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Pinoy Top Blogs: Top 20 for 2006-2007

Only 17 blogs were consistently among the Top 50 on Pinoy Top Blogs (PTB) during the 13-month period from June 2006 to June 2007. Most of the 17 blogs declined in rank during that time and are now, on average, 7 ranks lower than the previous year. This, however, occurred even as the average unique hits (UH) for the 17 blogs increased by 24 percent. Perhaps the best example of what these figures mean can be seen in what happened to EntrePinoys Atbp, whose UH actually went up by 60 percent, but whose ranking went down from 28 to 34.

What happened? Other blogs with higher UH went up the Top 50 list, and even though those already on the list gained in terms of UH, it still wasn't enough to keep up with the newer blogs. The following are the seventeen blogs that were on the PTB Top 50 from June 2006 to June 2007:





Bryanboy: Le Superstar Fabuleux
Retzwerx - Ang Inyong Pinoy Big Blogger
Pinoy Rickey
Pinoy Tech Blog
Leon Kilat: The Cybercafe Experiments
Ellen Tordesillas
Pinoy Travel Blog
Inside PCIJ: Stories behind our stories
EntrePinoys Atbp
The Sunday Punch
Philippines For Men
Shopping Finds

The last 3 blogs in the Top 20 were in the Top 50 for only 12 months each, but I've included them here because they provide additional insight into the changes that have occurred from June 2006 to June 2007.

Basang Panaginip and Kiven both entered the Top 50 in July 2006 on the strength of one post, and managed to stay on the list by giving their readers more of the same. The former, however, started pretty much at the top and has now worked its way to the middle, while the latter started in the middle and is now consistently in the Top 10. Oh, and the latter's owner has a degree in library and information science, which reflects the fact that many librarians aren't just working with books anymore =)

The last blog is Pinoy Cook, which was on the Top 50 list for 12 months from June 2006 to May 2007, but was voluntarily removed by its owner in June 2007. This highlights the reality that not all Pinoy blogs are on PTB. For instance, the most likely reason the blog by Michelle Malkin is not on the list is that she did not opt in, never mind that she probably doesn't consider herself Pinoy. Another reason other popular Pinoy blogs are not on the list is that Abe Olandres, PTB's owner, probably suspended them for one reason or another. It's also possible that their owners opted in but the blogs don't have enough readers to make it into the Top 50.

Finally, if you've been following my monthly PTB posts, I should tell you that there will be no more monthly posts. I will just finish this series on the 2006-2007 figures, and retire—voluntarily—from PTB.


Widharto — Indonesian Librarian

Widharto — Indonesian Librarian
An Indonesian librarian who obtained his MLS in the Philippines has been featured in the June 2007 issue of SLA's Information Outlook. Some of the more interesting aspects of the article include an overview of the Indonesian library system and an explanation regarding why some Indonesians have only one name. The full text of the article is reprinted in full below with permission.

Widharto and I first met at SLA's 2005 annual conference in Toronto. He actually surprised me by talking to me in Tagalog (see "Proudly Filipino"). From then on, we corresponded via email and met several times in 2006: at the UPLSAA Homecoming and Consal XIII in Manila, and at SLA's annual conference in Baltimore, where he received the Diversity Leadership Development Award.

I've complained in the past about the lack of diversity in the Ontario Library Association, but I have never felt this way about SLA, which encouraged and welcomed members from different races and cultures long before Widharto and I became beneficiaries of its generosity. Jose Escarilla, a Filipino librarian, was featured in the November 2006 issue of Information Outlook.


Joined SLA: 2000
Job: Librarian
Employer: Bogor Agricultural University
Experience: 29 years
Education: Bachelor’s in English Literature and master’s in Library Science
First job: Documentalist

Biggest Challenge: To disseminate information to facilitate accurate decision making in our institution; to encourage clients to obtain techniques and skills for utilizing the wide range of information tools (from print to electronic), as well as primary sources in molding information solutions to their respective institutional problems.

An Indonesian Institution
By Forrest Glenn Spencer

“I honestly don’t know why I wanted to become a special librarian,” SLA member Widharto said. “Like many other librarians I know, I had never planned on becoming one. By chance, I got a job as documentalist at SEAMEO BIOTROP in Bogor, Indonesia. As it was funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, it offered good remuneration. I took that good opportunity.”

It was an opportunity that has led to a lifetime of rewarding work and accolades for the Indonesian information specialist. Last year, Widharto received the SLA Diversity Leadership Development Award.

One of the most prestigious awards bestowed by the association, the honor goes to a member who represents a group traditionally under-represented, and the recipient must have an interest and potential for leadership with SLA. The award, sponsored by EBSCO Information Services, includes a $1,000 stipend.

“I am proud to say that I am the first librarian from a developing country to be granted such an award in recognition of the achievements I made in the last decade, especially that I have been able to promote the library and library development of Indonesia for the world,” he said.

Indonesia is a country of 17,508 islands that straddle the equator between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, tucked in between the continents of Asia and Australia. It’s a country rich in cultural and natural resources. Its population of about 205 million people represents more than 300 tribal-ethnic groups. It is the fourth most populous country in the world, after China, India, and the U.S.

Widharto likes to explain his singular name. “Many surnames become fixed and hereditary in an individual family. In Western culture, they are frequently known as last names; however, in many parts of Indonesia, they do have and use real last (family) names solely. Only some ethnic or tribes give family names to their children, such as people from North Sumatra (Batak), Northern Celebes (Menadones), or Mollucas (Ambones).” But for Western documentation, he has to include his name on forms as “Widharto Widharto.”

A Knowledge Bridge

Widharto describes himself as a special librarian in his professional career, but in many ways he has been a vital bridge in his country’s efforts to expand its knowledge resources, particularly in the area of agriculture, with the international community through the educational institutions he has served throughout his life.

In many ways, Widharto has become an institution. He has built his career in the research, organization, and dissemination of scientific and educational information that is being conducted in Indonesia and in Southeast Asia.

Today, Widharto is the senior librarian at Bogor Agricultural University (BAU), a job he took in January. The position includes administrative and supervisory responsibilities and much more: He also serves as a reference librarian, information literacy instructor, cataloger, collection developer—and the individual in charge of public relations.

In this post, he will be able to use the networks he has already established and promoted. “Both the international as well as the local institution are willing to cooperate for the benefit of BAU,” he added, “such as fund raising for staff development, acquiring books which are not available in Indonesia or even for subscribing to electronic journals.” Widharto is proficient in speaking and writing in English, so he is assigned to aid his colleagues in editing their English abstracts and articles, and prepare cover letters when his institution composes documents for the international community.

Before joining BAU, Widharto was employed at the SEAMEO BIOTROP Regional Center for Tropical Biology in Indonesia for 28 years. He moved to his new job due to government regulations. (SEAMEO BIOTROP is the acronym for the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Tropical Biology, one of the 15 agencies under the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization.)

“The supporting staff of BIOTROP, which includes the librarians, is only allowed to work until age 56,” Widharto said. “But as I am a member of the government’s civil servants, I have been a functional librarian and I am allowed to work until age 60.”

Bogor is now Widharto’s home. He was born in Kediri, East Java, Indonesia. Besides speaking Indonesian and English, he also speaks the language of his Javanese mother.

His interest in learning to speak English began in the first year of elementary high school. “I understand that English is an international language,” Widharto said. “I learned it over and over, and finally I attended English literature at Malang Teacher Training Institute where I obtained my B.A. degree. In my opinion, those who speak and write English well don’t get lost when they are traveling abroad, or have any problems learning new technology.”

In colonial times, Bogor was an important Dutch hill station, midway between the mountains and the hot plains of Jakarta, which are about 37 miles to the north. Bogor is noted for its number of agricultural research centers; many institutions are headquartered there.

Widharto joined SEAMEO BIOTROP in 1978. For the next seven years he was assigned to collect all documents—mainly, scientific, administrative reports and other related papers—published or issued by or related to the Institute. He left in 1984 to pursue his MLS from the Institute of Library Science at the University of the Philippines, in Diliman, Quezon City, through a scholarship from the International Development Research Center.

After he completed his master’s, he was still a government civil servant under a bonding agreement with the government of Indonesia. An opportunity arose for him to join BIOTROP’s Regional Center for Tropical Biology as a senior librarian. He knew the institution was working on research and development in tropical biology; but, gradually, through experience, he came to understand the importance of the library and librarianship. He held the title of senior librarian until he left in 2006.

“Additionally, I supervised library administrative activities,” Widharto said, “including budgetary and personnel management, scanned selective articles from the serials subscribed to by BIOTROP, provided reference queries for end users and established net-working with other special libraries in and outside Indonesia.” He also conducted searches for the research staff and served as BIOTROP’s information officer. “In this capacity, my duties included the preparation of articles in English for the membership countries of SEAMEO. I updated the SEAMEO newsletter, prepared press release video scripts of BIOTROP reports, and was involved in the marketing of publications from our center.”

In the past few years, he served as a reporter for BIOTROP at its annual governing board meetings. “Moreover, through the graduate program I took, I learned and obtained qualification as a professional librarian,” Widharto said. “Though I don’t have any agricultural or biological background, my daily activities in providing the information needs of our scientists, especially for their agricultural and its related field activities, has improved my professional performance. It was learning by doing that enabled me to understand terminologies in agriculture and biology as well. The knowledge and experiences attracted me to learn more and more to be a Professional librarian.”

The BIOTROP library has a seating capacity for 40 readers and it can provide up-to-date references and learning resources, both print and non-print media, on the tropical agriculture. Currently, the library holdings consisted of 16,250 titles of books and bound journals, 364 serial titles, 2,100 internal reports, and 9,200 reprints/special files on specific subject areas. The material is acquired from a variety of sources; 80-percent of the books collected are in English.

“SEAMEO BIOTROP and Bogor Agricultural University library,” Widharto said, “are libraries of a growing institution in the field of biology in Bogor where local and international agricultural research centers are situated. Even though they are not as sophisticated as those available in the U.S., these libraries have been connected to online services where staff and students may retrieve the information they need.”

Last October, the public affairs section of the U.S. embassy in Jakarta provided funding support to enable both faculty and students of BAU to access the citation index of the ISIKnowledge, published by Thomson.

While the steady growth of networking is good news, Widharto says the scarcity of skilled workers to design, install, and manage a network is “a stark reality to be addressed. This dearth of skilled manpower in network design and implementation is a serious problem for the pace of development.”


Widharto explained that to ensure successful implementation of all the proposed programs, greater institutional participation is required. Progress has been a collaborative effort among the networks built by Widharto and his colleagues.

“The economic crisis affecting Indonesia has forced the government to reexamine economic policies and priorities that have made a major impact upon institutional budgets, including those for library development. The decrease in the national budget has seriously hampered library development in Indonesia, particularly in providing current information in science and technology. Thus, no library in Indonesia can meet all needs and at the same time be cost effective,” he said.

“Growing awareness of this fact is encouraging many libraries and information services to seek collaboration on an increasing scale. Thus, networking is important to improve our capability to provide [for] the informational needs of our users. This sharing of resources is a practical way of utilizing available resources to meet the increasing demands for further information. Information networks offer advantages such as better utilization of existing yet scarce resources, making a larger base of knowledge available to serve local needs, increase the capacity to reach a greater number of users, and do so at greater economy and efficiency of operation.”

Part of this outreach and network efforts has included his involvement with SLA. Widharto has been a member since 2000, one of four who work and reside in Indonesia. He said that he would never have dreamed that someday he would become an active member of SLA.

“Even the name of SLA never came to my ears,” Widharto said. “As a special librarian from a developing country, I only learned about a few library associations.” But between November 1999 and July 2000, Widharto was a grantee of the ASIA Fellow Program, which was funded by the Ford Foundation and administered by the International Institute of Education, in cooperation with the Council of International Exchange Scholars.

“This enabled me to do special internship work at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines,” he said. “As part of my research program, I had to make some library visits to some institutions in Metro Manila, such as the Asian Development Bank.” The bank’s chief librarian, Sharon E. Henry, gave him a printed advertisement for the Global 2000 Conference that was scheduled for later that year Brighton, U.K.

“As a grantee with full conference payment, I was allowed a one-year free membership to SLA. Of course, as a member, I was allowed to access the SLA home page and receive a free Information Outlook, and other current information circulated among members. Realizing the importance and benefits of SLA members, when my membership was terminated, I approached Sue O’Neill Johnson, the past president of SLA’s Washington, D.C., chapter, who initiated the Twinning Project. With the assistance of Rita Reisman, the SLA New Jersey Chapter accepted me and provided funding support to extend my membership up to now. The New Jersey Chapter even provided funding support to enable me to travel and attend the 2005 SLA Annual Conference in Toronto, Canada.”

Today, Widharto remains a member of the SLA New Jersey Chapter thanks largely to the success of the Twinning Project, under which chapters and divisions provide ongoing assistance to information professionals in developing countries by sponsoring their membership in SLA.

Widharto also is part of the International Information Exchange Caucus, which has more than 125 members.

“The experience and knowledge I have learned has enabled me to communicate well with people that have different education backgrounds, as well as to share and discuss with colleagues and librarians locally or internationally,” Widharto said. “I love this job very much, becoming a special librarian. I have been able to convince international funding agencies to provide support of my travels all over the world, and to meet and establish a network with colleagues and members of SLA. I sometimes wonder what other career path I might have taken, but I am satisfied being a special librarian.”

Forrest Glenn Spencer is a Virginia-based information retrieval consultant, PR distributor, and writer. He is also the editor of The Google Government Report and the GGReportblog.com. He can be reached at fgspencer@gmail.com.


Who is the Imelda Marcos of Books?

In "C.E.O. Libraries Reveal Keys to Success" by Harriet Rubin (New York Times, 21 July 2007), Michael Moritz—the venture capitalist who invested in Google, YouTube, Yahoo and PayPal and owns thousands of books—is quoted as saying, "My wife calls me the Imelda Marcos of books."

The reference to Imelda Marcos, the wife of former President Marcos who supposedly had 3,000 pairs of shoes, was very likely meant as a joke. But it does indicate that personally owning so many books can be a sign of "ostentatious extravagance," the definition given by Marcos herself for the word "imeldific."

Conventional wisdom would assert that American CEOs have the money to spend on their personal collections, but most Filipinos can't really afford to buy books. This, however, may not necessarily be so. Could it be that Filipinos just do not find books worth the expense? After all, the proliferation of beauty parlors, cell phones and TV sets in the poorer areas of Metro Manila shows that Filipinos do spend on what may be considered luxuries.

And what of rich Filipinos? They have the money, but who really knows how many of them buy and read books? I think it's much more likely that Imelda Marcos wore out more of her shoes in a year than read the few books, if any, in her library =)

Despite the title above, this post is not really about who the Imelda Marcos of books is today. Many have offered suggestions regarding why very few Filipinos read books, but I don't think any research-based studies have actually been done. Do leave a comment if you know of any.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I was going to start blogging again—maybe even two posts a day!—but my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling just got delivered!

Unlike Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, for which I had to wake up early and line up for two years ago in Manila, all I had to do this time in Toronto was order the new one online—several months ago—and have it delivered on the first day of its release.

Unfortunately, I made some errors in ordering, so I didn't think I'd get it on the first day of release. When the delivery boy arrived, I was actually expecting another book (related to my dissertation), which led to my disappointment because the box was smaller than I thought it would be (meaning that I got the wrong book), and was even wondering why it had been sent in an Amazon box.

Well, I opened the box half-heartedly, saw that Rowling's new book was in it, and knew that everything I planned to do this weekend would have to wait until after I read the whole book.

Enough. I have a book to read =)


Jose Llana: Filipino

Jose Llana: Filipino
A year after I watched The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, I was finally able to talk to Jose Llana, the best-known Filipino male actor on Broadway today. Unlike my previous post on Lea Salonga, I actually sat down with and interviewed Jose. But that will have to wait for later. In the meantime, check out his resume, credits and the following stories about him:

"Spotlight on Jose Llana" by Ed Feldman (Talkin' Broadway)
Review of Jose by Rob Lester (Talkin' Broadway)
"Jose Llana stands out in 'Spelling Bee'" by Janet Nepales (Philippine News, 29 November 2005)
By the way, if you happen to want to perform on Broadway, Jose is also part of the faculty of Making It On Broadway, "a professional training program for anyone interested in pursuing a career in theater or eventually, Broadway."

Photo: Tim Schulteis Photography


Pinoy Top Blogs: Two Years Old

Two years ago, Abe Olandres launched Pinoy Top Blogs (PTB). One year later, I started a first-anniversary series on the Top 50 Pinoy blogs, and continued monitoring the Top 50 every month thereafter. For the second anniversary, I will put together the data from June 2006 to June 2007 as a means to document developments that have taken place in the Pinoy blogosphere—insofar as the PTB Top 50 is a reflection of the Pinoy blogosphere—during the past year.

The data to be used in this second-anniversary series will be taken from the following posts:


Lea Salonga: Filipina

Lea Salonga: Filipina
Aside from being the best known Filipina performing on Broadway today, Lea Salonga is also a sexy mom. And in case you didn't know, she's also on Friendster, MySpace and Multiply. Plus, she blogs, too! Read about how she prepares to go onstage in "My Pre-show" and what she thinks about people who think they can record performances without anyone noticing in "Say Cheese... NOT!!!"

When I first saw Les Miserables in 1994, I think I must have been jetlagged because I distinctly recall feeling sleepy. But I was very much awake this time, especially because I've never had the chance to see Lea perform live in a musical before. So awake, in fact, that I even saw her in some crowd scenes after Fantine's death, even though she mostly kept her back to the audience and had dark makeup on her face to, I suppose, look more masculine. Anyway, Lea was excellent as Fantine, especially when she sang "I Dreamed a Dream," parts of which are shown in the video below.

And, of course, she was very accommodating when I took her photo after the show, the same way she dealt with everyone outside the stage door, most of whom were waiting for her.

The following isn't quite about Lea anymore, but since I don't think I'll be doing a separate post on Les Miserables, let me just say that having a student ID once again makes it easier to get cheap tickets. The seats I got for Rickey and myself weren't so good—we were lucky if we could see performers' legs when they were on top of the barricades—but considering that I paid $26.50 for a ticket that normally sells for $111.50, I guess I really shouldn't complain =)


I Luv New York 2007

Well, I'm back in New York City. I blogged about my adventures quite a bit last year, including a series on Broadway musicals, and this year won't be very different. Consider yourself warned =)

But I'll also be blogging about other things—especially stuff I should've posted a long time ago. So it's very possible that there will be at least two posts for the next few days... IF I can squeeze it in.

And just in case you're wondering about the "2007" in the post title, that doesn't mean I'll be here every year. But I suspect that this won't be the last time I'll be here.


Librarian Stereotypes and the New York Times

From "A Hipper Crowd of Shushers" by Kara Jesella (New York Times, 8 July 2007):

Librarians? Aren’t they supposed to be bespectacled women with a love of classic books and a perpetual annoyance with talkative patrons — the ultimate humorless shushers?

Not any more. With so much of the job involving technology and with a focus now on finding and sharing information beyond just what is available in books, a new type of librarian is emerging...
Stereotypes will always be with us. And so, when the most e-mailed and 5th most blogged article on the New York Times is criticized by some librarians for trying to counter the prevailing librarian stereotype, it seems to me that this reflects a desire to deny the realities of the world in which we live.

The article may not reflect the truth that "hip" librarians have been around for ages—perhaps more at certain times, and less at others—but how exactly do you try and replace a stereotype without presenting another image to take its place? Since the article is not, in fact, a scholarly piece of research, is it fair to expect it to be more than what it is? The article was written for readers who probably haven't met a librarian in many years, and most likely share the stereotype referred to in the article. So if any of the non-librarians who read the article begin to think that they need to revise their image of librarians, then I think it has served its purpose.

We can't force people to perceive us differently overnight. The way to go, in my opinion, is to accept it and build on it. The criticism of the article reminds me of the Church's response to The Da Vinci Code. It's not quite on the same level, but instead of condemning the article, it would probably be more productive to use it as a springboard for discussion. As I've written before:
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 =)


Outstanding Librarian 2007:
Prudenciana C. Cruz

Prudenciana C. CruzPrudenciana C. Cruz
National Library of the Philippines

The Professional Regulation Commission conferred the Outstanding Professional Librarian of the Year Award on Prudenciana C. Cruz in 2007. The citation reads:

For exemplary dedication, competence and integrity in the practice of her profession which earned her prestigious awards such as, the Ten Outstanding Boholanos in the Whole World and the Philippine Librarians Association, Inc. (PLAI) Service Award in 2006, the 2005 ADOC Award for the Best e-Practices in Taipei and the Hall of Fame Award by the PLAI in 2004 among others; for her outstanding innovations and modern contributions as Director of the National Library of the Philippines, as Project Manager and Steering Committee member of the Philippine eLib Project and as an effective writer, publisher and resource speaker updating other librarians about their profession; for her important involvement and active leadership in various local and international professional activities which put Filipino Librarians at the forefront of international librarianship; and for her deep concern on social responsibility which she amply demonstrated through her active participation in the Carlos P. Garcia Foundation, Inc. and Kaliwat Alburanon in Metro Manila, Inc.

Thanks to Lilia Echiverri for providing the citation. The photo is from the Consal XIII website.

Category: Librarians—Awardees


Book Development Month 2007

What does it mean when Book Development Month (BDM) is not paid much attention by the print media? True, press releases made it into the newspapers, and there was an editorial that referred to "the invention of block printing during the Industrial Revolution," but these only highlight the seeming indifference of newspaper editors who, I suppose, should be encouraging more Filipinos to read books... and newspapers. I hope I'm wrong. Maybe I just missed the many column inches devoted to BDM activities. Maybe there were even segments devoted to BDM on the TV newscasts.

Anyway, I think the National Book Development Board (NBDB) should be lauded for turning to alternative media, specifically the blogosphere, to spread the word about BDM. It probably wasn't as effective as a mass media campaign would have been, but at least the word spread among those who care about books. Or at least those who have access to the Internet and read the blog posts featured below.

One of the most passionate bloggers who wrote about BDM last June was Tin of Read or Die (RoD). Her many posts included her thoughts on May Jurilla's talk on books and nation-building and the Portrait Of The City exhibit. She even took on the responsibility of asking Jurilla for permission to post the timeline of the history of the book in the Philippines. In an earlier post, she also alluded to Andrea Pasion-Flores, the current NBDB executive director, as "young, intelligent, and used to work for a magazine publishing house... and perhaps most important of all–she herself is a writer," which provides a clue as to how Pasion-Flores must have found this blog a few months ago.

Other more significant posts about BDM events included those by Butch Dalisay and Zarah Gagatiga, who both happened to be speakers at separate activities. Tin thought the latter's talk on community libraries was "particularly illuminating and made [her] re-think and reconsider several of [her] ideas of how RoD could go about supporting library work and librarians."

Then there was the PCIJ series on Literature and Literacy, which did not seem to be officially connected to BDM:

A Nation Of Nonreaders (1 2 3 4 - includes "Libraries of Hope")
Muslim Classes Come Alive (1 2)
Speaking In Tongues (1 2)
Chicks Rule! (1 2 3 - includes "No Chicken-feed Profits")
Bad Ba Mag-Txt? (1 2)
A Stunted Market For Kids' Books (1 2 3 - includes "Pages from the Past")
Poetry Podcasts
Rofel Brion: Tagalog
Roy Aragon: Ilokano
Haidee Palapar: Cebuano
Kristian Cordero: Bikolano
Image Galleries
Marikina's Public Libraries
Children Of Malaybalay City Central Elementary School
What Is Your Favorite Book?
My comment on book donations in connection with the article on nonreaders drew further comments from Tin and Charles. Zarah hoped that the author of the article on children's literature would write about the more positive changes that have occurred over the years.

And it is my hope that next year's BDM will be much more visible in mainstream media.


Pinoy Big Biblioblogosphere: June 2007

I must confess that this post is not just for readers of this blog. It's also for me. Otherwise, I probably would not have a chance to find out what else is going on in the Pinoy biblioblogosphere, especially during the past month when I did not have much time to post on this blog or even read other blogs. There was quite a bit of activity in the biblioblogosphere last month, so I will feature posts about Book Development Month separately. Aside from the usual links to posts by librarians, there are also quite a few posts below by library users, and even a short story.

On the month that students went back to school, Clair challenged the faculty and students of our alma mater to engage in "cross-pollination." What does this mean? Well, take a look at what she wrote about how having a LIS degree helped her in software development. Zarah is now the president not of a librarian's association but of Kuting, an organization of children's writers. And there's Arnold, who is now blogging about new technology so much that he has a tech news round up. But it seems that others were thinking about "cross-pollination" even earlier than Clair because Igor—who happens to be into technology, theater and so many other things—is teaching again!

Speaking of going back to school, Clair recommends Schoolpad, which allows pre-schools, and elementary and high schools to build their websites for free. Juned describes Filipiniana.net as "heaven sent," but you may also want to read "Filipiniana.net" by Ronald Lim (Manila Bulletin, 9 June 2007). On the more practical side, Zarah narrates some stories about first encounters @ the library. But that's from the point of view of the librarian. What do users say? Nika was embarrassed when she unknowingly walked into a closed-shelves area—twice. It wasn't a big deal, but if I were the librarian, I'd look into the physical set-up of the library. Maybe the closed shelves look more like open shelves?

From Down Under, Peachy writes about an example of the hazards of our trade. One aspect of the Biogesic ad, it turns out, was not exactly wrong. Peachy, however, probably needs to talk to Melsungit, who couldn't stomach certain aspects of living in Australia, including the fact that librarians need to have licenses. She seems to be under the impression that librarians in the Philippines don't need to get a license. Peachy also ponders the future of cataloging, but this perhaps will be more interesting for catalogers and students taking cataloging right now. Users will probably be better able to sympathize with Demsen, who found that her city library was an "undersized crowded place," and the "librarian" was someone who, apparently, "doesn’t even know where to locate books."

On the acquisitions side, Tin points to some bookstores that are offering deals on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. But those who want to buy the book may want to wait a little longer and read what Charles has to say about previous Harry Potter wars. Zarah, meanwhile, has been gaining some traffic on a series of posts on pseudo-spoilers (1 2 3). Speaking of bookstores, I really need to get back to the question, "Are bookstores better than libraries?" Charles, a non-librarian, ponders this question in the continuation of his "Library Stories" (2 3 4), refers to how intimidating the Dewey Decimal System can be, and concludes that, "perhaps at the end of the day, it's not about the books inside the library—it's about the people in it be they librarians, students, researchers, bibliophiles, or the janitor." Amen.

Black Lion, meanwhile, laments having to put up with bookstores because "the Philippines has no decent public libraries (WE NEED THESE)."
Sedricke apparently agrees. He does not seem to be a librarian, but the single thing that he loves most about his job is that he is surrounded by books that he doesn't see in bookstores or public libraries. Unfortunately for everyone else, Sedricke seems to be working in a very special library. It must be noted, though, that there's a difference between being surrounded by books and reading them, which explains Virgilio Almario's question in "Nagbabasa Ka Ba?" See the reactions of Tin and Charles (1 2). For the more visually inclined, you may want to check out a post by Gilbert on The Reading Room: "Unlike other films where libraries, readers and reading serve only as backdrops to some scenes, the Reading Room is the main focus where most of the action takes place." He also notes that, "In local cinema and TV programs, there is a dearth of positive roles showing readers in real-life terms."

If you happen to be living abroad, you may be able to identify with the experience of Cecilia, who recalls "going to libraries to look for books, stories by Filipino/Filipino-American writers," and realizing that, "It was as if Filipinos in America did not have a literary voice, as if we barely existed." Alex, however, has a different story—a short story. The OFW protagonist remembers the "abandoned and neglected library" of his youth in the Philippines, and contrasts this with the one "he always finds himself running to... before closing time to get a glimpse of another bestselling book he has yet to read." A line toward the end makes this a rare short story: "He would be happy to be known as a librarian."

Special events during the previous month included the 35th anniversary of the The Agricultural Librarians Association of the Philippines (ALAP) in Laguna. Mila provides some history, while the ALAP blog has the photos and PowerPoint presentations. EISI was there for the 34th general assembly of ALBASA in Cebu. Meanwhile, BASA (no relation to ALBASA), shares photos of a 2006 trip to Masbate and indicates the schedule for the rest of 2007. The best thing about all these events? None of them were held in Metro Manila, but the blog posts allow Manila-centric readers to realize that not everything happens in Manila. If other library associations and institutions were blogging their activities, we might have a better picture of what's going on in Philippine librarianship.


Pinoy Top Blogs: June 2007

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The First Books Printed in the Philippines

First page of Wuchi t’ien-chu cheng-chiao chen-chuan shih-luTitle page of Doctrina Christiana, en lengua espaƱola y tagala

Two books were printed in the Philippines in 1593, but it is unclear which one was printed first. Only one copy of each book is known to exist. The Doctrina Christiana, en lengua espaƱola y tagala (aka Tagalog Doctrina) may be found at the Library of Congress (LC) in Washington, DC, while the Wuchi t’ien-chu cheng-chiao chen-chuan shih-lu (aka Shih-lu) is at the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid.

If you'd like to examine the books but can't afford to travel to the United States or Spain, the Tagalog Doctrina has an excellent digital copy, and facsimiles—entitled Doctrina Christiana: The first book printed in the Philippines, Manila, 1593, one published by LC (1947; available online via Project Gutenberg) and another by the National Historical Commission (1973)—are probably available at major libraries in the Philippines. Unfortunately, there is no online version of the Shih-lu, but it's possible that your library has a copy of Pien cheng-chiao chen-ch’uan shih-lu, which was published in 1986.

It must be noted that the 1947 facsimile of the Tagalog Doctrina was published before any other books were found, and so perhaps its subtitle may be excused. But the 1973 facsimile is more problematic. Its foreword clearly indicates that two books were printed in 1593, but whoever decided on the subtitle must not have read the foreword. The Shih-lu facsimile's subtitle is more circumspect: "First book printed in the Philippines?"

Just in case you're getting confused—maybe you were taught that there was only one book or three books printed in the Philippines in 1593—below are quotations from some websites, followed by my comments, which I hope will help to clear up the (mis)interpretations that have accumulated over the years.


It is believed that the first book in the country was Doctrina Christiana en letra y lengua China, which was printed in 1593 by Juan de Vera, a Filipino-Chinese.
My comment
This book, aka Chinese Doctrina, surfaced in 1948 after the Tagalog Doctrina and before the Shih-lu. Some have asserted that the Chinese Doctrina was printed before 1593, but the evidence that it was printed early in the 17th century is stronger. Also, the Chinese Doctrina's title page indicates that the book's printer was Keng Yong, which may or may not have been the Chinese name of Juan de Vera.
This first book printed in the Philippines... contains the basic elements of the Christian religion based on the catechism of Saint Robert Bellarmine, a Jesuit theologian and Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, who was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1930... Originally in Chinese, a new version was released just a few months later using the ancient Tagalog script known as baybayin.
My comment
Bellarmine’s Doctrina Christiana appeared in 1597, and so could not possibly have been the basis for the Tagalog Doctrina or any book printed in 1593. If the Tagalog Doctrina was "Originally in Chinese" and "a new version was released just a few months later," this means that the Tagalog Doctrina was printed after the Chinese "version," and so, must not have been "first." In addition, the use of the word "version" implies that the content of the Tagalog Doctrina and the other book were similar, if not the same. But the Shih-lu is, in fact, completely different from the the Tagalog Doctrina in terms of content.
National Commission for Culture and the Arts
...the first books were called the Doctrina Christiana en Lengua Espanola y Tagala (Tagalog edition) and the Doctrina Christian [sic] en letra y lengua china (Chinese edition) by Keng Yong... Scholars have since accepted the third doctrina dubbed the Tratado [aka Shih-lu] to be the Chinese doctrina referred to in the Dasmarinas letter of 1593. Scholars have agreed that the Keng Yong Doctrina must have been printed around 1590...
My comment
This NCCA article is an example of some of the confusing narratives that have been written about the first Philippine imprints. If, for instance, scholars have accepted that the Shih-lu was printed in 1593, why does this writer refer to the Tagalog Doctrina and the Chinese Doctrina as the first books printed in the Philippines? Is it possible that she thinks the Shih-lu and the Chinese Doctrina are one and the same? If so, is the "Keng Yong Doctrina" different from the Chinese Doctrina? Finally, if the Keng Yong Doctrina was printed in 1590, shouldn't that make it the first book printed in the Philippines?
If you have read this far and gotten even more confused by my comments, just go back to the first two paragraphs of this post and pretend that you did not read the rest =)


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