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So You Think You Can Join
"Kapamilya Deal or No Deal," Part I

When I first showed up at the ABS-CBN gate to try and become a contestant on "Kapamilya Deal or No Deal" (KDOND), I had no idea I was going to make it all the way to the show. But I started taking notes anyway because I thought that, at the very least, it would be worth blogging about. Well, I've posted so much about KDOND that it now has its own label on this blog =)

Before I continue, however, I should probably explain the relevance of my KDOND experience to the readers of this blog. Aside from the fact that I am the owner of the blog (read: I can post whatever I want hehe), I think that other librarians—especially those applying for jobs—can pick up a few things from the lessons I learned from joining KDOND. But that will come later. Let me outline the different stages first:

1 Sending and receiving text messages

Occasionally, instructions on how to become a contestant on KDOND are flashed during the show, but these are so fleeting that you'd need a photographic memory to remember everything written on the screen. Thankfully, a blogger posted "How to Join Kapamilya Deal or No Deal," which allowed me to send the appropriate text message.

Just text:

DEAL Name/age/gender/address/landline number

DEAL Juan dela Cruz/25/M/980 Masipag St. Pasig City/024441234

Send to:
2331 - Globe/Sun/Touch Mobile
231 - Smart/Talk & Text/Addict Mobile
Everyone gets a reply that their text message was received. But if you get lucky, you'll get another message in the next few days or maybe even weeks telling you to report to ABS-CBN's central gate, with a specific date and time. I didn't realize I was really lucky that I only had to send the initial text message once until I was told that many people send texts regularly without ever receiving the message to report to ABS-CBN. Some even resort to borrowing other people's phones because only one text message per phone number can be sent during a certain period.

Note: If you receive a message telling you to go to ABS-CBN, all it means is that you have a shot at becoming a contestant. It does NOT mean that you have already been chosen to appear on the show. The text will be accompanied by the name of a staff member and a landline. You can reply to the text message to say that you can make it on the appointed date, but I suggest you call the landline, where you can verify that the text wasn't sent by a prankster. Do NOT under any circumstances delete the text message you received because you will be asked to show it when you get to the ABS-CBN gate. Also, only the message recipient will be allowed to enter the premises, so there is no need to bring anyone with you.

2 Lining up and waiting

I showed up at the ABS-CBN gate on 29 December 2008 at exactly 9 am because that's what the instructions were in the text I received. I was surprised to learn that I was one of the last to arrive. It was one of the few instances when I felt that I came embarrassingly late for an event—even though I was right on time! It seems that becoming a game show contestant was too important to risk getting there on "Filipino time"—when Filipinos arrive 30 minutes to an hour late for their appointments. But whether early or on time, it didn't really matter because being first or last in one of the many lines didn't make a difference; we all still went to the studio at the same time.

There were probably about 250 people waiting with me, but I later learned that there was a batch ahead of us with even more people. I was told that usually there are three batches, but since we were there during the Christmas season, perhaps less could make the trip due to other priorities. This, of course, seemed to be good for us, since we had less competition, but as I went through the process, I realized that those behind KDOND could choose as many of the people in line as they wanted... or decide that none fulfilled their criteria.

Only 12 of us from Batch 2 made it to the "interview portion." At least 6 of us made it to the mock game, 4 of whom actually taped episodes that have already aired.
We waited for more than two hours, under big tents, before we were instructed to re-form our lines so that we could get huge name tags taped to our clothes (see photo above), fill up forms and sign a document saying that we agreed to abide by the rules. The process was very organized, and certain considerations were made for those who were pregnant or had given birth recently. But if you are pregnant, I would suggest that you try your luck after giving birth because we were informed during the later stages that the lights and sounds in the studio are so strong that they may affect an unborn child's formation.

There's no need to dress up, but it probably wouldn't hurt to wear something that will make you stick out of the crowd—just don't overdo it or you'll be dismissed as a crackpot. Don't bring food and drinks—you can't take them past the guards—but bring money so you can buy from the stores in the building. Bring something to do—I brought a book—or start talking to the person next to you, which I also did. I learned quite a bit from the second-timer who was in line with me. She had previously made it to the second round of exams, she said, but didn't make it further. She also told me not to fold the form we were told to hold on to because, just like in a job interview, a crumpled application form may be used as an indicator of the applicant's (un)suitability for a position.

The first time I thought that I might actually have a shot at being chosen for the show was when the person receiving the forms (one of many) asked what I was doing at University of Toronto. She was very interested, not hostile at all, which made me think that perhaps it wasn't only celebrities or those who desperately needed money who could make it to the show.

Continued in "So You Think You Can Join "Kapamilya Deal or No Deal," Part II"...


Filipino Librarian Wins 165K on
"Kapamilya Deal or No Deal"

Kris Aquino with, from left: me, my mom and ninang.
Behind are Cathy Ravelo, Norma Balderrama and
Ochie Laraya (partly hidden). The button on
my shirt reads: "Love Your Librarian" =)

Yes, I won 165,000 pesos (about US$3,500) on "Kapamilya Deal or No Deal" (KDOND) on 29 January 2009. Strictly speaking, I won the money on 20 January 2009—because that's when the episode was taped—but if no one hears a tree fall in the forest, did the tree make a sound? I will, however, let some other blogger ponder the power of media, and focus instead on answering the questions that I've already been asked and will be asked in the days to come. By the way, I will be writing a separate post on how I came to be a player on KDOND, so please don't ask that question here =)

What will I do with the money?

Before I give my beauty-pageant-worthy answer, please note that the prize money is not tax free, that 165,000 pesos less 20 percent is 132,000 pesos. Also, it will take some time before I get the check because accounting departments everywhere have schedules to follow =) Having said that, anyone who wishes to ask for "balato" (there is no direct translation of this Tagalog word, but it's what prize winners give to their friends) needs to keep in mind that I am giving most of the money away, which I stated in the VTR at the beginning of the show.

Once I get the check, the majority of the funds—but not all, contrary to the impression made at the end of the show—will be allocated to the oncology ward at Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC), for reasons that will be made clear in my answer to the next question. Some of the prize money will be given to the fund established for the treatment of a friend, the construction of the new UP School of Library and Information Studies building, and Compassion International. Whatever remains will be used to provide tokens of appreciation to my family, relatives and friends who took time from their busy schedules to join me not only during the taping, but also during the long hours of waiting on taping day and the mock game. If there's still some money left, I'll see if I can buy a KDOND souvenir that can serve as a reminder of my 15 fleeting minutes of "fame."

Why did I join KDOND? Why not Game KNB?

The only reason I joined KDOND is that my mom asked me. She is a Kris Aquino fan and cancer survivor, who obtained much of her treatment at VMMC. I'm not the most obedient of sons, but I reasoned that she hardly ever asks for anything and, with so many Filipinos wanting to be on the show, I probably wouldn't make it anyway. So I went through the process without telling my mom... and made it! You'll have to wait for my next post to find out more about the process and why I think I made it. But because I joined the show so my mom could meet Kris, I thought it might be more appropriate to donate the money to a cause my mom believed in. Hence, the donation to VMMC's oncology ward, for which my parents have raised money in the past. This, however, does not mean I'm so rich I don't need the money. My family and I have benefited from the generosity of others at various points in our lives, so I thought it would be good to start paying it forward, particularly because the prize money is practically manna from heaven.

While I appreciate the reasoning of those who ask why I didn't join a show like Game KNB where I could use—or show off?—my so-called brains, the truth is that my mom likes Edu Manzano, but not as much as she likes Kris Aquino. And, to repeat, my mom's the only reason I did it. Even my desire to counter the prevailing librarian stereotype would not have been enough to convince me to join the show. The most amazing thing was that even at the end, it was still all about my mom. Everyone else wanted me to make a deal for 100,000 pesos, but she wanted to continue, so I did not make the deal and Banker ended up increasing his offer. When Kris said that the final offer was for my mom, she wasn't just mouthing lines because, based on shows I've seen, Banker would have made a much lower offer if my mom weren't in the picture.

Who were the people with me?

The photo above was taken backstage while we were waiting for the taping to begin. From top left: Dennis Baldoria (friend), Sonny Sanchez (cousin), Cathy Ravelo (cousin), Baby Ravelo (ninang), Norma Balderrama (helper). Middle row, from left: Tony Liam (friend), Vanny Bicomong (friend), Vera Totanes (sister). From bottom left: Flor Totanes (my mom), Bea Totanes (niece), me, Aya Laraya (friend), Ochie Laraya (friend), Ver Totanes (my dad). Zarah Gagatiga (friend) is in the foreground.

Some notes: Norma has been with our family since 1979, so I thought it would be good to bring her with us. Vanny had to leave just a little before our taping so she wasn't on the show. Bea wasn't on the show, either, because kids aren't allowed in the studio. Aya was my classmate from Grade 4 to 4th year college! Ochie is Aya's wife. And Zarah, of course, is a librarian and blogger =)

Dennis, Tony, Aya, Ochie and Zarah were also at the mock game, along with Verchie (brother), who couldn't make it to the actual taping. Incidentally, it was mentioned on the show that my brother used to work with James Yap—Kris's husband—as part of his job handling marketing promotions for Purefoods. In case the impression may have been created that Verchie still works for Purefoods, let me emphasize that he "used to work" there, but has returned to being an entrepreneur.

What was the taping like? Is Kris Aquino nice?

The taping took much longer than what was shown. It was taped live, of course, but not everything made it to the final cut. Conversations between Kris and everyone else, including Banker, were much lengthier, and I also took more time to decide whether to make a deal or not. I felt nervous at the beginning, especially because of what can only be generously called a disastrous start. But I started loosening up when the lower amounts started coming out. I don't really dance, but the music just made me feel good enough to try some "moves." I guess it looked natural enough that some made it to the promo for the show =)

Kris was really nice. We weren't like buddies, which is how she has treated some of the women in past shows, but we had some private conversations during the commercial breaks that provided me a glimpse of what must have made her so attractive to the men in her life. And no, I'm not just talking about inner beauty because my first impression when I walked onto the stage, which I didn't get to tell her, was that she looked so sexy in her dress. The camera doesn't quite do justice to her figure. Actually, everyone was very nice. From the producers to the crew to the staff, and especially the guards! They really took care of us, my mom in particular.

By the way, in one of the exchanges I had with a friend on Facebook, I was saying that, as cheesy as it may sound, the whole experience brought my family closer. Dahil sa KDOND, mas naging solid kapamilya—in more ways than one—ang pamilya namin. And this post is, perhaps, the only way I can truly express my thanks to Kris, Banker, the 26k and all the people behind KDOND. Maraming salamat po!

What did my family and friends say about the show?

I started getting comments through phone calls and text messages about my appearance on the show as early as last Sunday. Apparently, a promo that featured some players this week, including me, began running, but I never saw it. Last Wednesday night, the promo for my episode started airing, but it was not until the show began on Thursday that I started getting most of the text and Facebook messages about how telegenic I looked, how much I resembled my dad, how relaxed my mom was, how exciting and/or tense the game turned out to be. Anyway, this is too long already. Let me know what you thought about the show by leaving a comment below. Thanks!


VIDEO: Librarian Plays on
"Kapamilya Deal or No Deal"

Thanks to Dennis Baldoria, I was able to replace my crude video with a better one on 31 January 2009.

The crudely-recorded video above shows the identity of the Filipino librarian playing tonight, 29 January 2009 on "Kapamilya Deal or No Deal." Turn on your TV at about 5:50 pm, so you can see the introduction where the librarian's profession is mentioned.


TONIGHT: Librarian Plays on
"Kapamilya Deal or No Deal"

A Filipino librarian plays on "Kapamilya Deal or No Deal" tonight, 29 January 2009. Turn on your TV at about 5:50 pm, so you can see the introduction where the librarian's profession is mentioned.


Librarian Wins on "Gobingo"

Pamela Melorin
A Filipino librarian won big bucks in a game show in 2008. Thanks to Grace Gonzales, who left a comment on my Facebook note, I learned that another librarian had followed in the footsteps of Aldric Gaerlan (see "Librarian as Game-Show Winner"). Further correspondence with Gonzales and the winner herself revealed that librarians were contestants on "Gobingo" last 14 August 2008.

The librarians who competed were Pamela Melorin, Elena Sagadal and Paulette Manalaysay. If you watch the first segment of the episode (see "Gobingo: Distracting the librarians"), you'll see how librarians who join game shows—and proudly identify themselves as such—can effectively counter librarian stereotypes just by being seen on TV.

Below is Melorin's slightly-edited story of how she won 100,000 pesos, even as she fought for respect for our profession:

I am an avid viewer of Gobingo so when they announced that they needed librarians for studio contestants, I immediately auditioned. I think around 20 librarians yung nag-audition. Tatlo kaming napili, pareho mga graduate ng PNU kalaban ko. Ako po yung nanalo sa tatlong rounds. I almost got the jackpot prize na car kaso medyo kinabahan na ako dun sa last three bets kaya ayun di ko nakuha.

Sumali ako kasi I want to uplift our profession. Kasi first time nila nag-open ng opportunity for librarians. Actually, ang concept nila parang bibigyan kami ng partner na artista at macho, tapos as they introduce our partners, parang magiging wild kami. Kasi ang notion nila sa librarians parang dull, manang at mahinhin. As they explained the concept, sabi nila dapat daw naka-ponytail ang buhok in the beginning and then when we see our partners, bigla kami maglulugay at magpapaka-daring.

Hindi ako pumayag. Sabi ko kaya nga ako sumali para mabura yung ganoong impression sa ating mga librarians and to uplift our profession. Sabi ko ayoko gawing joke ang aming profession, may mga license kami just like any other professionals. Tapos ayun bigla nila na-cancel yung ganoong concept and they instructed us to play as is. Nagulat nga yung GMA staff kasi may license din daw pala ang mga librarians.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: "It's not enough to complain about inaccurate images of librarians; we must be able to present alternative, positive images..."


News Flash: Librarian Plays on
"Kapamilya Deal or No Deal"

A Filipino librarian (guess who?) just finished taping for an episode of "Kapamilya Deal or No Deal." I don't know if I'll be able to blog when the airing date is announced, so you may just want to start watching the show every day, starting tonight, on ABS-CBN or TFC (depending on where you are).

Note that the show sometimes starts as early as 10 minutes before the advertised time, so if you turn on your TV at exactly 6 pm, you might just miss the introduction where the librarian's profession is mentioned.


O Blograrian, Where Art Thou?

The photos above show me with the two blograrians I had lunch with last Saturday: Zarah Gagatiga (left) and Peachy Limpin (center). Zarah has already written about what we discussed in "The Quest," so allow me to just comment on changes that have occurred since all three of us began blogging about our profession in 2005:

1 The photos were taken not with a camera, but Zarah's MacBook and Photo Booth. It's not easy lugging around a laptop to take pictures, but the fact that there was no need to download the photo from the camera to the laptop or to Photoshop the photos together, tells me that the time when uploading a photo to a blog right after taking the picture (with an iPhone that takes better photos than most phones with cameras, perhaps?) is coming soon.

2 None of us are blogging as much as we used to. Zarah blogged quite consistently from 2005 to 2007 (about twice a week), but was down to about one and a half posts per week in 2008. Peachy averaged about a post a week when she started blogging, but was down to a little over one post a month in 2008. And then there's this blog, which went from a high of almost one post a day in 2006 to last year's one post a week. Other blograrians have even stopped blogging altogether. True, more librarians are blogging now, but it does not seem to be the case that there are more librarians who are blogging consistently about our profession. And no, posting announcements and job openings doesn't really count =)

3 I will not deny that I have lost some enthusiasm for blogging, but I think much of the decline in number of all our posts may be traced to lifestyle changes. Zarah took on more responsibility as an administrator, Peachy immigrated to Australia with her family, and I crossed an ocean to do my PhD in Toronto. The fact that two of us are now based outside the Philippines is significant. It's not just nurses and domestic helpers who are leaving our country in large numbers. Even the relatively small number of librarians in the Philippines is dwindling further. Is it because there's a high demand for Filipino librarians abroad or could there be some other reason for the accelerating exodus of librarians? But that's another story altogether.
So what's wrong? Take a look at what an Indian says about the LIS blogs in his country: Indian Library and Information Science Blog(s) are not able to catch sufficient number of user base. His English can be distracting, but what he says could also be applied to LIS in the Philippines. And not just to blogs, but also to research and publications.

At one point, I thought that blogging could perhaps be the solution to the problem of lack of visibility of our profession. Even the difficulty of disseminating information to Filipino librarians can be—and has been—addressed by blogs. Not all librarians have access to the Internet, of course, but I'm beginning to think that even if all Filipinos were online, our profession would still encounter the same problems.

This post has gotten much longer and more serious than I intended it to be. I'm going to get into trouble with the powers-that-be if I continue what I'm thinking of writing. So I'll just stop here and hope that someone else takes up the cause =)


In the News & Blogs

In case you haven't noticed—or you've been reading posts via email or RSS—this blog's sidebar has a new feature called "In the News & Blogs." I'm using Furl to bookmark and share news stories and blog posts that I find interesting, but for which I have no time to write separate posts. It looks like some readers have already seen them and started clicking through. I hope this new feature will encourage readers to visit the blog even though I haven't been updating—and probably won't—as frequently as before.


2008: Year in Review

Happy new year!

This is the third time I'm doing this (see 2006 and 2007), but this is the first time I'm posting my annual review in Manila, instead of Toronto. In case you don't know it yet, I'm back in the Philippines for a few months to do research and write the first draft of my dissertation—wish me luck!—while I'm here.

In 2007, I wrote that:

What follows is not exactly the "first paragraph/sentence" of each post... but it's probably better this way. Interestingly, the posts seem to be fairly representative of what this blog is all about.

January: Filipino Librarian : WikiPinoy of the Year?
Recognition is always good, but the reason it has taken me this long to write about it, aside from the fact that I've had a lot to do, is that I have mixed feelings about the "award."
February: FO: Plays
Thanks to a comment left by Aurelio, I thought of looking for plays that are available online.
March: Of Budgets, Leadership and the National Library
Public libraries don't get enough funding. From "Public library gets budget for repair, new books" (Cebu Daily News, 20 February 2008): For the first time, the Mandaue City Public Library is getting a budget to buy new reading materials and repair the building.
April: Deadline for Nominations for 2008 National Book Awards
The deadline for submission of nominations for the 2008 National Book Awards is 30 April 2008. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, this information has not been widely disseminated.
May: Get Hooked on TV... on Your Computer
Before you continue reading, you should know that clicking on any of the links in this particular post may lead to difficulties finishing whatever you need to do.
June: Bloggers on Mga Ibong Mandaragit
If a student raises her hand in a class on Philippine literature and says, "Hindi ko maintindihan ang Tagalog" (I can't understand the Tagalog), should the teacher say, "Eh kasi tanga ka" (That's because you're stupid)?
July: Filipino Librarians in Vancouver
In "Proudly Filipino in Vancouver," I promised to write about Filipino librarians in Vancouver. Well, three weeks later, I'm finally getting around to it.
August: Buwan ng Wika 2008
August is Buwan ng Wika (Language Month). This year, the theme is "Wika Mo, Wikang Filipino, Wika ng Mundo, Mahalaga!"
September: Too Busy to Blog... Again
Just in case you've been wondering what happened to this blog, here's the official announcement: This blog has not been updated in the past two weeks and will not be updated for at least another two weeks because its owner is too busy to blog... again.
October: Redefining the Dictionary
"Love makes things real." Erin McKean, a lexicographer, wasn't referring to toys, but to words that people love that aren't found in dictionaries. We have many such words in the Philippines =)
November: Troy Lacsamana — Library Leader
It is not enough that you have big dreams and plans. I should be able to communicate with my co-staff and co-volunteers the essence of why are we doing such activities and the importance of their contribution to our end goals.
December: Christmas 2008
I wouldn't dream of trading Christmas in the Philippines for a white Christmas. And that's why I made sure I'd be home this Christmas.


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