Friday, February 27, 2009

English vs Mother Tongue? - Reprint

Which is the best medium of instruction for Filipino students? Heads butt at the Lower House to prove which bill can help solve the growing illiteracy problem…

“WE have become a nation of fifth graders!” remarked Josefina Cortes, dean of the University of the East (UE) Graduate School and former UE president. The sad results of a literacy survey conducted in 2003 further validate her assumption.

Of the 57.59 million Filipinos aged 10 to 64 years old chosen as respondents for the Functional Literacy, Education and Mass Media Survey (FLEMMS), 5.24 million Filipino could not read and write, while 7.83 million could not read, write and compute. Worse, the same survey finds that 18.37 million Filipinos could not read, write, compute and comprehend!

The survey also reveals that the illiteracy rate among the poor is even more alarming, with one out of two people (46%) not being able to understand what they read.

In an effort to address this, some solons have consolidated their pertinent bills to maximize the use of English in schools and be able to produce more globally competitive graduates.

House Bill 5619 (Consolidated English-Only Bill by Cebu Reps. Eduardo Gullas and Raul Del Mar and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte) aims to strengthen and enhance the use of English as the Medium of Intruction (MOI) from the elementary to tertiary levels. Currently on its third and final reading, the bill seems set to be approved with some 202 of the 238 members of the House backing it up.

However, Valenzuela Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo claims his Multilingual Education (MLE) and Literacy Bill (House Bill no. 3719) is the better alternative to the English Bill. Strongly supported by the academe, government and private organizations and linguistic experts from the University of the Philippines and the Linguistic Society of the Philippines, Gunigundo vows to stop the passage of the English Bill by seeking to convince other solons of the more beneficial merits of the MLE.

Under the English Bill, English, Filipino or the regional/native language may be used as the teaching language in all subjects from preschool to Grade 3. But from Grades 4 to 6, all levels in high school and college, English shall be promoted as the “language of interaction’’ in schools, as well as the “language of assessment’’ in all government examinations, all entrance tests in public schools as well as state universities and colleges. If enacted, the Bill is said to supersede Department of Education (Deped) Order No. 25’s Bilingual Teaching Policy.

Under the MLE bill, students in the pre-school up to Grade 6 will be taught in their first language or L1. This includes the teaching of subjects like math, science, health and social studies. As they develop a strong foundation in their L1, the students will be gradually introduced to the official languages Filipino and English orally and then in the written form. English and Filipino, meanwhile, will be taught strongly as separate subjects.

A press release from Gullas’ office reasoned out that students skills in the English language have weakened with the more prominent use of Taglish (a blend of English and the local dialect). “Mounting global unemployment due to the worsening economic slump has merely underscored the need for our human resources to be proficient in English – the world’s lingua franca – in order to stay highly competitive in the job markets here and abroad,” Gullas said in the press statement.

Students and Campuses Bulletin would have wanted to hear more and straight from Gullas, also an educator, but we were given the round around by his staff and the solon himself.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
MLE ADVOCATES Valenzuela Rep. Magtanggol Gunigundo and UP Professor Ricardo Nolasco say the mother tongue-based education will revolutionize the thinking/reasoning skills of many Filipinos. (Photos by POL BRIANA, JR.)

Gunigundo downplays Gullas’ reason that using English as a medium of instruction improves English proficiency as “mere popular belief.’’

“How can you defend on anecdotal gut feel when there is empirical data culled by linguistic experts not only in Philippines but also in the US, Europe and Africa, that show this is the way to do it. If you really want the Philippines to have a high functional literacy, let’s use the regional languages, the mother tongue of the children in giving them the education that they need. No amount of textbooks, classrooms, teacher training and computers will lift the quality of education if you’re using the wrong language,” Gunigundo explains.

Dr. Ricardo Ma. Nolasco, associate professor, UP Department of Linguistics, has long been a proponent of the MLE campaign, even teaming up with Gunigundo in pushing for this bill in Congress.

“The issue of language in education in the Philippines is a learning issue and a very urgent one. Filipino children are not learning because they cannot understand what the teacher is saying. The language in school is not THEIR language. We are pushing for the use of the mother tongue in the elementary grades in order to develop the child’s cognitive skills and to provide a solid foundation towards learning in Filipino and English in the higher grades,” stresses Nolasco who is also a board member of the Linguistic Society of the Philippines and the adviser for multilingual education initiatives of the Foundation for Worldwide People Power Inc.

There are currently over 150 dialects aside from the Filipino language that are being used as the first language of many young Filipino children. Studies also reveal that it normally takes 12 years for a child to have a strong foundation in his first language that will facilitate the acquisition of a second, third and fourth language.

“That is what we want. We want our country to deliver quality education to the Filipino youth and the best way to do this is by using the first language of the child. Why are we demoting the regional languages? Are we saying the regional languages are inferior to Filipino and to English? That only English is the language known in this world that can deliver knowledge in math and science? That’s not correct. Our language is a living lingua franca, its not a puristic Filipino that were talking about. Its universal and embraces so many words including Chinese and Spanish.”

Moreover, he says being proficient in English is not a sign of a well-educated person.

“Even former US president George Bush committed a lot of grammatical syntactical mistakes during his presidency, and he’s a native English speaker. Kung English lang talaga ang way to go up for social nobility, eh di dapat ang mga Americano ang no. 1 sa lahat,” he adds.

Nolasco adds that this innovative approach to learning will produce multi-literate, multi-lingual and multi-cultural learners who can interact harmoniously with people of various cultural backgrounds.

Through MLE, Nolasco points out that children will be more encouraged to take an active part in the learning process because they understand what is being discussed and what is being asked of them. By using their own language, they will be able to articulate their thoughts and express themselves better.

Moreover, Nolasco says MLE will also empower the teachers as they become fluent and adept in the local language, as well as the parents who will be more involved in the education of their children because they all speak the same language. MLE, thus, brings the school and its programs closer to the community.

While many can’t seem to see the point in still learning in the language they already know, Nolasco clarified that what they may refer to is the conversational or everyday language used for daily interaction. This conversational language, he explains, is quite different from the academic and intellectualized language needed to discuss more abstract subjects.

“According to studies, it takes one to three years to learn conversational language but four to seven years to master the academic language under well resourced conditions. It also takes time to develop higher order thinking (HOT) skills and this depends largely on cognitively demanding curricula especially from Grade 4 onwards,” he says.

According to him, the use of MLE is also expected to spur the second language industry, decentralize graft and corruption in the making of materials and teaching of methodology and will ultimately, revolutionize the thinking of many Filipinos whose reasoning skills will be further developed.

Nolasco says they were able to discuss their concerns with Rep. Gullas’ group but “they don’t want to listen. Puro rank and file arguments saying we should be globally competitive, rising demand for call centers, etc.”

He reiterates that they are also for global competitiveness but the issue here is how Filipinos can achieve that.

“The ability to communicate, the reasoning skills and problem solving. Kung hindi mo alam pano mag solve mga bagay bagay bakit kita iiemploy. Ke marunong ka mag English or Filipino, dapat yung abilidad mo andun na in the first place. The call centers have their own training programs ang kelangan nila mga tao na trainable at marunong sumunod sa instructons. Kahit magaling ka mag-English pero hindi ka marunong umintindi hindi rin puede yun,” he says.

Gunigundo adds that English, as it is, is already harder to understand with the nuances in grammar rules, among others. If it is going to be used as MOI the students, particularly the children of farmers and fishermen will even have a harder time learning in school.

“Eh yun lang regular at irregular verbs ang hirap intindihin nun. Imagine you will give him all of that, hindi niya maabsorb lahat yan kawawa ang batang Pilipino. Hindi niya kaya. And I don’t want to see my children ending up being fined for speaking in Filipino in their class. That is a violation of child rights under the Child Youth and Welfare Code of the UN Convention,” he concludes. (Other information sourced from a primer dubbed “The 21 Reasons why Filipino children learn better while using their Mother Tongue” by Ricardo Ma. Duran Nolasco, Ph.D.)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

SoCSarGen featured in Claude Tayag's Food Tour (Excerpts)

Food Tour - a culinary journal is the first book by Claude Tayag. It is a collection of his columns published in the Philippine Star. Tayag is a painter, sculptor, furniture designer, chef, and foodie.

In the following excerpts, he described his food tour in SoCSarGen with a group of "self-styled foodies."


"Having settled into their respective rooms at East Asia Hotel, the group then drives out to Alson's Aqua Farm -- probably the biggest in the whole of Mindanao, if not the Philippines -- for a tour of its extensive fishponds. They are greeted by Operations Manager Emilio Yulo . . . The meal starts off with a kinilaw of freshly-caught prawns, then the table starts to groan as one dish after another is laid on it -- grilled sea bass, soyed bangus belly with onions, sinigang na bangus, steamed prawns, steamed pompano with ginger and leeks, adobong eel, pako (fiddlehead fern) salad, and of course, not to be outstaged, a whole lechon!"

South Cotabato:

"Continuing their sortie, the foodies next head northwest to check out the fresh fruit market at Tupi. They pass through rolling hills and seemingly endless pineapple plantations, with Mount Matutom (sic) on the horizon. After all, they are right smack in the middle of Dole country. The market is located right along the highway, nestled under the canopy of giant fruit-laden marang trees. Upon seeing the finger-fat asparagus, the passion fruits, and the marang on sale, the travelers go on a buying spree. Then they proceed to Kablon Farms, where the owners (the Pantuas) offer them a generous sampling of their products . . . passion fruit juice, durian jam, shredded macapuno, and chocolate tablea."

General Santos City:

"They head up to the roof deck (of Sydney Hotel), where the restaurant is located and are greeted by the sight of a counter laden with all sorts of seafood. At the forefront is a fairly large sargent (sic) fish. This fish, when cut into cross sections, is similar in appearance to yellowfin tuna steaks. But that's where the similarity ends, for the sargent (sic) fish is also known by its local sobriquet "sitsiritsit" due to its very fatty meat that is reputed to cause an oil spill in the toilet.

Whatever plans the foodies have of keeping their dinner light quickly dissipates at the sight of the tempting spread before them. Adhering to their strict "see-food" diet, they promptly order everything they see. Needless to say, they have to waddle theur wat back to the hotel for a long-awaited respite after a very FULL day. Burp!"

Food Tour is available in all National Book Stores branches.

Focus: Richard Matheson

Richard Matheson, who turned 83 February 20 this year, is one of my favorite sci-fiction and horror novelists (together with Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch, Philip K. Dick, Peter Straub, Dean Koontz and Stephen King). I first became aware of him when I saw Duel, the first film directed by Steven Speilberg. Matheson wrote the book and screenplay which greatly impressed Spielberg that the latter decided to meg it.
Last year, the film version of his book, I am Legend, raised a ruckus because it was quite different from the novel like the film The Running Man (starring Arnold Schwarzenegger) is several miles away from the novella by Stephen King. This blogpost is prompted by the thread in Plurk where Slumdog Millionaire was discussed. I said Slumdog was based on a novel titled Q and A by Vikas Swarup and this was met by a collective gasp from those plurking with me. One plurker said most films are based on novels. If not, they're based on screenplays. I added, if a film becomes a hit, usually a novelization of the screenplay is released. If one has read the novel, has seen the film version and is delighted by the latter, then that doubles the appreciation. If not, then one can always say the book is better. A non-reader then has nothing to fall back on if one has only seen the film (and is disappointed) and has not read the book.

Some would argue that reading the book and seeing the film version raises comparisons. True. But in the case of Robert James Waller's novel The Bridges of Madison County, the film version enhanced appreciation for the book. Same is true with Matheson's Bid Time Return and its film version Somewhere in Time. Raise your hands, those of you who have seen these films and were enticed to read the novels later.
In true Hollywood fashion, book titles deemed not commercial enough are renamed. When I saw Somewhere in Time (starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour), I was wondering throughout the movie why the storyline was familiar to me. Years later, after watching the opening credits of the DVD version, I realized it was based on Matheson's Bid Time Return (which was retitled to sync with the film title) which I had read years before it was filmed. The film though was in general faithful to the plot and theme of the book.

Other Matheson books turned into movies include Stir of Echoes, What Dreams May Come, The Incredible Shrinking Man, Hell House, among others.
(Photos culled from the internet)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Meaning-full Words: Tagubilin at Habilin by Jose F. Lacaba

Isinulat ni Jose “Pete” F. Lacaba

Binigkas ni Armida Siguion-Reyna sa kanyang CD Pop Lola

Musika ni Ryan Cayabyab

(Slightly revised version)

Mabuhay ka, kaibigan!
Mabuhay ka!
Iyan ang una't huli kong
Tagubilin at habilin:
Mabuhay ka!

Sa edad kong ito, marami akong maibibigay na payo.
Mayaman ako sa payo.

Maghugas ka ng kamay bago kumain.
Maghugas ka ng kamay pagkatapos kumain.
Pero huwag kang maghuhugas ng kamay para lang makaiwas sa sisi.
Huwag kang maghuhugas ng kamay kung may inaapi
Na kaya mong tulungan.

Paupuin sa bus ang matatanda at ang mga may kalong na sanggol.
Magpasalamat sa nagmamagandang-loob.
Matuto sa karanasan ng matatanda
Pero huwag magpatali sa kaisipang makaluma.

Huwag piliting matulog kung ayaw kang dalawin ng antok.
Huwag pag-aksayahan ng panahon ang walang utang na loob.
Huwag makipagtalo sa bobo at baka ka mapagkamalang bobo.
Huwag bubulong-bulong sa mga panahong kailangang sumigaw.

Huwag kang manalig sa bulung-bulungan.
Huwag kang papatay-patay sa ilalim ng pabitin.
Huwag kang tutulog-tulog sa pansitan.

Umawit ka kung nag-iisa sa banyo.
Umawit ka sa piling ng barkada.
Umawit ka kung nalulungkot.
Umawit ka kung masaya.

Ingat lang.

Huwag kang aawit ng “My Way” sa videoke bar at baka ka mabaril.
Huwag kang magsindi ng sigarilyo sa gasolinahan.
Dahan-dahan sa matatarik na landas.
Dahan-dahan sa malulubak na daan.

Higit sa lahat, inuulit ko:

Mabuhay ka, kaibigan!
Mabuhay ka!
Iyan ang una't huli kong
Tagubilin at habilin:
Mabuhay ka!

Maraming bagay sa mundo na nakakadismaya.
Mabuhay ka.
Maraming problema ang mundo na wala na yatang lunas.
Mabuhay ka.

Sa hirap ng panahon, sa harap ng kabiguan,
Kung minsan ay gusto mo nang mamatay.
Gusto mong maglaslas ng pulso kung sawi sa pag-ibig.
Gusto mong uminom ng lason kung wala nang makain.
Gusto mong magbigti kung napakabigat ng mga pasanin.
Gusto mong pasabugin ang bungo mo kung maraming gumugulo sa utak.

Huwag kang patatalo. Huwag kang susuko.

Narinig mo ang sinasabi ng awitin:
“Gising at magbangon sa pagkagupiling,
Sa pagkakatulog na lubhang mahimbing.”
Gumising ka kung hinaharana ka ng pag-ibig.
Bumangon ka kung nananawagan ang kapuspalad.

Ang sabi ng iba: “Ang matapang ay walang-takot lumaban.”
Ang sabi ko naman: Ang tunay na matapang ay lumalaban
Kahit natatakot.

Lumaban ka kung inginungodngod ang nguso mo sa putik.
Bumalikwas ka kung tinatapak-tapakan ka.
Buong-tapang mong ipaglaban ang iyong mga prinsipyo
Kahit hindi ka sigurado na agad-agad kang mananalo.

Mabuhay ka, kaibigan!
Mabuhay ka!
Iyan ang una't huli kong
Tagubilin at habilin:
Mabuhay ka!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

LOL'ing while reading Elbert Or's books

Elbert Or looking more cutier than his cariocatures
[picture of his barrowed from the Facebook of his also]

First and for all, I writtened this blog in consonants with the numerous two tiny booklets (5 1/4" x 3 3/4") of Elbert Or (his name is real; believe me, I tell you nothing but the throat). So delete that surprised facial deformity on your face.

I was not surprised at all cost that Or came up with his books. They were writtened to be waited. With malapropisms abounding in the Pinoys' mangling usage (abusage?) of the English language, someone like Or (who is my primary suspect as having a good attentive listening device in his head) will be writing about themself.As a teacher hisself, Or was inspired to write his first book, The More The Manyer (Pinoy Cliches and Other Words of Wisdumb) before he expires of over-laughter from his students' English (I assumpt that his always scolding his class - what kind of English do you has?). (By the way, he is only 25 years old and accounting and he's engaged is he's relationship status quo accordingly to his Facebook profile.) There are 6 chapters: How do you like my England?, Halo-halo Metaphors, Words of Wisdumb, Welcome Remarks, Words to Leave By and Oxymoronic! Each chapter is punctuated by Or's awe-so-punny cartoons which highlight the comedian prose (Or claims responsibility for the cariocatures but not the prose - writtened by The Anon Pinoy (reminders me of another unknown author, Bob Ong).His latest book, Without Further Adieu (More Pinoy Cliches and Other Words of Wisdumb), features more additional LOL (Loud-Out-Loud, as if you didn't known) prose and drawings. And so as I was again LOL'ing on my way home for the second time.

Still laughing, I exchanged pleansantrys with Elbert Or over Facebook (Pleasantry, Elbert. Pleasantry, Gilbert).

This is what I wrote on Elbert's wall (in Facebook, vandalizing someone's wall is legally allowable):

Elbert, for your FYI, mabuti na lang inabutan ko pa yung last 2 copies of your second little booklet sa National Book Store Gensan branch dito, so I didn't wait a monument and bought everything to the last drop. (For your farther FYI, these times, all of your two books (count them all!) are available na already here. They are really in heat like hotcakes! So tell Tahanan Books don't beat the bush, send more copies here. The more, the manyer, and the manyer, the bountiful are they. I don't want my own copies to pass out among my aquiantances, they don't return to sender immediately as soon as pass able. They have to buy it or leave it for theirselfs. So without farther adieu, I bid you congrats! I gwess your extingwished self is laughing on the highway to the bank now.

Elbert's reply was full of curtesy: Hahahaha.

Before I terminate myself in writing, both of the two books have an index of correct English idioms as a guide for Englishists, grammar conscientious people, or if you one of the person who want to learn manyer English terminologies for your call-center carrier.

So go right ahead, walk, don't run to your National Book Store branch nearest to yourself and buy Elbert's books each with a skyrocketing price of P95 per copy. If there is no copy left or right in the bokshelfs, demand for it from your user-friendly sellslady. No borrowing, no lending investor of books. So buy your own copies, scratch your own galis!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Meaning-full Song: Sometimes by the Carpenters

The song, Sometimes, with lyrics by Felice Mancini & music by Henry Mancini, by the Carpenters is one of my favorite songs. It was never released as a single 45 rpm, never reached the Billboard Top 100 charts and never included in any (Best of) Carpenters anthology CDs. It was never a pop song or a top hit. Nevertheless, the story behind the song and the meaningful lyrics made it to my list of fave songs. The song appears to be a favorite of the Carpenters as it is almost always part of their concert repertoire.

The story behind Sometimes is told by Richard and Karen in the following excerpt from Robert Young's TV show. The lyrics follow after the videos.


Sometimes, not often enough

We reflect upon the good things

And those thoughts always center around those we love

And I think about those people who mean so much to me

And for so many years have made me so very happy

And I count the times I have forgotten to say thank you

And just how much I love them.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Dave Pomeranz - the consummate artist, singer and composer

David Pomeranz & his guitar, Jack

For my first concert by a foreign artist, I would have wanted to attend the Manila gig of the Carpenters scheduled in 1982. They had a highway vehicular accident in LA so their concert was canceled; much to my regret since I had saved up for the plane and concert tickets from my meager income as a teacher in a private college here. The following year, Karen had a heart attack brought on by anorexia nervosa.

Twenty seven years later, I finally attended my first concert by a foreign artist, David Pomeranz and it was nostalgically exhilarating for someone like me who had his last valentine date 23 years ago.

This year, my valentine's date with four of my closest female friends went as I envisioned it in my previous blogpost which won me concert tickets and a complimentary dinner at Grab-a-Crab.

We had an early dinner at Grab-a-Crab and enjoyed the generous spread of Grab-a-Crab rice, calamares, minced meat with crunchy sotanghon noodles (Jinky was right, this was really delicious!), sauteed three kinds mushrooms and pata tim. The restaurant was filled with valentine customers and the waiters had their hands full. So full, that we had to remind them to give us the promised valentine's give-away.

So, we went up to the upper box and chose seats near the stage. But to out dismay, we couldn't understand anything from the two hosting the pre-concert quiz show-game. So we changed seats near the end of the gym facing the concert stage to hear better.

I noticed many of the upper box audience are teeners (I guessed many of them won their tickets from a local FM radio station). Many of them perked up when David sang his pop songs, but were noisy and boisterous in some unfamiliar numbers. Someone even had the gall to shout "David Garcia Jr!" (shared name of two male leads in a local TV soap opera) while David was singing.

When David sang excerpts from his musicals (in which he sang different parts), I was one of the handful in the audience who appreciated it. I just love musicals, that's why. The rest (who I surmise were raised on fads and trends and riddled with pop culture) couldn't care less.

At one point in the program, David jokingly bade the audience goodbye/goodnight because he wasn't getting the reaction he wanted. Many of his in-between-songs spiels went unappreciated because the audience was clueless about what he was talking about. He even had to impersonate Charlie Chaplin (from whose life David based his musical Little Tramp) before the audience understood what he meant (although some probably thought it was Dolphy or Mr. Bean. Hahaha!). I could sense his frustration because the Generals are not that exposed to anything beyond pop culture. Even the songs he composed (Trying to get the feeling again, The old songs) but popularized by Barry Manilow and The Carpenters were less applauded compared to the songs he composed and sang (King & Queen of Hearts, Got to believe in magic, On this day, Born for you). As an encore, David sang his version of Joey Albert's original Tell me, which again went unnoticed because most were eager to go home. Going down after the concert, I wondered if anybody else knew David had recorded his own version of Pasko na Sinta Ko.

I sighed with the realization that a lot of David's immense talents and artistry as a tunesmith and singer were lost to most of the Gensan audience. His repertoire fairly represented his impressive works, yet we were willing only to acknowledge his pop songs (I say, there are a lot more to love about David than his love songs). I gave out an even deeper sigh at what the others in the audience were missing by dwelling on what is pop, faddish and trendy (if concerts featured only an artist's pop songs, why not listen to an FM station instead?). All they cared about was rushing to the stage with their cellphones and cameras to get Dave's pictures and lining up to get autographs or a photo opportunity with him backstage (for bragging rights to say they went to a David Pomeranz's concert? And after the autographs have faded, the pictures deleted to make for new ones, what?).

At the risk of being accused as sourgraping, let me state this clearly: I came away from the concert awed by and respectful of David, the artist, the singer and composer who has touched my life with his compositions, pop or not. A heartfelt thanks to David for giving us the best valentine's date at this point in our (I and my dates) lives.

[Update: I heard from a very reliable source that another artist who had a valentine show in another venue was disappointed by the audience reaction. Classically trained, his compositions, mostly instrumental, which he played went largely unappreciated by the pop-culture-drenched crowd. The audience was noisy (egging him to sing, heckling him, shouting their pop song requests). The artist conceded by playing one Beatles song to which the audience sang along. But that's about it. The rest of his repertoire was ignored. ]

(Thanks to Kyawster for the concert photos)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Desiderata translated into Filipino by Pete Lacaba


Mula sa teksto ni Max Ehrmann (sinulat noong 1927) at kasama ang sung refrain sa bersiyong isinaplaka ni Les Crane. Maaring awitin ang koro dito sa himig ng sung refrain sa plaka ni Les Crane.

Salin: Pete Lacaba

Ikaw ay supling ng sanlibutan.
Katulad ng bituin,
May liwanag kang taglay.
(Minimithi… minimithi… minimithi…)


Sa gitna ng ingay at pagkukumahog, at alalahanin
Ang kapayapaang maaaring makuha sa katahimikan.

Walang isinusuko hanggat maaari,
Pakitunguhan nang mabuti ang lahat ng tao.

Sabihin ang iyong katotohanan nang tahimik at malinaw;
At makinig sa iba, kahit sa nakayayamot at mangmang;
Sila man ay may kasaysayan.

Iwasan ang mga taong mabunganga at palaaway,
Sila'y ikinaiinis ng kalooban.

Kung ihahambing mo ang sarili sa iba,
Baka yumabang ka o maghinanakit; sapagkat laging
May lilitaw na mas mahusay o mas mahina sa iyo.

Ikaw ay supling ng sanlibutan.
Katulad ng bituin,
May liwanag kang taglay.
At anupaman ang iyong gawin,
Itong sanlibutan ay narito
Sa paligid mo.

Ikalugod ang iyong mga tagumpay at saka mga balak.

Manatiling interesado sa iyong hanapbuhay,
Gaano man kaaba; ito'y tunay na ari-arian
Sa pabago-bagong kapalaran ng panahon.

Maging maingat sa iyong negosyo;
Sapagkat ang daigdig ay puno ng panlilinlang.
Subalit huwag maging bulag sa kabutihang makikita.
Maraming nagsisikap na makamit ang mga adhikain; at sa lahat ng dako,
Ang buhay ay puno ng kabayanihan.

Maging tapat sa sarili. Higit sa lahat, huwag magkunwari.
Huwag ding libakin ang pag-ibig:
Sapagkat sa harap ng lahat ng kahungkagan at kawalang-pag-asa,
Ito'y lagi't laging sumisibol, tulad ng damo.

Tanggapin nang mabuti ang mga payo ng katandaan,
Buong-giliw na isuko ang mga bagay-bagay ng kabataan.

Pag-ibayuhin ang lakas ng loob,
Ito’y pananggalang laban sa biglaang kasawian.
Subalit huwag ikaligalig ang mga haka-haka.

Maraming pangamba ang likha ng pagod at pangungulila.

Bagamat kailangan ang sapat na disiplina,
Maging magiliw sa sarili.

Ikaw ay supling ng sanlibutan.
Katulad ng bituin,
May liwanag kang taglay.
At anupaman ang iyong gawin,
Itong sanlibutan ay narito
Sa paligid mo.

Kung gayon, pakisamahan ang Panginoon,
Anuman ang pananaw mo sa kanya.
At anuman ang iyong pinagkakaabalahan at minimithi,
Sa maingay na kalituhan ng buhay,
Pakisamahan ang iyong kaluluwa.

Sa kabila ng lahat ng pagkukunwari, kabagutan, at gumuhong pangarap,
Maganda pa rin ang daigdig.

Mag-ingat. Sikaping lumigaya.

Ikaw ay supling ng sanlibutan.
Katulad ng bituin,
May liwanag kang taglay…

Ikaw ay supling ng sanlibutan.
Katulad ng bituin,
May liwanag kang taglay…

Ikaw ay supling ng sanlibutan.
Katulad ng bituin,
May liwanag kang taglay…

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine gift-books for Avel and other blogger-friends

I found these pictures* on the 'net and so I thought I would give these books as Valentine gifts to Avel and other blogger-friends together with tongue-in-cheek (cheeky?) rationale for giving it to them.

For Avel because 1) he is a MAJOR foodie (reader alert! this is a euphemism!), 2) his most viewed/commented blogposts are those featuring restos and easy-on-the-wallet but tastebuds-tittilating and tummy-busting dishes, 3) he needs this book so he can recommend new dishes to resto-owners to refurbish their tired menus and 4) so that he can maintain his Winnie-the-pooh cuddly huggable "disfigure." Hehehe For Rammyboi because 1) he's a techie (not teachy huh!), 2) speaks more than 2 languages, 3) knows that lengua estofada is not a foreign language, and 4) can refer his clueless online friends to this book if they don't understand Nihongo and can only communicate text-style (sms).
For Sheng because 1) she's a wifey and momma, 2) she can cook up a storm for a multitude (parang yung audience sa Sermon on the Mount) and needs to do that on a shoe-string budget 3) global financial crisis, 4) all their savings go to feathering their new nest at La Cassandra.
For shutter-happy Kyawster, Leonard & Tanchi because 1) they shoot people, places, and events, 2) in the pictures' captions they are always described as "not in the picture," 3) their shots are breathtakingly enhanced with Photoshop and 4) so that they will take more pictures of me during our bloggers group meet-ups (hint, hint!)For Ariel because 1) of his ferris wheel-nausea-inducing mood-swings/seesaws due to work and personal/love/sex-life stresses, 2) he can distribute it to all of his friends (online and off-) so they can understand him, 3) because Norman Vincent Peale's How to win friends and influence people is already obsolete, and 4) so he could read it and understand HIMSELF better.For Jeanny because 1) she's a new blogger-friend and it's her birthday, 2) she's a couch potato watching an entire season (12-13 hours!) of a TV series in one sitting, 3) she has an online contest whose winner gets a Moleskine notebook on Feb. 15, and 4) yes, this book is a bribe to her (which is nothing compared to the ZTE broadband deal, WB-funded projects, among other entrepreneurial activities of those in government). For Dom because 1) he is Atenista (-taught and -teaching), 2) his religious fervor as can be gleaned from his blogposts defending the Faith (readers, take note: Cafital Ep), 3) he brought me around Davao City and introduced me to his coffee-guzzling (No price hike on them beans YET) blogger-friends who, surprisingly, are not manongs and manangs, 4) I need his analytical mind to help me set up my defense against those who approach and ask me: Have you accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?For Daxie because 1) he loves books (like me) and can practically live in any library without food or water for days on end (not like me - I have to cook, do the dishes and laundry because no one else will do it for me, boohoo!), 2) he also loves libraries and advocates for putting up more libraries in this part of Mindanao, 3) the book will enlighten his wife why he has to share their home with his books and HER, 4) he can't find this in any bookfair or booksale or National Bookstore branch, garage sale (and the list goes on and on and on . . .

*The pictures here are some of the winning entries of Photoshopped books at www.worth1000.com.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Bob Ong's New Book!

After A B N K K B S N P L A Ko?! (mga kwentong chalk),After Bakit Baliktad Magbasa ng Libro ang mga Pilipino (mga kwentong barbero),After Ang Paboritong Libro ni Hudas,After Alamat ng Gubat,After Stainless Longganisa (mga kwento ng nagtataeng ballpen),After MacArthur,
Here's comes Kapitan Sino! to be made available in May 2009.

Promo Youtube Video follows:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Reminiscing about the NSPC - Reprint

This article was written by Kristine Panogot, an NSPC national winner in Feature writing representing South Cotabato then in Region XI.

Reminiscing about the NSPC

Written by Tinette Panogot
Tuesday, 10 February 2009
last_climb.jpg Just how memorable a part of student life in the Philippines is the NSPC?

Google the NSPC, or its former incarnation, the NSSPC, and blogs surface in which NSPC alumni talk about the NSPCs they've been to and aspiring delegates talk about the NSPC they are going to.

Blogger Lourgen Therese Paderanga calls the 2006 Kalibo, Aklan NSPC her "most wonderful experience as a student" because her delegation later went sightseeing in Boracay. She divulges in her blog that although she dreamed about seeing other places, she thought that she had no chance of doing so because she lives in the southern part of the country. Then, bora.jpg "unexpectedly, a one of a kind opportunity comes my way -- to be able to have a trip to one of the places where I longed to visit -- the island paradise of Boracay," she gushes.

Nor is she the only one.

"(A)ng unang pagkakataon na nakasakay ako ng eroplano, at makatakas sa Luzon, ay nang palarin akong manalo sa RSPC noong nasa 4th year high school ako at ipadala ako sa National Schools Press Conference na ginanap noong Disyembre 1997 sa Tangub City. (The first time that I rode on an airplane, and was able to escape Luzon, was when I was lucky enough to win the RSPC (Regional Schools Press Conference) when I was in 4th year high school and I was sent to the National Schools Press Conference held in December 1997 at Tangub City)," reminisces Palanca awardee for poetry Edgar Calabia Samar in his LiveJournal blog. He remembers that the airplane landed at Dipolog and that they were able to stop at Dapitan to see the replica of Jose Rizal's house. To cap the experience, he then won second place in Editorial Writing.

The experience is not just tours and sightseeing, of course. The main thing that drives the NSPC is, and always has been, journalistic training and competition. The delegates have undergone rigorous eliminations at the Division and Regional levels in order to reach the Nationals. Formerly, ten winners for the two language mediums for each Division would battle it out in each category in the Regionals. Five Regional winners per medium per category would advance to the Nationals, where again, ten winners per medium per category would be chosen: the best of the best young writers in the Philippines. At present, the standards are stricter: only three Regional winners go on to the NSPC, and only seven National winners are finally chosen.

ellaination.jpg As blogger Ellaination recalls of her own NSPC experience: "(H)aller, reality check, imposible pa sa imposible na manalo ako sa Nationals. Jusmiyo, ilang manunulat ang kakatunggaliin ko mula sa iba't-ibang lupalop ng Pilipinas, ano naman ang panlaban ko sa kanila??? (Hello, reality check, it was greatly impossible that I would win in the Nationals. My God, how many writers would I be up against from the rest of the country? How could I win against them?)" But win she did.

"Sa bawat paglapat ng ballpen ko sa papel noon habang sumusulat ako ng articles kahit ako'y inaantok na... sa bawat madugong draft na ibinabalik mo... sa mga pagpupuyat na dinanas ko para lang makapag-press work... (For each touch of my ballpen to paper while I was writing articles even when I was already sleepy... For each bloody draft that you returned... For the sleepless nights that I experienced just to do press work...)," she goes on to thank her school paper adviser, who has since passed away, maintaining that even now that she is already working, she still continues to write.

pedro.jpg Another blogger, Ako Si Pedro, looks back at his own bittersweet aspirations to the NSPC and pokes fun at himself: "...tiwala ako sa sarili ko. Alam ko na kaya kong umabot sa National Schools Press Conference. Tiniyak ko ‘yon sa nanay ko, sa mga kaibigan ko, sa punong guro namin, sa titser na gabay ko, sa mga kasamahan ko, sa takatak boy sa kanto na nagbebenta ng yosi, kending stork at vicks, kay mang carding na magtataho pati na sa alaga n'yang pusa na si mingming, sa mga harurot boys na traysikol drayber, at higit sa lahat, tiniyak ko ‘yon sa sarili ko. I'll bring home the bacon! Yeah baby! Yeah!---Ngunit nabigo ako, at kung ano man ang kadahilanan ay hindi ko na ikwekwento. Ayokong sabihin pa na isinisisi ko ang kabiguan ko sa ibang tao. (I had such confidence in myself. I knew that I could reach the National Schools Press Conference. I assured my mother of it, my friends, our principal, my teacher-adviser, my companions, the 'takatak' boy at the corner who sells cigarettes, Storck and Vicks candies, Mang Carding who sells taho and even his pet cat Mingming, the 'harurot (speeding) boys' tricycle drivers, and most of all, I assured myself. I'll bring home the bacon! Yeah baby! Yeah! --but I was disappointed, and whatever the reason was, I will not go into it in detail. I will not have it said that I blame my failure on other people.)"

Win or lose, however, Ako Si Pedro credits his experience with giving him confidence and some sense of direction. He writes: "Marami akong ginulantang nuong mga panahon na ‘yon. Ultimo mga kasama kong kalahok at dalawang titser na walang silbing nagsilbi bilang coach sa'min sa kompetisyon ay hindi makapaniwala na nanalo ako. Hindi ko sila masisisi. Isa kasing pilyong palikerong gago ang naging imahe ko sa eskwelahan. Na-stereotype na ako, nailagay na ako sa isang kahon at nalagyan ng marka, marka na palatandaan na ako'y isang gago. Animo'y alam na nila kung ano lang ang kaya ko. Hanggang dun na lang ako. ‘Yun ang akala nila! (I surprised a lot of people during those times. Even my fellow delegates and two teachers who served as our coaches in the competition could not believe that I won. I could not blame them. My image in school was that of a naughty playboy jerk. I was stereotyped, put in a box and marked, a mark that signified I was a ne'er do well. As if they were sure they knew my limitations. That I could only do so much. That was what they thought!)" His Press Conference days awakened a love affair with writing that lasted through his college days and finally inspired him to start blogging.

Inspiring and stimulating as it has been to those for whom it was a rite of passage, the NSPC has not been spared the impact of other events within the country. In view of its mandate of developing journalistic competencies among the youth, nothing could be more fitting. Media must, after all, have its finger on the pulse of current events. For some, however, supervening incidents that affect the NSPC could be irritating.

knowread.jpg In his blog KnowReadKnoWrite, Gilbert Yap Tan thinks back on his stint as evaluator for three NSPCs, particularly recalling "what happened to the scheduled NSPC to be hosted by SoCot in 1993. Then DECS Secretary Armand Fabella decided to change the venue to Baguio City when a bombing incident occurred in nearby Sultan Kudarat. This was made a week before the scheduled event in spite of the fact that everyone and everything in SoCot were prepared for the hosting." That year, the South Cotabato delegation boycotted the event in disgust. The next year Fabella was replaced by Ricardo Gloria, and the NSPC finally arrived in Koronadal.

Even without disasters and catastrophes taking place, for other delegates it is a struggle to be able to go to the NSPC even if they have already qualified during the Regionals.

Budget is a big consideration, as a school paper adviser relates in his blog. He and his students had to solicit funds from the community to be able to attend the NSPC. "I experienced it thrice in a row looking at my student's determination to compete in the national but it seems that budget would somehow obstruct their vision. But we were able to hurdle the difficulties when we banked on the generosity of friends, relatives, politicians, and the school. It is at this point that since the school budget was poured off in the production of the paper, and some were appropriated to the fare and registration during the Division and Regional Schools Press Conferences, the national level seemed to have ended up a dream hanging out there. The last resort was to solicit benevolent assistance from known resources," he recollects.

Good or bad experiences notwithstanding, many agree that their NSPC experiences were memorable. Bicolano blogger Mitsuru, in particular, could not forget his own NSPC experience-- during the EDSA Revolution.

"I was neither at home in Tiwi, Albay nor protesting in EDSA at that time," he recounts. "I was in the Visayas, Barotac Nuevo in Iloilo to be exact during the National Secondary Schools Press Conference (NSSPC) held in that rustic but charming town and if I remembered it correctly, some 30-plus kilometers away from the City of Iloilo. I was in third year high school in 1986 when I was chosen as one of the representatives of the Bicol Region (by virtue of me landing in 5th place in the News Writing Category in the Regional Secondary Schools Press Conference (RSSPC) held at the Camarines Sur National High School in Naga City of the same year) to the NSSPC where lady luck smiled on me in Barotac Nuevo for I placed 9th (only the top 10 were announced and awarded certificates onstage) out of 150- plus contestants nationwide and was the highest placed Bicolano in the News Writing Category." While world-changing events took place far away in the national capital, the delegates went about their lectures and competitions, and followed the news avidly. Mitsuru remembers the late Joe Quirino wearing a yellow ribbon, and how "(w)hen the church bells finally toll(ed) on the night the Marcoses left Malacanang, the entire auditorium went wild as the delegates from Regions II to XII and NCR whooped it up while the delegates from the Ilocos just kept quiet."

Even an ordinary NSPC could be a major disaster or a major adventure, depending how you looked at it. To blogger Lily, who went to the 1994 Koronadal NSPC, it was both. She writes in her blog "Catching the Duma Virus": "Most of the teachers and parents were hesitant about sending us to Mindanao for the conference because they were terrified that this new terrorist group--- which the radio, TV, and newspapers were obsessing about--- might blow us up. I didn't like this Abu Sayyaf that people were talking about because they were ruining my opportunity to travel and bring glory to my family, my school, my city, my region, and most especially to my Darwinian instincts."

After three days bus travel (which she remembers as miserable), they finally reached Koronadal. For her event, Feature Writing, the topic given was: "I would travel to the ends of the Philippines for an experience like the NSSPC." All she could think to write about was: "What? No Abu Sayyaf?"

Lily ends her blog post: "(T)his essay should have been what I wrote in Koronadal. But it took me fourteen years and almost a week to write this."

That shows just how long the NSPC experience can remain fresh in a delegate's consciousness.

Now I can uncross my fingers! Pomeranz's concert Part 2

Proudly holding the major prizes of two VIP concert tickets & Grab-a-crab complimentary dinner while Avel (SocCSKSarGen Bloggers' top honcho & Bariles Republic blogger)
and Mark of High Frequency Productions (Pomeranz's concert organizer) look on.With three of the major winners: Rammyboi, Tanchi & Jes. Not in the picture are two other major winners Sheng and Rosilie.

Yes, I can now uncross my fingers as the five major and 11 minor winners were awarded their prizes in the afternoon of February10 at Coffee Club 101 beside Grab-a-Crab. Major winners each get 2 VIP concert tickets and a Grab-a-crab complimentary P1000-dinner while minor winners each get 2 general admission tickets.

On hand to present the VIP and general admission concert tickets was Mark (who judged the blogposts) of High Frequency Productions while Michael Wee gave out the complimentary Grab-a-Crab dinner tickets.

After getting my prizes, I promptly traded the VIP tickets with Jes' general admission tickets for me & my group dates. This will be the first valentine's date I will be having in more than 20 years and my dates (four, count them!) are the closest friends I have.

Mark and Michael, the two people responsible for bringing David Pomeranz here in Gensan were profuse in thanking the bloggers for the effective promotional boost they gave to the concert.

Proudly hosting the awards ceremony is the SocCSKSarGen Bloggers' top honcho, Avel Manansala.

(Photos courtesy of Kyawster)

My winning blogpost follows.

Being single at this age is no joke and with Valentine's Day fast approaching, I'm sure to be lining up (again!) for the yearly "firing squad" at the Oval Plaza (Joke: Singles sans lovelife on Valentine's are to be shot by a firing squad). :D

Unless (crossing my fingers) I get the chance to watch David Pomeranz's Valentine's Day Concert at the City Gym in Gensan (as announced in Bariles' blog). Then maybe I can keep trying to get the feeling again. :)

As a composer, David composed songs like Tryin' to Get the Feeling Again and The Old Songs for Barry Manilow and The Carpenters. It is easy to understand why David is a favorite singer of Pinoys - his songs are extremely hummable and its lyrics strike the right chords in our romantic hearts.
But David became popular with Pinoys when the film Zapped was shown in local cinemas and featured two of his songs which became huge hits and the theme songs of Pinoys lovers - Got to believe in magic and King & Queen of Hearts.

He also collaborated with Pinoy artists like a duet with Sharon Cuneta in If You Walk Away and recording with Lea Salonga in the Broadway musical Little Tramp the songs for which he composed.

With that in mind, I'm crossing my fingers (again!) in hoping to win this blogpost writing contest because I intend to request that the VIP pass worth P1500 be converted to 5 Upper box tickets so I can see the concert with my four high school batchmates who are more than sisters to me. For the duration of David's concert, I am hoping the wondrous Pomeranz words and music can rekindle in us the magic of finding love all over again.

I already have our foursome Valentine's date planned out: an early dinner courtesy of Grab-a-Crab and on to the concert. During the concert, I'll be giving them copies of David's songs (although I'm sure we have already memorized many of them) so we can sing along. And then after the concert, we will go back to Coffee Club 101 for some cups of coffee (and iced tea).

[Free concert tickets and gift certificates from Grab-a-Crab will be given to 5 lucky winners in a blogpost writing contest featured in Bariles' blog.]

Monday, February 9, 2009

Neither be cynical about LOVE

Neither be cynical about love,

I have loved, albeit unrequited. I know the oft-quoted "it's better to have loved..."
Lovers, it seems to me, are arrogant in their love. They're singing "you and me against the world..."

for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,

Love makes everything come to life and interesting. It's like looking through love-colored glasses.
Everything seems euphoric, pheromonic ...

it is as perennial as the grass.

Much has been said ad written about it, but we will never get tired of Love.
Unconditional, agape, romantic, platonic, unrequited, in all its hues and shades...

Friday, February 6, 2009

Lab Kwowts

(GYT's note: these love quotes are circulating in the internet/texts and are attributed to bestselling Pinoy author Bob Ong, however, these have caused online debates as to whether he really wrote them or not)

Kung wala kang alam sa buhay ng dalawang tao o kahit pa man may alam ka sa isa sa kanila, wala ka pa rin sa tamang lugar para lagyan ng kahulugan ang mga kilos nila.

Pag pinag-aagawan ka, malamang maganda o gwapo ka. Sumama ka sa mabuti, di sa mabait. Sa marunong, di sa matalino. Sa mahal ka, di sa gusto ka.

Ang pag- ibig parang imburnal, nakakatakot mahulog, at kapag nahulog ka, it’s either by accident or talagang tanga ka.

Ang tenga kapag pinagdikit korteng puso. Extension ng puso ang tenga kaya kapag marunong kang makinig, marunong kang magmahal.

Alam mo ba kung gaano kalayo ang pagitan ng dalawang tao pag nagtalikuran na sila? Kailangan mong libutin ang buong mundo para lang makaharap ulit ang taong tinalikuran mo.

Kung dalawa ang mahal mo, piliin mo ang pangalawa, kasi hindi ka naman magmamahal ng iba kung mahal mo na talaga ang una.

Mahirap pumapel sa buhay ng isang tao, lalo na kung hindi ikaw ang bida sa script na pinili niya.

Hindi porke’t madalas mong ka-chat, kausap sa telepono, kasama sa mga lakad o ka-text ng wantusawa eh may gusto sa iyo at magkakatuluyan kayo, meron lang talagang taong sadyang friendly, sweet, flirt, malandi, pa-fall o paasa.

♥ Walang taong manhid. Hindi niya lang talaga maintindihan kung ano ang gusto mong iparating dahil ayaw mo siyang diretsuhin.

♥ Kahit ikaw ay parang bato na manhid at walang pakiramdam, mag ingat-ingat ka naman, dahil kahit ganyan ka, hindi nasasaktan, kaya mo namang makasakit.

♥ Kung hindi mo mahal ang isang tao, huwag ka nang magpakita ng motibo para mahalin ka niya...

♥ Lahat naman ng tao sumeseryoso pag tinamaan ng pagmamahal. Yun nga lang, hindi lahat matibay sa temptasyon.

♥ Gamitin ang puso para alagaan ang taong malapit sa iyo. Gamitin ang utak para alagaan ang sarili mo.

♥ Huwag mong bitawan ang bagay na hindi mo kayang makitang hawak ng iba.

♥ Huwag mong hawakan kung alam mong bibitawan mo lang.

♥ Huwag na huwag ka hahawak kapag alam mong may hawak ka na.

♥ Parang elevator lang iyan eh. Bakit mo pagsisiksikan ang sarili mo kung walang pwesto para sa iyo? Eh meron naman hagdan, ayaw mo lang pansinin.

♥ Kung maghihintay ka nang lalandi sa iyo, walang mangyayari sa buhay mo. Dapat lumandi ka din.

♥ Pag may mahal ka at ayaw sa iyo, hayaan mo. Malay mo, sa mga susunod na araw ayaw mo na din sa kanya, naunahan ka lang.

Hiwalayan na kung di ka na masaya. Walang gamot sa tanga kundi pagkukusa.

♥ Pag hindi ka mahal ng mahal mo, huwag ka magreklamo. Kasi may mga tao rin na di mo mahal pero mahal ka. Kaya quits lang.

♥ Bakit ba ayaw matulog ng mga bata sa tanghali? Alam ba nilang pag natuto silang umibig e hindi na sila makakatulog kahit gusto nila?

Hindi lungkot o takot ang mahirap sa pag-iisa kundi ang pagtanggap na sa bilyon-bilyong tao sa mundo, wala man lang nakipaglaban upang makasama ka.

♥ Kung nagmahal ka ng taong di dapat at nasaktan ka, huwag mong sisihin ang puso mo. Tumitibok lang yan para mag-supply ng dugo sa katawan mo. Ngayon, kung magaling ka sa anatomy at ang sisisihin mo naman ay ang hypothalamus mo na kumokontrol ng emotions mo, mali ka pa rin! Bakit? Utang na loob! Huwag mong isisi sa body organs mo ang mga sama ng loob mo sa buhay! Tandaan mo: magiging masaya ka lang kung matututo kang tanggapin na hindi ang puso, utak, atay o bituka mo ang may kasalanan sa lahat ng nangyari sayo, kundi IKAW mismo!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Balancing the Books by Lucy Torres-Gomez - Reprint

Balancing the books
LOVE LUCY By Lucy Gomez Updated February 01, 2009 12:00 AM
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I am in the middle of a really absorbing book, The Shack by William Young, recommended to me by my Tito Nick, brother of my dad. The story is about a sweet little girl abducted and possibly murdered. I initially resisted reading it but the reviews said there was a lot of wisdom to be found in the pages, a lot of love even, a lot of God, naturally.

Page after page after page, through short and long breaks during taping, in the car, deep into the night, I read it. It is absorbing all right and hard to explain in words other than the author’s. Beautiful thoughts and truths tumble out like gold nuggets that you want to keep in your pocket, comforting, easy to understand, too lovely to grasp in just one night.

You say to yourself “Really, God loves me this much?” You will want to remember the beautiful feeling you walk away with for a long, long time to come, but impossible to explain it to others in my own words. So, yes, please grab a copy and find out for yourself. It is one of those that you can read over and over again and each time will be just like the first time.

For Christmas, I received a lot of books. They never fail to make me happy. Every bookshop feels like a playground, a candy store. I chance upon a bookstore anywhere and I will always find something to buy: some new pens (I have a thing for pens) and a handful of books to give away as presents.

Growing up in Ormoc, I remember being surrounded with a lot of books. My sister and I shared them; bedtime stories were the norm. Thick volumes of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, stories by Hans Christian Andersen, Disney tales, animals that talked, people who visited the sun, the moon, the stars and came back glowing and with magical powers. I read Anne Frank’s Diary and Anne of Green Gables as a little girl. I remember Snegourka the Snow Maiden, and a story about an old lady so poor but so joyful because she had these magic glasses. Every little thing she owned was big in her eyes. A little slice of steak looked like a juicy, fat slab, her tiny house looked like a mansion. They were stories that taught me a thing or two about life camouflaging as fantasy or magic. I wish I still had all my old books so I could pass them on to Juliana now, who loves to read. But a lot of them got swept away during the big, bad flood of 1991. It is easy to find volumes of Grimms Brothers, Hans Christian Andersen, Disney, but what of lesser known but just as wonderful stories like Snegourka and the plump, old lady? I do not remember their authors.

For a while I lost my passion for reading books. Mommy would bug me to read, but the more she asked, the more I resisted. I think I was too busy collecting stationeries, stamps and stickers, and worrying about this big bully of a girl, Malu, who was several grades higher than me and tortured me relentlessly.

Soon the novelty of collecting wore off and I picked up where I left off reading. My favorite place was the elementary library. Manned by Nida, it was sunny and bright and filled with wonderful books I could borrow and take home. This is where I met Amelia Bedelia, The Bobsey Twins, Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys. I completed all the volumes, thanks to my best friend Elaine Palugod. She was a voracious reader, she was like my reading compass, directing me to the right books at the right time.

In High School I became very good friends also with the librarian, Ma’am Obejas. By then I had already started to move on to romance novels, starting with Sweet Dreams and Sweet Valley High, which they did not have there but mommy bought them for me at National Book Store in Cebu. There was only a sprinkling of love stories and even that was restricted to certain ages. Elizabeth and Jessica of Sweet Valley High were like my friends, and I also dreamed that one day our school could have lockers like theirs. The first mature romance novel I read was The Ghost of Monte Carlo by Barbara Cartland, about a beautiful lady who was so mysterious because she always wore gray. She wore diaphanous gowns in shades of gray and gray pearls. I remember telling myself then that when I grew up I would also have my own set of beautiful gray pearls. I still don’t have them now, and the wish is alive. That was the title of the book. I think I would love to read that again.

Because I loved books and reading I could go on for days, weeks even, without ever leaving the house. I do not know if there is really any connection but my English subjects were always the easiest for me. I had no trouble making my sentences and tenses agree with each other and even compositions were a joy to write. If only I could say the same for math.

Mommy and Daddy were totally supportive and my sister and I could have as much books as we wanted. There were hardly any glossy magazines and we were not allowed to read mommy’s Cosmopolitan so I asked if I could subscribe to Seventeen. It took forever to arrive in Ormoc because we ordered it all the way from the States, but we had access to Reader’s Digest.

In college, I went full swing into the romance genre, starting with Harlequin Romance and Danielle Steele but I let the latter go after the eighth book, when I noticed that she always killed someone in her stories. I got tired of crying.

I loved historical romances, especially those by Judith McNaught. Her heroes were always tall, dark, and handsome, I think that is what got me praying on my knees for my own tall, dark, and handsome man. I did not really enjoy stories that are unrealistic, about galaxies and aliens and witchcraft, but one book changed that for me. Entitled Moondust and Madness it was just beautiful, and I read it four times in one year. I loved it so much I told myself that if I had my own company, whatever it did, I would register it with the SEC under the name Moondust and Madness. I read Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights after watching Hihintayin Kita Sa Langit.

My love for books has not waned one bit. I think it has grown even more with the advent of well stocked, beautifully designed bookstores like Fully Booked, which rivals Barnes & Noble and Borders abroad. It is fueled each time I click on Amazon and the choices roll down before me like a long veil. I wish though I had put a date on the first page of every book I have ever purchased or received — that is already a story in itself. I will make an effort to do that with every book in my hand this year.

On really good days, I will pick up a book at random from the shelf, just because the title or the book cover is nice, never mind if I am totally unfamiliar with the author. I will go home, precious package in hand, and start a journey I somehow always hope will end in a happy way. Lost in the pages of a good love story, an autobiography, a thriller, a dramatic or fantasy fiction, I allow joy and madness to curl around me like a warm blanket, interrupting my life as I live it, but in a most delightful and welcome way.