Monday, July 30, 2012

Ang Mga Kwento sa Kwentillion

First of all, I'm thanking Paolo Chikiamco for giving me two free copies of Kwentillon (my kids were delighted to have each a copy since the one I bought was donated to the library) and for bravely thinking of publishing a literary magazine that targets young adults as its intended readers. We need more brave people in the industry. Now for my review.

What worked

The line up of stories is impressive.  How can you go wrong with Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo as an opening salvo for readers? The Last Datu is fashioned after the Trese tradition. Folkloric but with a storytelling style that is kinetic, the old is presented as the new. There is always something happening on the page with illustrations that seem to jump out at the reader. It is like motion on printed page. The pace of telling is gradual but exciting, Tan reveals the past in bits of narration and deftly connects it with the present as Baldisimo provides the visuals that fill the mind with context. It is this combination of slow but measured unfolding of text and story, accompanied by moving illustrations (how black and white can be powerful colors!) that make The Last Datu, and the Trese series engaging reads.

Robert Magnuson's Poso Maximo is a delightful story of a simple life made meaningful by beautifully cooking a sunny side up. I like it that Magnuson did not put in words. The pictures were enough to tell the story. Poso Maximo is my kids' favorite in the line up of stories. For one, they have an experience of Magnuson's works as younger readers. They read his early works from Adarna House and Lampara Publishing. So, when they met his work again in Kwentillon, they were like reading a story from an old friend. That is reading magic! See how the reader, author-creator and story connected? For my kids, Nico and Zoe, the experience of reading Poso Maximo was a personal one.

The Secret Origin of Spin-Man by Andrew Drilon brought me back to Greenhills, San Juan and the fruitful years I spent at Xavier School as librarian. Boys read but the people who care for them need to provide the reading material and space to nurture the habit. Drilon's narrative speak of this space and habit. To many boys, the comic store is their reading space and comic books afforded them that space in their mind to imagine and create their own worlds. I still think about the imaginary brother in the story. Was he ever real?

High Society and Sky Gypsies are intense stories. Both appear to send the agenda of developing more historical fiction or graphic novels on that genre. To its creators, carry on and lead the way! The article on YA Lit by Tarie Sabido strengthens the argument for more YA literature in the country. The YA book reviews, the fan fiction article and the write ups about Manix Abrera and Chester Ocampo made me want to know more about the books and these two young creators of wonderment.

What did not work

I found the illustrations of Hannah Buena overwhelming. It's just me, I know, since my kids love the fullness of the images and how every bit of visual fills up the page. I had a difficult time suspending my disbelief in Sky Gypsie's Badjao characters and their ability to breathe in space with out a suit. I think the "genetic sturdiness" which the Badjao developed over time needed explanation in scientific and cultural perspectives.

Over all, Kwentillon is indeed a fantastic first issue. It is fun and engaging to read, but serious and intense in its agenda to provide young people with the literature they can call their own. Looking forward to the second more fantastic issue!

Bibliographic data: Kwentillion: A Million Stories to be Told. Budjette Tan and Paolo Chikimaco, editors. Mandaluyong City: Summit Media, 1st Issue 2012.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Filipino Friday: School of Reading

School of Reading. We all started reading somewhere, and more often than not, we were influenced by someone. Who got you into reading? Your parents? A friend? A librarian? One teacher who always lends out his/her books? How helpful was your school in helping your reading habit / fueling your book addiction?

Oh dear, late post again. It's been a busy, crazy, wacko week! But as the saying goes, better late than never so here's my Filipino Friday post on people who influenced me to read and the schools I went to.

My mother taught me how to read and I remember not having a difficult time learning reading (ah, but learning English grammar is another story). I attribute this to the rich oral experience that my grandmother provided me with. My lola told stories from the folk tradition, of family stories and personal ones, especially about her experiences during World War II. And then, there's Sesame Street where my word attack skills were firmed up. By first grade, I could read. But, book awareness was nurtured at home. My mother, being a librarian brought books for me from the library where she worked then. These books opened the world for me in the safe environment at home and filled the unchartered space of my mind of possibilities, dreams and wonderment.

My first library card. I was in first grade when I received it.
My school did little to make me excited on reading. My school librarians in grade school and high school were friendly, but there were no activities to promote books and reading culture. I had friends who read then, quite a few, and we would swap books and talk about the reading experiences we had. One book favorite was Eric Segal's Love Story. We were considered book nerds at the time and, yes, it did bother me a bit.

I was in college where my reading tastes grew and expanded. Majoring in Library Science sealed my fate despite it being a second choice. When I look at what I am doing now and what I was then as a reader, I figure that I became a librarian simply because I find great enjoyment in reading and I love books.

The 2nd Best Reads National Children's Book Awards

Totet de Jesus made this invitation for the 2nd Best Reads National Children's Book Award (NCBA). It is lovely.

The awards ceremony will be at the The Mind Museum and though the event is by invitation only (a budget driven decision), I will blog about the winners on Monday, July 30, 2012. We all have to wait.

I will be giving a message at the program later and will be reading an excerpt of one of the winning Best Reads. But, I have not really thought about what to say later. I plan to be spontaneous. I think, it is important to see that book making in this day and age is an art form more than an economic endeavor. Sure, money is important to keep the production going. But think first of the purpose of book making. Why are you writing, illustrating and publishing books for kids and teens?

What book are you making? A book of the hour or a book for all time?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Filipino Friday 2012: Introduction

This was supposedly a post for yesterday. Time is just not enough for blogging these days and tech problems delayed my updates in the blog. Despite it all, here goes my post for this year's Filipino Friday.

There are two books that surprised me this year: the 50 Shades of Grey Trilogy and the Trese series.

EL James' trilogy is surprising because, it did not go through the traditional process of publication. It started out online as fan fiction. The material found its way to ebook publishing and then finally to print publication. This is how publishing has changed. Thanks to technology. Word of caution: the process did not guarantee quality content nor literary value.

Now I go to Trese. Oh. My. God. The storyline is engaging. The storytelling, more so. The illustrations lend enough visual metaphor for the reader to fill the imagination with wonderment. Combining the tales and "alamat" of the past with the everyday stories any Pinoy encounters is a fantastic concept. Looking forward to the next issue of Trese!

I know this entry is very brief as I am merely stealing some blogging time. I'm hoping to do a more extensive review on Trese soon as it deserves more than a paragraph of hurried impressions. And of course, a better written Filipino Friday entry next week.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The 29th NCBD: From Here to There

L-R Teacher Dina Ocampo, Zarah Gagatiga, Russell Molina and daughter Tala, Hubert Fucio and daughter Aya, Totet de Jesus. Back L-R Ani Almario, Nina Yuson, and Karina Bolasco
 As promised, I have gathered photos from different learning communities near and far (Manila) who celebrated the 29th NCBD. This photo at the left shows the Philippine Board on Books for Young People (PBBY) board members with Russell Molina, Salanga Prize winner and Hubert Fucio, Alcala Prize winner cutting the ribbon for the art exhibit of all Alcala entries.

Twelve years ago, Molina and Fucio accepted their first Salanga and Alcala respectively. Back then, they were single guys. Now, they both have growing families. Their daughters joined them in the ceremonial ribbon cutting.

Below are the photos on the 29th NCBD celebration from here to there -

De La Salle Zobel High School celebrated NCBD through a photo-exhibit contest.

De La Salle Zobel Librarian, Darrel Marco reads to children in Bucal1 Maragondon, Cavite during the week of the 29th NCBD. The activity is an outreach of faculty and staff of De La Salle Zobel

Teacher Jerson of St. La Salle School sent this photo of a poster, a version of their school's NCBD. The school had a slew of reading and literacy activities, one of which is storytelling using the different mother tongues.

The Book Bridge in Puerto Princesa, Palawan spear headed NCBD with 2,000 public school children!

The LIS 115 class at the UP School of Library and Information Science read young adult stories and made posters of stories from the YA anthology, Bagets (KUTING, c. 2007)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The 29th NCBD @ Museo Pambata

Russel Molina accepts the 2012 Salanga Prize
After months of preparation, the PBBY has concluded the 29th NCBD celebration at Museo Pambata. The Salanga and Alcala Prizes were awarded to Russell Molina and Hubert Fucio respectively. Honorable mentions: Dang Bagas and Jun Matias for the Salanga and Jonathan Ranilla and Aldy Aguirre were given their plaques as well. Tarie Sabido was inducted as new board representative for book bloggers/book reviewers and I did a tandem telling of Anong Gupit Natin Ngayon, the winning Salanga of 2012, with Abs de Lina of Batibot. Museo Pambata people, Nina Lim Yuson, Maricel "Mamu" Montero and Noreen "Tich" Parafina were such warm hosts. The PBY Secretariat and staff were so efficient, as always, that this year's 29th NCBD was indeed a humorously successful affair.

Teacher Dina Ocampo gave a brilliant keynote on language, reading and mother tongue. It was a keynote where in everyone meaningfully derived nuggets of learning on the use of one's mother tongue. Indeed, language plays a great role in reading and writing development as well as the context. The intermission number by The Minstrels of Hope was a delight.

The Minstrels of Hope
I met old friends - CLAPI, Librarians from Manila and the National Library of the Philippines, Neni SR Cruz who is now Chairman of the National Book Development Board, and finally, met Honey de Peralta and Paolo Chikiamco in person. I was also able to touch base with my former grad school professor, Lina Diaz de Rivera who gave me a copy of her recent book, Teaching Filipino Novels, published by Anvil.

Thank you to those who celebrated NCBD in their schools and learning communities: Teacher Jerson Capuyan of St. La School, Rochelle Siverio, Cynthia Sumagaysay Del Rosario, OMF-Hiyas Publication to mention a few. In the coming days, I will post pictures you sent and activities you had with your kids.

Until next NCBD! Magbasa sa Sariling Wika!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Day 2 of the TK Park Conference on Reading

The Miracle Libraries of South Korea
 Day 2 of the TK Park Conference on Reading commenced last July 13, 2012, Friday at the Queen Sirikit National Convention. The day's program was as insightful and inspirational as the Day 1 with three speakers and a panel that ended the successful conference.

The morning session had Dr. Amorn Nakontharp and Dr. Banjalug Namfa speak of 21st century learning. Dr. Amorn focused his talk on teachers and the demands of sound pedagogy that is applicable for learning and living in the 21st century. He emphasized the new skills that students need to develop to succeed in teh 21st century, but also, staying true in practice of the basic reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. His message to parents, teachers and school librarians: Play games with your children; tell stories to them; engage them in conversation; listen and see how your children think and process information.

With Asarin and Tuktak of TK Park who both took care of me 

Indeed, the digital age poses so many demands for the teacher. In parting, Dr. Amorn encouraged teachers to teach students how to love learning. In the same vein, Dr. Banjalug Namfa posed questions that made every one reflect on 21st century learning: How do we read? How do we write? How do we collaborate? Where do we get information? How do we learn? How do we communicate? Her session incorporated principles and values of the ASEAN as well. This for me was a session of relearning.

I have always known the ASEAN as an organization of Southeast Asian nations that discuss political, economic and social development in the region. To hear Dr. Banjalug talk about the five principles of the ASEAN made me realize that the organization is deeply concerned with the development of its people towards the future of the region. The five principles are:

1. Knowing ASEAN.

2. Valuing Identity & Diversity.

3. Connecting local and global.

4. Promoting Equality and Justice.

5. Working together for a sustainable future.

Speakers and TK Park staff all together in this photo at the end of the conference
That is why, in the panel, one topic tackled the empowerment of children for the ASEAN future. The five of us speakers pointed out the relevance of family and community in raising children grow in their potentials. Many best practices in reading and literacy development had been presented and these are examples of projects that support families in rearing children who are aware of their culture, history, nationality and tolerant of other peoples. Mr. Chan Soo Ahn, director of Citizen Action for Reading Culture in Korea is involved library development to promote peace and understanding. A non-government organization, Citizen Action for Reading Culture has established ten libraries with one new library in the process of establishment.

With a new friend, Zubaidah Mohsen of Singapore, National Library

The TK Park Conference on Reading  2012, had been a success as it achieved its objectives. But, to truly empower children for the ASEAN future, continuous re-evaluation of paradigms and practices in education, knowledge creation, library systems and structures need to take place in the Southeast Asian countries. I am starting with my own family, my children, in making them realize that unique as they are, they are not alone in the world. There are so many things to learn from others that if they seclude themselves in their own circle, they will become stagnant and their knowledge, stale. As I said in the panel as my closing remark, it is important that we all become lifelong learners. Lifelong learning is not merely a set of skills but a philosophy.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Day 1 of the TK Park Conference on Reading

 Day 1 of the TK Park Conference started with a keynote speech and welcome address of Dr. Tatsanai Wongpisetkul and Mr. Songsak Premsuk, Chair of the Office of Knowledge Management and Development in Thailand (OKMD). The OKMD is the governing department of TK Park. As explained by Dr. Wongpisetkul, TK Park is not a library, but a prototype knowledge management center for regional TK Parks in the regions of Thailand. As of to date, there are six TK Parks in the country and monitoring is only one aspect of TK Park's job. The staff of TK Park undergo constant research and development to improve the creation of knowledge and services it provides the public. For five years, it has been an uphill climb for them.

The medium of instruction in the conference are Thai and English. We were all given translators we attached on our ears to listen to the English translations for Thai speeches. This was the same for Thais who needed to hear our English speeches in their mother tongue. All in all, there were five speakers: myself, Zu Mohsen (Singapore), Shu Binti Haji (Malaysia), Sothik Hok (Cambodia) and Chan-soo Ahn (Korea). Except for Mr. Ahn, we four have delivered our paper and project presentations today.

I was the first to speak on the Role of School Libraries and Librarians in the Digital Age. I had the audience listen up the moment I showed a photo of my first library card and the story behind it. It has never failed me, that story. I then moved on to the flow of my presentation and in one hour, I was done. Thai Radio requested for an interview to which I graciously obliged.

The presentations that followed were library and reading projects in Singapore, Malaysia and Cambodia.

In Singapore, the National Library has a project called Born to Read, Read to Bond. This is a project that provides parents with Reading Kits and equip them with skills in reading to their children through talks and workshops. Malaysia has a similar project known as Every Baby a Book. What makes this different is the production of one specific cloth book and parents' guide in using the book for their baby. Since then, many parents in Penang, Malaysia availed of library cards. Indeed the love of reading begins at home and parents are the first to model the reading habit. A nation of readers begin in the family, the smallest unit of society. I am amazed and impressed at the daring and passionate ways in which the public librarians in Malaysia and Singapore spearhead the reading culture in the family through a library program.

In Cambodia, a non-government organization called SIPAR (accronym in Cambodian) sets up libraries in schools and in prisons. Sothik Hok presented the history and context of this project as well as ties with Room to Read, another NGO devoted to reading development in children. School library development is a strategy to help Cambodians reestablish their sense of self and well-being after the war. The motto in which SIPAR leaves by is this: "When people don't reach for books, we must make the books reach people". Their project will be awarded a grant by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). Sothik Hok is bound for London in August to receive the award during the IBBY Conference there.

Tomorrow will be Day 2 of the conference where three more papers are up for presentations. In the afternoon, I will join a panel to discuss these questions: What would be the characteristics of children for ASEAN future? How can we build them? Do they think children in ASEAN countries today are smarter (because they grow up in the digital age)? Do you have any concern that the reading is on the decline among children because of the Internet - Wikipedia, Google etc.?

Drop by the blog and read up on updates from the TK Park Conference on Reading 2012.

The Knowledge Park Bangkok, Thailand

I arrived safely in Bangkok yesterday. The new airport is spankingly metropolitan. There were so many tourists coming in for vacation that it took me twenty minutes to pass through immigration.  It wasn't long until my host, Asarin Nonthihathai of The Knowledge Park, met me at the gate. Together with other delagates, we cruised down the highway to our hotel, The Ramada Hotel & Suites in Sukhumvit Road.

I felt like I was in Manila except, there were no jeepneys and tricycles in the national highway and "sois". From The Ramada, all delegates were whisked away to The Knowldege Park. We took the sky train since traffic is heavy at that time of the day.

The Knowledge Park (TK Park) is located on the 8th floor of the new mall in downtown Bangkok. It has a children's library, a teens and young adult area, a music library, e-book and digital area, and IT collection and a spacious lobby for events hosted by TK Park. There, we met the staff of TK Park and the vice president, Dr. Tatsanai Wongpisetkul. Here's sharing some photos with you -

With Tatsanai Wongpisetkul of TK Park. The staff prepared a bag of Thai books for us! Yay!

The speakers for the Conference on Reading: L-R Chan Soo-Ahn (Korea), Zubaihdah Mohsen (Singapore), Tatsanai Wongpisetkul, Zarah Gagatiga (Philippines), Sothik-Hok (Cambodia), Shukriah Binti Haji (Malaysia) TK Park Staff  

Thai children read in designed honeycombs and trees inside the TK Park

A Thai picture-story book for children.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The 2nd Filipino ReaderCon: United We Read

The 2nd Filipino ReaderCon: United We Read is on August 18, 2012 at the Filipinas Heritage Library, Makati City, held in partnership with Filipinas Heritage Library (FHL) and National Book Development Board (NBDB)

For details of the program, you can visit the site. Just click the highlighted link. What makes this different from last year's ReaderCon is the launching of the Filipino Reader' Choice Awards (FRCA). From the blog, the Filipino RCA seeks to

engage the Filipino reading public in honoring their favorite Philippine-published titles. An initiative of the Filipino Book Bloggers Group, the Filipino RCA was established to develop awareness and appreciation of Philippine literature; recognize the reader’s role in creating the meaning and experience of a literary work; and give the readers a voice in the Philippine book industry.
Nomination forms are available online. What I like about this award is that, it is the reader, or for this matter, the collective Pinoy reader who makes the choice. I'm excited to know who the winners will be in the categories that the organizers conjured:
  • Children’s picture book
  • Chick lit
  • Novel in English
  • Novel in Filipino
  • Comics / Graphic novels
  • Short story anthology
  • Essay anthology
  • Poetry 
 In light of this event, yes, I am delighted because readers should respond actively on the books and materials that they engage in and encounter. The exercise promotes thinking. Engagement in book discussions and book talks affect the creative process of book making. Then again, how I wish school librarians can also begin an activity like this. Or, perhaps, as "keepers" of books and information, school librarians can set up small book award events in their learning communities as a way to celebrate reading, bringing books closer to children and teens. 

SR Ranganathan's law, books are for use, stands on firm legs in this digital age.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Legend of Korra: A Review

My family and I are avid fans of Aang, the Last Air bender. We followed the three seasons faithfully and we would run marathon viewing of the series on long weekends. When news of a new avatar came our way, we patiently waited for its TV debut. In a nutshell, we can say that Korra kicked ass. But. But. But. We missed Aang and the Gang. I especially missed Uncle Iroh and his words of wisdom.

What worked

The new world of the Avatar, Republic City, is way too progressive from the world that Aang saved eighty years ago. This is the future that Zuko and Aang built. I'm impressed at the technological progress that the four nations have developed over the years. In spite of the fast, sleek and sophisticated gadgets present in Korra's world, old and familiar practices and beliefs are still evident: the world is still in need of the avatar despite the existing law and order enforcers; all is fair in love and war; every generation has its tyrant; heroes are not perfect and like any human being, they too need help of family and friends.

The animation is superb. There are enough visuals and imagery to anchor the fans' context of Aang's world to Korra's. Likewise, the presence of visual cues are enough to fill in the puzzle of Korra's journey in becoming a full pledge avatar. Aang's colossal statue, as well as Zuko's and Toph's are tribute to the characters that endeared the fans greatly to the show. The reprisal of Sokka and the episodes where Katara appeared are treats to fans. The appearance of the young general, Iroh II, Zuko's grandson, gave me goosebumps. I didn't expect Aang would grow up looking serious, and yes, handsomely voiced by DB Sweeny, who happened to be my crush way back in the 90s. I like it that Aang restored Korra's bending because, this new facet of the avatar as restorer is messianic. Aang is still the hero of the hour. If Roku guided Aang in his avatar journey, Aang takes and gives to Korra what she has lost.

The formula of the fantastic four: Mako, Bolin, Asami and Korra stays true to the one that Aang and the Gang forged in his season. Tenzin as the wizened teacher to Korra is acceptable in his own low key personality. The Legend of Korra did present a new avatar world while honoring the past. Then again, it falls short on some aspects where Aang's season stood out brilliantly.

What did not work

The lack of a strong villain, an anti-hero and a confused character in the round made me think that this new season of the avatar is all fluff and stuff. The comedic timing is still there courtesy of Bolin and Milo, but Sokka is just superb at being sarcastically funny. Tenzin is a nice guy, but he does not have the mystery and deep seated wisdom of Uncle Iroh. The thing is, I learned a lot from that man and his mentoring of Zuko. Iroh is instrumental in making Zuko a hero. If not for Zuko, Aang wouldn't shine as the child-savior.

There were so many gaps left unfilled with in the span of eighty years. I know it's just me, but it had been difficult to wonder what happened to the characters I loved and considered (in my imagination) as my next door neighbors while watching Korra. Perhaps this was so on account of the believable world and characters the old season left behind. As a viewer, and fan, I have made a personal investment on the characters of the old avatar. The Legend of Korra flew by so quickly I didn't fully realize it was over until Mako and Korra kissed in the end.

The writers of Korra spoiled the new avatar, big time. I am expecting more tests on Korra's character in the next season, if there will ever be a next season. My plea to Dimartino and Konietzko: please make a short series of the original team avatar to help fans like me get over the last Air bender.

Pinoy Kids & YA Lit Fest in July

It appears that a line-up of literary events for children and teens are scheduled this month of July. Not only are these events for kids and teens, but also, for the adults who create and produce literature for them. Here's the litany --
Phil Speculative Fiction Vol. 7 Book Launching - July 28, 2012 / 2PM @ Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Shangrila Plaza, Edsa. Ebook formats of previous PSF volumes are available in Amazon and in Flip Reads.

Cyan Abad-Jugo's book, Singkit: A 1980s Diary (Anvil) will be launched on July 21, 2012 / 3PM @ Powerbooks, Greenbelt. There's a press release on Cyan and her writing experiences in the Inquirer. Go read Cyan's writing journey!

On the same day, the 1st Kwentillion Young Adult Readers Carnival is scheduled to take place at National Book Store Best Sellers, Robinson's Galleria. The event will begin at 1PM. Paolo Chikiamco of Rocket Kapre blogs about the panel of YA creators who will speak on their art and their craft. I'm attending this event since I'm eager to get Budjette Tan's autograph. Also, the YA Game sounds interesting. Maybe it's something I can replicate in the school library. 

In the library scene, school librarians of the CLAPI (Children's Literature Association of the Philippines, Inc.) has organized a seminar on K-12 Curriculum and Reading. This will be held at the Epifanio delos Santos Hall, National Library of the Philippines, T. M. Kalaw, Manila on July 24, 2012 from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. Php300.00 as registration fee, For further inquiries, you may contact Ms. Melba A. Tablizo of the National Library of the Philippines at +02 3105033 and/or Mrs. Leonila S. Galvez of DepEd, Manila at +02 2512859 / +02 2546162.

On July 17, PBBY will be awarding the Salanga Prize and the Alcala Prize to Russell Molina and Hubert Fucio respectively. It's the 29th NCBD and I'll try my best to update you all via Facebook and Twitter (live) as the ceremony rolls along. Dean Dina Ocampo will give the keynote address on the theme of mother tongue based instruction. Tarie Sabido, book reviewer and book blogger par excellence will be inducted as new PBBY board member.

And of course, the 2nd Best Reads-National Children's Book Awards will be held at the Mind Museum in Taguig City.

Lastly, Scholastic and Anvil are conducting book sales as I write this. Anvil dubbed their sale as Young Adult and Children's Book Festival and Scholastic promotes their 10th year anniversary with the 10 Deals for 10 Years warehouse sale.

Take your pick. Read! Read! Read!

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