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 For them such materials are already outdated, so they do not deserve appreciation. The fact is, these materials, especially books can be updated while retaining their historical usefulness, hence, never outdated.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.


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 high 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 the expense for browsing in internet cafes. On the other hand, there are the so-called e-books, but such are just “versions” of printed ones. In fact, some authors venture into e-book publication first, to sell their books on-line which is easier, but still print them later, using the earnings.


While before, the book was considered as a precious commodity for the acquisition of knowledge, today, book publication is viewed more 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 a portion on questions and answers at the end of each chapter. This 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, the 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 and a requirement of the school.


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.


Mga Suhestiyon para sa Kagawaran ng Edukasyon

Mga Suhestiyon para sa Kagawaran ng Edukasyon
Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Kung seryoso ang Kagawaran ng Edukasyon na mabago ang imahe nito na nakulapulan ng bansag na isang korap at pabayang ahensiya, dapat ay magkaroon ang pamunuan ng masusing imbestigasyon tungkol sa mga bagay na bukod sa alam na nila ay alam na rin ng publiko. Maliban pa diyan ang mga sumusunod na suhestiyon:

1.Tanggalin agad at parusahan ang mga mapatunayang tumatanggap ng komisyon mula sa mga publishers ng mga librong workbooks na ginagamit ng mga estudyante at mga guro.

2. Ibalik ang dating sistema sa paggamit ng mga textbook na walang mga bahaging sinasagot ng mga estudyante sa bawat katapusan ng mga tsapter, upang magamit pa uli ang mga ito. Sa ganitong paraan, ang mga hindi nakakabili ng mga libro ay maaaring manghiram sa mga kaklase, at makakatipid pa ng di-hamak na malaking halaga ang gobyerno.

3. Paigtingin ang makabagong paraan sa pagtuturo sa pamamagitan ng agad-agarang paglagay ng mga computer sa mga eskwelahan. Huwag umasa sa mga donasyon dahil kaya naman ang ganitong proyekto kung gagamitin ang napakalaking matitipid sa pagtigil ng pagbili ng mga workbook taon-taon na pinagkikitaan lamang ng mga tiwaling opisyal na kinakasabwat ng mga publisher.

4. Magkaroon ng paraan upang maitaas ang hanay ng mga pinagtuturong mga gurong hindi pa nakakapasa sa licensing exams, upang mabigyan sila ng nararapat at maayos na sahod.

5. Kung may binibigay nang “hazard pay” sa mga gurong nakatalaga sa mga delikadong lugar, dagdagan pa, upang hindi magdalawang isip ang iba pa sa pagtanggap ng ganitong assignment.

6. Magtalaga ng regular na Property Custodian na ang duty ay buong taon, hindi mga buwan ng pasukan lamang, upang masigurong mabantayan ang mga gamit ng eskwela na karaniwang napapabayaan tuwing bakasyon. Aayon ito sa suhestiyon tungkol sa modernisasyon sa pagtuturo, dahil magkakaroon ang mga eskwelahan ng mga computer at iba pang gamit na may kinalaman sa information technology.

7. Magtalaga rin ng regular na Security Officer na buong taon din ang duty, katulad ng sa Property Custodian.

8. Huwag i-asa sa perang donasyon ng PTA ang mga bagay na may kinalaman sa pamamalakad ng eskwelahan. Kung pinagmamalaki ng gobyerno na libre ang pag-aaral ng mga bata, dapat lahat ng bagay na may kinalaman sa ganitong panukala ay libre din. Dapat ang gamit ng PTA ay bilang instrumento lamang para sa masinsing pakikipagtulungan ng mga magulang sa mga namumuno ng mga eskwelahan upang masubaybayang mabuti ang mga bata. Hindi dapat gumagastos ang PTA para sa mga security guard o pagpalinis ng mga kubeta o pagbayad ng mga ilaw. Labas sa suhestiyong ito ang nakaugaliang “Brigada: Balik Eskwela” na boluntaryo lang naman tuwing bago magpasukan, dahil nagpapairal ito ng bayanihan na magandang halimbawa para sa mga kabataan.

9. Suriing mabuti ang mga itinuturong asignatura o subject sa mga estudyante dahil lumalabas na dahil sa dami ay hindi naman naituturong lahat. Ang problemang ito ay lalong nadagdagan ng K-12 program. Dahil sa mga nabanggit, lumalabas na “hilaw” ang kaalaman ng mga estudyante, kaya karamihan sa kanila, grade three na ay hirap pang mag-spell ng mga salita o magbasa nang tuluy-tuloy. At ang matindi ay bobo sila pagdating sa kasaysayan ng Pilipinas dahil, ni hindi man lang nila alam kung sino si Tandang Sora o si Diego Silang o si Sikatuna. Subalit, kung maglaro naman ng computer games, ang bilis ng paggana ng utak nila!

10. Gumamit ng solar power bilang suporta sa modenisasyon ng pagtuturo, sa halip na regular na kuryenteng binibili sa mga cooperative o MERALCO upang makatipid, at magiging modelo pa ang mga eskwelahan sa ganitong adbokasiya.

Dapat tanggapin ang katotohanang hindi naman talaga nagtuturo ang karamihan ng mga magulang sa mga anak nila sa bahay, lalo na kung may mga assignment. Maswerte ang mga estudyanteng ang mga magulang ay may kaalaman sa mga bagong subject na itinuturo ngayon. Pagdating naman sa paggawa ng mga project, karamihan sa mga ito ay mismong mga magulang ang gumagawa. Kaya paggising ng mga anak sa umaga, tapos na ang project na dadalhin na lamang nila sa eskwela. Dapat gumawa ng paraan ang kagawaran upang maituwid ang ganitong maling sitwasyon.

May mga teachers din na umaaming alam nilang hindi man lang nagbubukas ang mga estudyante ng mga libro nila dahil basta tama ang sagot sa mga katanungan sa katapusan ng tsapter, ay pasado na sila. Iba kasi kung bibiglain ang mga estudyante ng mga katanungan sa araw mismo ng test, kaya obligado silang magbasa upang makapaghanda.
Maraming mga estudyante ngayon ang hirap sa pagbaybay o pag-spell ng mga salita, lalo na ang mga Ingles. Magaling lang sila sa pabaklang pag-pronounce ng letrang “R”, na hindi naman itinutuwid ng mga guro, dahil sila mismo ay guilty din.

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?