December 30, 2008

Images of Hugpong 2008

Hugpong 2008 was an all-batches get-together organized by the Mindanao State University-GSC High School Alumni Federation "to celebrate 41 years of dedicated community service of the MSU-GSC High School Department". It was held last Saturday, December 27th and featured many activities highlighted by a convention of the alumni federation and a tribute to all high school teachers.

December 29, 2008

Parang Kailan Lang

I recorded this video during the Hugpong 2008 celebration two nights ago. The subject was one of the highlights of the whole-day (and night) affair held at the MSU-GSC High School campus: the alumni paying tribute to their teachers.

Prior to this scene, all teachers young and old (at least those who are still breathing) of the then Mindanao State University-GSC High School (now MSU-CETD) since the late 60's, were called on stage one by one to be awarded a simple memento from the alumni; after which all the alumni were given the chance to personally thank their mentors.

To say that it was a very touching scene is an understatement. People were thanking, hugging and cheek-kissing their teachers; some were giving flowers; and some (teachers and alumni) hardly holding back their tears (of joy, I am almost sure).

The mass singing of Florante's Handog (more famously known as Parang Kailan Lang) did not help restrain the deep sentimentality of the moment. I myself did not shed tears, but I have to admit the awesome feeling I felt raised my body hair all throughout. I did not hug and kiss my teachers, but truly I was moved so much I wanted to put my teachers in my pocket and take them home. I did not give any flower to any one; there was not a material thing that could even approximate the immensity of gratitude I wanted to reward my teachers.

Well, I did hold my camera and capture them and the moment on video! Forgive me if this was not enough.

Parang kailan lang. It did seem to feel like only yesterday when I last faced our teachers in class. Yes, they were not perfect teachers. Some made us sell food and softdrinks at the cafeteria in exchange for grades in our electives. Some made us read Rizal's Noli and Fili without teaching what these novels were all about. Some played favorites (i.e. you just felt they dislike you more than your other classmates for no apparent reason).

But these shortcomings easily become negligible when one views the sacrifices of our teachers -- working in a not so well-endowed time and environment, MSU being a public school -- as collective testimony of their genuine desire to be our main sources of information and molders of good values outside the household.

I have always regarded all teachers as second parents; and parents are hardly perfect. There might not be another opportune time to say 'Thank You'... Daghang salamat kaninyo, Mam ug Ser.

December 12, 2008

Sprite in can

This restaurant in Gensan famous for its pancit malabon was about to close down for the night when I and my wife went in. Needless to say, there were no more dine-in and its specialty was not available anymore so my partner had to settle for one order of the common arroz caldo, take out. Fine.

I just had my full dinner so for myself I went for a softdrink (soda) and specifically asked for Sprite. The cashier loudly asked her staff if Sprite was still available and got a equally loud "wala na" ("no more") from one of the ladies at the food counter. So I asked what other sodas are available. A resounding "Coke lang" ("just Coke") was heard all over the place. Good enough.

I got my Coke while we waited for our arroz caldo; and was halfway through it when I noticed a phalanx of glistening ice cold Sprites-in-can inside the glass-paneled fridge. I naturally asked the charming (sic) lady who a while ago had just declared all Sprites "dead", "Bakit sabi mo wala nang Sprite?" at the same time nose-pointing the row of green cans inside the ref.

To which, with all natural grace, she fabulously replied, "Hindi nyo naman sinabing 'in can'..."

[canned laughter]

December 1, 2008

An engineer for a moment

I was an engineer for a moment; and it felt wonderful. This happened a little more than a week ago when I got to present the DReAM Children project during the annual congress of the Philippine Librarians' Association, Inc. (PLAI) held at the Grand Men Seng Hotel in Davao City.

DReAM Children was presented within Prof. Corazon M. Nera’s lecture on Promoters of Multi-cultural Librarianship. Prof. Nera is the current chair of the PRC’s Board for Librarians. She was the chief examiner for the latest licensure examination for professional librarians where some 23% of examinees passed. I heard it is the lowest passing percentage in the history of the said examination. This development, I know, will have its implications but I leave it to the experts and professionals to discuss them.

Prior to my presentation, Prof. Nera introduced me to the audience as a "librarian by affinity" -- my ex-girlfriend Fraulein being a professional librarian -- and titled me an "Engineer". The first tag was 100% true; the title of "Engineer" was off but nonetheless very complimentary. Perhaps to the professor I sounded like one when we first met just a couple of months before; when I initially described how we were able to assemble local stakeholders to build a strong partnership in reader development.

I remember I did once flirt with the idea of becoming an engineer for one semester in college when I took some Math electives in my hasty decision to shift course. I wound up dropping a subject (imposingly described then as Algebra with Trigonometry made meaner by a very impersonal teacher) and ended up taking a course in community development. The rest of the story is now part of a very fulfilling history. I did not turn out to be an engineer but have since “re-engineered” myself to becoming an instrument for "social progress".

In a way, community development is like engineering, it also "builds structures". Its strong adherence to the philosophical concept of praxis can be likened to engineering's constant blending of scientific knowledge, natural laws and physical resources to produce structures and processes for the ultimate benefit of humankind.

November 20, 2008

Primitive primates

Tiny, long lost primate rediscovered in Indonesia, read the title of a news article published in Yahoo! News the other day. The news item, written by Will Durham and reported by Reuters, was bannered by a colored photo of what looked like a tarsier, a species of animal known to many Filipinos as the smallest monkey in the world. Indeed the news' subject was about a tarsier found by scientists in the island of Sulawesi that was purportedly last seen alive 80 years ago.

The article was instantly met by a barrage of negative comments from readers - mostly Filipinos - who complained of the seeming inaccuracy of the news. Filipinos, including I, are very familiar with the tarsier. We are taught about it in school and the animal is a regular fare in Philippine tourism. So, wonder of wonders why the tarsier would be rediscovered in Indonesia; when almost all tourists of Bohol (Filipinos and all) have had pictures of them with the primate clinging to their heads and shoulders?

The first few hundreds of comments to the news item did not only raise the same question but downright lambasted its author, Reuters, and even Yahoo for coming out with a story that's a big lie; the scientists themselves who were featured in the same article as the "rediscoverers" of the tarsier were branded as incompetent and ignorant. The Philippines was insulted big time, they said. The country of Indonesia was even criticized for allegedly orchestrating everything -- fabricating a sensational story with the ultimate aim of promoting its own tourism.


Then came the comments that began pointing out the errant judgment of many readers. The news after all was not referring to the same tarsier species as that found in the Philippines! Both monkeys' physical features may have looked the same but the article was in fact referring to the one called the pygmy tarsier. The pygmy tarsier is Tarsius pumilus while the Philippine tarsier is Tarsius syrichta; and there are about 6 other known species of the tarsier.

I could almost hear most of the article's critics simultaneously blurting very eye-opening uh-oh's. Well, I cannot blame them. Filipinos, who were the most vocal in raising a howl over the article, they are very nationalistic; sometimes to a fault and sometimes at the wrong time. They know many things about their country; and so at the slightest sign of misinformation they take it as a challenge to their own intelligence and dignity as Filipinos. I myself found the article inadequately written. Just about the only reference to the fact that there were other tarsiers in other places and that the news was not about them was this line: "The handful of tarsier species live on various Asian islands." An article of the same subject as reported by was more informative.

But then again, have we all not been reminded time and again to be more discerning about everything that we see, read and hear in the internet?

The Philippine Tarsier
[photo by: Ingrid Park]

November 16, 2008

Garbage blues

Just came from a barangay (meaning, village) meeting. The meeting was called by village officials to clarify issues arising from the "sudden" collection of garbage fees (meaning, money that residents have to pay before their garbage get hauled by government dump trucks).

It was not as if the meeting was called to hear opposition to the "new" policy and for the barangay (meaning, the village government) to retract the same. It hardly works that way. I myself went to the meeting primarily to become more familiar with the workings of my new local government, its faces and dynamics. To get immersed in the forensics about garbage was secondary, if it was in my mind at all.

Indeed, during the meeting it was impressed upon the audience that the local ordinance pertaining to the matter of garbage (and garbage fee) collection was already in place 3 years ago. It had undergone the whole consultative process and had gotten the approval of a "general assembly" of barangay residents. Sorry me, I and my household came to this village only in March this year. Even so, had I been here before, I would not have raised a whisper to oppose the policy. It would be nearly futile; I would just be going against a governance mindset that's long been ingrained among most local officials; a mind set that has continually borrowed durability from the prevailing political economy of this country -- no revenue, no service. The concept of "revenue" here goes beyond the more usual community tax, withholding tax, business tax and VAT. That is why we have this thing called "garbage collection fee".

Yes, the government, or to be more precise, the State, will always counter that this one is different; the garbage fee's concept is more borrowed from the concept of paying for the environmental cost of having one's wastes thrown back to earth.

Well, that's why I said arguing against the State is futile most of the time. There will always be excuses, the most brilliant of which is contained in the phrase "it does not work that way".

I once did peacefully confront an official of the purok (meaning, smaller village) where I used to live, when she came to my front door to remind me of my household's overdue garbage fee; I offered her a proposal. You see, days before, I did some calculations of the total taxes that I and my family pay the State each year by way of income and community taxes, goods and services purchased, etcetera; and came up with a general figure that can pay for some of the things that our purok badly needed for happy living. So I proposed to pay for the monthly salaries of two (2) security guards or to donate multi-colored (for the needed segregation) large garbage bins (with repair and replacement warranty to boot) to each household in our purok. In turn, the State (also popularly known as government) exempts me from all taxes.

I just thought it was a fairly great thing to have my community directly benefit from the taxes that I pay instead of "uploading" the latter and wait for the services to trickle down. If ever they trickle down. Well, sometimes in some places they do trickle down in the form of overpriced fertilizers.

Who would have disagreed with my proposal? Not my neighbors I was sure. But our purok official was an exception. She politely declined my proposal. "It just doesn't work that way," she said.


November 14, 2008

Pvt S. Ryan, Dog Green Sector, Omaha Beach

I am trying out a new (or shall I say, a newly-found) feature of Flickr , which supposedly allows me to blog about a photo in my own photostream and have the post fed directly into my site in Blogger.

So let me share something about the photo posted here. [I think the photo is going to be posted above this text, if I am not mistaken].

This was taken from a famous beach resort in Samal Island, Davao. It is an original (as opposed to a Photoshopped) black and white digital photo I took using a point-and-shoot Canon. I took the opportunity to play with my cam and shoot while waiting for our swim as there was a four-hour low tide ahead of us when we visited the resort.

The photo shows my 9-year old kid Ivan playing out his fantasy as an Allied soldier in World War II; this time as a fallen US Army Ranger in Omaha Beach during the 1944 invasion of Normandy. Ivan himself titled the photo. If you have seen Spielberg's masterpiece Saving Private Ryan, then you know who Private S. Ryan is. No, he is not the one played by Matt Damon in the movie.

The prop that is a GI helmet in the foreground is an authentic Korean War-vintage; given to Ivan as a gift by his Ninong Lom Barranco. On our way to Samal, two Korean tourists took notice of the headgear and, when told of its history, one readily wore it and posed for a photo with Ivan. The Korean then smilingly told us he is from the North of the 38th parallel.

November 6, 2008

Thank you, America

My earliest recall of having seen a black American president was when I watched the movie Deep Impact (1998) the first time. In fact the curiosity of seeing actor Morgan Freeman play the role of an American president was among which compelled me to watch the movie; a friend told me it was an interesting sight to behold. In the movie, Mr. Freeman was at his usual best lending the much needed dignity and humanity to a character faced with the dilemma of saving and, at the same time, sacrificing millions of American lives, in the face of the inevitable collision of earth and comet. Watching the movie back then it didn't take much knowledge of American history to discern that the character of President Tom Beck was far more fantastic (as in, far-fetched) than the movie's plot itself.

Fast forward to ten years. November 5, 2008, about noon (Philippine time). America has just chosen its first African-American president. It is hard not to get teary-eyed seeing for the first time a black American First Family walk on stage (this kind of scene doesn't come around so often); and when Senator Barack Obama finally uttered his first words as President-elect of the United States of America, I don't know about you, but I had to ask this question in thankful silence: America, what have you done?

Political pundits from around the globe have offered their own pieces of thought to dignify the above question; and it may well take another ten, twenty, or a hundred years before the rest of humankind is able to ascertain what indeed have the Americans done on that fateful day of November 4th, 2008. That's how it is. It is only history (or, in the more spiritual sense, the Maker) that can tell; and history does not happen overnight.

While waiting, I may just have to get back to my own reality as a Filipino in this small corner of the world and continue with my own little struggle -- eking out a living while doing my best to make this country of mine a better place to live.

Meanwhile, thank you, America.

November 4, 2008

DReAM Children at the PLAI Congress

It's a few hours before the American presidential elections as I write this post. But no, I am not going to write about it anymore, lest this blog be misconstrued as socialist; that's how Obama is desperately being portrayed by the conservatives at the homestretch of the campaign, hoping to scare the centrists among the American populace into McCain's fold.

Let me instead share the news that is making me more upbeat and excited for two weeks now (i.e. besides the MBS2 euphoria). Last October 22nd , I received an email from Prof. Corazon M. Nera, Chairperson of the Professional Regulatory Commission's (PRC) Board for Librarians, requesting for a presentation of the
DReAM Children project during her own talk at the annual congress of the Philippine Librarians Association, Inc. (PLAI). The presentation is going to happen come November 22nd in Davao City where PLAI will hold its gathering for this year.

Prof. Nera actually addressed her email-invitation to both me and Ms. Fraulein A. Oclarit, herself a professional librarian and a co-consultant at
Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) and an active volunteer of DReAM Children. The latter was most instrumental in providing me and DReAM the opportunity to initially talk to the professor about the project during my last networking activity in Metro Manila.

When we (Ms. Oclarit and I) visited Prof. Nera at the Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU) in Manila (she is also its Director of Libraries), I was only then able to show her photos of the various activities and a general overview of the SMI-sponsored reader development project; but she nonetheless expressed keen interest on its prospects.

I have to admit I kind of least expected that Prof Nera's enthusiasm was that deep to have me get invited to PLAI's annual congress. PLAI is a big, if not the biggest, organization of licensed professional librarians in the country. The prospect of delivering in front of this group excites me a lot as it will certainly provide huge opportunities for DReAM Children and the overall advocacy towards reader development in the region.

This year's PLAI congress is themed The Multicultural Landscape of Philippine Librarianship.


Photos of the Sotero H. Laurel Library of the LPU
[click on photo to view larger image]

November 1, 2008

Change we can; change I did

Blame it on Barack Obama; his charisma so affecting it made a non-American like me imbibe his campaign slogan (A Change We Can Believe In) very literally. Blame it on the 2nd Mindanao Bloggers' Summit; wanting to apply my learnings from the event, I just thought changing my blog's title should be on top of the must-do list.

And what timing is more perfect than re-titling my blog Redeemed Spirit on the day when we, the living, annually redeem the spirits of our dead. Never mind if All Souls Day actually falls on November 2nd. The mix-up is forgivable; there is no telling of the difference anyway. I wish Congress will just legislate for Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day to be collectively known as The Days of the Dead (and perhaps declare this a holiday for all ghost employees of government). The Mexicans, they call this very same period "Los Dias de los Muertos".

Back to the blog re-titling case. Well, blame nothing. It simply occurred to me when I was writing my take (excerpts appended here) on the just-concluded grand eyeball of Mindanao bloggers. After all, being a newbie in blogging I have been constantly experimenting on the look and content of my blog, so why not change the title as well; see if it "fits" better. It is not much of a change anyway as Daxi Weida remains as its main author.

It also helped that a fellow blogger whom I've met for the first time at MBS2 (despite her being my co-alumni of UP Kutang Bato), also changed her primary blog's name after the summit. I share her reluctance in attributing the move to MBS2's influence, but I have to admit there are values that I hold that were "redeemed" as a result of my participation in the Summit.

These are just a few of the realizations (for a newbie like me, there are many) I learned from the Summit:
  • There is a need to counter-balance all the negative publicity Mindanao has been getting from traditional media; and the Mindanao bloggers are among our best options.
  • A blogger does not have to showcase all that are bright and beautiful about Mindanao to let everyone know that many things are indeed bright and beautiful in Mindanao. This one has always been a position of mine. I am happy that this was reaffirmed during the Summit. The overarching need to blog about the good side of Mindanao was qualified as blogging aggressively, truthfully and responsibly. We do not deny that there is war, but there is more to war than the exchange of bullets and mortar fires; "there are stories of resilience, stories of hope, stories of dreams, stories of humanity" that come out of evacuation sites [Walter Balane]. We also do not deny that besides war there are issues that we face on poverty, hunger, corruption and (mis) governance, environmental concerns and even traffic problems. Which for me make Mindanao no different from the rest of society for other people, local and foreign, to avoid. And by objectively blogging about these Brooklyn side of Mindanao, a blogger in fact is furthering the advocacy for the eventual fulfillment of progress this land has been promised eons ago.
  • Blogging the Mindanao consciousness means blogging truthfully and objectively on any thing that matter for a blogger from/of Mindanao.
  • I finally was able put living faces to many of the Mindanao bloggers whom i only got to read in the blogosphere; most of these faces are young; and these bloggers got talent!
  • One can actually make a living out of blogging; and I am not just talking here of entrepreneurial blogs.
  • There are limits to the extent where digital photos should be enhanced (read: Photoshopped) and posted to portray a real, actual, or true situation. This realization I had after a short chat with noted Mindanao photo-journalist Bobby Timonera. Prior to our little exchange, I wanted to bring to the floor the question about the "ethics" of Photoshop-ing or digitally enhancing photos. This question, and all others that relate to it, has always nagged me every time I get to see astoundingly beautiful pictures in magazines or in the internet. I found the question timely to ask after Bobby talked about photo-blogging and related how he "shifted" from being a sensationalist to becoming a photographer of the good, the beautiful, and real side of Mindanao. It was rather unfortunate that the question never did get to the floor (the moderator had to traffic forum time), for Bobby himself admitted it was a very interesting subject matter to discuss.
To borrow from my friend Jinky: "Everyday is a learning. . . sometimes we fail, sometimes we succeed! What's important is, we continue to emerge as a learned individual. I came out from MBS2 a learned individual". When we learn, we change. Change we can; change I did. Welcome once again to Redeemed Spirit.


October 26, 2008

Soultakers at MBS2

Following is a small collection of photos of photo/videographers during the recently-held 2nd Mindanao Bloggers Summit (MBS2) in General Santos City. Legends have it that when photographers take pictures, they actually take the souls of their subjects. Perhaps, they really did take ours during the Summit... for posterity, that is :)

October 16, 2008

More afraid for Obama

I have just watched the last of the US Presidential election debates. It was halfway through when I caught it on CNN. Among the first things that interested me during the debate telecast was that while the two American presidentiables exchanged fiery notes on the most pressing election issues, breaking news were being flashed on screen about markets all over the world tumbling one after the other. The bulletins were reporting mostly Asian markets including the Philippines, as these parts of the world were going through their first hours of trading while the presidential debate was going on. The tumbling of markets would later follow daylight as it moves around the globe.

No, the negative trading was not caused by the presidential debate; but by a larger paranoia about worldwide recession. Why the paranoia? Beats me.

But I can tell you my own paranoia after watching the final Obama-McCain head-to-head tussle. I have become more afraid for Senator Barack Obama. Yes, for Obama, not of. The Democratic candidate won the debate, again. And by the looks of it -- polls, both US and global, would indicate -- he is poised, now better than ever, to become the next president of the most powerful nation in the known universe.

Now, if you are a Republican, an ultra-Republican at that, say a member of NRA (yes, the National Rifle Association, descendants of the Ku Klux Klan who burned colored people at the stakes), or an ultra-rightist super-Conservative who, throughout the election campaign, has thrown every nasty thing into the campaign arena and has branded Obama a communist and a terrorist; what would you do? Dig deeper into your campaign kitty (read: kaban ng bayan), say "Hello, Garci" and buy 1 million votes?

Have I been watching too many Hollywood movies? Call me paranoid. I am.

October 13, 2008


This slideshow I particularly dedicate to my classmates in MSU-High School, Class of 1984; most especially [do I sound like an FM radio?] to those who have been away for a while now. May we all see each other on the 27th of December at the campus grounds for the HUGPONG 2008, a celebration of 41 years of MSU-High!

October 2, 2008

Re: Rizal's novels for free

I would like to thank fellow Mindanao blogger
Gilbert Yap Tan for re-posting a piece by historian Ambeth Ocampo originally published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, titled Rizal's novels for free. I am reminded of my recent venture at the Manila International Book Fair where I personally observed the Noli, the Fili, and other works of Rizal as among the least handled books in the exhibit.

Among the very few booths I saw that displayed the said items was that of the National Historical Institute (NHI). I am sure why Rizal's works attracted only a few souls has got nothing to do with NHI's booth not being extravagantly made over (read: boring) unlike those which exhibited colorful children's books and techie materials. There were other more monotonously dressed up booths yet there were more patrons flipping through the pages of their displays.

It did not matter if the patrons' curiosities actually led to the eventual takeout of the books they were browsing. But I am almost sure of the reason why they snubbed Noli and Fili. It is the same reason I had why I just took photos instead of putting my hands on either: I am already done with it. Yes, I have been required by law to read Rizal. I did, not just once but twice; and I am done with it. The words of the student who once emailed Ambeth Ocampo could have been my words also. I began appreciating the Noli and the Fili only after the second time I got to read them. I am not about to say "no thanks" to my high school teachers. I did learn some drama techniques in class we were made to act out selected chapters of Rizal's novels; and I do appreciate the many other things outside of the Noli and the Fili I've learned from my high school teachers. But I have to say "many thanks" to my college mentor, the revolutionary (don't raise your eyebrows now) Reuel Molina Aguila, who made me finally enjoy Rizal's masterpieces reading through the English translations of Leon Ma. Guerrero.

It was the intent of R.A. 1425 to make us read and enjoy Rizal's works. The law was successful in me and probably that student of Mr. Ocampo, and was to some degree successful in all of those who passed their exams and quizzes in P.I. 100, Soc. Sci. 1-something and other differently-named Rizal courses. But that's just about it.

As the law (promulgated in 1956) continues to struggle to fulfill its other pertinent provisions (e.g. Section 3), a question runs parallel: are the great majority of the country's citizenry even up to the task of wanting to read and understand Rizal, much more, live his ideals?

As I wrote this post, I called up half a dozen people -- all working class -- and ask each one his/her recollection of the stories of either the Noli and Fili. None of them remembered. I am afraid the answer to the question above leans on the negative.

But perhaps, there is still hope. All of them remembered the novels were written by Jose Rizal, our national hero.

September 26, 2008

A Stateside Taste of "Buloy"

Atty. Rocker-Biker forwarded to me a link to a very heartwarming video. Here it is sourced from the site Nikko Taytay Photography. Happy watching and listening :)

September 24, 2008

The 2nd Mindanao Bloggers Summit

The second edition of the biggest gathering of webloggers of/from Mindanao is on, and it's going to happen on October 25-26 this year in General Santos City.

Why am I going to the SUMMIT?

Because it's there...

Daghang Salamat. Ayo-ayo. Kitakits


Mindanawon, Paminawon Intawon:
Blogging the Mindanao Consciousness

Thank you to the following for making 2nd Mindanao Bloggers Summit possible:
City Mayor Pedro B. Acharon, Jr.

Congresswoman Darlene Antonino-Custodio
Department of Tourism XII
ABS-CBN Regional Network Group
Bariles Republic
Gen. Santos City Tourism Association


AMA Computer Learning Center
Grab A Crab Restaurant and Coffee Club 101
Gregoria Printing Press


Asia United Bank
Family Country Hotel & Convention Center
East Asia Royale Hotel
Fine Pixel Advertising

GenSan Sale.Com
Blogging from Home Book
Pacific Seas Seafood Market
Generals Logimark Exponent
Prints and You
Writing Edge.Com
Forest Lake San Carlos Park
Rolee Bakery & Cafe
Jehzlau Concepts
Jaypee Online.Net
Blue Media Communications
International Container Terminal Services, Inc
Shalom Wizard Academy
Dreamworld Travel and Tours
Sta. Cruz Seafoods, Inc.
Dellosa Design Build Services
Kristan Bookstore
DOLE Philippines
Husky Bus Lines
Shakey's Pizza
Family Brand Sardines
Gaisano Mall of GenSan
Chowking - KCC
Jollibee National Highway
Procter & Gamble Philis., Inc
Mega Sardines

September 17, 2008

Books!Books!Books! Uso pa ba?

I was at the 29th Manila International Book Fair over the last weekend as part of my continuing networking activities for the DReAM Children* project. The trip was paid for by Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI) a major project partner.

Every once in a while, I get confronted by people (of all ages, gender, income, profession and culture) with the eerie question "Uso pa ba ang mga libro?". This mostly happens when I get to present the concept of the DReAM Children as a project that intends to facilitate putting-up public libraries by helping the latter get books and reading resources from local and foreign sources.

The following are some images taken during my 2-day visit to the MIBF exhibit at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia Complex in Pasay City. These will undoubtedly answer the question and hopefully will put it to rest.

Scenes of MIBF 2008

The SMX main lobby just outside the main entrances to the exhibit

Could have been a single title

Dream, child, dream...

Storybooks from Indonesia and Malaysia

Materials from China and Singapore

Know what's right...

... and what are not.

Among the crowd-favorites

Fair Warnings

Beautiful friendly reminder

I peeked inside to see if there were K-F-R people or some dirty old white male joining in the meeting... Thank God, there were none :)

Meeting People

During the two-day swim and dip into the 10,000 sq. meter-pool that is the MIBF exhibit, I got to meet publishers, booksellers, writers, book and reading advocates, and friends.

Ms. Shiela A. Barcelona of IBC Infotech. A good source of highly-illustrated kid's books in Math, English and Science.

Mr. Rey Ignes of A-Z Direct Marketing. He has Reader's Digest, Catholic Digest, Discovery Channel Magazine, National Geographic/NG Kids, Time, Newsweek, Fortune, Forbes, Financial Times, FE Economic Review, etc. Among his best deals is TIME Magazine at P51.00/copy for a 1-year subscription.

Ms. Jeanne Fontelera of REX Publishing which brings to the Philippines California's Teacher Created Materials (TCM) through the program Building Fluency through Reader's Theater!

[ That's free advertisement for you, guys! :) ]

Among the most fruitful, albeit brief, encounters I had during the MIBF were those with reading and literacy advocate Ms. Zarah Grace Gagatiga; and Ms. Lily Pahilanga of the National Book Development Board.

After a very avid and animated chat with Ms. Pahilanga at the NBDB booth, I and NBDB's executive director Atty. Ma. Andrea Pasion-Flores were able to talk over the phone and further discussed areas of partnership between DReAM Children and NBDB. Voila! Prospects are bright for a tie-up for some major training activity/ies before the year ends.

Ms. Zarah's immediate smiling assessment of DReAM Children: "Wow, ambitious kayo, ha?" But readily pledged support to the reader development initiative. Ms. Zarah is the librarians' sector representative to the Philippine Board on Books for Young People (PBBY).

At the UP PRESS Booth

L-R: DReAM volunteer Fraulein Oclarit [herself networking for her Community Resource Center (CRC) project], me, Ms. Zarah Gagatiga, and doctor-writer Luis Gatmaitan. Dr. Gatmaitan sits at the PBBY as the writers' sector representative.

Eli R. Guieb III -- multi-awarded writer, filmmaker, development worker, biker, mountaineer, and friend -- signs off my copy of PAMILYA: Mga Katha [an anthology about contemporary Filipino families and relationships].

Me and my PAMILYA; Eli Guieb and his.

And a big (literally) surprise: Koronadal's own, Mr. Bien Manzares.

Yes, uso pa ang mga libro!... and they are here to stay.

*DReAM Children is Democratizing Reading Among Mindanaoan Children. It is a partnership-driven reader development project which aims to help build libraries, school-based learning resource centers, and community reading centers within the KITACO (Kiblawan, Tampakan and Columbio) and adjacent regions. Its current partners are the Department of Education, the Local Governments (Municipal and Barangay), Sagittarius Mines, Inc., and a host of other local professional, academic and socio-civic organizations and individuals.