Monday, August 21, 2017

Repost from 2012: World Read Aloud Day: Reading aloud Lizard's Song

George Shannon's Lizard's Song is one of my favorite read aloud pieces. I discovered the book during my preschool years as a librarian. I learned the tune of the song from a little boy, the son of a former colleague, who visited the library. When he saw the book on the table, I remembered him say, "Oh! Lizard's Rock!". He then opened the book, read the story aloud and sang the song as he went along! To see and hear a child read is a beautiful experience. Happy World Read Aloud Day!

Vic Asuncion is Mr. Persona Power

Mr. Vic Asuncion is Persona Power Personified
In July, a few weeks before the 2nd Philippine Children's Book Summit, PBBY President Tarie Sabido and I were guests in the radio-TV-social media show The School of Life TV. Aired over at 8-Trimedia DZRJ 810 AM every Saturday at 10AM - 12NN and hosted by Jon Bernard Ordonez Caasi, Tarie and I presented activities of the National Children's Book Day and the Philippine Children's Book Summit. There we met Mr. Caasi's co-host, Mr. Vic Asuncion.

Mr. Asuncion is known in the Personal Development industry as Mr. Persona Power. He generously lent his time for this interview in the blog.

What are soft skills? Are there kinds and categories? If yes, please identify them as applied to real life events or situations.
Soft Skills are those skills people use to manage themselves as human beings and their interactions towards others so they can lead a harmonious and comfortable life.

These are the non-technical skills that people never learn from schools and universities, but are more important and much needed to make it in the real world. Sub-skills such as the ability to communicate, human relations, social manners, confidence, decision making, overall image, business etiquette, positive attitude and emotional intelligence make up the whole spectrum.

Kinds: Self-Management Skills and People Management Skills

Categories: Personal; Social; and Business

How can Charisma Power help educators teach young people especially now that there is a Personal Development subject in SHS?

Educators can only be credible in teaching CHARISMA POWER concepts to young people if they will first apply the principles themselves and make them a part of their everyday system.

Let's accept the fact that many of our educators sadly have this as a major concern. Most of them don't even know that it is something that they need to work on.

Meantime, given that there is a Personal Development Subject already, I suggest that school management chooses the right and qualified teachers to handle the subject. Teachers who already possess at least a considerable  degree of charm would be a good choice.

DEPED must implement an intensive Educators' Development Program nationwide to guide them to walk their talk and train them to ensure consistency and uniformity in the modules.

A Personal Development Program that is proven and tested to be effective, practical, and impactful should be designed to ensure that students will really learn the essentials needed to achieve personal and professional greatness.

The School of Life TV Classmates: L-R Tarie Sabido, Kat Olan, Jon Bernard Ordonez Caasi, Mr. Vic Asuncion, Teachers Riza Araneta and Marose Lagunsad, and Zarah Gagatiga

As a trainer of professionals and young people, what experience that has been most meaningful for you?

I have been in the Personal Development industry for more than 2 decades and I can say that I have a lot of meaningful experiences that are worth treasuring. In all of them, what is most meaningful is when people would thank me for what I've done for them to become better that led them to have a more successful and  comfortable life. Hearing people tell me this gives me the motivation to continue my work. But as I always tell them, it is not I who made them better. They made themselves better.

Name five people with Charisma Power. What makes them charismatic?

There are a lot of people who have CHARISMA POWER.  The 5 People (popular) who I think have developed the 6 Personal Powers needed to have CHARISMA are:

a) Oprah Winfrey
b) Charo Santos-Concio
c) Matteo Guidicelli
d) Barrack Obama
e) Princess Diana

Mr. Vic Asuncion runs personality development workshops, professional and personal development training, coaching and mentoring sessions, and youth leadership programs too. Visit the Persona Power - Center for Personal and Professional Excellence Facebook Page for details.

Watch out for news on his ebook, Charisma Power, which we will feature in the blog soon!

Before you go, here is information about a FREE TRAINING SESSION from Mr. Vic Asuncion, Mr. Persona Power!


1. Send us a message and your group's profile to signify your intent to be a Beneficiary of POWER UP JUAN Project (PersonaPower's youth training advocacy).

2. Upon evaluation, your group can GET A FREE Persona Power Training for your officers & members.

Please SHARE to other youth groups, too.

CONNECT W/ US @ 0998-7917425 / 7093310 /

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Storytelling: Take a Little Walk Bear

Throwback video. During the 3rd Philippine Literary Festival, I conducted a Storytelling Workshop with Darrel Marco and Audrey Anday as co-facilitators. The workshop was sponsored by my publisher, Lampara Books. Thanks to Chris Danger for the video!

I first heard Take a Little Walk Bear from Margaret Read McDonald back in 2002 during the 2nd Storytelling Conference in Singapore. I tell this story to end a storytelling session and to bid participants goodbye.

Want more stories like this? Come join us on August 25, 2017 at the San Beda Library, Alabang. Storytelling Now!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Book Review: Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies

Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies (Pottermore Presents, #1)Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies by J.K. Rowling

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

These short stories are good enough to read for when you miss the whole gang. JK Rowling has created a host of very interesting characters that, in their death or continuing adventures in the Potter books and beyond, you wonder what came before and what happened next. This collection did just that for me.

Remus Lupin and Minerva McGonagall are two of my favorite characters in the Potter books. Knowing their past, or better yet, their origin stories gave me closure in understanding their story arc. JK Rowling is really something else!

I hope more short stories of intriguing characters come up in the future. Sirius and his brother, Regulus. Charlie Weasley. Aberforth Dumbledore. Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody. Olivander, the Wandmaker. Just to mention a few. There are many events in the Wizarding World to know more about as well. The Goblin Wars. The slavery of the elves. Muggle and wizard relations. At the end of it all, readers and fans of the books are at the mercy of JK Rowling, magical weaver of tales!

View all my reviews

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Teacher Techie of the Month: Galvin Radley L. Ngo

Because the first National Conference on Technology in Education (NCTED 2017) is only a month away, the blog features Mr. Galvin Radley Ngo of Wohoo Learning Lab, a program partner of NCTED 2017. 

Get to know Galvin, Wohoo Learning Lab and the first NCTED 2017. Read on!

Where did "IT" all begin - your interest, and passion in teaching and technology?

My first "teaching experience" happened way back in 2004, when I worked as a teacher and assistant coordinator for the Jesuit Communication Foundation's The Garage: Center for Creative and Multimedia Technologies. In The Garage, we conducted workshops for priests, nuns, teachers and NGO workers in various multimedia and technology skills, so that they can use it in their work and advocacies. Looking back, I think that was the earliest contact I've had with being part of the intersections of technology and education. However, what really ignited my interest and passion was the opportunity to work in Xavier School, close to 7 years ago. In Xavier, I was tasked to be part of the NExT (New Experiences with Technology) Team, who took charge of advocating and supporting the school's initiative to explore the potential of using technology in teaching and learning. There, I was struck by how technology, in the hands of passionate teachers, can really make a difference in learning.

What is Woohoo Learning Lab?

Woohoo Learning Lab is an education technology professional learning company. Our advocacy is to help schools and teachers ignite meaningful innovations in learning, through supporting them with resources, opportunities to exchange ideas and best practices (conferences and edcamps), coaching, training and consultancy. Usually conversations about Education Technology are dominated by discussions on types of technologies (Do you use tablets? apps? sites? etc.), and though these are surely exciting things to talk about, what we've noticed is that, sometimes the key ingredient for a successful initiative is not given much attention. From our perspective, this key ingredient is the teacher. Though we love learning about new technologies, we are strong believers that it is still learning design and a teacher's educational philosophy & pedagogical practice that will really help make a difference.

What is your role in the National Conference on Technology in Education (NCTED)?

Woohoo Learning Lab is currently the program partner for the conference. As program partner, we are in charge of designing the overall participant experience through conducting research on best practices, curating topics and inviting facilitators based on school's needs and interests, and ensuring alignment across all sessions to ensure a cohesive learning experience.
What would a teacher or educator get from this conference as they are bombarded with professional development activities already?

The national conference is really a celebration of research and practice-based innovations from all over the nation. Participants will have an opportunity to learn from and with educators from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, and from various educational settings: K-12, Inclusive Ed and Higher Ed. It is also an opportunity to learn about other best practices from outside the nation: featuring speakers from the United States and Singapore. Finally, it is an opportunity to collaborate with each other, not just with the facilitators but also among the participants themselves. With many changes and challenges ahead, most specially in education, I think the best way moving forward is to face them together.

What is the future of education?

The future of education will be shaped by educators who are creative-always finding new ways and taking on different perspectives in the way he/she teaches, who are collaborative - humble enough to break down his/her classroom walls to take part in networks of educators, and who care deeply about each learner - taking time to find ways for learning to happen better for each student. 

Wohoo Learning Lab is located in
2/F GEMPC Building, Timog Avenue, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES
Visit their Facbook Page:
Go to the link for more information on the NCTED, program, registration and list of resource speakers.

InnovatED: Learn. Unlearn. Relearn.

I will be conducting a three hour workshop on September 13, 2017 during the first National Conference on Technology in Education at the SMX Convention Center, Manila. My session's title is Media in the Time of Social Media: Necessary Skills in Navigating the Multimedia Landscape. 

The World Wide Web, as we know it, is constantly changing. It is no longer a passive  multimedia landscape where people can simply locate and access information. The Web has become a platform for interactivity and participation. A variety of media formats have merged into the Web allowing more opportunities for creativity, opening up of communication channels and collaborative projects.

This session will tackle the dual role of media as tool and message and how it merges into the different Web 2.0 technologies. Participants will be engaged in critical and creative thinking activities that will help them understand the strengths and limitations of blogs, wikis, ePortfolios and social media as instructional and thinking tools, as well as techniques in using different multimedia platforms for teaching and learning. Teachers, school librarians, allied professionals and homeschooling parents will benefit a great deal from the workshop.

For more information on the conference go to InnovatED 2017.

Program can be viewed here and the Registration  to the conference is easy and accessible.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Storytelling Now!

Join me and a host of librarian storytellers tell stories in different ways and techniques on Friday, August 25, 2017 at the Senior High School Library of San Beda Alabang.

The seminar workshop will feature a Storytelling Rigodon; a look at stories and storytelling from creators and tellers of tales; exercises to bring out the inner storyteller in you; and strategic storytelling activities for K-12 students.

Here's the link for the invitation.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Book Review: Grass for His Pillow, Tales of the Otori Book 2

Grass for His Pillow (Tales of the Otori, #2)Grass for His Pillow by Lian Hearn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This second book of the series, Grass for His Pillow, Tales of the Otori starts slowly, like breathing in preparation for meditation. Takeo and Kaede's narratives are told in detail against the background of an impending war. There is turmoil and tension happening within Takeo and Kaede as well as the world in which they live in. It ends abruptly though, this careful description of building chaos internally and externally that it left me yearning for more of Hearn's beautiful and tragic narration of love lost and found.

I couldn't help but think that the amazing and most terrible moments of Kaede and Takeo's journey are all packed in book three. Nonetheless, it has all the troupes of romance that I truly love: a prophecy, dalliances, a revelation, a great big war and the folly of youth.

How will Takeo and Kaede redeem themselves in the third book?

View all my reviews

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Lighthouse Diary Entry 3: The TOK Tree

In the Academy, when going to Building B using the right doorway from Building A is a path where, if you are observant you will notice it immediately, a tree stands to the right. It has been very popular among birds and men lately because it has flowered and is bearing fruit. Ang sipag niya mamulaklak! Puwera usog!

TOK Tree. Fruit of Wonder!
It is known on campus as the Palawan Cherry Tree. The flowers are small and pink. The fruit is edible, as small as a cherry tomato, bright red when ripe like an apple and the taste vary from one person to the other. However, unlike the cherry, it does not have a pit. Its seeds come in clusters.

I wonder why it was called a cherry tree, in the first place. The tree's real identity is still up for debate! A topic for research!

Our learning support teacher likens the fruit to a balimbing. The Business Management teachers says it tastes like macopa but with a slightly acidic zing to it. Our new Filipino teacher thought of raspberries upon tasting the fruit. I say it tastes like kalamansi with honey.

Aha. A Theory of Knowledge (TOK) moment!

Because we are not sure of the tree's species and genus, we relied on our memories to identify the fruit's taste, and this gave meaning to our experience of this wonderful tree growing in the school grounds.We can always argue on its taste and we will all end up agreeing to disagree. Indeed, one's opinion and experience is different from the other. Such is the way with knowledge and our perception of the world.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Thank you, Teacher Jaron!

Oh joy! This message came from Teacher Jaron.

Hi Ms. Zarah 🙂 

I just want to share how my students, Nissi and Lesli Anastacio loved the story (My Daddy! My One and Only!). They asked me if they could borrow it so they can read it at home 🙂 Thank you for this story! I personally loved it too 😊😍 Regards to Nico as well.

I actually told them the origin of the story that you told us at the Lampara Books Seminar. They really love their Daddy Lester who comes home late at night and they want to show their dad the story and to say thank you for being there for them.

I was teaching them a lesson about parents going to work despite of stormy days. Then I remembered the story when they were sharing stories of their parents.

Jaron Adapon Natividad is a preschool teacher in Precious Vessels Christian Academy. 

Thank you, Teacher Jaron for sharing our book to your students. How generous you are for allowing your students to bring home the book with them to show it to their father. Continue to create bridges between young readers and books written especially for them.

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Lighthouse Diary Entry 2: Desires, Passions and the World's Greatest Need

No PPT slides. It was trad. But it worked!
Unlce Iroh, one of my favorite characters in the hit cartoon show, The Avatar, the Last Airbender, quotes in one episode, "Follow your passion and life will reward you!" It sounds so simple yet so true. For when we know what we are truly passionate about and when we pursue it, life gives back a hundred fold. I suppose this is a natural law of the universe for it calls to each and everyone to do good. However, knowing one's passion is another quest in the journey of living a meaningful life. And yes, how one pursues this passion is another story.

Two weeks ago, on a Friday, the weekend before the Academy opened its doors to its Griffins, new and returning, the faculty was fortunate to have Mr. Robert "Bobbit" Suntay for an inspirational talk. Mr. Suntay is one of the members of the Board of Trustees and it is not often that we see him on campus. He would visit, once in a while for BOT purposes and that's it. So, his brief but engaging talk was a welcome surprise to many. Like Uncle Iroh, he talked about one's search for happiness, the heart's truest desire, the journey of finding it and what happens when this inner desire is affirmed and actualized. Happiness is achieved because, this deepest desire meets the world's greatest need.

Aren't we all a part of a bigger something? Don't we all need to belong in some greater scheme? Even the traditional introvert searches for an endeavor that would make him whole.

That Friday, my materials for Library Orientation were all prepared. Our bulletin boards have been set up, usernames and passwords of our online subscriptions have been updated, and brochures and library bookmarks were all sorted out. My assistant, Flynn, and I were ready for the opening of of Academic Year 2017-2018. However, Mr. Suntay's talk left a dent in my heart and in my mind that over the weekend, I reviewed my plans and changed it entirely.

I thought of going for what I am truly passionate about. Books. Reading. Media and Information Literacy. Working with Students. Helping teachers. Bridging gaps. Going the extra mile even when it hurts. These are the things that matter to me. And these were the things I shared with our Griffins last Monday, July 31st, the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola. The birth date of Harry Potter, the boy who lived.

Four classes on MIL last week! YAY!
It was the first time I got a round of applause from the seniors (probably because there is no Book Quota this year?). The juniors tried their best to behave and to listen given the number of new students in the batch. The year 10s jumped in the task given to them right away. No qualms. They were ready to engage despite themselves. And the year 9s, what a frisky bunch!

During the in-service, HOS (head of school) reminded us of our thrust for this academic year. Back to teaching. I think, with Mr. Suntay's sharing of his life journey, I need to go back to my passions that has kept me all these years working in a school alongside teachers and school leaders and helping students find their own path. Operations and administrative work will always be important. Then again, the head and the hand will not function well if the heart isn't in it.

It was an amazing first week. There will be peaks and valleys but I hold on to my passions because, I am positive, as I have seen it happen before, these will all turn into my life's mission.

So, Life, let's do this!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Max Flew and Got a Review!

Thank you for the review, Dr. Eugene Evasco!

Storytelling Festival: Music and Storytelling

Teachers Cess and Psalm joined forces during the Storytelling Festival last July 22, 2017 at the GT Toyota Asian Center. By using folk songs, musical instruments and chants, they engaged the listeners into a lively session of storytelling!

The story, Ang Pitong Panaginip, is an original by Teacher Psalm.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

NCBD 2017 Aftershocks 2 of 2

The 1st Storytelling Festival
It's been two weeks since the celebration of the National Children's Book Day (NCBD) at the Cultural Center of the Philippines last July 18, 2017 and the 2nd Philippine Children's Book Summit (PCBS) at the GT Toyota Asian Center in UP Diliman last July 22, 2017. I wrote about these two events and NCBD related activities in the blog and you can read all about it in NCBD 2017 Aftershocks 1 of 2.

Friends from the industry who attended the PCBS also wrote about the event. ICYMI, here's a link to an article about Children's Literature in the regions published in Vera Files. The take off point is the panel on Children's Literature in the Regions where Padma Perez, Noel Galan De Leon and MJ "Xi Zuq" Tumamac were the resource speakers. Cebu writer and journalist, Cris Evert Lato-Ruffalo wrote about the PCBS, particularly the session on library development in Cebu Daily News Inquirer. National Book Development Board of the Philippines Chairperson, Neni Sta. Romana Cruz had an article in the Inquirer not only of the PCBS but also about children's literature events and activities in Davao and in San Francisco USA.

I wouldn't be surprised if in the following years, the NCBD will be celebrated in Iloilo, Baguio, Cagayan Valley, Cebu or General Santos City.

Happy students from La Huerta Elementary School
As the first week of August folds into a new one, I keep this wonderful thought that the Storytelling Festival during the PCBS had been a great success as well as the Illustrator's Fair. Kudos to the team of Ms. Anne Rosette Crelencia for conducting a book repair and mending workshop during the PCBS. Many teachers and librarians learned from their session.

To the 30 volunteers of the Storytelling Festival, teachers, librarians and reading advocates, I extend my appreciation to all your hard work! It would not have been a success if not for your selfless participation. You made many children happy! Even parents and teachers enjoyed the Festival too!

We sure did offer our child audience different storytelling techniques and varied stories that even the young at heart came out of the storytelling hall inspired and motivated to tell stories to their children. This, I think, is one way to gauge our impact to the adults who take care of kids and young people. I get news from some of the volunteers that the program and flow of the Storytelling Festival is being replicated in other learning communities in the metro. It only goes to show that our work is not over yet.

We take a long breather from all these, gather our strengths and reflect a bit. We shall look at ways to improve the Festival and definitely, we will see each other again next NCBD!

Teachers, librarians and reading advocates worked together to conduct the 1st Storytelling Festival.

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