Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Manila Library Tour: UP & Ateneo

Last March 16-17, we had a tour in notable university libraries in Manila for our subject in MLIS 607, Advanced Library Management. We went to UP, Ateneo, UST, MAPUA, National Museum, and De La Salle. There were many setbacks but we managed to push through with the tour. We did learn a lot from these libraries and their librarians. For students of Library Science, educational tours to other libraries are a must. Through tours, we gain new ideas for services and can ask other libraries about their problems and best practices. We've seen the latest library technology and also great historical resources still preserved for centuries. It was a great learning experience!

I will divide the posts about the tour into three: this first part for UP and Ateneo, the second for UST, and the third/last for MAPUA and La Salle.

Our first stop was Quezon City, where UP and Ateneo are located. Both are considered to be the top universities in our country, and as expected, their libraries also have top-notch services and resources.

University of the Philippines Diliman - Main Library

Our first stop to kickstart our tour was UP Diliman. Who doesn't feel the heavy weight of UP? This is where the brightest minds of our country hail from, where the newest and brightest ideas are exchanged. Anywhere in the country, 'Iskolar ng Bayan' are respected. Of course, we also expect that their library would be in par with the university's reputation.

UP Diliman Library also known as The University Library is the key information resource for learning, research and scholarship in UP Diliman. It was established in 1922 with over 94 years of library and information service to UP. The library is located at Gonzalez Hall, Apacible Street, UP Diliman, Quezon City.

Technology Tools:
UP ILib is the online public access catalog of the UP Library System. This is an in-house software developed and maintained by their library staff. UP ILib is also a good source of cataloging information for libraries all over the country.

LibRadio (Librarians sa Radyo) is a radio program made for latest updates and happenings in the library. It is airing at DZUP 1602 kHz every Wednesday, 12:00-1:00PM or online at dzup.org.

In their official website, there are links to electronic databases, e-resources, and online journals published by UP. This is not only a big help for researchers in UP but to other researchers all over the country and the world. They have one convenient interface where users can search. Online journals are also available and students can access information through their devices without the need to go in the actual physical library.

Index to Philippine Newspapers  Online (IPN Online) and Index to Philippine Periodicals Online (IPP Online) are automated, searchable indexes of Philippine newspapers and periodicals.

In the Archives section, important documents are also being digitized. Due to the Faculty Center fire accident, the library is also taking precautions in preserving important documents and take measures in disaster management.


Social Media: the library is also active in social media. They use this to engage with users and promote their services.

Though they are not considered ‘new technology’, the library also preserves their microfilm and VHS collections. Microfilm readers are still available for use, and films in VHS are still shown during regular film showings in the library lobby.

The UP Library is a pioneer in library technology. Their online services not only help UP students, but also researchers all over the country. Their tools like iLib, IPP, and IPN are also an enormous help to local libraries. Online technologies need budget, expertise, and manpower in order to operate, and the UP Libraries make the most of their resources. I can say that UP can also claim to have one of the best libraries in country, an example that other libraries and librarians should also follow.

After leaving the magnificent yet old building of UP Main Library, we headed to the very modern Rizal Library of Ateneo de Manila.


Ateneo de Manila University - Rizal Library


The Rizal Library is named after our national hero, Jose Rizal, who also attended Ateneo de Manila University. I was quite surprised to see water inside and outside the library structure, this is a part of a water conservation system that uses rainwater for the building. We were greeted with this cute Rizal (not with the Pikachu, though):

Technology Tools:
Their library website has a convenient interface and a single search box for all possible inquiries, not just the online catalog. The Library’s Integrated Library System uses TLC. Their OPAC is available at rizalls.lib.admu.edu.ph

The Library also has off-campus online access for their online services. Students and other users can access ScienceDirect, JSTOR, Euromonitor, and all of the Rizal Library's other online databases from home.

The Rizal Library also publishes the CIPPA, the Computerized Index to Philippine Periodical Articles. The Library also produces periodicals in CDs and microfilm, which they sell as a product to libraries all over the country. They also digitize their historical collections such as the American Historical Collection, and their archives have up-to-date facilities for preservation.

In Social media, they are also active in answering Reference queries through Facebook and Twitter. They really ask for their users’ feedback to offer the best service according to their customers’ opinions and needs.


This is Mr. Von Totanes a.k.a. The Filipino Librarian (a blog that inspired me to take up librarianship) sitting on the stairs of the Rizal Library. On their staircase are the spines of books published by Ateneans (and on the upper floors, childrens' books and films, too!), it was a project by a Fine Arts student. 

The Ateneo de Manila is my ideal library. You can see that they fully use technology and they try to keep up with the digital generation. Their services are great and as a place, you could stay there for hours! But of course, they have a library fee of around 7,000 pesos per semester, so they can afford to have these kind of services. But a resourceful librarian can also make the most of what he or she has, especially in today's reality of shrinking budgets and competing with the internet. 


Next, we go to UST Libraries, MAPUA, and La Salle. We will see the amazing heritage library of UST, who preserves and restores centuries-old books. Tune in for the next parts!

Monday, April 24, 2017

A short book review: Belle's Library

Belle's Library: a collection of literary quotes and inspirational musings, written by Brittany Rubiano and art by Jenna Huerta. Disney ©2017

Someone once told me that I wasn't used to adventure or traveling around. They probably see me sitting around a lot, just reading. I'd like to tell them how much more adventurous reading a good book is! It has the ability to transport us into worlds of imagination and magic.

I'm glad about the success of the latest movie Beauty and the Beast and its bookworm heroine Belle. Belle longs for adventure outside the confines of her village.

Since I try to read modern books with the word 'library' in the title, and I watched Beauty and the Beast anyway, I picked this up from a National Bookstore in Manila. Its a simple book with quotes from Belle's (of Beauty and the Beast) favorite books, and her own thoughts about them. In Belle's library are classics such as Romeo and Juliet, A Thousand and One Nights, Don Quixote, and Aesop's fables. Like Belle, they express values as well as love for literature.

The end pages include a fascinating bibliography of books that Belle may have in her library, what they are about, and why she loves them. These real books make valuable additions to your to-read list.

Its also just a beautiful book to have, with its textured cover and simple watercolor illustrations. It has a red ribbon bookmark, and it works well as a gift and a keepsake.


Quotes:

Belle: "Books, poems, letters - there is a certain power and longevity in the written word. I love to imagine people decades or even centuries from now enjoying the same works I do."

"Oh, how I long to visit the fairies of Shakespeare's Midsummer, or in Chaucer's England of old. There is a certain nostalgia embedded in these lines for a time that may never have existed. Well, that is not quite right. It exists in the pages of these works, in the special little nooks and crannies of the mind."

"Quixote's tale is so fascinating to me. To be that caught up in one's reading, to have books come to life so vividly and overwhelmingly. It seems at once a blessing and a curse to live in a haze of fiction."
And this is the essence of the story.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Beyond the Signs [on the miracles of Jesus]

Since the start of the year, I've been writing about the Sunday sermons in church, sharing what I learned through listening and reading. Before, I used to attend church and forget the lessons once I step out. So I am writing these to also remind myself of God's word. I attend Victory Church and the lessons each Sunday are part of a 'series' on a chosen topic. So far, I wrote about Knowing God last January, and SelfLess last February (on true love). The third series for the year is Beyond the Signs, on the seven miracles of Jesus in the gospel of John. This series is in time for the Lenten season, where we remind ourselves of Jesus' death and resurrection.

Jesus performed miracles, but sometimes we fail to see what they mean. These miracles are also 'signs' that point to a deeper meaning. What did Jesus mean when he did them? Jesus used these miracles to reveal a truth, and also uncover the real intentions of the people around him at that time. Let's revisit the miracles and try to see what Jesus really means 'beyond the signs'.

The Wedding at Cana: Water to Wine
This is Jesus' first miracle. At a wedding where wine was running out, Jesus instructed servants to fill the jars with water which turns to great wine. Wine is a symbol of abundance at their time, and running out of wine in an important celebration like a wedding was considered a cause for shame. Jesus saves the day and the wedding with this miracle and restored the celebrants' honor to the community for nothing.

In this case, we see the unnamed servants who were chosen to 'deliver' the miracle. Though they played a small role, we should imitate their example. They obeyed with gladness even though they did not know what Jesus was up to. They, too, enjoyed the blessing of this miracle.

Through this miracle, Jesus glory was manifested and people started to believe in him. In turning water into wine, Jesus also can change our souls from ordinary water in dirty jars to excellent wine that never runs out. It is our changed life that can help change others. We may eventually run out of wine, but Jesus is the living water who never diminishes. He fills our emptiness to the brim and gives us more.

Jesus Heals an Official’s Son
Who is Jesus to us? Is he just a teacher? A healer? A performer? A miracle worker? We must not forget that first and foremost Jesus is our savior. In this miracle, an official heard the healing miracles of Jesus and travels a long way for Jesus to heal his son.
"Unless you people see signs and wonders," Jesus told him, "you will never believe."
The royal official said, "Sir, come down before my child dies."
"Go," Jesus replied, "your son will live."
The man took Jesus at his word and departed. While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, "Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him."
Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, "Your son will live." So he and his whole household believed.
We hear people say, "to see is to believe," but real faith doesn't rely on signs. We focus on the miracle and not the author of it. Though the official was rebuked by Jesus, he still had faith that Jesus will be able to heal his son through His word.

We don't have to wait for miracles. God honors faith even without miracles, and God honors willingness to take bold risks. What of prayers that are unanswered? Maybe we are being tested, and in the end it is God who knows what is the best for us. Even if we are faithless, he remains faithful.

The Healing at the Pool on the Sabbath
A man who was paralyzed for 38 years is lying in a healing pool in Bethesda. In their pagan belief, there was supposedly an angel who stirs the water and when the water moves, people would try to get to the water first. Jesus visits and meets the man, who was not able to get to the pool because he had no one to help him. Jesus commands him to "get up, take your mat, and go home." The man did so.

One point here is sometimes, we combine our belief in God with other things that are not supposed to be in a Christian life. Astrology, magic, sorcery, and other beliefs that contradict with our faith. The man also believed in a baseless pagan practice during his time, and instead of healing, his misery only got worse and prolonged. Imagine being sick for almost four decades, the water so near, and not being able to reach it! But Jesus intervened and made the man walk again, and the man obeyed his word and was instantly healed.

He did not only help the man to walk, but to walk in the right direction of righteousness. Jesus sought the man again and told him to sin no more. This is also the beginning of Jesus' persecution, and the phrarisees questioned why Jesus worked on a Sabbath day.
"Faith is receiving what grace has already accomplished." -Juray Mora
Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
In this famous miracle, Jesus feeds five thousand men from a few pieces of bread and fish. After that, they were ready to make him King. Though he was given a chance to rule, Jesus withdrew from the crowd instead. His purpose was not fame or worldly praise, but OUR reconciliation with God. He recognized that being King may be a blessing to the eyes of the world, but not every good opportunity is a 'God opportunity'. Not every door of opportunity is a door of blessing.

How many times in our life have we been enticed by opportunities, but later we realize that it wasn't in line with God's purpose? The word of God is still the final word of truth and wisdom. The word of God is our most effective weapon against the Enemy's attacks. Jesus is the true bread of life.

Jesus Walks on Water
The disciples cross over a sea, and in the middle of a storm they see the figure of Jesus which they didn't recognize at first. It was terrifying to them! Jesus said that it was him, and when Jesus joined them on the boat, the storm instantly cleared and they found themselves at their destination at once. This miracle reminds us that Jesus is always with us even if it feels that he is not, when we are in the middle of problems that we don't see him.

The storm was a trial, and we cannot avoid trials. They are God's way to discipline and teach us. The words of Jesus are always true. If we have problems, do we curse instead of praising God? Before the word of God entered our lives, we were fighting with our own strength. Now, we have a weapon... God's word! The devil will always lead us to focus on our lack and insecurities, but we should remember God's word and promises.

Jesus Heals a man born blind
Jesus heals a blind man. The Pharisees questioned him (because they wanted to have something against Jesus). The blind man said, "Never in the history of the world that someone has opened the eyes of someone born blind. This man must be a prophet and a man of God." This irritated the religious authority even more that they expelled him from the synagogue.

But even if he faced the rejection of their community, the man believed Jesus when they met again (Jesus said to him that Jesus is the Messiah). I like how the blind man didn't react negatively to their rejection, because he knows how far more valuable it is to be in the community of Christ. It's okay with me if you reject me, because I don't belong among you anyway, because I only need to find my place with Jesus alone.

Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead
Lazarus, a friend of Jesus, died. He went to visit Martha and Mary, the sisters of Lazarus. Martha said that if Jesus had been there to heal Lazarus, then death would not have happened. Jesus says that he is the resurrection and the life. He goes to the tomb and speaks, "Lazarus, come forth!" and Lazarus is resurrected from death.

Aren't we like Martha, sometimes? Accusing God when we do not answer our prayers? But sometimes when we think of something as dead in our life, God is making a miracle that is more than what we initially expected. Jesus didn't heal Lazarus right away, but made a more profound miracle: making the dead live again. This miracle is considered to be his triumph "over the last and most irresistible enemy of humanity—death."

After all these miracles, the most important one is Christ's resurrection after his own death. With him living again, we are assured of eternity through our faith. Our temporary bodies will die, and will rise again in a New Earth so beautiful we can't imagine it in our own earthly eyes. ✙

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Sunday Currently | 04

The long Holy Week vacation is over, and I'm already thinking of next year's holidays and where I'd like to go. We went to my grand-aunt's house earlier this morning to ask about the flight arrangements of my first out-of-the-country trip on the first week of June. I'm excited but I don't want to post too much about it! I just hope that after this, I'd also tour other countries as well. It's just timing that I will travel a day after my contract at my current job is over.

I just remember that when we were children, one of the frequently-mentioned dreams is to 'travel the world' before we die. I think the money for experiences and new learnings is always worth it, and investment in them is better than wasting money on material things.

Today is Easter Sunday. Yesterday night I watched The Passion of the Christ on YouTube for the Lenten season, and as I wrote on Facebook: "I didn't really cry like I thought I would, and I think that the actual suffering and death of Christ is more brutal than any fictional re-imagining. And you know that after all that he's going to live again anyway!"

Reading: My mother borrowed a book from their municipal library where she works, about Plato's writings on Socrates. Its in a hardbound Harvard Classics volume, ©1937. There's something magical about reading and touching books older than you. Actually reading Socrates (I'll post about it after I finish reading Crito and Phaedo) is different from just hearing about him. It's like hearing the actual Socrates stand up and speak. There is more to his famous saying, "I know that I know nothing". The real root of why he said that is more beautiful and meaningful than I expected.

Writing: Supposed to write stories, but typing blog entries instead.

Listening: Who am I by Counting Crowns

Thinking: Of all the possible jobs I could apply for after this current job. I do love my job right now, I actually feel excited about tomorrow. I don't earn that much, but money can't buy anxiety away. In my previous work, I found that I even disliked waking up and facing another dreadful day! My teacher advised that if you feel that way, its better to walk away. For me, being depressed in a job is a vicious cycle: if you are burned out, you won't be able to perform well, which leads to jobs half-done, bosses or customers disappointed, burying you further. Sometimes its not only for you but for the good of the organization, because they also don't deserve half-assed work. Though the issues were not just about the job, but I had personal things to resolve as well. But it was a good learning experience.

Wishing: That everything will go well with my search for the next job, and that petty workplace conflicts between people will be solved.

Hoping: Great breakthroughs.

Loving: These holidays. It was my first time to attend a church's Holy Week camp with fellow young professionals and I gained more friends and acquaintances. ☀

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Spending Holy Week at Damires Hills, Janiuay


In Victory Iloilo, we had our Young Professionals camp ('YP camp') in Damires Hills, Janiuay. Since I had no plans for the Holy Week anyway, I went even if I just know two people. Around 40 adults and young adults attended. I expected games, activities, times for sermons and prayer. I'm not one for these things, but I need other activities and new places to keep my mind off... my mind.

First, the games. There was a game which involved catching and hitting the opponent team with a ball. I was lucky to catch and hit the ball once, I lose every time in these games since grade school that I just don't bother to join anymore. But I just went along my team. There was a very exhausting and physical Amazing Race with obstacles through scary hanging bridges, diving in swimming pools, and generally running around in a tiring way. I have no endurance for these things but thank God I survived and thanks to my group mates too. Out of the four teams, we were 4th place! I can't say that I totally enjoyed it (because I'm not so comfortable with the grinning, shuffling, pushing, and general cluelessness during presentations). But as a diversion, 'something else to do', it sure was effective. Its always good to see and meet other Christians in the same age group.

Left: Norma's Coffee Shop greets you right away once you enter Damires Hills Tierra Verde. They have coffee, souvenirs, and various delicacies from Janiuay. Right: The view of the Hills.
In the three sessions, the leaders and pastors talked about topics relevant to young professionals today. We talked about boredom, burnout, depression, other dreams, and our work as Christians with the Great Commission.

Love for the self. We hear a lot nowadays about loving yourself. But what is the true essence of loving the self, and what is the difference between healthy self-love with selfishness and narcissism? Selfishness is when we love ourselves more than we love God. When asked about the best commandment to follow, Jesus boiled down all the laws and commandments into two: 1) Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind; and 2) Love your neighbor as you love yourself. 

We need to see ourselves in the way God sees and values us. The pastor said that worry is the enemy of loving the self. Jesus himself said that worrying is a waste of time ("Will worry add one hour to your life?"), and that in our everyday lives we should rely on him to provide for us. In moments of fear and anxiety, we must still remember that we need to let go, and as the cliche goes, Let God.

Love for work. Work is a big part of our life. We find our fulfillment, vocation, and our means of making a living and being secure through our work. The pastor who spoke advised that in work, we should try our best to give 90% and expect that we will only get 10%. The modern mindset of most employees is what benefits the job can give, and how it can satisfy us. This leads to many people moving from one job to another.

God is also the boss of our workplace. As Jesus said, we should love our neighbors as we love ourselves. But who are our neighbors in the first place? To some, they only show love to those who do good to them, their friends, family, and other people who like them. Jesus himself commanded to love your enemies, because even the pagans love those who love them. But we Christians are called to love and forgive those who hate us, as Jesus died for everyone, regardless of whether they hate or love him.

In the end, it is not our success that God will look at, but our faithfulness.

Love for others. The best expression of love for our neighbors is to also care for their spiritual growth, and to know Christ. Our colleagues and the people we interact with in our jobs are our neighbors, and we must also love them as God commanded. We are called to a specific job and place for God's mission as well. In this light, we should think and ask ourselves, how can I make a difference? How can I be part of this mission?


Campfire. We were prepared with barbecue sticks and marshmallows but didn't expect the tall bamboos they used for the bonfire which looked like we were going to conduct a witch-burning (kidding). There were a few explosions in the wood and we waited for the burning bamboo to collapse and the fire to diminish before we enjoyed our marshmallow BBQ.

One moment struck me in particular, the pastor laid gentle hands on my shoulder (and uttered a short prayer while speaking in tongues). Then he spoke in front and said that he had a 'vision' of a hamster stuck forever in a wheel. We are all in the 'rat race' of work, but the image of a hamster in a wheel gave me new insight on one consistent problem in my mind. It hit me. Its the perfect illustration of a very personal suffering and a senseless problem I haven't told anyone yet (due to how absurd it is), but I have a choice to get out of that wheel. I had believed that the problem was so powerful that its beyond God's reach. But I can get out of the wheel through God's help.

Other than the lessons learned, Damires is a good place for a short vacation. I had deep, dreamless and relaxing sleep, with the fresh air and all the green. Sometimes its nice to go somewhere else that isn't home to break the routine. I hope that the people I met will continue into great friendships after the camp.

Though, my favorite moment of all (I like it more than meeting all the new people though they are all lovely too) is treating myself to a silent moment alone with God while enjoying coffee. Its been a long time since I hung out in a cafe alone, because one of my hobbies is just to write some pages of non-sense with the chatter of everyone else in the background and the smell of caffeine. I just love being alone, and a book is better than any companion (sorry, friends reading this!).

Strawberry cheesecake, and one of the best lattes I've tasted.
Let us remember Christ, his sacrifice, death, and resurrection this Holy Week.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

One year in grad school...

One more take-home exam left, but so far all the requirements for two other subjects have been passed. While its interesting to have a group of classmates, grad school is a challenge. I told myself to study bits and pieces during the week but end up cramming. With work, you're always tired. I should enjoy the subjects first, because the thesis in the end will have its own challenges as well. At least I have time to read now.

Tomorrow, I will join a church camp for the Holy Week. I don't know anyone there except for two people in my weekly small group but I hope to know more.

I continue to hope and pray about my next job after my current one. Questions in my heart. Am I meant to teach? Where should I be? What about the future after my Masteral degree? What about all the stories I want to write? Do I still have what it takes to be a writer or has inspiration given up on me? Doors close, doors open, and I'm also on the lookout for other possible doors.

I haven't written, anything at all of stories or make-believe stuff. The well was dry for so long, and there are many deadlines for writing contests by the end of the month... dreams forgotten, and staring at a blank screen with a blinking cursor is an exercise in frustration.

But everyday, I live in a new light. I try to see everything in terms of God's plans. I'm not so worried as I was before.

This Holy Week, let us take a break, contemplate the silence, and remember Christ's death and resurrection. I think that's all for tonight.

Monday, April 3, 2017

How to be Zen during Finals

Finals season for this school year!
I topped the 2015 Librarian's board exam. Meaning, out of 1,000+ who took it from the whole country, I had the highest score. You'd think I'm an expert on exams by now, but I'm not. Topping the board exam seems like an irony considering all the suicidal stress I had over grades and exams before.

I'll tell you a secret.

Once upon a time, in April 2011, a momentous event happened that changed my life somewhat, and its about exams.

The best moment about exams I had in my life was not topping the board exam. But the first time I exempted a final exam. It was on an easy subject, English 1A, but it was the last final exam I had for my first semester in CPU (I failed a lot in UP Visayas - Miag-ao before that). I somehow forgot that I was exempted, and when the teacher only told me during the exams as a surprise.

It felt like if I can exempt this exam, then I can do anything! I started to love school at that moment. I wasn't even a good student and I procrastinated a lot in my last school, but it was the turning point of everything.

So I did my best for my subjects right at the start of the semester so I can be less stressed about finals. If the teacher is kind and gives exemptions, I study my ass off for the first major exams. There's no better reward to yourself to just walk out ahead of everybody and take your vacation! The secret of being zen in the middle of the Hell Week is simple: not cramming!

But for students reading this looking for advice and are very stressed right at this moment, I would just like to say:

Breathe.

Envision the moment you leave your final exam for the semester.

If you're graduating, feel free to jump or get drunk to celebrate the end of college!


Seriously. Just do one thing at a time. And don't stress yourself talking about the exam after the fact, because you can't change your answers or your grade anyway. If you slacked off or did your best, you will get the result of your work. It is still you who determines your grades, the teacher just records it. 

And don't forget to pray!

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. » James 1:5

Never regard your study as duty, but as the enviable opportunity to learn the liberating beauty of the intellect for your own personal joy and for the profit of the community to which your later work will belong. » Albert Einstein  📖