The Library, Books, and Museum in the Philippines

The Library, Books, and Museum

In the Philippines

By Apolinario Villalobos

The library and museum are the brain and heart of a community, be it a village, town, city, province or a nation. While the library is the repository of books for the acquisition of knowledge, the museum is for the culture and history of the people.

History can attest that even pre-Biblical peoples took pains in recording snatches of stories, songs, legal transactions, medical instructions, etc. on slabs of stones, papyrus, shards of potteries and animal skins to be “archived”. Alexander the Great was known for his propensity of carting back home books and records as part of his war booties. That is how the famous library of Alexandria has amassed various collections that represented different cultures. Everything was saved and even copied for perpetuity by scribes.

On the other hand, other materials, aside from records and books were hoarded in repositories, the equivalent of which today are the cultural and arts galleries – the museums. One of the measures of the greatness of the early kingdoms was the quantity of hoarded war booties in these repositories.

Today in the Philippines, school libraries maintain only books that are not beyond five years from their date of publication according to the guidelines of the Commission on Higher Education (CHeD). The books beyond such prescribed period are thrown away as they have outlived their usefulness as references. On the other hand, the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) has condoned the conversion of textbooks into workbooks with the inclusion of test questions at the end of each chapter, practically making such references non-reusable at the end of each school year, so that tons of them find their way to junk shops. This practice is a glaring commercialization of the educational system in the Philippines – a shameless manifestation of greed. And, schools have “museums” that contain nothing but native handcrafted products. Schools that maintain these “museums” are not aware that old books from their libraries can be archived in such facilities. Obviously, their knowledge of the museum is limited to antique vases, jars, bowls, etc. – any item, except books!

If only the role of school libraries is seriously observed, old books in their custody, can then be properly catalogued for systematic archiving. It should be noted that there are some books that contain perpetual information. Lack of space for this purpose is not an acceptable excuse, as archiving is part of the library’s function in tandem with the school’s gallery or museum. Also, having an electronic section for references is not another acceptable excuse for discarding old books. Computer units could easily break down due to poor maintenance and intermittent power outage, leaving researchers helpless, especially during blackouts. In a third- world country like the Philippines, where the power supply is very irregular, especially in provinces, e-libraries have been proved inutile! That is why, for most schools, e-libraries are just for status symbol!…just for show!

When I had an opportunity to visit Germany for a backpacking tour with some of my mountaineering buddies, we explored its villages which are miles from cities. We were delighted to find libraries and galleries that contain books printed during the 1500s, some in early European languages. We do not find such in the Philippines as even the National Library is wanting of Filipino- authored books, how much more for historical ones. It is for this reason that Filipino scholars who do extensive research for a cultural and historical dissertation, would go to libraries in Spain and the United States where libraries that archive books about the Philippines can be found. On the other hand, in the Philippines, books printed during the 1800s are discarded by school librarians to be carted to the junk shops by junk collectors!

So now, do we ever wonder why, the intellect of the young generation of Filipinos, are so IT-dependent to the point of deterioration culturally? They see photos of sparkling white beaches of Boracay in the internet but they do not know to which province it belongs. One student when asked such question over the radio during a phoned-in quiz, answered that Boracay is in the province of Caticlan! Students see the image of the Philippine Eagle in the internet, but they do not know that it is the national bird. Some of them do not know where Camiguin is, etc., etc., etc.

Such is the unfortunate general state of the country’s repositories of the cultural and intellectual resources, as well as, the demeaning of textbooks due to greed, resulting to the deterioration of the country’s culture and educational system. Some teachers affirm my insistence that something must be done to “remedy” the situation.

But how can it be done when the agencies that are charged with responsibilities for the literary uplift of the people, are themselves replete with corruption? How can it be done when even most schools do not know what to make of their libraries to function sanely? How can the schools be effective in their role when they do not even know what archiving means? How can the country be saved from intellectual devastation with the tons of un-reusable textbooks finding their way to the junk shops at the end of each school year, leaving parents in a quandary where to find money at the start of each school year for the purchase of new set of text books?…resulting to most of them, losing heart in sending their children back to school!

Yes…to where is the insanity of our grossly corrupt educational system leading the country?

Si Tiya Iskang Madasalin

Si Tiya Iskang Madasalin

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Sa aming bayan, nakalakhan ko na si Tiya Iska na madasalin. Ang apelyido niya ay Peñalosa. Maliit siyang babae, may lampas balikat na buhok at maliit ang boses. Bago pumutok ang araw ay makikita siyang naglalakad ng halos isang kilometro papunta sa simbahan, may belo ang ulo. Dahil debuto siya ng Mahal na Birhen, ang kanyang puting damit ay nasisinturunan ng sutlang kulay asul na mapusyaw.

Sa misa ay nangingibabaw ang kanyang boses sa pagkanta. At kung oras na ng komunyon, siya ang unang tatayo at halos takbuhin ang harap ng altar upang unang mabigyan ng ostiya. Kung may prusisyon naman, siya ay palaging nasa unahan ng karo ng imahe ng Mahal na Birhen. Namumuno din siya sa mga nobena at pagdasal ng rosaryo. Tuwing Flores de Mayo naman, tumutulong siya sa pagturo sa mga bata ng dasal at kantang pangsimbahan. Nanghihingi din ng tinapay sa mga panaderya upang maipamigay sa mga bata.

Ang hindi ko maintindihan ay kung bakit siya nililibak, sa kabila ng kanyang mga ginagawa. Wala naman siyang ginagawang pagpapa-istaring. Ang nakikita ko sa kanya ay ang kaseryusuhan niya sa pagsamba sa Diyos, lalo na sa pagtupad sa kanyang debosyon sa Mahal na Birhen. Isang beses ko lang siyang nakausap, at noon ay nang inalalayan ko siya papunta sa kumbento dahil nahilo. Pauwi na ako nang hapong yon galing sa klase at nakita ko siyang nakasandal sa puno ng kaimito dahil nahilo. Hindi pala nakakain ng tanghalian.

Nasa high school ako noong masubaybayan ko ang ilang yugto ng buhay ni Tiya Iska. At naalala ko siya sa panahon ngayon na kailangan ang pagbabalik-loob ng tao sa Diyos. May mga pagpipilian ang mga tao: magbalik-Islam, magpaakay tungo sa iba’t ibang sekta ng Kristiyanismo o magbagong-loob bilang Katoliko.

Kung wawariin, hindi dapat ibatay sa kinaanibang grupo o simbahan ang kabanalan o pagkamaka-Diyos ng isang tao. Maging bukal lang sa kalooban ang pagsamba at pagdasal tulad ng ginawa ni Tiya Iska, palagay ko ay maaari na. Dapat walang pagkukunwari ang pananampalataya, tulad din ng ginawa niya.

Alam kong marami pang Tiya Iska ang makikita sa iba’t ibang panig ng mundo. Sila ang salamin natin sa buhay pagdating sa mga bagay na ispiritwal. Huwag tayong bulag o magmaang-maangan, bagkus ay dapat maging mapagpakumbaba sa pagtanggap ng ating mga ispiretwal na kakulangan upang mapunan natin kung ano man ang mga ito. Kung may makita tayong isang Tiya Iska sa panahon ngayon, gayahin na lang natin, huwag libakin….pasalamatan pa dapat dahil naipamukha niya sa atin ang ating mga kakulangan o kamaliang dapat baguhin.

The Crucial Significance of Planning for any Event

The Crucial Significance of Planning

For Any Event

By Apolinario Villalobos

In the course of my sharing in seminars on tourism as a resource speaker, I always give importance to planning which is a vital component of a tour package and a social event.

A tour package should be planned based on tried or simulated activities which involve time, mode of travel, offices, people, and outdoor events. A social event such as birthday, family and school reunion, wedding, debut, and other similar activities should b discussed thoroughly, based on presumed unforeseen consequences.

Today, some schools hire professional event planners to assist institutional organizers for the smooth handling of their reunion events. For such, I always remind seminar participants/ future events consultants that:

  • The organizer or group of organizers should give importance to the announcements, be they free or paid, via the different media such as radio, TV or print.
  • Calling on the alumni should not be limited to the social media such as internet alone.
  • It must always be presumed that most senior alumni do not use the internet, and in their senior age, they just rely on radio and TV to update themselves on current events.
  • Message of welcome on tarpaulin or whatever practical material should be posted at the town’s or city’s arrival areas such bus terminals or roads leading to the venue.
  • A registration fee should be charged to offset the expenses of the homecoming event, and whatever excess should go to the organization’s fund for future events or projects which the alumni officers can discuss after the homecoming.
  • The officers should encourage the coming out of ideas from homecoming alumni, some of whom may be willing to fund projects that the organization would like to undertake.
  • It is important for the alumni officers to know that their responsibilities are not confined within the venue and the day of the homecoming. They should be intelligently sensitive to “feel” whatever ideas that homecoming alumni would like to share, especially, from those who can afford to initiate the funding of projects by providing the necessary “seed money”. If such opportunity crops up, the officers should take note of the details such as contacts of the alumni and schedule for the necessary meetings with them after the reunion.
  • There should be a post-event meeting among the officers and committee members to discuss and evaluate observed flaws during the celebration and come up with recommendations for the next set of officers. The organizers should not be downhearted in case of loop holes observed during the past event, and instead concentrate on how to refine such roughages for the success of the next event.

The members of the committees to be organized for the homecoming should be made to understand that they have responsibilities. As much as possible:

  • The responsibilities should be shared with representatives from different batches of alumni, if possible, as familiarity of homecomers is very crucial in reunions, and which younger generations of alumni may find hard to do, considering the number of years that have elapsed.
  • The retired teachers themselves, who are willing to share their time and effort as part of the committees, should be involved. The young members of the committees should not be intimidated by the presence of the former mentors, some of whom, they may not even know personally.
  • Most importantly, prospective officers and members of committees should be made to understand that to be listed as such is not just for prestige or honor, but involves a lot of sacrifice, hence, they are expected to really work for their worth.

On the actual day of the reunion:

  • All members of the committees should be at the venue at least one hour before the start of the events. They should wear a distinct uniform for easy identification in case of inquiry from long- gone homecoming alumni.
  • Directional signs should be posted at campus entrances leading to the registration area and venues of events for the benefit of the alumni who have been gone for so many years and who should be presumed, to encounter difficulty in finding their way around due to changes within the campus.
  • Receptionists should be posted at entrances to lend a warm atmosphere to welcome the arriving alumni. It could help if willing former mentors can also be on hand at entrances to welcome back their former students whom they personally know.
  • Amplified announcements should be constantly made as necessary reminders. Most importantly, all officers should make themselves visible by practically checking on the development on arrivals until the start of the first activity.
  • A medic or at least a first aid team should be around to assist senior alumni if necessary.
  • The members of the committee in charge of fund- raising through selling of memorabilia such as t-shirts, key chains, etc. should be posted at the different entrances at least an hour before the start of the events, so that the t-shirt can be worn by the late purchasers for batch identification purposes.

I always remind the participants to the seminars on tourism/social event packaging that reunions are not made just for sharing of past days in the campus. Such activities are also opportunities for organizers to “fish” for ideas from alumni as to what projects to undertake for the benefit of the school or their community as a whole. As mentioned earlier, it should be noted that most schools today hire professional event planners to help them out with smooth handling of events. If professional event organizers are not available for their services as consultant, former mentors and alumni who are just “nearby” can be asked to assist and be made part of the organizing committee.

On the other hand, these professional event organizers should encourage the institution to involve prospective graduates in the organizing and handling of actual activities. This is the opportunity for the institution to observe those with leadership and organizational qualities which could be tapped for future homecomings. These prospects should not necessarily belong to the dean’s list.

Finally, I also share with the seminar participants that other events can be similarly planned just like the school reunion, that has been cited as an example. But always, the vital components of the planning effort in the case of a group, are the common sense and sacrifice, without the thought of who gets the credit in case of success. The group should act with homogeneity, as the failure of one is the failure of all… especially, the event itself.

Sa Pagngiti…para kay Lorie Gonzaga-Cantimbuhan

Sa Pagngiti…

(para kay Lorie Gonzaga-Cantimbuhan)

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Ang mga mata ay bintana ng ating pagkatao

Ngiti naman ang nagpapahiwatig ng ating damdamin –

Kung bukal ba sa loob ang pakikipagharap sa ating kapwa

Dahil kung ganoon naman, ay mababakas sa ating mukha.

May mga ngiting matipid kung ipakita sa iba

Kaya halos ayaw ibukang mga labing tiim sa pagkalapat

Meron ding mga ngiting nagpapagaan ng loob sa kausap

Kaya, pagkapalagayang loob ay nangyayari sa isang iglap.

Sa mukha ni Lorie, na nababanaagan ng ganda

Ang matamis na ngiti’y naging bahagi na at nakaukit din

Nagpapahiwatig ng kanyang kaloobang ubod ng dalisay

Puhunan niya sa pagtahak sa landas ng magulong buhay.

Matamis na ngiti’y nagpapaaliwalas ng mukha

At pati na rin paligid ay naaambunan din nito ng liwanag

Ang patunay ay si Lorie, kahit unang beses lang na kausap

Nakakagaan ng loob, nakakapanatag, kung siya’y kaharap!

Failed Expectation should not Breed Disappointment

Failed Expectation

Should not Breed Disappointment

By Apolinario Villalobos

We should not expect so much if we do not want to get disappointment when we thought we have “failed” in our endeavour. If ever, we should always be prepared with even a bit of consolation to cushion the impact of emotional and psychological ache that may ensue. And, from there, we should pick up the pieces and move on.

We should accept the fact that we may not live up to our expectations in all the things that we do because of limitations, some of which we may not be aware of. It takes a stumble or more along the way for us to know that we have such limitations or handicap. And, such realizations should be treated as lessons to be learned. They should not put us down.

There are some people who thought that earlier along the way of their struggle, they have “failed” because they use the accomplishment of others as their gauge. We should never do that, because each one of us has a distinct capability, much different from others. Most often, too, later on, when we have succeeded in what we are doing, we think that we are “late bloomers”, which is wrong again. As we live, we strive. The corridor of life that we tread is full of challenges. If we stumble in one, it should be perceived as a lesson for improvement.

I know of a guy, who during his school days – from elementary up to college, he was perceived as just an average achiever. He got contented with a BS Commerce course that he finished with not so satisfactory grades. Later when he sought for jobs, he would pass screenings with a breeze that transferring from one job to better ones was easy for him. In so short a time, he became a senior manager in a big multi-national company. When time came for him to have an assistant with engineering skill, a supervisor from their affiliate company was seconded to him. On the day of their meeting, he found out that the guy assigned to assist him was their valedictorian in high school!

Faces of Exploitation

Faces of Exploitation

By Apolinario Villalobos

Exploitation can be viewed as the twin of greed. In the biblical legend about the garden of paradise where God put Adam and Eve with the latter created out of the former’s rib, the serpent exploited the curiosity of Eve, and the latter exploited the submissiveness of Adam who readily gave in to her prodding…that is how my simple understanding goes. All of these resulted to their being driven out of the paradise….the beginning of exploitation and betrayal of trust.

Today, exploitation has so many faces that the world practically throbs with it. From the moment a baby is born, exploitation is already doing its thing. For the mothers who prefer to have a comfortable delivery, they are charged by hospitals enormously and they are left with no choice. Mothers who deliver babies in the confine of pushcarts are left with no choice but buy expensive basic infant needs. When babies are supposed to be given a secured spiritual foundation, parents spend for their baptism. For the children to grow, supposedly, on nutrients, parents buy food from opportunistic merchants.

While the world throbs with exploitation, man breathes it. Practically, everything that man does is tainted with exploitation. Survival of the fittest has become the norm of life. If one is weak, he gets trod on by the strong. So now, we see weak countries that are overly dependent on economically strong ones. The more, that this disparity has become vicious with the strong ones aligning themselves to better exploit the weak.

No amount of hypocritical “assistance”, be they in the form of food or finances can hide the true intention of the “helpful big brother” countries. While they extend their right hand, their left hand behind them has crossed fingers. The purse of solace, being handed out, on the other hand, has a long string attached to it. “Grants” are debts that are contracted between the haves and the haves-not, renewed just before they are paid out, leaving the latter in the helplessness of seemingly eternal indebtedness. These are the two kinds of nations in the world today. The United Nations seems to play the role of a guarantor to ensure that this exploitation goes on.

At the rate the deterioration of peace and man’s morale values are going, thanks to the machination of the few strong nations, the world may eventually be “united” under them. Strong manifestation of this direction can be clearly discerned around us.

Ang Kasabihang “Mamatay Ka Sa Inggit”…tungkol ito sa taong mainggitin

Ang Kasabihang “Mamatay Ka sa Inggit”

(tungkol ito sa taong mainggitin)

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Totoo pala talaga ang kasabihang nasa titulo. Akala ko noon ay kantiyaw lang na pabiro, yon pala ay talagang totoo. Nahuli ko ang isa kong kaibigan na idinaan sa mga kantyaw ang kanyang pagkainggit sa mga natamo ng kanyang kaibigang sikat na kolumnista. Masakit ang mga kantiyaw niya sa kanyang kaibigan. Hindi ko personal na kilala ang kolumnista pero bilib ako sa galing niya sa pagsulat kaya bukod sa diyaryo ay may lingguhan din siyang sinusulatang magasin. Ang kaibigan ko namang mainggitin pala ay walang natamo sa buhay, maliban sa negosyong pumalpak kaya nalugi. Nakarma siguro dahil s ugali niyang pagkamainggitin.

Nang minsang hindi na ako makatiis ay pinagtanggol ko ang kolumnista sa pagbatikos ng kaibigan ko kahit walang dahilan. Para bang nabubuo lamang ang araw niya kapag may naibulalas siyang masama laban sa kaibigan niyang kolumnista. Pati sa akin ay nainis na rin ang kaibigan kong maiinggitin kaya mula noon ay iniwasan ko na lang. Para namang pinagtiyap ng pagkakataon ang pagkurus ng landas namin ng kolumnista sa isang handaan. Nagulat ako nang sabihin niyang ang iba pala niyang mga sinusulat sa kolum ay hango sa mga blogs ko na nababasa niya sa internet, kaya pala napansin kong may pagkahawig ang mga ideya.

Mula noon ay nagpalitan na kami ng mga mensahe sa internet at nagtulungan sa pagbuo ng mga sinusulat namin. Ilang beses na rin niya akong nahingan ng pormal na pahintulot na magbatay ng mga isusulat niyang pananaw, sa mga naisulat ko na. Buong lugod ko naman siyang pinagbigayan.

Nang minsan namang biglang magkita kami ng kaibigan kong maiinggitin at banggitin ko sa kanya na magkaibigan na kami ng kaibigan niyang kolumnista sabay sabing nagtutulungan kami, ay napansin kong namutla siya, na para bang aatakehin sa puso. Halos wala akong narinig sa sinabi niya nang talikuran niya ako at biglang lumayo na nakatungo ang ulo. Hindi ko nasakyan ang kanyang inasal dahil ang inaasahan ko ay matutuwa siya dapat.

Makalipas ang dalawang araw, may nagbalita sa aking naospital ang kaibigan kong mainggitin dahil inatake daw sa puso, pero hindi naman natuluyan…tumabingi lang ang mukha at bulol na kung magsalita.

Ang leksiyon: huwag tayong mainggit sa tagumpay ng kaibigan natin sa larangang hindi naman natin kaya. Dapat ikatuwa natin ang tagumpay ng kaibigan natin. Ang inggit ay nangyayari kung ang isang tao ay gustong magpakitang gilas upang masabing lahat ay kaya niyang gawin, kaya ang gusto niyang mangyari ay ituring siyang nag-iisa lamang na magaling at wala nang iba. Ang isa pang gustong mangyari ng taong mainggitin ay pare-pareho na lang sila ng kanyang mga kaibigan na walang pinagtagumpayan dahil siya ay hindi rin nagtagumpay!…ang tawag sa huli kong nabanggit ay ugaling hilahan pababa!