emotions. Trabaho lang. Ang pikon at balat sibuyas, ay...sorry na lang!

A leader sticks to the issue and faces it head on.

2. From Mr. Pinto, I realised the value of listening and consultation in leadership. This recognition of working in teams, collaborating with different people and allowing each to lend a voice in the conversation are all hallmarks of a compassionate and creative leader. As President of PLAI, Pinto must really listen to his co-leaders. Pinto is not PLAI and PLAI is not Pinto. He knows what public service entails after making the shift from private institution to government agency.

A leader listens. A leader works with people. A leader does not think he is the only one fighting a cause or running a project all by himself.

Now I know where this man from Cagayan gets his charm.

3. From Mrs. Abad, I realised the relevance of taking things into perspectives not just one's own, but from others and factors that influence them too. The approach she used to analyse the issue on leadership as applied to the issue of the #NationalNonLibrarian is the Iceberg technique where patterns of behavior, socio-cultural trends and aspects are considered as well as mental models that play a role in decision making. I like this technique because it makes for a good start in clarifying biases and prejudices. Then, one can move on to a more informed process of filing a complaint and in the issuance of statements of concern.

A leader looks at the big picture. Always considering the systems, structures and politics that shape human behavior.

In the 21st century, much is expected from us, LIS professionals. There are events and occasions where, like Dr. Totanes, we need to be decisive. We need to master language and the nuances of communication. Our profession is people oriented, thus, we need to learn how to listen well like Mr. Pinto. The mere act of sincere listening is an act of leadership. And then, like Mrs. Abad, we need to first examine our motives and see how it fits in the greater scheme of things. Leaders reflect and discern on actions that can contribute to the greater good.

What leadership style or approach do you adhere or believe in? What kind of librarian leader are you?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Summer Workshop: Writing Stories for Kids

The Php 2,500.00 workshop fee will cover snacks, writing materials and workshop handouts, and a free book! 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Lighthouse Diary Entry 8: Taking a step backward

Around July last year, I was inspired to star a new blog entry about the work I do in the Beacon Academy. I had seven entries and here is a brief review of each.

Entry 1 - Collaboration and Collaborative Teaching Strategies - where I wrote about the challenges that collaboration entails plus, links to different teaching strategies.

Entry 2 - Desires, Passions and the World's Greatest Need - thoughts on the inspirational talk of Mr. Bobbit Suntay, one of our Board of Trustees and my response: to give a library orientation to our Griffins that deals about library issue I deeply care about. The importance of reading. The role of libraries in this day and age. The aspect of community in library development.

Entry 3 - The Theory of Knowledge Tree - how we responded and tried understanding the fruits of the Palawan Cherry tree that grows in the school campus.

Entry 4 - My Life as a Teacher Librarian - reflection on my roles as teacher librarians. I have been a part of the Beacon Academy community since it started out in the Binan campus (2011). Seven years! I was a different person back then and the roles I hold as teacher librarian has changed too.

Entry 5 - Research and High School Students - reflections on the reference work, readers services and on the counter instruction, direct and indirect.

Entry 6 - Student Made Zines in the Library - stretching the boundaries of school collection development, I am also responsible for the documentation and archiving purposes of students' works.

Entry 7 - Defining Research - more reflections on research. It never ends. Reflection. But it is the Action part that really makes reflection a worthy endeavour.

And now I begin another year of reflections on library work, teaching, research, working with teachers and students. Writing about them gives meaning to this little life I lead. I don't know what topics and issues I will be writing about. In cases like this, I trust my gut.

Life is a box of chocolates, said Forest Gump's mom. I will let life surprise me in all its flavours!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

What Keeps Us Alive: Art, Music and Storytelling

Before the Holy Week break, I had the wonderful opportunity to tell stories in two different occassions. The first one was in the Ayala Museum during the Himig Pasasalamat event of the Ayala Foundation to its sponsors, donors and partners. The second one was the opening exhibit of Peek-A-Book at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), where 13 Women Artists and Illustrators showcased their studies and illustrations on the picture books and storybooks they worked on with authors and local publishers. I had a grand time in both events, of course!

My storytelling at the Ayala Foundation thanksgiving ceremony was part and parcel of the main show where the UP Singing Ambassadors serenaded the guest, visitors and partners of the foundation with songs and choral pieces brimming with messages of love and service. In the second part of the UPSA’s program, I told and narrated the success stories of the foundation’s projects and the recipients of the scholarships and people empowerment programs they had. Having done training programs with and for CENTEX, I am a living witness to the inspiring real life stories of the children, teachers, parents and communities that CENTEX have helped and continously helping. 

 That night, I met old friends from the foundation. It was a memorable and meaningful moment for me too. Teacher Car Fernando whom I have worked with numerous training sessions and module writing projects with Centex remains the positive and generous person I have known back in our Sa Aklat Sisikat Days. Cheers to more years of service leadership, Teacher Car!

A few days after, on a Saturday before Palm Sunday, I found myself heading towards Roxas Boulevard. My shoulder was still frozen then, but the pain did not stop me from attending the opening of Peek-A-Book!

In CCP, I had fun reading aloud Habulan (Anvil Publishing, 2016) by Kora Dandan and Beth Doctolero. There were children present in the opening day of Peek-A-Book and the adults who were with them were as eager as they were in participating in the storytelling.

My book, Sparrow Makes A Home (Lampara, 2013) a wordless picture book illustrated by Bernadette Solina-Wolf is part of the art on exhibit. The art works are on display until May 6, 2018. So, if you are in town or in the Roxas Boulevard neighborhood, drop by the CCP to view the art works by 13 leading women book illustrators of this generation. 

There are art workshops and book launches scheduled on Saturday, April 28, 2018. 

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