Monday, October 24, 2016

Letters that Inspire Me to Keep Writing

The grades one and two students of the ELC of Brent International School Manila wrote me letters! I will reply to them as soon as possible. Sharing with you some of the letters of the kids.

Thank you Ms. Tamayao for sending these letters! Thank you for being the bridge between my books  to your children in Brent!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

My Author Visit at Brent International School Manila and Some Writing Tips for the Grade One Students of the Early Learning Center

With Ms. Tamayao and her staff at the ELC Library
I was at Brent International School Manila last week for an Author Visit. It was my first at Brent ISM and it was their first time to host a Filipino author. Thanks to Ms. Tericel Tamayao who invited me to visit and to talk to students in the Early Learning Center (ELC). The event was a lot of fun! Lampara Books, my publisher, displayed and sold my books during the book fair since the event was part of the Booklatan sa Brent, a three day bookish event highlighting Filipiniana.

My program was very simple. I did an author talk and told stories. What made it really special was the question and answer portion of the program. One of the grade one teachers asked me for tips on writing since they have a unit on writing a personal narrative. My answers were very practical.

I told them to:
1. Write everyday. Keeping a journal helps me in generating ideas as well as maintaining the brain ready for writing. My blog is my online journal. I have a notebook I carry with me every day where I write random thoughts.

2. Write what you know. My stories come from personal experiences.

3. If words are difficult to come by, draw! Do some art.

4. Talk. Conversations help me a lot because writing involves a lot of thinking. Keeping all the ideas in your head can get stuck there and it will stagnate. Talking to someone helps in shaping ideas and in the growth of stories.

5. Listen for feedback even if you are only beginning with an idea for a story.

A letter from one of the grade 1 students of the ELC of Brent ISM. Happiness!

Sadly, the time was too short to tell them more. So, here are some additions that may prove helpful.

a. Just write. Making your story  neat and clean can be done later on.

b. Having said this, remember that writing is a process. It begins with pre-writing; the writing of the story; revision and editing; and publishing. Much of what I said in 1-5 are pre-writing exercises. Here is an infographic to further help you in becoming aware of the writing process. Your teacher and parent can be a big help in helping you follow through the steps. This would mean that you would be spending a good amount of time when writing your story or a topic that you like.

c. A story has three basic parts: the beginning, the middle and the end. In your personal story, ask yourself what happened first. After that, what was next? Was there a problem? Was it solved? How did you feel? At last, tell us how it ended.

Once a grade one student of mine wrote about eating a delicious cake. His story went like this:

BEGINNING - I ate a piece of chocolate cake. It was yummy!

MIDDLE - I drank a glass of milk. My tummy hurt. I went to the bathroom and threw up. I felt awful. Mom made me drink a lot of water and I took a medicine.

END - I rested for a while, then, I farted! I felt better.

When I read the story with him, we were laughing. I asked him if all the words work well in each parts. Guess which word we changed during the revision stage?

d. Keep an open mind when your family, your teacher and friend send feedback or comments. Some comments are good and many are given so you can write better.


Writing is not easy, but it can be enjoyable. I love writing because I have stories to share. When I share stories, I realize I am not alone. I get to understand myself better and at the same time, I take in the perspectives of others. How similar we all are! This only goes to show how, despite the differences among people of color, race, religion and culture, we share the same humanity. We are all humans. We are all peoples of the world.

Share your story! Start writing!

Infographic Source:

Zarah Gagatiga conducts one-on-one writing workshops for K-12 and runs writing camps in the summer. The 2017 calendar is open for reservations. Get in touch via

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Interpersonal Relationship in Reference Services

Karen and Andrew role play the reference communication process
As I was preparing my training module on Reference Services for the Effective Librarianship @Work Conference in Southville International School and Colleges, I realized that librarianship is a people oriented work. There are the tools and the technology that librarians use in establishing systems and structures to operate day in and day out. The end goal of this endeavor is to service people, receive feedback from them and develop stronger systems and efficient structures that will address the community's context, enrich their culture, hone their personal skills and professional competencies.

This is why, in my presentation, I went back to Ranganathan's Law of Library Science (1931) and included my Library Concepts (2012). I did discuss and share best practices, but I invested a good amount of time on Interpersonal Relationships, Active Listening and how these topics and concepts can be applied to the reference communication process.

We had role playing activities. One role playing session involved volunteers to show the reference communication process to the bigger group. Another one was done as a big group where participants gave suggestions on how to answer the reference query of a professor/teacher.  It was an amazing session! There were engagement and involvement. The participants were a combination of young and seasoned librarians. I think the activity afforded them learning opportunities.

With young LIS professionals of Southville International School & Colleges
As a workshop facilitator, my objective is not only to present my topic as my field of expertise, but I also make sure that the participants are learning together as a community.

Congratulations to the library staff of Southville International Schools and Colleges! I see and meet them every year in October for this annual event. They are growing as a team! Thank you to Mr. Eric Ramos who, in his own unique way, mentors me to become a facilitator of learning by throwing challenging topics on my path. Good luck to all your endeavors, librarians of Southville! More power!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Books and Coffee at the Quezon City Public Library

During my term break from the Academy, I managed to conduct two workshops for librarians. One was for the librarians of the Quezon City Public Library (QCPL) and the other was at Southville International Schools and Colleges' Effective Librarianship at Work.

For this post, I am going to concentrate on telling you about the workshop I did with the QCPL librarians.

I conducted a basic bibliotherapy workshop with them since they were keen on helping out of school youths in Quezon City. The QCPL main library is supervising 19 Barangay Reading Centers and each has a staff assigned to run programs and services for children, teens, adults and senior citizens. What I did was to give them a 101 Bibliotherapy session. It was a touching moment. The morning was filled with sharing of insights and ideas on how they can put together a homegrown Bibliotherapy program. The QCPL librarians were all engaged.

I was further impressed when they served us coffee from the Library Cafe. Yes, the QCPL has a cafe inside the library. The Iriga Public Library has a coffee shop too. I visited Iriga a long, long time ago and I am mot sure if the coffee shop is still there. Nonetheless, this coffee shop is a sign that more and more, librarians and libraries are beginning to embed itself in the community.

QCPL also had a reading superhero in the persona of Heneral Basa. Their librarians conduct outreach programs in Quezon City and in different provinces. They donate books and help communities establish reading centers. If you have old books, I recommend you donate it to the QCPL! They will surely know what to do with them.

Before I left for home, the QCPL librarians gave me and Darrel Marco (he was with me that day!) a glimpse of their future! They showed us their new building being built with in the compound of the Quezon City Hall complex.

Congratulations on this good news, QCPL! May your example bring inspiration to many!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

2017 PBBY Salanga Prize Call for Entries

Taken from the PBBY website:

The Philippine Board on Books for Young People (PBBY) is now accepting entries for the 2016 PBBY-Salanga Prize. The contest is co-sponsored by the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and The National Library of the Philippines (NLP). The grand prize winner shall receive Twenty-Five Thousand Pesos and a medal. Prizes will be awarded in an appropriate ceremony to be held during the celebration of National Children’s Book Day in July 2017.


  1. The contest is open to all Filipino citizens except those who are related to any PBBY member up to the third degree of consanguinity.
  2. Stories should be intended for children aged 6 to 12 years old. The plot and the sequence must be capable of sustaining an illustrated book of 28 to 32 pages.
  3. Entries may be in Filipino or English.
  4. Entries must be in hard copy, double-spaced, on short bond paper. Maximum length is five (5) pages.
  5. A contestant may send in more than one (1) entry.
  6. Each entry must be signed by a pen name only. Five (5) copies of each entry should be placed in an envelope, on the face of which only the pen name of the contestant should appear.
  7. Together with each entry, contestants must submit a second envelope, on the face of which the pen name shall appear. This must contain the contestant’s full name, address, contact numbers, a short literary background, and a notarized certification from the author, vouching for the originality of the entry and for the freedom of the organizers from any liability arising from the infringement of copyright in case of publication, and affirming that the entry or any variant thereof has (a) never been published nor (b) won any other contest i.e. that it has never won 1st, 2nd, 3rd, honorable mention in any other contest or otherwise been awarded a medal, a citation, or included in a publicized list of meritorious entries to a literary contest.
  8. All entries must be sent through snail mail to the PBBY Secretariat, c/o Adarna House, Inc., Scout Torillo cor. Scout Fernandez Sts., Barangay Sacred Heart, Quezon City.
  9. All entries must be received by the PBBY Secretariat no later than 5:00 p.m., December 2, 2016.
Grand prize and honorable mention winners shall be subject to a bidding process to be facilitated by PBBY, to determine which publisher/s will publish their winning stories.
The winning story will be the basis for the 2017 PBBY-Alcala Prize.
For more details, interested parties may contact the Philippine Board on Books for Young People, at 3526765 local 203 or email pbby[at]
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