Malditang Librarian

all things from books and reading and life

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Book review: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma


Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma, London: Definitions, ©2010

Warning: this book is about sibling incest. If you are uncomfortable or triggered with that, please feel free to skip ahead. On to the review:

This is the second book I read for this month and I read it in one sitting because the story was so gripping. Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma (©2010) is about a flesh-and-blood brother and sister who are dealing with a broken family, with an alcoholic divorced mother who cares more about dating than her children. Maya, 16, and Lochan, 18, try their best to fend for their three younger siblings. Lochan is good-looking and brilliant in school, but his anxiety is so extreme that he can only open up to Maya. Maya is normal and popular, but she cares most about Lochan.

When Maya starts to date, the trouble starts. Lochan is jealous, and Maya realizes that she has more than familial feelings for him which Lochan also secretly feels. At that point in the story, I already felt that we are heading to a heartbreaking tragedy. They soon tread a scary path the last, most ‘forbidden’ line of love - incest.

The closest story I can compare it to is V.C. Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic. I have a funny experience with that book because it was immensely popular with other girls when I was in high school but I only got to read it much later then saw that the main love story in the book is about two siblings.

Forbidden is told from the perspective of both Lochan and Maya. I really feel bad for Lochan, who is bullied for his anxiety which is even making the anxiety worse. He and Maya have to cover up for their drunk mother and work hard to take care of a family with small children. They soon seem more like the 'responsible’ parents than their toxic mother.

The book explores a subject we are usually very uncomfortable to talk or think about. Both Maya and Lochan are dealing with difficult adolescence and its anxieties, and the book describes well how its like to live with a destructive family. It makes you think of what society considers as taboo, and what makes it so. The book does end in a very tragic and heartbreaking manner and makes the reader feel sympathy and sadness for the two protagonists. I wish the book ended in some other way.

It might turn off the reader at first due to its controversial subject, but it's an interesting portrayal of love, taboos, family, adolescence, anxiety, and mental illness. If you don't like sad stories, this story might make you cry because I myself cried at the end.
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Friday, February 9, 2018

Why take up Library and Information Science?

Still undecided about what college course to take? Thinking of a change in career? Why not consider Library and Information Science? Librarianship is a profession in the Philippines and its regulated by the Professional Regulation Commission.

"Librarian? Don't librarians do anything?" you may think, but librarians are in-demand in the country. Schools, colleges, universities, public libraries, organizations, and companies need librarians. Colleges and universities are required by CHED to have licensed and professional librarians.

Don't think that librarians are old-fashioned. The library field has had many technological improvements over the years and if you're a techie, you can find your place here. Library and Information Science as a field of study is defined as: "an interdisciplinary field that applies the practices, perspectives, and tools of management, information technology, education, and other areas to libraries; the collection, organization, preservation, and dissemination of information resources."

You need to pass a national board examination to practice librarianship. LIS also deals with the following:
  • Management. In LIS, we also study management of organizations and people. We don't only deal with books, but management is also an important part of the work of a library.
  • Reference and Information Services. The library serves the information needs of its parent organization. We try our best to help the clientele find the information they need. We build a useful collection and develop good services. This is the part of librarianship that I enjoy the most. Every day brings new questions and finding knowledge that you didn't know before is always exciting.
  • Collection Management. We select and acquire information sources to serve the needs of the organization. We organize these in the best way possible to ensure that we have a good collection.
  • Organizing Information Sources. Information sources are useless if not organized in the proper manner. Librarians have studied and developed many systems for organizing information. The numbers in books are not just mere numbers, its a reliable system for organizing information that libraries have used. Librarians make the most of a good collection by making it accessible through effective organization.
  • Information Technology. 
What I like about librarianship is it is a very broad field and there are many possible specializations. Librarians can work in varied settings: research institutions, museums, archives, schools, and other organizations. 

For a comprehensive list of possible careers in LIS, check out this useful article: "What Can I Do with an Information/Library Sciences Degree?" by the University of Tennessee - School of Information Sciences. 

If you are planning to shift careers, you can opt to take Masters in Library and Information Science and then take the board exam if you are in the Philippines. If you're planning to go to college, you can take Bachelor of Library and Information Science. In Iloilo City, the schools that offer the course are Central Philippine University, University of San Agustin, and West Visayas State University.

Here's an informative video with about LIS:

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Sunday, February 4, 2018

Radical Singleness


I have a personal story that I believe I'm the only person in the world to feel. I feel like I'm absolutely alone in feeling this, and this secret brings me so much discomfort to reveal.

I'm a different breed of single. I'm not the heartbroken single, the single who has been in relationships, or the single who's dating or actively pursuing relationships. I'm the single who's just, well, single. Someone who was never wanted, someone who doesn't have a willingness, someone whose just single by default.

Sometimes I wish the word single doesn't exist (or labels and distinctions). Sometimes I imagine a world where it doesn't matter, but I am in the real world where these things matter and people judge you by it.

It's not that I'm a robot. I also felt infatuation before, but it did more damage than good, and other things that would be too long, embarrassing, and personal to reveal here. I really wish that people would stop asking about it. I feel very embarrassed when people ask me about my relationship status and they react with horror that I haven't been in one.

"You're 25, and you're still single?"

I can't forget that one funny experience where I was having my teeth cleaned at the dentist, and with the sharp instruments in my mouth, she asked me about my relationship status. Since I couldn't speak, I just shook my head to indicate no. She was so shocked ("WHAT? Graduate ka na diba? Bakit wala pa?!") and I couldn't give her a clear answer... due to the sharp instruments in my mouth in the first place.

On the internet, there are people who identify themselves as asexual and aromantic (those who don't feel sexual attraction or romantic feelings). I guess I might fit into those categories, but if I try to explain it to others, they look at me with puzzlement and I just know that they think of me as a loser.

Now that I'm nearing 30, I dread the feeling that I might get asked more about it. I've read a news story about a newscaster who killed herself on live TV because of her depression about romantic relationships and the non-existence of it in her life. While I'm not that worse, I think I can understand her sentiment, though I wish she didn't have to do that and knew about God.

I think what I don't like is the elevation of romantic relationships, the assumption that its necessary for a fulfilled and happy life. That we need to attain it to be complete. Marriage is celebrated, singleness is mocked and ridiculed. Just watch a segment of One for All, All for Juan in Eat Bulaga and if the guest is single, wait for the ridicule of Jose, Wally, or Paolo. I guess what they say reflects what the general public thinks of singleness and what I also hear from other people.

I'm grateful that I know great people who are single, and those who are also married. I also know some who may be married and in relationships, but they are not truly happy. Some who are close to me have more parasitic than loving relationships. A relationship somehow feels like an unnatural state, where your life is messily tangled with someone else's. I've once talked to an acquaintance who broke up (but eventually got back) with a guy she's been in a relationship with for a long time. She said that she needed a break since she was thinking more of the other person more than herself for years. I can't imagine being in a restricting situation.

So I try to be content in whatever state I am. I do believe in soulmates, destiny, and true love, but I've learned to be content with singleness. I have many things to do in my life, and much more to improve in myself, and I'm not relying on someone to complete me or make me happy.

When I became a Christian, I was surprised and delighted to see another point of view: singleness can also be a blessing! It's not a curse as society paints it, or a stage of life we have to suffer through. It is an opportunity to serve God. The Apostle Paul doesn't say marriage is bad but says this about singleness:
Sometimes I wish everyone were single like me—a simpler life in many ways! But celibacy is not for everyone any more than marriage is. God gives the gift of the single life to some, the gift of the married life to others. (1 Corinthians 7:7)
Paul explains more in 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 (The Message translation): "I want you to live as free of complications as possible. When you’re unmarried, you’re free to concentrate on simply pleasing the Master. Marriage involves you in all the nuts and bolts of domestic life and in wanting to please your spouse, leading to so many more demands on your attention. The time and energy that married people spend on caring for and nurturing each other, the unmarried can spend in becoming whole and holy instruments of God. I’m trying to be helpful and make it as easy as possible for you, not make things harder. All I want is for you to be able to develop a way of life in which you can spend plenty of time together with the Master without a lot of distractions."

As of now, I still feel like I have a lot more to learn and do for God's purpose in my life. Jesus was single too!

In the website Desiring God, I came across an article "Refuse to Settle for Singleness" by Marshall Segal. I read the title and thought, what? Another one ridiculing singleness? I was surprised that it was celebrating singleness. Its one of the articles I read again when I feel depressed about someone's comments on my status. According to Segal, "In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul is correcting a common misconception: that the fullest Christian life happens only in marriage. No, the fullest Christian life happens only in Christ."
If your heart is God’s first — despite what you might feel and despite what society might say — you never need to settle for singleness, because singleness is never second-best. Marriage is very good, but singleness may be even better. Is your view of God big enough to believe that could possibly be true?
I don't want to come off as anti-marriage or something, but I just hope that singleness isn't discriminated against. I believe that it is far better to be unmarried than be in an abusive or toxic relationship.

As my favorite Greek philosopher Diogenes once said while talking to a young man:

“We come into the world alone and we die alone. Why, in life, should we be any less alone?”
“To live, then, is terrible.”
“No, not to live, but to live in chains.”

Thank God that we are not alone! Like Paul, I will strive to be content in whatever situation I'm in. I won't waste the time I am single, for it is a gift. In heaven, being single or not doesn't matter anymore because we will all be complete and content in Christ. I have discovered the fullness and pure compassion of God's love where labels don't matter. True love and completeness can only be found in Him, and we don't need to look for it elsewhere. Only in truly seeing His love are we free to love ourselves and love others.
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Friday, February 2, 2018

Books I read: January 2018

One of my new year's resolutions is read most of the books I have. I used to hoard books, a habit I've tried to get rid of (I'm successful so far). Now I buy more eBooks than physical books. I started a posts set on my Facebook "Books read 2018" to keep track of the books I read. I post the cover and my short reaction since I don't write full book reviews on this blog of every book I read. Here are the books I read this January 2018. The year was off to a great start in reading! This month I read six books and a comic (Alabaster: the Good, the Bad, and the Bird by Caitlin R. Kiernan but I didn't include it here).

One January read I wrote longer review for: Tongues on Fire by Conrado de Quiros

The first book I read this 2018 is When: the Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel Pink (©2018). The book discusses the best times to take action and make decisions. When is the best time to work, exercise, nap, decide, think, go to the hospital, get married, etc? The book tries to answer all those questions with interesting research findings and anecdotes. Did you know that the worst time to work is in the afternoon?

The book deals with the right timing in your daily work, in the beginning/middle/end of a project, and timing with other people. This book is research-based but interesting to read and contains practical advice you can use right away, with great results.

Choices: Coping Creatively with Personal Change by Frederic M. Flach (©1977) is mostly about psychology and psychiatry, but the book's scope is broad and includes creativity in dealing with life's challenges. The book says that sometimes, depression and negative feelings are not things to avoid, but a necessary step we should let ourselves feel and learn from. They may be a stage we have to go through before we move on to a higher state of awareness.

"One of the very first steps to becoming more creative is the willingness to leave the main thoroughfare from time to time and explore some of the back roads and lanes, to be different, to be singular." This is not only creativity in artistic work but in living life.

"The cultivation of our creative energies can permit us to move in harmony with a universal force for life, with whatever it is that whispers to the seeds in the vacant city lot that it is time to start growing."

"One story begins in chance and ends in chaos. Another begins with the Word and ends in Life. Choose your story wisely."

Christ or Chaos by Dan Dewitt (©2016) is a book on Christianity versus atheism. It is short and readable, with frequent references to C.S. Lewis as the author is a professor who teaches about Lewis. He presents the common arguments of atheists against Christianity and how Christians can answer. I like that the book has many stories about skeptics who turned to the faith after they tried seeking answers on their own. I also like that it discusses science.

This is comparable to "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis and "A Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel but its shorter and enjoyable. Very relatable to atheists-turned-Christians and helpful for Christians who don't know how to answer atheists. By the way, isn't the cover so cool-looking?

Got this fun book at #BookCulturexBookLatte last December, a book swap event at Book Latte, Megaworld. Head Over Feels: more than 100 kilig and hugot quotes from your favorite Pop Fiction Books (©2015). It's full of quotes in nice lettering and design. Even if you don't feel these quotes or like these type of stories, each page is a cute work of art and can be an inspiration or reference for graphic designers or those interested in calligraphy/typography.



"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain." -Bene Gesserit Litany against Fear and the most famous quote from this book

I just read Dune by Frank Herbert, a science-fiction classic and is known for being the most best-selling book in the genre. It won the both the Hugo and Nebula award in the 1960's. The plot is complicated and I can't explain it in a few paragraphs.

It's about Paul Atreides, the son of the Duke Leto Atreides and Lady Jessica. The universe is ruled by an emperor and they order the Duke to rule the desert planet Dune, the only source of melange, an expensive spice that can produce supernatural powers for its users. The planet Dune is populated by the fierce, blue-eyed Fremen. The lack of water on the planet and the deadly, giant sandworms make the planet a very dangerous place. When the Duke dies due to some imperial plot, Paul and his mother join the Fremen.

Paul is rumored to be the Kwisatz Haderach, the savior of Dune. But there's more to it than that: he's the product of a secret breeding program by the Bene Gesserit, an order of powerful women who have been working behind the scenes in the universe's politics to serve their own aims. Paul soon fights his way to be the ruler of Dune and aims for something higher - the seat of the Emperor.

The stories I can compare it to is Star Wars (Dune was an inspiration for Star Wars), Mad Max (religious fanaticism, lack of water), Carlos Castaneda's Don Juan stories (drugs and their link to supernatural powers), Game of Thrones (families fighting and manipulating for power), and mythology (Jason and the Golden Fleece was an inspiration). But it is its own unique story.

As I said it is complicated, but its a legend in the genre: it doesn't only explore science and space, but philosophy, religion, politics, ecology, biology, and its a masterpiece of world-building.

Another movie adaptation is being made, and I'll be watching out for that. (I got this book from last December's #BookCulturexBookLatte, a book swap event at Book Latte, Megaworld. I'm glad I got to read this book in my lifetime.)
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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Thoughts on the "National Non-Librarian" issue

Cesar Gilbert Q. Adriano, the new Director IV of the National Library of the Philippines, was sworn into office last April 6, 2017 (Photo credit: National Library of the Philippines website)
Last January 24, my Facebook feed was full of news about Ateneo de Manila Rizal Library Director Dr. Von Totanes (of the Filipino Librarian blog) filing a complaint with the Ombudsman about the Director of the National Library of the Philippines. The issue about the new Director of the NLP, Cesar Adriano, is a controversial one - he isn't a licensed librarian. He isn't even a librarian, he previously worked for Pres. Duterte in Davao. He doesn't have any experience working in libraries before his current position.

This is a big issue since the law, RA 9246 or The Philippine Librarianship Act of 2003, states that only licensed librarians can work as heads of government libraries. Section 31: Employment of Librarians states that "Only qualified and licensed librarians shall be employed as librarians in all government libraries." The job posting for Director IV of NLP in the CSC website clearly stated that the Director should be a licensed librarian. Here's a link to the actual posting of the job vacancy.

It raises many questions: is it illegal practice of librarianship? Is this excusable because the President appointed it? This has been widely debated in librarians' circles and was also discussed during the PLAI National Congress last November 2017, but Dr. Von's complaint made it to the headlines of major news agencies and the national news. I think this is the first time that an issue in librarianship in the Philippines has hit national news, and even Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque responded that they will look into the matter.

For the entire submitted complaint of Dr. Von Totanes, you can read his blog entry with the 9-page statement. Philippine Librarians' Association, Inc., has also released a Statement of Concern given to the PRC and Civil Service Commission, which was done before Dr. Von's complaint. As for my opinion, I definitely agree with the PLAI Statement: "Adherence to the Law should take precedence and should be exercised consistently at all times in order to avoid setting a precedent that would have unlicensed professionals appointed to librarian positions."

What's interesting to me is that no one in the media really noticed this appointment if not for this complaint. It's good in a way that people are more aware that there is a law regarding librarianship and it's a profession that requires a license.

What annoys me most is the ignorant people who just comment without really caring or knowing about the real issue. There were some personal attacks against the complainant. The rabid Presidential supporters just defend the appointment while disregarding the real issue for professional librarians. I just don't read the comments on the news websites because they're filled with know-it-alls who presume knowledge about librarianship or the NLP. I read one comment about Adriano modernizing the NLP, assuming that the previous administration of the NLP didn't do that and that "librarians are slowly being phased out anyway." That's when I stopped reading all the comments. Trying to defend the profession will just be a tiring affair because we all know how these people hold on to their opinions even when they are ignorant or plainly insulting.

Anyway, there's also another, bigger issue that isn't just about librarianship - politicians just appointing who they want (as a prize for utang na loob, maybe), regardless of qualification. This has been a reality in government for a long time, and we have just accepted it. This is just my personal experience, but I've applied to public libraries and despite being a licensed librarian and qualified, I will still not get the job I'm qualified for because the other person who applied was closer to the governor or mayor. We are used to it, and while we know it's not right, most of us have resigned to the reality and the status quo.

I like what Randy David said on this matter in his opinion column for Philippine Daily Inquirer last January 28,  "Protecting the Civil Service from Politics":
Brave soul! I hope his letter is not dismissed as sour grapes offered by an envious peer or the partisan rant of a “yellow” cadre. Totanes’ is a rare voice in a country that, judging from recent surveys, appears to have given its President blanket trust and power to do anything he wishes, and to hire or fire anyone in government as he finds necessary. I don’t think this is the first appointment of its kind, and, surely, it won’t be the last.
I've realized that this isn't just about us librarians - it is concerned with the entire political system of the country, and it also affects all Filipino citizens. Let's all wait and see how this will play out, and I hope whatever decision the authorities will make, it will be fair for us all.

Relevant Links:
These are the links to the news articles compiled by Dr. Von Totanes in his blog entry. I will add other links as the news develops. I recommend watching the 2 interviews in Bandila, Randy David's opinion article, and the Esquire Philippines article.

Philippine Star
Check out appointment of 'National Non-Librarian,' Ombudsman asked by Rosette Adel
Palace to 'look into' National Library's non-librarian director by Rosette Adel

GMA News Online
Ateneo chief librarian wants Ombudsman to probe appointment of NLP head by Joseph Tristan Roxas

ABS-CBN News
National Library chief not a librarian, complaint alleges by Adrian Ayalin
1st Bandila story on Jan 25 by Mike Navallo
2nd Bandila story on Jan 26 by Mike Navallo

Philippine Daily Inquirer
Ateneo exec seeks probe on Duterte’s appointment of ‘non-librarian’ to Nat’l Library by Vince F. Nonato
Protecting the civil service from politics by Randy David

Esquire Philippines
Librarians are the keepers of information, and that's why the gov't needs to look into this complaint by Angelica Gutierrez

Rappler
Probe 'national non-librarian,' Ombudsman urged by Rambo Talabong
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Monday, January 29, 2018

Join #ZineZoned4: Iloilo Zinefest 2018


#ZineZoned4, a zine festival here in Iloilo City, will be happening in UP Visayas Auditorium on February 10, 2018. If you don't know what a zine is, here's a definition from urbandictionary.com: A zine (/ˈziːn/ ZEEN; short for magazine or fanzine) is most commonly a small-circulation self-published work of original or appropriated texts and images. Usually zines are the product of a single person, or of a small group.  A zine is a cheaply-made, cheaply-priced publication, often in black and white, which is mass-produced via photocopier and bound with staples.

Most zines revolve around a music scene of some sort, but others are dedicated to artwork, poetry, cartoons, editorials and short stories. Because zines do not have any sort of corporate backing, they are very rugged, individualized, and much more charismatic than larger, more popular magazines whose content is often dictated by their advertisers. 

If you're interested in stories and alternative publications, there's plenty of interesting zines to choose from. If you have some stories, drawings, poetry, or essays and you want to create a zine of your own, this is the best time to do it!

I joined last year's Zinefest, you can read about my experience in the following blog entries:
I will not be joining this year (comprehensive exams for grad school fall on that date).

I encourage librarians in the city to attend this event and buy some zines for your local Filipiniana collection. Zines, by their nature, are temporary and very rare publications that would make an awesome addition to your libraries. What I like about zines is their raw charm, and they have an energy that can't be found in your usual reads. Check it out and see you there!

This event is organized by KasingKasing Press, Hubon Manunulat, and U.P. High School in Iloilo. For more information and if you're planning to sell a zine in this event, follow ZineZoned: Iloilo Zinefest on Facebook and you can contact them through the page.
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Friday, January 26, 2018

Book review: Matilda by Roald Dahl

Matilda by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake. New York: Puffin Books, ©1988

As a librarian and book hoarder, it would surprise you to know that I haven't read Matilda until now! I was aware of her, but I haven't read the book or watched the movies. I did read one Roald Dahl book when I was a child, George's Marvelous Medicine.

Matilda Wormwood is a very smart girl in a very unappreciative home. Her father is in a corrupt automobile reselling business, while her mother is preoccupied with her friends and her vanity. She has a brother who her parents like more than her, and she finds solace in books. At a very young age, Matilda was already using the public library to borrow books. It's not just children's books but high literature! With the help of the kind librarian Mrs. Phelps, she finds a peace in books that she doesn't find in her family. She reads Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, William Faulkner, H.G. Wells, and most classics. Her reading list is in the book and I plan to go through that "Matilda reading list" someday.

Her parents discourage her from reading and they don't realize that Matilda is a genius. Matilda goes to school, and her teacher Miss Honey sees how smart Matilda is. She wants to help the girl be in a higher level class, but Matilda's parents don't see the point and even mock Matilda. Miss Honey seems to be the only person who genuinely cares about her. In school, Matilda also has one best-friend, Lavender.

Then comes Miss Trunchbull, the school principal who acts more like a dictator. She's unreasonable and hates children. She once observes Matilda's class and traumatizes all the children. In the book, she's exaggerated and humorous, but I think we can all relate because we might have encountered that one tyrannical teacher or authority in school.

I love the affection between student and teacher we can see with Miss Honey and Matilda. They once have tea together in Miss Honey's home and Matilda discovers that she lives in poverty due to her relation with Miss Trunchbull. Matilda plots a hilarious revenge against Miss Trunchbull when she discovers she has secret powers! I'm really glad that I didn't spoil myself on this one because this unexpected twist really made me happy for Matilda. In the end, there's a happy ending for her and Miss Honey.

I love that there's a positive portrayal of a librarian in the story. We have Mrs. Phelps who helps Matilda find books to read. While she appears to be the stereotypical librarian (a glasses-wearing old lady), her kind attitude and willingness to help Matilda is better than the usual cranky old woman image.

The thoughts of Matilda's mother about "beauty above brains" is laughable and I hope no one holds this view now. She thinks that Matilda's interest in books is useless in the world because for her a woman's goal isn't to develop herself, but to make herself as beautiful as possible so she can attract a rich man who will take care of her for the rest of her life! Miss Honey thinks that she's a hopeless case.

Next to Matilda the next character to root for is Miss Honey. She's an appreciative teacher. If you have been encouraged by a kind comment from a teacher before, you'll remember that with Miss Honey. Matilda is an inspiration for girls out there. Its funny, enlightening, and makes you want to read books.

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