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Outstanding Librarian 2015:
Estrella Velasco Manuel

Estrella Velasco Manuel

The Professional Regulation Commission conferred the Outstanding Professional Librarian of the Year Award on Estrella Velasco Manuel on 18 June 2015. The citation reads:
As one of the pillars of Philippine Librarianship, a distinguished leader for more than sixty years, having served as a teacher-librarian since 1952, Dr. Estrella Velasco Manuel, was instrumental in the institution of the Library Science Program of Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in 1978. Her exemplary dedication and service to the profession as library director of PUP and head of the Library Science Department for many years, author of the book on Philippine School Librarianship and other research publications, and participation in leading library organizations both international and local, such as the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), the Orientalist Organization of Asian Librarians, the Philippine Librarians Association (where she served in the Board), the Philippine Association of Teachers of Library Science (PATLS) where she served as Vice President, then President in 1988-1989, and the Philippine Society on Curriculum Development as its former President, amply demonstrate to the highest degree of professionalism and leadership her outstanding contribution in the field of library science.

Thanks to Elvira Lapuz for providing the photo (taken by Joebert De Paz) and citation.


Category: Librarians—Awardees

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The Philippines for Beginners: Book Recommendations


I was recently asked to make some book recommendations. The books, preferably available in bookstores and "easily digestible," were to answer the question: What should I read if I want to learn more about the Philippines and Philippine culture?

Smile, Cebu Pacific's inflight magazine, is probably one of the most widely-circulated (if not most widely-read) magazines in the Philippines AND I had long wondered why the few books featured in its pages were mostly foreign books, so even though my mom was in the hospital when the request came and I was quite busy at work, I set aside some time thinking about which books about the Philippines would be helpful for foreigners and Filipinos alike.

Below is the introduction I sent (which was not published huhu), as well as the full text of the article. You can download "The Philippines for Beginners," the entire June 2015 issue, and even previous issues on the Smile website.

THE PHILIPPINES FOR BEGINNERS
These recommendations from book historian and librarian Dr Vernon R Totanes are sure to add to your knowledge of the nation

"What’s the best history book on the Philippines?" That's a question I usually get asked when people find out that my PhD dissertation was on the history of the Filipino history book. My answer is often another question—"What are you interested in?"—because there is no book that is suitable for all readers, and scholarly monographs or school textbooks are not necessarily appropriate for the needs of those who wish to know more about Filipinos and the Philippines.

1 Learn Tagalog — the fun way
ALAMAT NG AMPALAYA BY AUGIE RIVERA
The song "Bahay Kubo" enumerates the many vegetables grown in neighborhood gardens with one exception — ampalaya (bitter gourd). The omission inspired this children's book. The Tagalog and English texts are sure to prove useful for those aiming to study one or both languages.

2 Get to know a national hero
RIZAL WITHOUT THE OVERCOAT BY AMBETH R OCAMPO
Jose Rizal, considered the national hero of the Philippines, was more man than Superman. This book uses humor and interesting trivia to (re)introduce Rizal as a mere mortal who loved women, was stingy with money and liked to eat tuyo for breakfast.

3 Be one with the locals
PACIFIC RIMS: BEERMEN BALLIN’ IN FLIP-FLOPS AND THE PHILIPPINES' UNLIKELY LOVE AFFAIR WITH BASKETBALL BY RAFE BARTHOLOMEW
Ever wondered why Filipinos — most of whom aren't that tall — love basketball? Find the answer in this book, which the author has described as his love letter to the Philippines.

4 Appreciate the nation's cuisine
MEMORIES OF PHILIPPINE KITCHENS BY AMY BESA AND ROMY DOROTAN
Learn how to cook lumpiang Shanghai, adobo and kinilaw and get better acquainted with the origins of Philippine cuisine with this cookbook by the duo behind Purple Yam. It features stunning photographs, too.

i DR VERNON R TOTANES, LICENSED LIBRARIAN AND BOOK HISTORIAN, IS THE DIRECTOR OF THE RIZAL LIBRARY, ATENEO DE MANILA UNIVERSITY. HE BLOGS AT FILIPINOLIBRARIAN.BLOGSPOT.COM

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Book-lat: Reading in the Philippines


In case you missed it last week, the video of a TV5 documentary on reading in the Philippines is now available online. The documentary's title, "Book-lat," references the Tagalog word "buklat" (in English, to open like a book). The question it seeks to answer is "Kaya ba nating makalikha ng isang nasyon ng mga mambabasa?" (Can we create a nation of readers?) Watch the entire documentary below.

Part 1



Part 2


Part 3


Part 4


Disclosure: I was interviewed for the show, and I appear as early as 1:11 in the first segment. Note that I am not identified as a librarian, but as a book historian. Also, the Rizal Library is featured prominently in the host's spiels and my interview, and several librarians and staff are clearly identifiable in the background and walking through the stacks.

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Librarians' Licensure Examination 2015: Results

Congratulations to the new librarians!

The passing rate for this year's Librarians' Licensure Examination (LLE) is 47 percent (349 out of 742), which is higher than the 2014 passing rate of 28 percent, but is consistent with the passing rates of 47 percent in 2012 and 46 percent in 2013.

It appears that the decline in the passing rate last year was, in fact, due to the change in exam schedule (i.e., from November to April), which meant that most of the 2014 examinees were repeaters, not fresh graduates. This conclusion is borne out by this year's passing rate for first timers (70 percent, or 273 of 388), which is more than triple that for repeaters (22 percent, or 76 of 354).

What I found most interesting about this year's LLE, however, is that while most of the examinees on the list of top scorers (9 of 12) were from the University of the Philippines (UP), the three non-UP examinees—from Central Philippine University (Iloilo), University of San Carlos (Cebu), and Cor Jesu College (Davao del Sur)—dominated the top 4.

The list of the top scorers is reproduced below. The list of successful examinees may be downloaded from the official website of the Professional Regulation Commission.

Top 12
ALLANA SANGLAP DELGADO 89.60
SEACHEL SAGMON OYAO 87.85
MARIA CARINA GONGORA RAYMUNDO 86.95
MARJORIE TOLENTINO JORILLO 86.75
FAYE FRANCISCO LABIANO 86.60
ARCHIMEDES PORNILLOS OIDA 86.60
JOANNE AGUILAR VALEBIA 86.55
THEO RAFAEL SANTOS AMAN 86.40
DENISSE HOPE ORDINARIO DIZON 86.35
JOR-EL ESGUERRA PARAGUA 86.35
REDENTOR BIEN CHUA LUZ JR 86.20
FLORABEL MENDOZA FUMAR 86.10

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Librarians' Licensure Examination 2015

Yes, librarians in the Philippines are licensed by the Professional Regulation Commission. This year's Librarians' Licensure Examination (LLE) will be held on April 22 & 23 in Manila, Baguio, Cebu, Davao & Legaspi.

Ten years ago, I shared some tips on applying for and taking the LLE. While there have been a few changes between now and then, most of the advice I gave then—from applying early to not "fighting" exam questions—should still be applicable today.

If you or someone you know is taking the LLE (or any board exam, actually) this year, you may wish to read the following posts:

Librarians' Licensure Examination 2005
LLE 2005: Applying in Person
LLE 2005: Studying for the Exam
LLE 2005: Preparing for D-Day
LLE 2005: Taking the Exam

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Epifanio de los Santos Day 2015


Ten years ago, I unilaterally declared April 7 as "Epifanio de los Santos Day." It was commemorated in 2006 and 2007, but it hasn't been celebrated on this blog since. Thankfully, Ambeth Ocampo wrote about the librarian after whom the the Philippines' best-known highway is named just last week. Here's what he wrote in "Contemplating Edsa" (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 27 March 2015):
Epifanio de los Santos Avenue starts north from the Bonifacio Monument in Caloocan stretching almost 24 kilometers through Quezon City, San Juan, Mandaluyong, Makati, to the Mall of Asia in Pasay.

What did De los Santos do to deserve such a singular honor? He was not just a two-time governor of Nueva Ecija, he was more than an epal politician: He was a historian, journalist, musician, bibliophile and antiques collector who served as director of the National Library of the Philippines...

Epifanio de los Santos wrote for the revolutionary paper La Independencia and was also an accomplished painter. It is said that a beautiful young lady in charge of a college for women (Rosa Sevilla?) received an oil portrait from an anonymous admirer. Nobody knew who had sent the gift, so some of her many suitors courted her attention and affection by claiming that they had sent the portrait. So one day when all the competitors were wooing the woman, praising and commenting on her portrait, De los Santos asked that they take the painting out of its frame. On the back they found his name. Furthermore, a piece of music hidden behind the painting was found, and De los Santos serenaded the woman with it, “to the mingled delight and despair of the other suitors.”
Next year, I hope that we'll have a story about a living librarian to share, someone who shares Epifanio de los Santos's qualities.

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Movers & Shakers 2015: Ma. Lorna Eguia


Congratulations to Ma. Lorna Eguia, the first Filipino librarian to be chosen as one of Library Journal's Movers & Shakers!

Her work with victims of Typhoon Haiyan, specifically the bibliotherapy she offered to children through her Books in Bags project, is featured prominently in her citation as a Community Builder.

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Library Renewal Partnership

Many people have told me that they want to help build public libraries, but often they think it will be enough to donate books. I tell them that book donations—and even new library buildings—are not enough.

Someone has to be there to make sure that the books are taken out of the boxes, organized, and displayed. Otherwise, it is very likely the books will remain in their boxes forever. Someone also has to open the library on a regular basis, make sure the lights are working and the place is clean, AND tell members of the community about the library's resources and services. Otherwise, like many other public libraries that we have now, most of the people around them will not even know that there is a public library in their midst (see the NBDB Readership Survey 2012). In short, a librarian—or at least someone who loves books and is a full-time employee—must be hired if the public library is to achieve its objective.

But how does one go about hiring a librarian, or helping the nearest public library, for that matter? Wouldn't they have to coordinate with the National Library or the local mayor? What if there's no public library and they'd like to convert an existing space? I can't answer all these questions, but thankfully, there is a foundation that can help answer all these questions, and even help address all other areas of concern =)


According to its website, Library Renewal Partnership (LRP) is "a coalition of local and international partners that aims to to empower over 2 million citizens, by building at least 200 community education centres by the year 2020 and help forge an interconnected archipelago of readers and leaders."

As Quintin Pastrana (LRP's founder) states in "Making a difference, one library at a time" (Philippine Star, 9 March 2015), "...the local government provides the physical structure, overhead expenses, and staffing, while partners and donors provide books, learning materials, and educational programs." How? They work with interested mayors to get a memorandum of agreement signed, which assures them that the local government will take care of providing the following: 70-square-meter space (minimum), Internet connection, and library overhead (including electricity and salaries).

If you'd like to set up a public library in your barangay or municipality, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Please get in touch with LRP.

For more information about LRP, see their website and Pastrana's 2-part "Where have our libraries gone?"

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That Thing Called Tadhana
Or, How I Became a Librarian

Guest Post by Oj Cruz


Photo by Ada Cañas, GMA News Library

People I meet, after the perfunctory introductions are made, are usually surprised to find out I am a librarian. Reactions range from the demure "oh," with a slight twitch of the left facial muscles, to the "oh-no-you're-not," delivered with an abrupt plunge in tone of voice; skin slowly turning pale. Kidding aside, people I meet for the first time are genuinely interested why a young man in his 30s (because 30 is the new 20, haha) seriously considered and made a career out of being a librarian. A Librarian. Not Information Manager, Information Specialist, Information Analyst, or any other incarnation of the basic title of the profession available on the Internet nowadays.

Why become a librarian? Why not a career in the arts or media, as befits my online persona or my gregarious self when in the company of close friends? I cannot claim that librarianship as a career path came to me like lightning-amidst-storm-clouds, an epiphany, or a mid-morning realization. No, it didn't. In fact, who would choose a career that upon mention will instantly fill one's head with images of old maids shushing the life out of unruly high school teens? LOL. Never in my wildest dreams; but it happened, one thing led to another—and now I’m all the more thankful for it.

My life as an undergraduate Iskolar ng Bayan was mired with trials, hardships, and tribulations along the way in the form of 5.0s, 3.0s, INCs, and occasional sleepless nights on account of a paper, a report, or both. (It happens to most; not that I have a very unique life story in UP, haha!) I ended up, like most of us did back then (late 90s), at the steps of the UP School of Library and Information Studies, begging to be given another shot at UP Life. The shot was given, indeed, and before long I found myself poring over books on library history, cataloging and classification, indexing and abstracting, management, reference service, and information technology—all of those on top of the general education subjects that one has to pass in order to graduate with a UP degree. No, my friends, Librarianship as an undergraduate course is not the easy way to a UP degree; but since a chance was given, I had to prove myself worthy of the challenge. I toiled and worked hard, understanding the concepts and applying them in various exercises designed to mold us into future information professionals.

One might say that I was thrust right in the middle of the action. I was like a fish out of water; still relishing my old life back in my old college that I left for this new one—my head still filled with dreams of what-could-have-been. But despite the situation, I kept an open mind, welcomed the different possibilities that this change might bring about. As semesters wore on and my study habits gradually improved, so did my grades begin to finally pick up. I eventually realized that maybe this "abrupt change" was not so abrupt after all, that maybe an unseen guiding hand was leading me through all of this. How else can one explain the series of events that led me to the doorsteps of the UP SLIS—Mass Comm's period of application for shifting closing right exactly as I was still trying to argue my case with them; myself at the very end of my two-semesters-allowed "non-major" status; and only 3 colleges left open that were still accepting shiftees into their fold (CAL, SLIS, and CSWD). Having had a prior theater audition gone awry, and not really seeing myself as a convincing social worker, I took the best option available. And the rest was history.

Looking back, having had a good one year solid run with GMA Network as one of its news librarians, and followed by an 11-year stint (and counting) with the Senate as a Legislative Staff Officer in the Library, I can say I have had a professionally rewarding 12 years of practice as a librarian. Armed with a degree in Library and Information Science and the approval of the PRC's Board for Librarians to practice Librarianship, I was able to help shape public opinion (at GMA) and help craft relevant pieces of legislation that affect the country's future (in the Senate) in my own little way, by providing the much needed information at the right time.

As libraries continue to prove themselves valuable both in the corporate world and in government, as go-to-places for research, so too, do I find myself thriving. With every question posed to me—a legislative history of a Republic Act, a profile of a senator, a book on the constitution—I discover my inner child again; that child who relished finding new discoveries. For in every page of a book I read, history is discovered. Even the most mundane of trivia interests me. My stint covering the various quiz bees during my elementary years can attest to that; the love of information for the sake of information itself. Why, looking back I was already making lists and inventories of children's books I owned when I was in elementary; color-coding the covers of my fiction books back in high school, haha!

So yeah. It was not an epiphany, a mid-morning realization, or even a lightning-amidst-storm-clouds type of recognition back in college, that I wanted to be a librarian. Looking back, it was something more than that. Call it Divine Providence, if you want, a profound-accident-of-sorts, or maybe just a stroke of luck.

I call it Tadhana.

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FO: Rare Books


In "Old-fashioned books" (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 4 March 2015), Ambeth Ocampo states that
Today, many of the rare books on the Philippines are now available online. Some are copied out by Project Gutenberg, while others have been scanned and are downloadable free from the Biblioteca Nacional de España and other websites. The National Library of the Philippines has many important Philippine materials available online for free, while the Filipinas Heritage Library has its digitized books available online for a minimal fee, the Lopez Museum and Library has its major holdings scanned and can be consulted in-house.
It is difficult, however, for those reading the column—whether in print or online—to appreciate his point because there are no links that lead to the rare books to which he refers. Even if readers are able to Google the sites he mentions, it is not necessarily easy to find the books on the Philippines that have been digitized. So here's a little public service: the same paragraph with clickable links (and some instructions) that will make it easier to find rare books on the Philippines.
Today, many of the rare books on the Philippines are now available online. Some are copied out by Project Gutenberg, while others have been scanned and are downloadable free from the Biblioteca Nacional de España [use "Filipinas" as the search term] and other websites. The National Library of the Philippines has many important Philippine materials available online for free, while the Filipinas Heritage Library has its digitized books available online for a minimal fee, the Lopez Museum and Library has its major holdings scanned and can be consulted in-house. [Unfortunately, the Lopez website does not reveal much about its Library's holdings.]
If you would like to see other sites that have been featured on this blog, as well as some of the more important rare books that may be accessed online, see the following:

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