all things from books and reading and life

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Learn to Pack Light for Life

"If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light. Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness, and fears." -Glenn Clark

I used to pack many useless things the rare times I travel. I tend to bring too many books and unnecessary things that I think I might need. The first time I went outside the country, I resolved to pack light, mainly for the reason that I needed the space for gifts I will buy. In the end, we didn't get to buy much, but I was surprised that even if I bought very little and only the essential, there were some many more things I didn't end up using! Packing light felt good. Packing light meant no added burdens or over-baggage fees.

Often, in life, we also tend to bring more than we can use. Old grudges, replaying memories, the past endlessly revisited. Life is a fleeting shadow, a blade of grass, and wildflower that appears today and is gone tomorrow. Death isn't real to us and we wish it would be far away, but only the knowledge of death can make us see the value of life. I've only lately learned the values of packing light.

Let go of the past. Every day is a new day and a new chance. Don't get stuck, keep moving.

Let go of grudges. In the end, who benefits from grudges? Are you still dreaming of sweet revenge to those who wronged you? A grudge is like a poison you ate and expect the other person to die. Let go, you'll feel lighter.

Live in the moment. Live now, not in the past or the uncertainty of the future. You're here. I'm here. You're breathing. Isn't that amazing?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Book review: How to Win at College by Cal Newport

How to Win at College by Cal Newport. New York: Broadway Books, ©2005

I have written a lot about studying for the board exam in this blog. The most effective tip for the board exam is having a solid foundation and learning from college. If you have learned the subjects thoroughly in college and already know your best study environment, reviewing for the board will not be that challenging. I've seen some people with weak knowledge of the fundamentals and bad study habits, and they did not pass the exam.

Once upon a time, I was a college failure. I failed many subjects in my first university and felt like a loser at everything. When I changed my school and my course, I was determined to do better this time. Then I discovered the Cal Newport's blog, Study Hacks Blog: Decoding Patterns of Success. Cal is a professor and a computer scientist, and I began reading and applying his studying and productivity tips for students.

With my determination to learn, I tried my best to change my studying habits. I noticed a change: I enjoyed school more, got higher grades, and eventually graduated with honors. I wasn't planning it, I just learned to enjoy my studies and my subjects that working for them didn't feel like a chore anymore. It was when I was less stressed about my studies that my grades improved.

In college, I just didn't study my lessons and my books. I also tried to learn the best methods of learning. I borrowed books on studying and improving one's mind. In my subjects, I didn't rely on one textbook but sought out better books on the subject and read them in advance.

While I'm an avid reader of Cal's blog, its the second time I read a book of his. The first one I read by him was Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. I picked this one up even if I already graduated from college since I needed some tips on reviewing for my comprehensive exam (graduate degree) next month.

This book is perfect for high school graduates preparing for college life and confused college students who want to make the most of their remaining time. This book is divided into 75 short chapters, each focusing on an important tip. You can read one chapter at a time on a topic you like or an area you want to improve on. They are practical and realistic, you can apply them right away and see if it works for you.

The advice that I like most and recommend to you is always attend class. Even if you don't feel like it, the regular attendance at classes has more advantages than always being absent for no reason. Another tip is write as if you're going for a Pulitzer. In college, you will do a lot of writing so it's better to read and write early on. Writing is a skill we can hone in college, and it is useful in our future work. The book warns against cramming and procrastination and encourages careful planning.

The important thing in college is to set your own goals and work hard for them. My college life was focused on studies and less on parties, but it was the way I chose it and I was happy with it and don't have any regrets. The best education is still outside school. You'll only be in college once, enjoy it. But its even better if you also excel in it!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

#BookCulturexBookLatte: Year-End Book Swap experience

Last December 30, 2017, Book Latte launched BL Book Culture, a program where you can swap books! For the launch, there was a book swap where you can exchange books. Book Latte is located on Festive Walk, Megaworld, and it is one of my favorite cafes in the city, and if you love books and coffee it's worth checking out. I thought that attending the book swap to celebrate the end of 2017 would be great, and I invited my sister and two friends from high school and we had a good time talking about stories, movies, books, and life.

There was food and as always it was great, and I got to taste their 'alcoholic coffee' which is another new favorite. I've been lamenting that Nescafe Latte in can got phased out years ago, that was my favorite coffee of all time, and this might be the next (just as long I don't drink too much that I'll get drunk).

"Books find you," more than you consciously seek out certain books, and I believe that. Many times, a book or author I liked shows up in random bookstores and library shelves. Many times, I have browsed the shelves of the library or a bookstore and by serendipity found something that changed me.

I bought six books to swap, mostly the ones that I thought would be appreciated more by others. These are the ones I got:

1. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, ©1962
2. City of Thieves by David Benioff, ©2008
3. Dune by Frank Herbert, ©1965
4. Mythical Beasties: Isaac Asimov's Magical Worlds of Fantasy #6, ©1986
5. 30 Days to Taming your Stress by Deborah Smith Pegues, ©2007
6. Head over Feels: more than 100 kilig and hugot quotes from your favorite Pop Fiction Books, ©2015

I'm already aware of the first three books and I'm glad that I found them there. A Wrinkle in Time will be a movie this 2018 and that made me curious about the book. City of Thieves was recommended by Stephen King. Dune is a classic science fiction title, and I like anything Isaac Asimov and myths. The two other books are non-fiction.

I really enjoyed the book swap and I think that it's a great idea. Rather than buy more books, exchanging them saves space and sparks conversation with others who also love books and stories. Swapping books with someone who might love the book more is also good for the book, at least it won't just be left unread and collecting dust on a forgotten shelf.

Book Latte has more interesting events coming up, so follow their Facebook page @BookLatteMegaworldIloilo for more details. They are also open to book donations (children's books, novels, and storybooks) and book swaps. For more information on Book Culture, please read this: Book Culture, Launching the New Chapter for 2018. Thanks again to Nile on Weekends for the invitation.

By the way, one of my New Year's Resolutions is reading more and going through my collection. I'm a book hoarder and I'm trying not to buy more books while I haven't read the ones I have. I started a post set on my Facebook, Books read 2018 which is currently set to friends-only, but I'm thinking of posting them (public) once I start the Malditang Librarian Facebook page (still preparing some stuff). So far, I've finished two non-fiction books this January and I'm in the middle of my third book for this year. I started the set since I don't write full reviews of all books I read in this blog, so posting the cover picture and a brief reaction is better so I can keep track of what I've read.

Happy reading!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Star Wars: The Last Jedi [movie reaction]

The Last Jedi is Episode VIII of the Star Wars movies, which follows the events of Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015). We follow the stories of Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo Ren. In the last movie, the story ends when Rey goes to Luke Skywalker in the hopes that he'll join the Resistance again. So much is going on in this movie, and I'm going to give a gist of all the storylines.

Meanwhile, the Resistance is trying to escape from the First Order. With the enemy finding their rebel base, they try to find a new one but the First Order is hot on their trail, causing a deadly chase across space. Poe Dameron, the pilot, stages an attack against the powerful ships of the First Order, but ignores the orders of General Leia Organa to retreat and continues his attack on his own. They face one big problem: their enemy can track them through hyperspace as they escape.

Finn, the former stormtrooper FN-2187 wakes up from his coma. While the fighting is going on, he tries to escape to find Rey again. On the way, he meets Rose Tico (a new character played by Vietnamese-American Kelly Marie Tran), a maintenance worker for the Resistance. Together, they try to find a way to disable the enemy's hyperspace tracker to give the Resistance time to escape. They travel to the gambling planet Canto Bight, in search for a 'code breaker' that can help stop the First Order.

Meanwhile, in Ach-to, Rey tries to convince a reluctant Luke who doesn't want to go back anymore. Luke senses her force powers and agrees to train her after his initial misgivings. Rey soon finds that she has a 'connection' with Kylo Ren, Snoke's apprentice. In the previous movie, Kylo Ren 'abducted' Rey to interrogate her, and the movie ended with their epic fight in the snow-covered forest in Starkiller Base where Rey defeated him.

Actually, in the Tumblr community, a lot of people saw a possible romantic connection between them (their pairing name is called 'Reylo'). This is the famous 'bridal carry' scene from The Force Awakens:

There's an analysis of the sexual connotations of this scene in this brilliant essay by Tumblr user Ohtze, "Death and the Maiden: How 'Reylo' will be canon" (Death and the Maiden is related to the Hades and Persephone symbolism) If you follow the Reylo community, there's been a lot of drama with Reylo supporters receiving hate, but I'm surprised that a lot of predictions there came true! For The Last Jedi, Ohtze also posted another brilliant analysis: "Kill the King and take the Crown: Kylo Ren, Rey, and the Usurper/Holy Mother."

I think its the relationship between Kylo Ren and Rey that's central in this movie. Rey is confused with her strong force powers and her equal is Kylo Ren. They find themselves capable of communicating with each other through the force (a "force bond"), and Rey finds that they might be more similar than different after all. While training with Luke, Rey tries to find the answers to her lost parents and her place in the universe. Kylo Ren and Rey, though working for different causes, find understanding and sympathy with each other, which is quite an unexpected turn in the story.

Spoiler: Kylo Ren and Rey fight together in this movie, not against each other. It's the greatest fight scene in the movie.

As I'm not articulate enough for a coherent reaction and I'm intimidated by the Star Wars fandom, I'll just write what I think of the various characters.

  • Poe Dameron. Poe is the resistance pilot who leads them to fight the First Order. Poe here is reckless and doesn't follow orders, and his decisions caused harm. His interactions with Leia were amusing but I like the tension between him and Admiral Holdo. I really can't get over the scene where they were choosing the next leader due to General Leia unconscious, and Poe was really expecting to be called. I think that it was a wise decision not to choose him, if he was the leader instead of Holdo then the Resistance's chance of survival will be down to zero.
  • Leia. This is the last movie of Carrie Fisher starring as Princess Leia. I feel bad that she's already gone, but I love her in this movie. She shows everything we like about Leia in the original trilogy and more.
  • Luke. In the last scene of The Force Awakens, Rey goes to Luke and presents him his lightsaber. Two years of waiting for the next movie, Luke just throws it off a cliff. Luke has exiled himself and has no intention of going back. He senses and fears Rey's power. I love his funny scenes with Rey. His last scenes with Leia and Kylo Ren is very heartbreaking. In this movie, we see another side to the hero and legend 'Luke Skywalker'. We see how he has also failed, and the expectations that come from being a hero has weighed him down.
  • Finn in this movie is worried for Rey and tries to escape. He meets Rose, and they go to Canto Bight. Finn is fascinated by the glitz and glam of the gambling planet, but Rose shows him the abuse that happens behind the scenes. We also get to see the economic workings in the galaxy: the rich supply arms to both the First Order and the Resistance, the good side and the bad side.
  • Rose Tico is a new character, and we see her sister Paige in the first parts of the movie sacrificing herself to defeat a First Order ship. Finn and Rose meet when Finn was trying to escape, and Rose assigned herself with the task of stopping those trying to go away. Rose is very normal compared to the force-sensitives around her, she's a maintenance worker. But she shows that no matter how small your role seems to be, that can't stop you from fighting for a greater cause. I'm curious how her and Finn's story will play out, and she's my new female fave in Star Wars.
Star Wars is really good at surprising viewers, and I hope Episode IX will exceed expectations. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

West Visayas State University to open Bachelor of Library and Information Science (BLIS) course this 2018

Source: Elra Madalogdog, RL
This school year 2018-2019, the course Bachelor of Library and Information Science will be available at West Visayas State University, Jaro, Iloilo City. Those who want to take this course now has another option of schools to choose from.

The two other universities with this course in Iloilo City is Central Philippine University and the University of San Agustin. Masters in Library and Information Science (MLIS) and MLIS Major in Theological Librarianship (for ATESEA scholars) is currently offered at Central Philippine University.

For high school graduates still deciding what course to take, I highly recommend BLIS if you love reading, books, and technology. It's not only about books and I'm sure you'll find something to like. This course is required for you to take the Librarians Licensure Examination to be a licensed librarian.

Librarians are in-demand nowadays, and they are needed in schools, companies, and research institutions, and local government units. There's a lot of possible careers for librarians now.

If you did not take Bachelor of Library and Information Science but you're interested in librarianship, you have the option of taking Masters in Library and Information Science, which will qualify you to take the board and open better opportunities in jobs that require a graduate degree.

I'm glad that another school is opening BLIS so we can have more professional librarians in the country.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Siargao: MMFF 2017 movie reaction

Movie summary from Click the City: "Fresh from a breakup caused by her fear of settling down, video blogger Laura (Erich Gonzales) embarks on a solo trip to Siargao hoping to move on and find a new adventure. Here she meets rock singer Diego  (Jericho Rosales) who is caught between uncertainties of the future and baggages of the past. This fateful encounter stirs up what local entrepreneur Abi (Jasmine Curtis-Smith) thought were long lost feelings for a long lost love, i.e. Diego. In this unlikely triangle, is there room for second chances? Or should they move on to something(one) new?"
Main Cast: Erich Gonzales, Jasmine Curtis-Smith, Jericho Rosales
Director: Paul Soriano
Writer: Anj Pessumal

"You don't fall in love in Siargao, you fall in love with Siargao." - from the movie

I saw a college friend today to just hang out and watch a movie, and she's getting married next month! I'm invited, and this is the first time I'll be attending a friend's wedding. How fast time flies! Anyway, we used to watch movies starring Anne Curtis during our college days. Love stories are really not my thing but I quite liked the movie.

This movie has reaped many awards in the 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival: It won Best Cinematography, Best Sound, 2nd Best Picture, and Best Original Theme Song ("Alon" by Hale). Jasmine Curtis Smith won Best Supporting Actress, Paul Soriano won Best Director, and Mark Victor was awarded as Best Editor.

As what the summary says, Laura and Diego meet for the first time in a plane ride to Siargao. Laura is a vlogger and always has a camera on hand, while Diego is the aloof rock singer. Laura is going for a vacation to "find herself", while Diego is going home to get away from the stresses of Manila from his recent issue with his rock band. Diego is laid-back and enjoys teasing Laura. It turns out that Abi, Diego's old flame, is still in Siargao and he still has feelings for her. Meanwhile, Laura declined from her boyfriend's marriage proposal and is in Siargao to try being on her own.

The movie was really great in showing off the beauty of Siargao: the clear seas, the white sand, the waves. It makes you want to go to Siargao yourself. Siargao is a popular surfing and partying destination, and the movie tries its best to give off that chill beach vibe.

As Laura and Diego deal with their own problems, they fall for each other. But at the same time, they still have hurts from previous relationships and issues to resolve with themselves. Like Eat, Pray, Love, this is a story about finding yourself and making a choice. They are caught between their commitments to past relationships and their new feelings for each other.

One thing I really love about the movie is the music. The soundtrack is mostly tropical-themed chill songs, and I love Franco's cameo, singing "Mondaze". Since Jericho Rosales plays a rock band's lead singer, he also sings here and he's pretty good at it.

As for the acting, Erich really shines in this one. Jasmine Curtis-Smith won Best Supporting Actress but me and my friend thought that she just had one facial expression for all her emotions. I don't really like Jericho's character that much, but he also shows that there's more to Diego Luna than the famous rock star. Real-life couple Will Devaughn and Roxanne Barcelo also play a couple in the movie, but they're really not doing anything much except for lounging at each other on the beach.

Overall, I think the movie deserved winning Best Sound and Best Cinematography. Siargao itself is the star of this movie, and after watching it, you really feel like you'd want to spend your next summer in Siargao (and maybe find a summer fling there).

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Thank God for 2017!

Tomorrow is the last day of the year. We will celebrate the passing of 2017 and greet a new 2018. This was a year of amazing breakthrough! It had its challenges and successes, failures and realizations. I faced problems in my relationships, career, and life, but I learned from all of them. Here are some unexpected experiences this year:
  • This year, I traveled outside my city more than any year before. In my travel tag in this blog, I've been to Antique, Bacolod, Manila, and Boracay. It was also my very first time to visit another country! I blogged about that trip [link].
  • I worked in three different jobs this year. Since I'm still focusing on my Master's degree, I mostly worked part-time. I finished my contract as a job hire in CPU's Henry Luce III Library where I worked for the first six months of the year. Then, I tried my hand in teaching (which I found so challenging that I doubt I'm ever going to teach again). Now, I work in another part-time job as a freelance writer. Each of these jobs presented their own challenges, but I'm grateful for the experiences and I've learned a lot.
  • I got baptized in my local church, Victory Iloilo. This was an important step for me as a Christian. I admit that I only got more committed to the faith after I sought solace in church when I encountered some difficult personal problems that I couldn't solve. Going back to church was the last solution, but I'm glad to be back. I'm glad that I've met many great friends at church that have been my guides and companions throughout the year. I actually started the year with a week of prayer and fasting and that really made a difference this 2017.
  • I didn't write as much as I'd like, but this blog has fared better compared to the past year. I self-published a zine with a friend for the Iloilo Zinefest (which I plan to have reprinted again and figure out how to sell it online), but it was composed of older stories. A few of my works won the Central Echo's Literary Contest and was published in the annual Imagine Nation Literary Folio. I will post the links to the works once the issue is available online. I hope 2018 will be a more prolific year, I plan to finally write some of my ideas for novels that have been around in my head for a long time. 
I'm hoping and praying for another great year. I'm looking forward to the challenges and blessings in 2018.