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When was the last time you watched the sun set?


  1. Click on the arrow above to watch the video, or watch it on YouTube. You may wish to press the “pause” button while waiting for the video to load.
  2. This video was taken at Dawal Beach Resort, Candelaria, Zambales, on 6 May 2006.
  3. Thanks to Stan Totanes, my uncle, who provided the camera that I used to shoot the video—and just about all the original photos that have appeared on this blog—and Hans Hwang, who rotated the video for me.
  4. There are other sunset videos available on YouTube.

Category: The Philippines


Dialogue with Da Vinci, don't burn it

Why would anyone want to burn any book? Read "Copies of 'Da Vinci' book, film burned" by Nini Valera and Tina G. Santos (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 27 May 2006) and let me know if the organizers said anything that remotely justifies burning the book. They won't even prevent people from reading the book because they only burned three copies. They are, of course, entitled to their own opinions, but my guess is that burning the book was really just a publicity stunt.

And then there's that dismissive comment from a member of the group who said that people in the provinces won't be interested in the movie because, "It’s mostly dialogue anyway." Contrast this position with the effort of Loyola School of Theology (LST) to start a real dialogue.

The event is called "Evenings with Da Vinci and Judas," and discussions will be led by Fr. Antonio de Castro, SJ, and Fr. Victor Salanga, SJ, a Church historian and a Bible scholar, respectively. They know their stuff, unlike the book burners who just know that people in the provinces don't like movies with dialogue. No books will be burned.

Incidentally, LST is a pontifical school. In Philippine-education terms, this means that the pope himself has "accredited" the school to teach future teachers of the Catholic faith.

Categories: Books and Movies, Religion


Filipinos love "American Idol"

"AMERICAN Idol" is, well, American. But Taylor Hicks, the top-rated show's latest winner, dominates the front pages — and not just the inside or entertainment pages — of today's Philippine Daily Inquirer and the Philippine Star. Carrie Underwood, last year's winner, was not accorded the same treatment by the Inquirer the day after she won. It is, perhaps, indicative of the show's growing popularity in the Philippines that "Philippine Idol" will be debuting soon, despite the proliferation of singing contests here.

Read entire post...

This post was written for Inside PCIJ.

Category: The Philippines


Yes, there are a few good Filipino politicians...

In case you missed it, Newsbreak featured six outstanding politicians in its 17 April 2006 issue. They are, in alphabetical order:

There is hope. Let's pray that these six have infected other politicians. In "The Outstanding 6," Miriam Grace A. Go writes:
If this country is to move forward, then the push will come from the local governments. If the people are to be inspired to do something for their community, then they will have to look up to the leaders closest to them. If we are to prove that such inspiring leaders are not rare or are flashes in the pan, then we will have to tell the stories of these six again and again.
And if librarians are to be inspired to do more for their communities, then I think I'll just have to keep on blogging about the stories of inspiring librarians.

Category: The Philippines


Proactive Librarians

The article below is the preprint version of the one I wrote for the next issue of Star Teacher, which will appear in print by June. While some of the details apply specifically to Filipino public school librarians, most of the suggestions in my opinion are also relevant to all librarians.

What can teacher-librarians do to improve their libraries?
By Vernon R. Totanes

Public school libraries in the Philippines tend to be neglected for many reasons, including the lack of a full-time librarian, the designation of overworked teachers as teacher-librarians, and of course lack of financial resources to buy the necessary materials. But why is it that some libraries flourish despite facing the same difficulties that others also have?

Some were lucky because they were chosen to be the beneficiaries of generous donors. But more often than not, the few libraries that have developed more than others had teacher-librarians who were devoted to their students and saw that libraries were important. Even the lucky few were probably chosen precisely because their teacher-librarians exhibited the qualities the donors were looking for.

If you have been designated a teacher-librarian, but don’t really have too much time or were not given enough training or resources to manage the library effectively, what can you do to improve your library? Here are a few suggestions:

Decide that you want to be an agent of change

Yes, it will all have to start with you. You have to make a conscious decision that you want to make the library a place for learning, and that you will find the necessary time, if not resources, to achieve this.

In the parable of the talents, where three men are given money to invest, the lesson is that those who are able to demonstrate that they can do more with what they have will be given even more. And, of course, the one who decided to just bury the money he was given, lost even the little that he had.

You may not have much money from the school authorities, but if you decide that you want to do more with the scant resources at your disposal, then the likelihood that you will be given more goes up. But if you just choose to sit on what you have and hope that someone will come along to help you, you’ll probably have to wait for a very long time.

Think of yourself as a missionary, not a mechanic

The library is not like a car, where all the parts have to work before it can start running. Think of the library as a church or a mosque, where people can still go even if it’s not yet fully finished. This means that you don’t have to be an expert cataloger to arrange the books. If your library has less than a thousand books, you can devise a system so that books may be borrowed and returned without having to assign call numbers.

The bigger problem that needs to be addressed is that of convincing others that the library is important. In short, you need to be a missionary to your principal, co-teachers, students, their parents, and the larger community. Once you’ve convinced others that the library is important—this, however, may take years—then organizing the library and getting the necessary resources, both human and financial, should become easier.

Write your mission statement, and make it happen

Every missionary must have a mission. What kind of library do the students need? Write it down, break it up into realistic objectives and set deadlines for yourself. Back it up with action plans and cost estimates. This is what you will show to those who will want to help you achieve your mission.

Yes, there are people who will want to help you, but you will have to identify these people, present action plans, and show that you are capable of carrying out your plans. It’s not going to be enough to say that you want a “world-class library” or a “good library.” Potential donors will want to know exactly what such a library will be like, why it is appropriate for your school, how much it will cost, and whether you can deliver on your promises.

Self-promotion is a necessary evil

Filipinos tend to be very modest, and so it’s possible that you will want to keep a low profile. But what would the television networks be without the Kapuso and Kapamilya stars? In elections, voters usually write down the names of candidates with whom they have a personal connection, no matter how remote.

You have to be the face of the library, especially if it’s not yet what you hope it will be. Don’t hide in the library; go out there and participate in the school’s activities. If enough people see that the teacher-librarian is capable of hosting events, for example, then they might be more willing to believe that you can achieve your mission.

You also need to be ready for the attention. Don’t just fix up the library, start fixing yourself up, too. And it’s not just physical, make sure that your image is not that of the stereotypical librarian who is masungit (cranky). After all, the school principal and potential donors who see that students are afraid to go to the library will not be encouraged to be generous.

Bring the library to your customers

No, don’t give the books away. What this means is that you need to tell your customers—the members of the school community—that the library exists and what services the library can offer. There are banks where the tellers just sit and wait for people to open the door and come in. And then, there are banks where sales representatives go out and tell potential customers what the bank can do for them. Which banks do you think are more successful?

Another way of doing this is to cooperate with other teachers in their lessons. Try to match what they need with your skills or the resources the library can provide. And then there are special occasions on which they may need your assistance. Plan for those events and offer the information you were able to gather even before they ask for help.

Be proactive

All these suggestions can be summarized in two words: be proactive. And this means doing what must be done without having to be told what to do. Teachers are expected to be proactive and prepare their lessons, instead of going to class unprepared and just reacting to questions posed by students. Teacher-librarians must do the same.

Categories: Librarians, Libraries—Public Schools


Blind Librarian Leads the Way

Can the blind lead the blind? Well, this blind librarian helps the blind to read. "Shining through in world of darkness" by Margaux C. Ortiz (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 21 May 2006) chronicles Maria Lea Vilvar's journey from being a sighted girl afraid of the dark to a blind librarian who inspires others like her to go beyond their physical impairments.

I'm not sure I like the subtitle—"Blind librarian guards books in Braille"—but I suppose Ortiz more than makes up for the suggestion that all a librarian does is "guard" books by writing about the other things that Vilvar does and has done.

It is unfortunate that the National Library of the Philippines has no information on its website on the Library for the Blind Division, but take a look at "A Status Report on the Library for the Blind in the Philippines" (1999) and "Library for the Blind: A Guiding Light in the Dark" (2000). For the basis of the establishment of the Library for the Blind Division, see section 14 of Republic Act 7277.

For more information on blindness in the Philippines, check out the websites of the National Council for the Welfare of Disabled Persons and Resources for the Blind. To see what other countries are doing for the blind, see the United Kingdom's National Library for the Blind and the list of DAISY Consortium members.

Category: Librarians


What I Learned Through Blogging

The links listed below are the ones I referred to in my talk on "Weblogs" at PAARL's National Summer Conference on Library and Information in La Trinidad, Benguet, 17-19 May 2006. You can check out the paper I delivered at Consal XIII (full text links only) for the other blogging-related links.
Note: Most of the links will lead to posts that have appeared on this blog. These posts are not necessarily solely about the specified website. Those marked with an asterisk (*) are those sites I have been planning to write about for the longest time. In one case, I linked to another blogger's post so that readers can better understand what the site is about.

Search Engines


PAARL Conference Photos

retreat house fellowship - dancing librarians flowers group photo fe angela versoza on library security

In case any of you noticed, I did not post anything here since last Monday because I was at PAARL's National Summer Conference on Library and Information. Click on any of the photos above to see the photos I took. The links I promised to provide in my talk will follow soon.

Category: Events


I Am a Librarian

It is not enough to complain about the existence of librarian stereotypes; alternative images must be presented.
Note: Click on the arrow to watch the video. It will take some time to load, so I suggest you click on the "pause" button while waiting. The video will stop playing, but it will continue to load.
When I started this blog, I hoped I could get away with being a "journalist" and write in the third person. I did not wish to be anonymous, but it was also not my intention that the blog would be about me. But there's really no way to avoid coming forward. As I wrote in a soon-to-be-published article, "Self-promotion is a necessary evil."

I found out about Cynthia Wilson's "I Am a Librarian" project after thinking of doing the video above, but we're basically thinking along the same lines:
The image of the librarian is currently portrayed as a homely woman or a sexy woman with glasses and a book in hand. Well, men are librarians too... When I meet people and tell them that I am a librarian, first they comment that they cannot believe that you need a Master’s degree to be a librarian and then they say well, you don’t look like a librarian. Showing pride in our profession and sending a positive image will help the world to realize that the stereotype is not true of all librarians.
Wilson also has a blog and will probably eventually publish the photos she took. But I hope there will be others who will do what I've done. All you need is a digital camera or cell phone that can take videos, and the means to upload your video to YouTube. If there were more authentic librarian videos, then perhaps the relevance and view count results for "librarian" would not be so embarrassing (see "librarians are ugly" and "Naughty Librarian").

Finally, in case you've heard about "Marian the Librarian," but don't know where it came from, click on the link to watch the song from the musical The Music Man, as performed by Matthew Broderick.

Thanks to Hans Hwang for his technical expertise and the use of his equipment.

Categories: Stereotypes, About Vonjobi


Response to Da Vinci Code Highlights
Inadequacies of Catholic Church

If I were to give The Da Vinci Code another title, I'd probably call it The Gospel of Dan Brown. And like The Gospel of Judas a few weeks ago, it will not make much of a dent in the number of Catholics who go to Church. As I wrote before—and which a Bible scholar has been quoting—"If reading [The Da Vinci Code causes] you to 'lose your faith,' then perhaps you deserve to lose it."

The CBCP has finally issued a statement on the eve of the movie's release—years after the book started attracting attention. And if you'll look at how the pastoral statements are presented on the websites of the CBCP and the Archdiocese of Manila, you'll see that the latter has a better understanding of what it means to communicate.

In fact, the Archdiocese of Manila also makes "Handling Questions People may ask about the Da Vinci Code" available, the guide referred to in the CBCP's statement. The guide states that, "Brown sounds so convincing that many of his readers simply believe his assertions, due to insufficient knowledge of the Christian faith and a solid background in history and other fields." But why would Catholic readers have "insufficient knowledge" of their faith? Because the Church refuses to accept that times have changed.

Please pardon the language, but nowadays sex sells. I don't mean that the Church should start putting photos of sexy actresses on the cover of the Bible, but the Church needs to work on communicating with the faithful in a language that they can understand. Bishop Arguelles has asked that the movie be banned, but I would suggest that Arguelles, instead, work on his homilies so that the few who attend and stay awake will have their faith lives enriched. (Yup, he's that out of touch.) The bishops may also want to take a look at how Catholic schools are teaching students about their faith (see "'Average' Catholics and the Bible").

Anyway, the Opus Dei is dealing with the movie in a much better manner—and that's to use the opportunity to evangelize and correct errors, instead of trying to stifle contrary opinions. Check out the following:But really, I think it is very appropriate that the best thing that the Catholic Church could have done about this opportunity—nope, it's not a threat—comes from the Inquirer's entertainment section. In an interview with Ruben Nepales (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 14 May 2006), Tom Hanks says,
When the book was setting record sales and everybody was reading it, you could put a sign outside a church that says we’ll be discussing the true meaning of Ash Wednesday or "The Da Vinci Code." A jillion people will show up. Maybe to tear it apart or maybe to support it but, more than anything else, just to have dialogue about what it does and does not mean. What could possibly be wrong with that? I have plenty of friends—people who are serious about their faith—who have said to me, "Let’s get together and not be afraid [to] have a conversation." All it is, is dialogue. That never hurts.
The Catholic Church has failed to communicate with its followers using language that they can understand. Where are the Catholic authors who can write bestselling novels like The Da Vinci Code and the Left Behind series? Fr. Andrew Greeley had some success in the 1980s with The Cardinal Sins and Thy Neighbor's Wife, but the hierarchy didn't exactly approve of his novels either.

What can librarians learn from all this? We can't just leave it to others to tell the people who we are; that's why the stereotypes about librarians continue to flourish. We have to be the ones to go out there and tell people who we are. It's not enough to complain about inaccurate images of librarians; we must be able to present alternative, positive images in movies, books and, yes, blogs =)

Categories: Books and Movies, Religion


Filipino Mothers for Export

It's Mother's Day tomorrow. Check out everything that will be written about mothers on Google News, Yahoo! News and Topix.net (news and blogs).

But please consider "Global mamas" by Michael L. Tan (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 13 May 2006) and the report he discusses in his column: Save the Children’s "State of the World’s Mothers 2006" (press release, full report [pdf]). (Note: One big difference between bloggers and newspaper columnists is that the former can provide links that the latter forget or choose not to include.)

According to Tan, "Many Filipinas aren’t just global nannies, they’re now global 'nanay' [mothers], global mamas, often at great cost to their own children back home." Much has been made of the exodus of nurses, doctors and teachers, but what of the mothers among this group? And then there are the domestic helpers, entertainers, etc. They are very likely mothers, too. We haven't just been exporting skilled or unskilled Filipino workers; I'm willing to bet that we've exported more mothers than fathers.

And then there's Salary.com's "What Is Mom's Job Worth?," which quantifies the actual and potential salaries of Working and Stay-at-Home Moms. The figures are in dollars, of course, but it makes me wonder what mothers are really worth, and just how much we really owe them. I'm sure they did it all for love, and that they don't expect anything in return, but quantifying what they've done in pesos and centavos just makes it that much clearer how much we've taken our mothers for granted. Or maybe I should just speak for myself.

Anyway, to all the mothers reading this: Happy Mother's Day!

Categories: Events, Filipina


A-LIEP: LIS Research

In "Authorship from the Asia and Pacific Region in Top Library and Information Science Journals" by Taemin Kim Park, articles published from 1967-2005 in the top 20 library and information science (LIS) journals—as ranked by ISI's Journal Citation Reports—were included in the study. Australia, China (including Hong Kong) and South Korea accounted for 50 percent of the articles out of twelve countries. The Philippines was represented by 9 articles, or 0.7 percent.

To put these figures into perspective, it must be noted that in "Is There a Role for Professional Associations in Fostering Research?" by Kerry Smith and Ross Harvey, the Australian authors expressed dissatisfaction with their country's research output. If librarians from the number one country—with 26.2 percent of articles—are not happy with their output, what should Filipinos feel?

According to ISIHighlyCited.com, there is only one Filipino among its list of "the most highly influential scientists and scholars worldwide"—Bienvenido Juliano of the Philippine Rice Research Institute, who has written or collaborated on 367 articles since 1955. But that's in the field of agricultural sciences. What about our own field?

Of the 9 articles written by Filipinos, 4 were published from 1981-1990, 4 from 1991-2000, and just 1 from 2001-2005. Looking at the names, only a few are familiar; the rest may not be librarians. The article by Oberthur, Dobermann, and Aylward, does not even seem to have a Filipino among its authors.

Could it be that Filipino librarians have not been doing research? Or did their articles just not make it into the top 20 journals?

The following is the list of articles included in Park's study:
Carino, PB. COMPAIS - a computer-assisted information-system. Journal of Information Science, v.4, no.1 (1982).

Cornelio, AF, Neelameghan, A and Tongco, LV. DAIS - a computer-assisted documents acquisition information-system. Journal of Information Science, v.5, no. 1 (1982).

Dizon, LB and Sadorra, MSM. Patterns of publication by the staff of an international fisheries research-center. Scientometrics, v.32, no.1 (Jan. 1995).

Flor, AG. The information wastage ratio - Toward a theory of rates of information generation and utilization. Scientometrics, v.13, no.1/2 (Jan. 1988).

Lustria, MLA, Case, DO. The SPARC initiative : a survey of participants and features analysis of their journals. Journal of Academic Librarianship, v.31, no.3 (May 2005).

Maclean, J, Janagap, C. The publication productivity of international agricultural-research center. Scientometrics, v.28, no. 3 (Nov.-Dec. 1993).

Neelameghan, A, Pascua-Cruz, MD. Online access to remote data-bases – an experiment in user sensitization. Journal of Information Science, v.7, no. 3 (1983).

Oberthur, T. Dobermann, A, Aylward, M. Using auxiliary information to adjust fuzzy membership functions for improved mapping of soil qualities. International Journal of Geographical Information Science, v.14, no. 5 (Jul-Aug 2000).

Opena, MM. Unity in diversity : toward a common professional vision of health science librarianship. Bulletin of the Medical Library Association, v.84, no.1 (1996).

Category: A-LIEP


Handsome Librarian

Nope, I'm not talking about myself =)

In "Librarian as Game-Show Winner," I wrote about Aldric Gaerlan, who won PHP 500,000 with his partner in a noontime show. Well, Gaerlan has written an article about his experience. Check it out at UPLSAA Online.

And nope, he didn't need to take Biogesic to win.

Categories: Stereotypes, Librarians


A-LIEP: Books

Proceedings of the Asia-Pacific Conference on Library & Information Education & Practice Knowledge, Imagination, Possibility: Singapore's Transformative Library

In "A-LIEP: Proceedings," I promised to post the photo of the Proceedings of the Asia-Pacific Conference on Library & Information Education & Practice. That's the book on the left.

The photo of the book on the right is of Knowledge, Imagination, Possibility: Singapore's Transformative Library. Rambling Librarian generously gave me a copy when I said that I wanted to get one for the ILIS Library. For more about this book, see the second article in "New initiatives to boost National Library's vision to be reference and research hub (Access, December 2005)."

Click on the photos above to see the larger versions. Or, if you'd like to read the books, visit the ILIS Library by June 2006.

Category: A-LIEP


A-LIEP: Photos

Asia-Pacific Conference on Library & Information Education & Practice
Click on the photo above to see the original. For more photos, check out the following:

April 3: 1 2 3
April 4: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
April 5: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
April 6: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

National Library
Dinner: 1 2 3 4 5
Tour: 1 2

Category: A-LIEP


Stereotypical Librarian?

If a picture paints a thousand words, what exactly would this TV commercial do for the image of librarians?

Note: Click on the arrow to watch the video. It will take some time to load, so I suggest you click on the "pause" button while waiting. The video will stop playing, but it will continue to load.
The commercial is set in a library. The librarian—wearing glasses and with her hair in a bun—is in the foreground stamping books. Meanwhile, the library user in the background causes the shelves to topple like dominos. This, apparently, causes the librarian to have a headache, the voiceover promotes Biogesic as a safe and effective painkiller, and after the librarian gets over her headache—presumably because she took Biogesic—she tells the user, "Pulutin mo 'yan" (Pick that up).

I really don't know what to say.

Category: Stereotypes


A-LIEP: Money and Leadership

The paper I presented in Singapore last April 5—"Money and leadership : a study of theses on public school libraries submitted to the University of the Philippines’ Institute of Library and Information Science"—is now available as a pdf file at E-prints for Library and Information Science.

Just for the record, but especially for the benefit of search engine spiders, the bibliographic information for the article is as follows:

Totanes, Vernon. 2006. Money and leadership: a study of theses on public school libraries submitted to the University of the Philippines’ Institute of Library and Information Science. In Proceedings of the Asia-Pacific Conference on Library & Information Education & Practice, edited by Christopher Khoo, Diljit Singh, and Abdus Sattar Chaudhry, 445-451. Singapore: National Technological University.

Categories: A-LIEP, Leadership, About Vonjobi


Edsa Dos 20/20: Cory and Loi

Cory and LoiIf a picture paints a thousand words, just how much does the cover photo on the right say about Filipino politicians? Even PCIJ, which is not exactly on the current administration's list of friends, is moved to ask, "What's wrong with this picture?"

Could it be that Cory Aquino, Teofisto Guingona and Franklin Drilon think Erap should still be President? Should GMA, therefore, urge the Sandiganbayan to set him free? Or could it be that Filipino politicians don't really care who they get into bed with as long as they get what they want?

To paraphrase a joke, if Ninoy were alive today, he'd be turning in his grave. But it's really not funny. Not at all.

Category: The Philippines


Librarian as Indiana Jones

The Librarian: Quest for the SpearThe Librarian: Quest for the Spear, a TV-movie originally released in the United States in 2004, will be shown in the Philippines via Star Movies on the following dates and times:

Check out the reviews gathered by the American Library Association or buy the DVD on Amazon.com. The TV-movie was so successful that a sequel is on the way and a comic book will accompany its premiere.

If you would like to know more about the image of librarians in movies, check out the following sites:
Category: Stereotypes, Books and Movies


A-LIEP: DSpace and EPrints

In "Innovative Information Services in Academic Environments," Michael Leach discussed quite a few things, but I'll just focus here on DSpace and EPrints, which are software commonly used to build institutional repositories, but may also be used for records management and even archiving of personal documents.

The best way to explain what an institutional repository is would be to cite an example. And since there is only one Filipino institution utilizing DSpace at this time, check out Saint Louis University's Digital Research Repository, where users can view the abstracts of graduate and undergraduate theses as pdf files.

For a better understanding of what DSpace is capable of, check out the Cornell University Library's Open Access Repository, which has the full metadata record of a dissertation that cites the Filipino jeep. It looks like those who have the proper password can actually download, or at least access, the entire dissertation.

There does not seem to be any Filipino institution utilizing EPrints at this time, but E-prints for Library and Information Science (E-LIS) is a very good example. I have actually deposited the paper I presented at A-LIEP and, assuming it is accepted, it looks like it will be the first paper submitted by a Filipino author. A full-text search for "Philippines" yields 17 documents, none of which are really about the Philippines.

Filipino librarians can definitely take advantage of DSpace and EPrints, but it will take a bit more technical know-how than a blog requires because the necessary software must first be downloaded, configured and installed. This should not be difficult, however, because quite a few institutions are already digitizing their theses collections.

For more examples of institutional repositories, see the Live DSpace Sites and the known archives running EPrints.

Category: A-LIEP


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