Thursday, July 20, 2017

Mila M. Ramos: PRC's Outstanding Professional Librarian 2017

Awarding of the Outstanding Professional Librarian 2017 to Mila M. Ramos. Image Source
Last June 23, 2017 at the Manila Hotel, the Professional Regulation Commission awarded the Outstanding Professional Award to distinguished professionals in their field. Secretary Martin Andanar of the Presidental Communications Office was the event's guest of honor and keynote speaker.

The awardee of the Outstanding Professional Award for Librarians this 2017 is Mila M. Ramos. Her citation reads (Source):
For her distinguished contribution in the field of librarianship as demonstrated by her exemplary service to her profession through sharing of her expertise as resource speaker in local and international fora and providing free on-the-job training to local and foreign librarians; for her strong commitment and professionalism having served as member of the Board for Librarians and conducting reviews for takers of the Librarians Licensure Examination; for promoting the library profession through her book, essays and lectures and updating of Philippine Standards for Special Libraries; for her participation in national committees for framing cataloguing standards and librarians' competencies; 
For steering the International Rice Research library into one of the model libraries in the Philippines and for pioneering the creation of PhilAgriNet, and assuming a major role in the formation of the CGIAR Libraries and Information Services Consortium; for heading the ALAP as its President who engineered IRRI's membership in the Agricultural Networks Information Collaborative (AgNIC) and took the initiative in conducting Librarian-related researches; 
For her competence, excellence, and commendable track record that earned for her various awards and recognition such as the Oustanding Librarian Award (ALAP, 2005), Outstanding Academic/Research Librarian Award 2005 (PAARL, 2006), CGIAR Science Award (CGIAR, 2006), PLAI-STRLC Most Distinguished Librarian Award (2009) that served as a testament of her outstanding career.
Ms. Ramos has been a Librarian since 1965 in various institutions including the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). She is currently the Head Librarian of CARD-MRI Development Institute, Inc. (CMDI).

Mila Medina Ramos - PRC 2017 Outstanding Librarian. (23 June 2017). From

PRC 2017 Awards Night. (2017 June 12). From

Ubaldo, D.B. (2017). CMDI head librarian receives prestigious award from PRC. From

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Review Center or Self-Review for the board exam? Pros and Cons

Your usual view of Morayta Street near PRC Manila, where board exam Review Centers thrive. Image source
You're reviewing for the board exam, and now deciding whether to go to a review center or just do a self-review. In my opinion, whether you go to a review center or not, all review is still self-review. Review centers help a lot, but it will be useless if you don't have your own effort. 

Review centers offer a lot of advantages, though: they have resources, study materials, questionnaires, and lecturers. Since you paid, you will be forced to attend. The discipline of attending review classes and answering mock exams is helpful for those who are lazy. Listening to different methods of teaching and different explanations can help us retain and remember information.

One disadvantage is the expense since you pay the Review Center thousands of pesos, and if the review center is not in your province or city, you have to travel or stay in another place which requires additional expenses. For my board exam, I had to live in Manila for four months to prepare for the board and because there was no review center at that time in Iloilo for my profession.

If you want to make the most out of your Review Center, I suggest that you don't just rely on the review center. I suggest that before you enrol, you must have already studied and covered the basics of each subject of the board exam. As the name tells you, the Review center is there to help you review what you already learned. Don't just plan to start your Review there! Nothing beats mastering the basics while in school. The review doesn't start after you graduate, but in the college classroom.

In my experience, though, most of what we reviewed in the Review Center didn't go out of the exam!

Often, lack of cash or a full-time job is the reason why some don't enrol in a Review Center. But take heart, a lot of people passed and even entered the top 10 even while self-reviewing. If you study by yourself, you need a consistent schedule and discipline to study. You also need to be resourceful - get all copies of reviewers from those who have already passed, photocopy the reviewers of your batchmates in review centers, and avail of the free resources available in your school or local library.

As for me, being away from Iloilo City and focusing all my energy in reviewing helped a lot. I chose to review in UP because I also want to experience how they teach things and UP had a lot of topnotchers in the past. But one of my friends also was number 3 in the 2014 Licensure Exam even if she didn't review in UP! While there are people who may have reviewed in UP but didn't pass the exam.

So whether you enrol in a Review Center or study by yourself, it still boils down to your own effort. Just make the most of what you have and be resourceful. Be open to advice from those who have already passed the exam, but also listen to your own intuition.

Remember, nothing still beats faith, effort, and proper preparation. Best of luck and God bless on your review.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Slideshow: All the secrets of passing the board exam

The 2017 Librarians' Licensure Exam will be on September 19-20, 2017. This week, we started the review class for those who will be taking the board. Around 5-8 students from CPU will be taking the exam, and we hope and pray that they will all pass and that all of them will be on the top 10 and I pray, even top 1.

It is my first time to teach a review class, so before I started on the subjects the first thing I did was present a simple presentation about things to remember and tips about passing and landing a spot in the top 10 in the board exam.

I posted it on SlideShare and I will post it here to inspire other test-takers. I hope more librarians pass the exam and be great professionals in the field! I included things we don't usually think about: rest, proper diet, physical, emotional, and spiritual preparation.

Here it is:

Description: Sharing some important things to remember and tips for those who will take the board exams for professionals in the Philippines. In our country, professionals have to take and pass a state licensure exam to be qualified professionals in their field. Librarians also have to take the board exam in the Philippines. Here's what I did to pass the board exam and land a spot in the top 10.

Click here for more board exam tips

Friday, July 14, 2017

5 Reasons to strive for the Top Spot in the Board Exam (and 1 downside when you succeed)

topping the board exam, board exam tips, success, failure, work

If you’re going to take a professional board exam in the Philippines, I’m sure it is a nerve-wracking experience. There’s the pressure from yourself, your family, or your school. If you graduated with honors, there is more pressure for you to land a spot in the top ten or even number 1. Topnotchers of board exams are always applauded for their hard work and schools are always proud to have them.

If you have this dream, I encourage you to pursue it and pray for it. Nothing is impossible for those who have faith! But I need to also warn you of its danger if you do happen to land the top spot, and you have to be careful about it as well. But I am not here to discourage you. Topping the board is a once-in-a-lifetime moment you should enjoy but it isn’t everything, you shouldn't get too attached to it.

Here are 5 reasons to motivate you:

1. It gives you an edge in job searching. If you're the topnotcher, there's little question about your knowledge and hard work. In your field, your name will be known and the potential employer will see it as an advantage.

2. The financial and other rewards from your school and community. Schools often reward their topnotchers, so that's also a good motivation. Some schools give away cars, jobs, and cash. When I topped the 2015 exam, I got more than 20,000 pesos from my school and some cash incentives from the city government. They do this to encourage more students to be in the top 10.

3. It also gives you more opportunities in graduate school. If you apply in graduate schools, the top spot is a good thing to put on your CV.

4. It gives your alma mater something to be proud of. If you loved your school, your success is also a good way to give back. If you landed a spot in the top, your school, classmates, and teachers are with you!

5. It gives your alma mater an edge over other schools. Sometimes, performance in the board exams also affects your school's standing in CHED and other accrediting institutions. Your results are proof that the course and the school are performing well.

That's all good, but there's also a dark side to success.

I read this comment by a topnotcher in a blog on board exam tips (I can relate, especially the part about high expectations):
As a board topnotcher, there is a disadvantage though. Your company and superior expects so much of you. Sometimes you are the subject of envy and insecurity of your supervisor and senior coworkers, pulling you down because they see you as their hindrance. That's why this new company of mine, I never declared that I was a topnotcher of Electrical Engineering and everything went so smoothly compared to my previous job.
Expectations will affect you if you think about them too much. You need humility -  yes, you topped, but the world of work is different from an exam that you took once. The exam results only show that you master the basics, but its not a good evidence that you will be an excellent employee. Your work is not only about how much you know but also how you deal with people - in all organizations there will be problems, conflicts, and politics.

Best of luck in the exam, but God bless you more after.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Challenge for today's Filipino Librarian

Advantages of an MLIS (Masters of Library and Information Science) degree in the Philippines

A graduate degree in Library Science offers an advanced and exciting educational experience. There is a balanced learning of theory and their application in libraries. The best thing about a graduate degree is meeting other professionals to share knowledge, experiences, problems, and best practices. This keeps us updated about emerging trends and issues in the library world. It strengthens the profession when librarians learn from each other, as this not only helps our own professional growth but also give us ideas to improve our own libraries. With the relationships built and knowledge shared, this leads to better librarians and libraries.

With the small number of librarians in the Philippines, schools of Library Science are a rich ground for collaboration and research. We librarians cannot remain stagnant in our libraries and be content with the knowledge we already have, we must learn from others too. The library world is rapidly changing with new technologies and librarians must keep up and work together for the progress of the profession in the country.

In the Philippines, an MLIS degree qualifies us to teach LIS subjects, in order to train future librarians and attract more students to the profession. A graduate degree opens more options for librarians in academic and research fields. In my experience in volunteering in SEAFDEC, an aquaculture research institution, their library is the research center of the organization. Without the library, research and new knowledge would not be possible. Working as a librarian in the science and technology fields is a challenging but also a rewarding job, as the librarian has a role in research as well.

Challenges for the Librarian today:

The biggest challenge of librarians today is the fast-paced technological change and faster access to ever-widening options that make potential users think that the library is no longer modern or relevant to them. The challenge for librarians is to adapt and continue to evaluate trends and users' needs. If the library fails to provide their users' needs, their users will search on their own, and without proper information searching skills, they may settle with information of low quality.

Professional Recognition and Stereotypes
In the Philippines, librarians still struggle with recognition as a profession. Stereotypes of the general public about libraries and librarians affect how they view the library. There are around 8,000 licensed librarians in the country's 100-million population, not counting non-licensed paraprofessionals. Most successful and visible libraries are usually in academic and research institutions.

Libraries must show that they are vital, important, and needed in their institution and community
Libraries must give evidence of their advantage to their institution for continued support. There are local standards for libraries, but with the lack of support and budget, it is difficult to even reach the minimum required standards. Internet and computer access are usually only available in urban areas, most libraries far from the cities, if there are functional libraries, still use manual processes and outdated materials.

The best marketing tool for libraries is satisfied users, and if librarians strive to create the best libraries they can, this will also improve the public's image of librarians and ensure continued support for our libraries to ultimately empower the Filipino citizen with the best information even in the fast-changing landscape of technology.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Board Exam Topnotcher FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions) : an interview with myself

Note: When I topped the librarians' board exam in 2015, Panay News writer Roma Gonzales sent me these questions for an article that never came into being. Still I want to post this small reminder and keepsake to inspire and motivate future test-takers. This is a flashback to my 2015 self.

Well I hope this doesn't sound like I'm lifting my own chair. When the 'news' got out, a writer sent me these questions about the recent librarian's board exam for a newspaper but it wasn't featured so anyway since I wrote them I'm just gonna post it here.

1.) What’s your favorite book and why?
I like so many books, but my favorite Filipino novel of all time is 'Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag' by Edgardo Reyes, it is about a guy looking for his girlfriend in Manila, and goes through the worst of despair and crime. I like the dense and poetic language, beautiful words despite the ugliness it describes.

2.) Why did you decide to be a librarian?
I’ve always loved books and libraries. I first studied Political Science but realized my heart wasn’t into it. After a break from college, I learned about the course Bachelor of Library and Information Science in CPU in an ad in a PLDT phone book. I didn’t know what it was then, but soon I found that I liked the course. People have many misconceptions about librarians but most don’t know that it also involves management, information services, organising resources, and of course, information technology. The teachers and librarians in CPU’s Henry Luce Library are the kindest and most supportive mentors I know and with their encouragement, I was inspired to pursue this field.

Librarianship is really about information services and involves critical thinking, and dedication to service. I love librarianship because libraries have always been my favourite places. Without libraries, who would preserve and keep our history? Though, libraries also deal with the information needs of the organization and the people it serves. I like research and helping people look for information, its like detective work really and there’s always something to learn everyday in working in the library!

3.) How did you find out you were the topnotcher? Was it expected?
After the exam, I was nervous and couldn’t check the PRC website for the results. April 28 was the release date and I spent that day wandering around malls just to make myself stop thinking about it. That afternoon, it was my mother who first called that I passed, and my father was playing on the computer but he stopped so I could check the internet. I checked the PRC website and looked at the list of the passers, and felt relieved that my name was there. Then I took a deep breath, clicked on the link for the top 10…

Then when I read my name on number 1, I cried. I went hysterical on the floor for a moment because I was so surprised. I can’t explain what I felt in that moment, but all the hardships I went through during the review paid off.

Was it expected? In a way, yes. I’ve been reviewing for a year, doing the best I could, and always praying to God for wisdom and strength even when I wasn’t motivated all the time. My prayers were specific: I really asked God to help me top the exam and that I would get the highest grades I could. Many people prayed for me and believed in me. What I didn’t expect was that the prayer was answered!

4.) What was your family’s reaction?
Of course, they were happy for me. I think my whole clan already knows and are congratulating us. After my crying, my father screamed, “Did you really top the exam?!” and I replied, “Read it! Is that really my name? Is it me?!” and he said, “YES!” and we hugged. My brother was in Manila, checking the net in a coffee shop, and he also cried when he learned that I topped. My aunts, my grandmother, and other relatives called to congratulate us.

5.) For whom (or for what) do you offer this success?
I couldn’t have done it without my mother and this is for her. Since I was in school, she has been my number 1 supporter. She suggested that I focus on the review first and volunteer in libraries. I always listen to her first and follow her advice, because in the review many suggested different things, but my mother always decides for me. I also owe the rest of my family, my aunts, uncles, and cousins who always expressed their support.

I also owe my teachers and mentors, especially the teacher-librarians in CPU Henry Luce Library and in SEAFDEC AQD Library in Tigbauan. In the exam, library experience helped me answer the questions and I thank these libraries for giving me a chance to work and volunteer for them. This is also for my friends and classmates who always cheered me on.

6.) What do you consider as the greatest challenge in finishing your studies?
I graduated with honors, but I think it was because I was studying something that I really loved and I have a passion for librarianship. This board exam was the greatest challenge I encountered because everyone expected me to do well and there were times I lost enthusiasm in studying and felt pressured and doubtful, what if I fail everyone’s expectations?

I also left home for the first time to Manila to review for this exam. It was my first time alone. For four months, I focused on studying and being away from family and Iloilo City to adjust to a new place wasn’t easy. I loved my city even more there because I missed the food so much. But I grew up in many ways and learned a lot about myself.

7.) What could be the “secret” to your success in the licensure examinations?
The key is understanding the lessons and concepts, and not merely memorizing facts. The review starts in school and not after graduation, basic knowledge is important so understand them now. In the exam, you will encounter questions you have not read about in the review so what really helps is reading comprehension and logical reasoning. Planning and scheduling study time also helps a lot, but I also took breaks as our minds also need rest to perform well. I answered hundreds of mock exams and I focused on studying my mistakes and weak spots. Always pray and ask God for strength and wisdom, as it is written in James 1:5: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives to all without finding fault and it will be given.”

8.) Where do you see yourself five years from now?
I see myself as a librarian helping my community, maybe taking up a Master’s degree and also teaching in this field. I also want to be a writer, my two passions in life are librarianship and writing so I still have my dream of publishing my short stories and novels!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Are you a social media user, or is social media using YOU? 5 more reasons to kill your addictive use

Mark Zuckerberg, facebook, social media, anti social media, quit facebook, delete facebook, negative effects of social media, mental health

I'm on and off on Facebook. I have a love-hate relationship with it, but I usually hate it more than I love it and now I'm off it again. Even if we don't outrightly say it, we only show the best side of our lives on Facebook and we all like the dopamine hit of likes and notifications.

I remember the icky things I posted on Facebook. Would you believe it, when I topped the board exam I made my profile public, changed the name I used to my real name (so that people can search for me), and generally made a stupid fool of myself now that I'm 'popular'. Little did I know then that the happy and smart and deep person I projected wasn't the real me at all. Then I realized that being a topnotcher and that top spot has a negative side too and I cringed at everything I posted and did on social media.

In the end, it made me depressed. It makes me a creepy stalker. It makes me waste so much time viewing my profile, as if it was a mirror where I check my appearance every now and then. I realize now that the same 'mirror' reflected back a false self to hide away the real issues eating at my mind and heart: loneliness, terror, anger, the need to prove the self. In the end I feel jealous of the perfect lives others present (which is just pretense, most of the time). I swing between grandiosity and the lowest low of self-esteem. I begin to hate everyone around me. All I think of is ME, Me, ME!

Someone's so shocked I deactivated Facebook and said she's "happy" when I got back. A few weeks later I see that me coming back is not worth it. Other people can manage, but I found that too much of it is bad for my mental health and outlook on my life.

The truth is, I feel sad about all the wasted hours (maybe whole weeks and months) that I let social media run my life and my free time. I grieve for all the more meaningful activities I should have done with people I love. I invested so much time on a false image, an edited online profile. It can be a damaging addiction.

If you are depressed as well, and you think you might as well quit but you can't:

1. It's a negative investment. 
Social media isn't free, you pay for it with your time and attention span. "I'll just scroll through Facebook for awhile," turns to stolen moments, turns to stolen hours. Everything's begging you to 'like me!' or 'react to me!'. They want to sell you something. All of them wants to sell something.

2. It makes you compare yourself to others.
Their trip abroad. Their filtered relationships. Their fun outings. Their delicious food. Am I missing out on the good life? Will my life be better if I get more likes? Would I be satisfied if I'm a social media star in my own small circle?

3. They were created to be addictive.
They want you to spend as much time in them as possible because more of your attention=more money! Sometimes people say that you simply have to control yourself, but are we the only ones to blame when these platforms make it so hard to control yourself? We are carrying a slot machine in our pockets, and what we're gambling is our time. Most of the time, we are fooled but in the end its always our loss.

4. It makes you focus on yourself.
I was struck by what I read in the Gospel of John. "People would gladly honor each other but care nothing about honor that comes from God." We gladly like each others posts and care nothing about true change outside the screen. We capture moments to be preserved in screens. We don't intend to do this, this is what they want us to do. Look at me. Like me. Love me. I love it. I want more of those sweet, sweet, notifications telling me I'm a great human being (only if you like me).

5. It makes you a zombie. 
You wake up and instead of looking at the sunrise, the first thing you do is turn on your phone like an addict reaching for his fix. You smile at all the new likes. You smile again to take a picture of yourself and post it. Rinse and repeat, and after several more years... you smile one morning again and see that you don't look like you used to. Time has gone by and all the smoothness of youth is gone. Would you wait until its too late and wonder and regret about all the time you've lost?

Half my life is gone, and I have let
The years slip from me and have not fulfilled
The aspiration of my youth, to build
Some tower of song with lofty parapet.
Not indolence, nor pleasure, nor the fret
Of restless passions that would not be stilled,
But sorrow, and a care that almost killed,
Kept me from what I may accomplish yet;
Though, half-way up the hill, I see the Past
Lying beneath me with its sounds and sights,--
A city in the twilight dim and vast,
With smoking roofs, soft bells, and gleaming lights,--
And hear above me on the autumnal blast
The cataract of Death far thundering from the heights.

Mezzo Cammin ("Middle of the Road") by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

the circle, dave eggers, the circle movie, big brother, 1984, we're watching you, social media
The fictional SeeChange cameras from The Circle movie