Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ex Libris Philippines is looking for scholars!

Good day!
Our NGO, Ex Libris Philippines, has raised some money from our "Opera For A Cause: Don Pasquale" fundraising activity last April 4, 2008 and we're looking for beneficiaries for our scholarship project. We're looking for undergraduate students who need financial assistance to continue their studies at the University of the Philippines, Diliman for the first semester of A.Y. 08-09. We can help by paying for one semester's tuition (old rate: P7,000.00).

Do you know of any deserving U.P. students of good moral and intellectual standing (preferably no INC's or 5's, with a GWA of 2.00 or higher), who need this scholarship? If you do, please send their contact information and any other pertinent info (e.g. references, mini bios) to Gabriela Francisco (09209470835) or Tata Francisco (09209470861) (or any other Ex Libris Philippines member you know).

Thank you so much! Please reply if you know someone--anyone--an orgmate, collegemate, friend, or classmate. A UP student who you think is deserving, and who really needs it. Just a name (or several names!) and contact number/s will do...and of course, a few sentences (personal recommendation) will be a great help. Please forward this to your teachers/students, family and friends; perhaps they may know of people who need this scholarship. Thank you so much!

For more information about Ex Libris Philippines, please go to

For interested applicants, please submit the ff:
4 pcs. id picture
copy of parents' most recent ITR
copy of TCG (or a CRS printout of grades)
3-4 names (with contact info) for references

Friday, April 25, 2008

Kids and the theme of death

Writing children's stories is harder than any other fiction writing because you have to be more sensitive with word choice, and ultimately how to express the theme of your story. You must also do all this without "talking down" to your audience. Kids are, after all, smarter than anyone gives them credit for.

I've had the privilege of interviewing May Tobias-Papa for one of my articles, and I think she's cool! Not only is she an illustrator for children's books, but also a Palanca-winning writer (Children's Story Category). The story she wrote was no easy theme either: it was about death. Estrellita: The Little Wishing Star made it to the press, rewritten only so that it fits the picture book format.

The story is about death without being too blunt about it: no bawl-inducing bed-ridden scenes, just a mere disappearance--the stars die, but May chooses not to dwell on it. She instead puts meaning to why the stars die, and the good their death brings. In the story, wishing stars die when a wish is granted.... Estrellita, who wants to be the boy Noel's wishing star, strives to reach him so he could make a wish on her. It's touching how the star desires to help when all she knew about Noel were his sad eyes.

I think death in a children's book is not uncommon--it's the presentation that counts, along with the role of the parent in telling the story. "Little kids have cried while reading it," shares May, explaining why books with death themes must be read to kids with a proper explanation. As Manolo Silayan of Alitaptap Storytellers says, "Books for kids can have a PG must read and discuss with your child."

Not only is reading with guidance helpful in learning to read, but also helpful in digesting and reflecting on the "whys" of a story. It's a critically important question to ponder on and, though the parent might not have a straight answer to their child's "whys," there's nothing wrong with throwing the questions back to the child--you might be surprised at what your little one has to say.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Here's a sign that nobody reads anymore

I've never seen both movies for Around the world in 80 days, which is a shame, but looking around the Net, I figured that the movies are popular enough they don't need my patronage. Here's what Jackie Chan had to say in an interview for IGN:

"I'd never seen the book. I'd only seen the movie. Years ago. At that time, just wow... It's a great movie. And after that, [I] just forgot it. But in my mind, Around the World in 80 Days, no matter when you see the balloon, you just think about Around the World in 80 Days."

The first movie must've been great--it did win an Oscar--but I kept wondering, what balloon? Did I miss something in the book? The last time I read it was October of last year, so it's either the balloon configured so little in the book or it was not there at all.

If you think about it, there are so many things more interesting in the book than the idea of a balloon. It was perfect timing also for me to read the book back then: I was on a trip across the US, which I haven't done since the 90s. I can't help marvel at how fast we travel nowadays: planes cut travel time significantly short. In the book, Phileas Fogg and Passepartout travel in trains, ships, pulled sleds, fishing boats...even on elephants! It's an adventure story specially suited for the period it was written for. If you're sensitive enough, you'll notice the author's (for lack of better word) biases--or as academics would call it, "Orientalism"--by the time they get to India, Hong Kong, Japan...and even the US had a certain face.

The bet and the coincidence of Fogg's hasty "escape" with a big robbery in a bank added a challenge to the already difficult 80-day trip around the world. The detective Fix is such a seriously determined character, it makes him amusing--especially since we're all aware that Fogg is innocent. This can say something about the human nature as well--people stop at nothing more often when they know they're going to get something in return.

It's not only nonfiction books that teach; fiction can tell you a lot about a period in time--if it's fantasy fiction, you can read between the lines and discover a way of thought. (Wasn't Lord of the Rings written during WWII?) Though fiction gives imaginary happenings, places, and people, the themes, ideas, and lessons it imparts are as true as history itself--inevitably subjective, but true nonetheless.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Commuting illegally

Because my regular bus's yellow plate was denied for the route it takes daily, the service decided to just change routes so they could move north to south of the metropolis legally. This is another way of saying I am left without a ride to work and back for the rest of my stay in where I live and/or where I work.

Of course that doesn't stop me from going to work. So in the quest for the cheapest and most convenient ride home, I asked around for jeep/train/bus/FX/shuttle rides that travel along my route. Of the commuting schedules I drew up, only one came up that required just two rides instead of three. So I tried it: took a bus to Ayala and then walked to Paseo for the shuttle to Marikina. (They pass by Libis, where I live.)

To my surprise, no one would take me in! The drivers all said, "Maraming nanghuhuli sa Libis! Ayoko magbaba doon." (There are a lot of police officers in Libis! I don't want to let you off there.) They told me they'd take me if I get off in a place less convenient just so they won't get caught.

I decided not to take that shuttle because I didn't want to get off in a place less guarded than (and farther to) the regular unloading area in Libis. This incident makes me think that not all shuttles are operating legally. Why must they inconvenience passengers if they're allowed to make trips? There's no need to hide from traffic enforcers when you're unloading in the properly designated area.

I don't know the whole picture; just wondering. But I decided to just take the three-ride-commute instead of that one. Even if the travel time is longer, it's a more secure one tells you to get off where you don't want to.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Why is Wolverine so funny lately?

Stumbled upon this Wolverine Daily blog in Google Reader. It's an artist's blog filled with Wolverine drawings.

I like the messiness of the art--this guy can draw! I find Wolverine so amusing even if he's the serious and brooding type of character. (This impression was probably influenced by a recent Kimono's Townhouse strip that came out two weeks ago, as seen below.)

Geek post. LOL

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Marching for Child Survival

Part of the workshop summit I referred to in my previous post is to wake up before the sun peeks over the horizon to cause traffic in Roxas Boulevard for the rights of kids to survive. Specifically, it was to cover the BATA (Bata sa Tamang Alaga) Movement's March for Child Survival.

It's actually more of a vaccine advocacy--doctors enforcing vaccination schedules to ensure that Filipino kids don't die of contagious but highly preventable diseases. And I think it's good to make people aware of what they can do to keep from getting sick. Here, kids are carrying banners that say, among other things: "Pneumococcal disease ALIS!!!" (Pneumococcal disease, be gone!!!), and "Save the lives of the innocent!"

Before the march, a delegate at the summit told me, "This must be so apt for your publication! Kids' health and child survival...."

"Sure," I said, thinking about this post in Generations for Life. "But before we fight for the child's right to be vaccinated, I think we must fight against abortion." I noticed how the march so much resembled a march against abortion: there were kids marching with placards referring to the child's right to live, and then there was the display of strollers covered in black cloth, signifying the death of children.

The delegate laughed and said, "You're right--life first.... You know I never thought of it that way." Hopefully, more than one of us marched not only for child survival but also for life that day. It makes waking up so early so much more worthwhile.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Power of the Press

Been away from blogging for more than a week because I went out of town for two days (leisure) and out of the house for two more days after (for work). And now my house is a mess of my bags strewn everywhere, but I thought I'd blog first before anything else.

The "work" part of my not coming home is actually a Science Writer's Workshop for Invasive Pneumococcal Disease, unknown as the biggest killer of children under 5 nowadays. And part of the workshop is letting the media (us) know how powerful we are at blowing news out of proportion--practically controlling what people get scared of (such as SARS and Bird Flu).

Used in a good way, we can properly alert the public of real threats hence, prompt public officials to do something about the situation. An example for this was given by Mr. Brad Geiser--he talked about how, by the participation of the media, the child de-worming programs in the country have shot up from worst in South East Asia to the best.

And I wondered whether this same power could do the same for contraception. It's a big money mill that banks on pleasure without responsibility, which may seem good for a short time but will definitely take its toll in the long run--and I'm not just referring to emotional and moral implications. Did you know that the Pill causes heart problems? I wonder how much change an article, a doctor and a writer can do....

Thursday, April 3, 2008

One more day!

Don Pasquale is a classic opera by Donizetti, and this production is a Filipinized version in terms of set, actors/singers and costume design. Of course, the words are still in that's good for the language students!

Saw the first showing of this opera last week--for the final thesis production of my friend Gabi Francisco (the lady in red above)--and the voices were really great! I could close my eyes and listen, but I would miss the actions! Even if I didn't understand Italian, I understood the story through the gestures--proving that action is a language all on its own.

I'm no music major so forgive my lack of musical knowledge; but I write. From what little Italian I know, I think Donizetti as writer can be funny, using puns for names like Etcetera (the pastor who married Don Pasquale and Norina) and Malatesta (the doctor with the crazy idea). (I'm sure it would be whooping fun if I knew Italian.) Maybe if a Filipino poet and composer would adapt this opera in our beautiful language, it would gain a bigger audience--it's got the comedy we all love, mixed with a refreshingly classical style in music that is always buona for the testa.

Come and see our Opera for a Cause! Tickets to Don Pasquale will still be sold tomorrow at the booth by the UP College of Engineering Theater at P350! Don't forget, April 4, 2008, 6pm. See you there!