The “Best Seller Syndrome”

The “Best Seller Syndrome”

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

A very popular book store in the Philippines patronizes “best sellers”…books of foreign authors. They are prominently displayed right at the entrance of their stores. To cap their promotion effort founded on the colonial mentality of Filipinos, the establishment invites the foreign authors to come over all the way from their so-called “first world” homelands…to sign purchased books which the suckers devour with all their best literary duplicity.

 

Judging a book is subjective, a fact that cannot be questioned. What can be the best material for one may be trash for another. But an impression can be a very significant influencing factor. How can that fact be questioned when all it needs for a book to be grabbed at bookstores is a review made by influential people…known in their respective field, that do not necessarily show them as literary personalities. This attitude is akin to the “identified with” syndrome, too.

 

Some Filipinos buy popular books, especially, the hard-bound sets of encyclopedia to create an impression so they are prominently displayed in living rooms. Some friends unabashedly admit that they have not opened any volume of the set and that they are there, just for display, without of course expressing their desire to enhance the sophisticated impression that they practically try to solicit from their visitors.

 

When word spread about an obscure book that happened to be a favorite of a rags-to-riches business tycoon, suckers rushed to book stores to buy a copy or two, with the extra as a gift to a friend, complete with a “dedication” where the information about its being read by a famous Filipino businessman is also scribbled. I got my copy this way – from a friend who tries hard to make an impression that he is “intelligent”, just because he reads a lot. I have come across the book long before it became popular and sold for only just less than a hundred pesos, but when it got popular the tag price has soared between 300-400 pesos depending on the store selling it. I also found the book prominently displayed in offices I visited, as some kind of a coffee table book.

 

During one of my visits to a book store, I came across a book with a triangulized corner note about its being the fifth edition, and with sold copies running to millions. This time my sucker instinct made me buy a copy, parting with my hard-earned pesos, especially, because, as the synopsis at the outside back cover said, it was indeed a good read. In the evening when I browsed through the pages thoroughly, my blood pressure shot up because many paragraphs were enclosed with quotation marks…meaning, contents were copied with impunity though with the safety of the said literary marks and  bibliography which ate up 14 pages! I did not notice them when I bought the book because I was in a hurry, and I trusted the “best seller” come on. There went my 300 pesos! In my disgust, I burned the trash!

 

Hindi Kailangang Magbasa ng mga Mamahaling Libro Upang Malaman ng Isang Tao ang mga Layunin niya sa Mundo

Hindi Kailangang Magbasa ng mga Mamahaling Libro

Upang Malaman ng Isang Tao ang mga Layunin niya sa Mundo

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Nagtataka ako kung bakit kailangan pang bumili ng mga mamahaling na libro ang isang tao upang mabasa niya sa mga ito kung ano ang mga layunin niya sa mundo. Para lang masabi ng ibang nagbabasa sila ng mga librong isinulat ng mga dayuhan, ipinagyayabang pa ang mga titulo. Ang kayabangang ito ng tao ang isa sa mga hindi matanggal na mantsang nakabahid sa kanyang pagkatao.

Para sa mga naniniwala sa Diyos, ang isang simpleng tanong lang tungkol dito ay, “bakit ginawa ng Diyos ang tao?”. At, sa mga hindi naman naniniwala sa Diyos, “ano ang layunin niya o bakit siya nabubuhay sa mundo?” Sa mga naniniwala sa Diyos, bibliya dapat ang basahin dahil doon ay malinaw na sinasabing kaya ginawa ng Diyos ang tao ay upang may magsamba sa Kanya. Sa mga hindi naman naniniwala sa Diyos, ang pinakamagandang sagot, ay “malay ko, basta ako ay nabubuhay”.

Ang pagsamba ay nadadaan sa maraming paraan, kaya HINDI DAPAT IPILIT NG ISANG TAO NA TAMA SIYA AT ANG IBA AY MALI….DAPAT MAGRESPETUHAN SA GANITONG BAGAY DAHIL IISANG DIYOS LANG NAMAN ANG SINASAMBA – ANG ITINUTURING NA PINAKAMAKAPANGYARIHAN SA LAHAT.

Kaakibat ng paniwala sa Diyos at pagsamba ang dapat ay pagmamahal sa kapwa…na kung hindi gawin ay nagpapawala ng silbi sa pagsamba sa Diyos, dahil lumalabas na ang ginagawang pagsamba ay ka-ipokrituhan lang pala. Ang isa sa mga nakikitang kawalan ng pagmamahal sa kapwa ay ang pagpuna sa kanilang ginagawa upang palabasin ng pumupuna na siya lang ang tama. Dapat manalamin din paminsan-minsan ang mahilig mangpuna ng ibang tao.

Sa mga hindi naniniwala sa Diyos, kailangan nilang makisama sa kapwa man lamang upang mabuhay o maging ligtas. Kung hindi nila ito gagawin, baka isang araw na lang ay makita silang nakahandusay at duguan sa isang sulok. Dapat isipin ng mga taong ito na hindi man sila naniniwala sa bibliya ay mayroon pa ring kasabihang dapat gumabay sa kanilang buhay, ang: “huwag mong gawin sa iba, ang ayaw mong gawin ng iba sa ‘yo” na babala tungkol sa masamang gawin…o ang positibong “gawin mo sa iba ang gusto mong gawin nila sa ‘yo” na may kinalaman sa pagtulong at pagmamahal sa kapwa.

Ang nakatikim ng “masarap” na buhay sa mundo ay lalo pang naghahangad ng matagal na pamumuhay. Mangyayari lamang ito kung kabutihan ang dapat umiral sa mga kilos at pananalita…ibig sabihin, mamuhay ng marangal at may pagmamahal sa kapwa, lalo na sa Diyos! ‘Yan ang mga layunin ng tao…iilang kataga, na hindi kailangang basahin mula sa kung ilang daang pahina ng mga mamahaling libro na isinulat ng mga dayuhan!

Ang Eat Bulaga Magpapatayo ng Mga Aldub Library sa Buong Bansa…pero ang Gobyerno ay Hindi, Hinayaan pang “Mababoy” ang mga Textbook

Ang Eat Bulaga Magpapatayo ng Mga Aldub Library sa Buong Bansa

…pero ang Gobyerno ay Hindi,  Hinayaan pang  “Mababoy” ang mga Textbook

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Nagsimula ang adbokasiya ng Eat Bulaga sa pagtulong sa mga estudyante at mga paaralan nang magsagawa sila ng “basura para sa silya”, isang proyekto na tungkol sa pag-ipon nila ng mga plastic na bote mula sa mga komunidad na sumasali sa mga pakontes. Ang napagbentahan naman ay ibinibili nila ng mga armchair para sa mga estudyante. Sinundan ang proyektong ito ng isang nakakagulat na kalye seryeng “Aldub”, dahil makalipas lamang ang ilang linggo ay nanguna na sa viewership at bilang ng twits na umaabot ng milyones – sa buong mundo.

At marami uli ang nagulat nang ang climax series ng kalye seryeng tinagurian “Sa Tamang Panahon” ay ginawa sa Philippine Arena, Oktubre 24, 2015, at ang nalikom na pera ay ipagpapatayo ng mga library para sa maliliit na paaralan lalo na sa mga liblib na lugar, subalit babahaginan din ang mga nasalanta ng hagupit ng bagyong Lando. Mula sa puso ng mga fans ang bawat sentimong ibinahagi nila para sa proyekto, sila na tinaguriang “Aldub Nation”.

Simple lang naman ang gagawin ng Eat Bulaga – magpapatayo ng mga library at lalagyan ng mga ido-donate na mga libro. Kung hahatiin ang mahigit ng konti sa sampung milyon na nasabi nang naipon,  marami na ring library ang maipapagawa kung tatantiyahen ang isang gusaling magkakahalaga ng hindi bababa sa Php300,000 – labor at materyales. Sa liit ng halagang kailangan, bakit hindi ito magawa ng gobyerno? Samantala, naglalaan pa ito ng milyones para sa mga proyektong drowing lang pala, dahil ang inilaang badyet ay hinayaan lang na manakaw.

Nakita ng Eat Bulaga ang kahalagahan ng edukasyon kaya gumawa ito ng proyektong makakatulong ng malaki sa mga estudyante, lalo na ang mga nasa liblib na lugar – mga library na paglalagakan ng mga librong napakahalaga upang makalinang ng dunong ang isang bata. Ang nakita naman ng mga tiwali sa gobyerno ay oportunidad na makapagnakaw sa mga proyekto kahit na ito’y sobrang pangangailangan ng mamamayan.  Hinayaan pa ng gobyernong mababoy ang mga textbook na ginawang negosyo ng mga nagsabwatang publishers at mga opisyal ng pamahalaan na may kinalaman sa edukasyon. Kung ano-anong mga libro ang mga pilit na pinapagamit sa mga bata, kaya kung pumasok ang mga ito ay animo magbabakasyon sa malayong lugar dahil halos malita na ang hila-hila sa pagpasok.

At ang masakit, pagkalipas ng isang school term, lipas na rin ang kahalagahan ng mga librong ginawang “workbooks” dahil ang mga tanong sa mga bandang hulihan ng mga tsapter ay pinagsasagot ng mga gumamit na esudyante, kaya hindi na maaaring gamitin ng nakakabatang kapatid o ibang walang kayang bumili ng mga libro.

Talagang bantad o walang hiya na ang mga opisyal ng gobyerno dahil sa kabila ng nakikitang mga kaganapan na maaari nitong tularan tulad ng mga proyekto ng Eat Bulaga ay dedma lang sila… na para bang nagsasabi pa ng “pakialam namin sa inyo”. Kungsabagay, bakit pa ba sila mamumrublema kung namumutok na sa pera ang kanilang bulsa?

Binola Daw Siya ni Napenas…sabi ni Pnoy…..owww, talaga?

Binola Daw Siya ni Napeῆas…sabi ni Pnoy
…owww, talaga?
Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Ang isang libro ay may “preface” o “introduction”, ito ang nagpapaliwanag sa pinakamaiksing paraan kung ano ang aasahan ng mambabasa. Sa libro ng kuwento tungkol sa Mamasapano massacre ay mayroon din – ang talumpati o “paliwanag” ni Pnoy sa “prayer meeting” sa Malakanyang kahapon, March 9, 2015. Sa kanyang talumpati ay lalo niyang idiniin si Napeῆas na siyang may kasalanan, kaya kahit hindi niya diretsong binanggit, parang inabsuwelto na niya si Purisima na nakialam kahit suspendido. Sa naunang blog ko tungkol sa isyung ito binanggit ko na upang malubos ang paghuhugas-kamay niya sa pagbitaw kay Purisima, dapat idiin niyang lalo si Napeῆas, na dapat ay lumabas na ultimate na may kasalanan ng lahat….na ginawa na nga niya sa “prayer meeting”.

Maaaring ang “prayer meeting” sa Malakanyang na ang magbibigay “linaw” kung bakit na-delay ng tatlong beses ang report ng Board of Inquiry (BOI). Sa pinakahuling pangako ng Board na may tunog paniniguro ay sa Lunes o kahapon, March 9, 2015, na nila isa-submit ang report na gagawing isa sa pagbabatayan ng conclusion ng mga hearing ng Senado at pagsisimula na naman ng hearing ng Congress, subalit hindi nangyari at humingi uli ang BOI ng matagal na palugit. Inamin ng BOI na mga “facts” lamang ang kanilang ire-report. Ibig sabihin ay isa-“summarize” lamang nito ang mga resulta ng kanilang mga inquiries…walang analysis upang makagawa sila ng conclusion. Kung ganoon lang pala ang mangyayari, bakit natatagalan ang BOI sa pagsumite?

Hindi maiwasan ang speculation na dinodoktor ng Malakanyang ang mga “facts” upang mapalabas na walang kasalanan si Pnoy, kaya ito (Malakanyang) ang sinasabi ngayon na nasa likod ng pagka-delay ng pagsumite ng BOI summary. At, upang hindi mabigla ang taong bayan, nag-organize ang Malakanyang ng “prayer meeting” na magsisilbing “venue” ni Pnoy kung saan ay ilalahad niya ang lahat ng nalalaman niya – kuno. Kaya maituturing na talumpati niya ang magsisilbing “introduction” o “preface” ng BOI summary. Lumabas man ang “summary” report ng BOI, tanggal na ang mga “facts” na mag-uugnay kay Pnoy. Dapat kasing tumugma ang BOI “summary” sa mga sinabi ni Pnoy sa “prayer meeting” kaya dapat mauna ito kaysa BOI summary. Dahil sa nangyari, asahan nang sisentro ang BOI summary sa paninisi kay Napeῆas …na dasal ng mga taga-Malakanyang ay mag-aabsuwelto kay Pnoy at kay Purisima!

Subalit nakalimutan yata ng Malakanyang ang tungkol sa unang recorded investigation na ginawa kay Napeῆas ng mga representatives ng PNP, AFP at ni Roxas. Ginawan ito ng report ng ABS-CBN, at doon ay ibang-iba ang mga sinabi ni Napeῆas sa mga sinabi ni Pnoy sa “prayer meeting”. Ibig sabihin ay naunahan ni Napeῆas si Pnoy sa paglahad ng “katotohanan” sa likod ng Mamasapano massacre. Kaya hindi dapat umasa si Pnoy na 100% siyang paniniwalaan ng taong bayan. Ang isa pa, makailang beses nang nagsinungaling si Pnoy at mahilig maghugas ng kamay, kaya sa pagkakataong ito, paniniwalaan pa kaya siya ng taong bayan?

Kawawa si Pnoy dahil para siyang nakatayo sa kumunoy at ang mga salita niya ang nagbibigay ng bigat sa kanya, kaya habang nagsasalita siya tungkol sa kahit anong bagay ay lalo lamang siyang lumulubog. Baka, bago sumapit ang 2016, ay sisinghap-singhap na siya!
Maganda sana kung lumapit din si Napeῆas sa mga kamag-anak ni Pnoy upang humingi ng tulong…o di kaya ay sa asawa ni Clooney na isang international human rights lawyer, tulad ng ginawa ni Gloria Arroyo….wild suggestion lang ito. Ang dapat gawin ni Pnoy ngayon ay huwag niyang isama sa mga paninisi niya ang asawa ni George Clooney na international human rights lawyer, tuwing sisihin niya si Gloria Arroyo. Malay natin, baka after 2016, humingi din ng tulong si Pnoy kay Mrs. Clooney, at kung bakit, hindi ko na babanggitin…wild speculation lang din ito!

On the Value of Books, Magazines, Etc.

On the Value of Books, Magazines, Etc.

By Apolinario Villalobos

I just cannot understand how some people can fail to appreciate the value of books, magazines, etc. just because they are two, three or more years old. For them such materials are already outdated, so they do not deserve appreciation. The fact is, these materials, especially books can be updated but they retain their historical usefulness, hence, never outdated. Books are updated based on the old editions, and this is necessary, as some authors are found to bungle or distort facts, especially, on political issues. One example here is about the first Mass held in the Philippines, whether it was at Massao in Butuan or Limasawa Island in Leyte. The author of the old Philippine history book contended that it was held in Limasawa when his book was published during the administration of Marcos. There was a popular notion that it was done to please the First Lady who is from Leyte. When Marcos was ousted, those who were protesting in silence, took courage and became more vocal about the issue.

Even for scientific and technical books that are supposed to be updated regularly due to the fast turnover of new ideas and discoveries, there is still a need to maintain old editions so that basic information will always be on hand, in case of verification.

The notion that hard copies of books are no longer necessary with the onset of advance technology, is wrong. What the cyberspace keeps in its archives are actually digitized old books and their new editions if there are, for easy reference. Important issues here are the convenience and affordability of access, as not everybody can afford the installation of computers at home or afford the expense for browsing in internet cafes. On the other hand, there are so-called e-books, but such are just “versions” of printed ones. In fact, some authors venture into e-book publication to sell their books on-line which is easier, but still print them later, using earnings money from the viewers of their e-books.

While before, the book was considered as a precious commodity for the acquisition of knowledge, today, book publication is viewed as a very profitable business venture. This is the reason why the questionable Philippine educational system has allowed the “conversion” of text books into workbooks with the insertion of questions and portions for answers at the end of each chapter. This wicked practice of the educational institutions, including government agencies, in connivance with the unscrupulous publishers and agents has made many people shamefully rich on one end, while on the other end, parents and students suffer. In their haste for printing, some books even come off the press with so many errors. The practice no longer made possible the passing on of old books to younger members of the family, as buying new sets with unanswered questions at the end of chapters, has become necessary.

People love trivia. But where do all the information come from? – old books and magazines! Those found in the internet are the upload, patiently done by website owners that earn through ads squeezed in available spaces of their site’s pages, or number of viewers they generate. This is how servers and website owners in the cyberspace earn. Netizens thought that they owe a lot to them, thinking that they are the originators of the information, when all these website owners do is upload information. On the other hand, the servers only provide space for these websites from which they earn enormous income.

I have no quarrel with the servers and website owners, but my effort here is directed at how people have been misled by thinking that because of the computers, hard copies of reading materials have become obsolete or on a kindlier view, unreliable.

Before the onset of the internet, students had no choice but to diligently turn the pages of books to cull the needed information for their theses. They were forced to make summaries or condense sourced materials. But because of the advance technology, some of them just “copy” and “paste” pages from sources in the internet, make minimal revisions, by deleting sentences and paragraphs, then, collate them into a “thesis”. That is the ongoing sad reality.

When I did a job on the side, editing theses of students from a reputable university, I discovered one time, that four drafts were identical word for word – with the same source in the internet. Two other students tried their best to be authentic by jumbling the sequence of paragraphs that they copied and collated. And there’s the story shared by a librarian about two similar theses, but with submission dates of more than ten years apart! They were discovered later when a researcher took note of the similarity and called the librarian’s attention about it. And, there’s a classic story of how the whole content of a thesis reference was peeled off from its cover by a student researcher, and who inserted folded newspapers, afterwards, as replacement to make the reference material look intact when it was returned to the librarian who did not bother to check.

I am not saying that we fill whatever space we have at home and offices with books and magazines and hold on to them till time eternal. What I am trying to share is the restraint that we should observe in disposing books and other reading materials that have outlived their immediate usefulness. What we do not need can be shared, instead of dumping them in garbage bins. What shocked me was when I found two copies of pocket edition of Bible in a box of junk, and worse, a copy of Koran in another junk shop! I found my rare copies of biography of Queen Victoria, “Pepe En Pilar”, and “Codigo Penal” printed in 1870, in a pile of junks sold on a sidewalk.

As a high school and college student in Notre Dame of Tacurong, a parochial school in the far southern province of Sultan Kudarat in Mindanao, I had a grand time poring over the pages of National Geographic, Reader’s Digest, and Encyclopedias in our library, all old editions, solicited by Oblate priests in the United States. Some of them were even dated as early as 1950’s, especially, the Reader’s Digest and National Geographic, but I still enjoyed reading them. We were lucky, as our bespectacled librarian, Leonardo Ninte and his student assistants, carefully, rebound the reading materials, to make them endure regular handling. A good number of shelves in the library were filled with donated books, with only very few important current editions purchased due to the scant fund of the school. Those “outdated” materials helped me a lot in developing my love for reading. Accordingly, if some people who are in charge of libraries today will nurture an attitude of abhorrence to old books, they will eventually deny others the opportunity to earn knowledge from books, be they old or new.

The fast advancing technology on information is proving its great help to mankind. But we should understand that technology in whatever form has limitations. The gadgets we see now as “repository” of information, still need to be fed with basic information by man as basis for their mechanical “intelligent” subsequent actions. Most importantly, what are fed to these machines come from the human brain. These invented and fabricated machines come about as forms of convenience that man seeks tirelessly for his comfort. Man started with barks, leaves, rocks and even pot shards in recording events long time ago. What resulted into modern day codices – books, should therefore be given due respect and importance for all their worth which is fathomless. To tip the balance in favor of these machines as regards the perception on the value of books, therefore, is not fair.

Imitation of Christ: My First Owned Book….from Fr. Robert O. Sullivan, OMI

Imitation of Christ: My First Owned Book

…from Fr. Robert O. Sullivan, O.M.I.

By Apolinario Villalobos

I got the paperback, “Imitation of Christ” when I was in first year high school, as a prize for besting other contestants during the extemporaneous writing in English competition as part of our school’s Foundation Day celebration. It was donated by the school’s Director during the time, an Irish Oblate priest, Fr. Robert O. Sullivan. Unfortunately, its only part that I was able to read was the dedication which said: “Apolinario, be like Christ in any way you can”…with the rest of the pages, I failed to read.

My reading interest during the time was limited to the National Geographic, Reader’s Digest, Hardy Boys series, Philippine Free Press, and occasional encyclopedia about history and geology. As a first year student, I felt I was not prepared to immerse myself into something which I was afraid I might fail to comprehend. I carefully kept and brought the book with me anywhere as far as Tablas in Romblon when I was first assigned there by PAL, as a precious property, until I finally gave it to a childhood buddy, Teddy Lapuz, who was suffering from a failed kidney transplant, and which eventually caused his death later on.

I did not regret giving my book to a dear friend who chose to die alone, or rather in the company of Christ, as he would always tell me when he was still alive. His statement gave me the idea to give him my precious book. I just hope that he was able to read it and blessed by its message. If indeed, he did, what I have missed, has become his spiritual gain.

Despite my missing the content of the book, I love to presume that when imitating Christ’s acts, one should be spontaneous, so that no compulsion is felt. The acts should emanate from the heart. The consciousness about the acts of Christ should form the strong foundation of a person to support his subsequent actions. To do the acts of kindness should not be forced on someone. The act may be inspired by others, or by an experience, if not as an innate desire. And most importantly, to be Christ -like is to be universal in all acts of kindness that knows no barrier. Easier said than done? Not really, because one need not start with something big to do it. All that such act needs is something within the means of a willing and sincere benefactor that can be shared with others – discreetly and unconsciously.

Many people are actually imitating Christ without their knowing it. Ordinary cigarette and candy vendors who give direction to lost pedestrians, are among them. Even the street sweepers, who do their job sincerely, knowing that they get paid out of the hard-earned people’s money. The street is full of modern-day Christs, people who do not think twice before sharing a few coins with a child driven by the pang hunger to beg, a student who helps a fallen old woman, and many others.

I may not have read the book given to me by Fr. Sullivan, but the cover and title are deeply impressed in my mind, reminding me that one need not be rich to be able to share blessings. I realized today, that to be Christ-like is the moving spirit behind the school where I learned the rudiments of Christianity, although, named after His mother…the Notre Dame of Tacurong College, a humble school with a big mission, and which tries to reach out to all, regardless of their religious affiliation.

Fleeting Moments of Happiness

Fleeting   Moments   of   Happiness

(for  Glenda Lucero   David)

 

By  Apolinario  Villalobos

 

Life    is   like   a   book –

For  each  page,  flipped   and   browsed

Tells  a  story, a woven tapestry   of   moments

Full  of  color   in shades  of  grief   and  happiness.

 

Life  is  like   a  stream –

Flowing, with  surface  rippled and   agitated

By  a  rock, fallen  leaf, gliding fish, swimming  child

Moments  of  trials, some are  gigantic,  some  are   mild.

 

For   whatever   life   brings –

We   must   thank   the   Lord   with   profuse   gratitude

Endure  the   sharp bitter   taste,   relish  every  drop  of  sweetness

Smile,  laugh,  and  frolic  even  in   its fleeting  moments   of  happiness.