Saturday, September 29, 2007

Literary & Literacy Saturday

KUTING's guest writer for this month's GA was essayist and columnist Rica Bolipata-Santos. Rica shared her writing life and the process that goes into her writing. It was a morning filled with stories and life lessons. All of us were held captive of this youngest of the Bolipatas. She will always be an inspiration to me, if not, my beacon of hope that I will, or shall find my own writing voice. Her story of becoming into her own writing identity, facing rejection and being brave will echo into my own cave of fear. She ceased writing at 13 years old, but returned to the path laid on for her by her muses at 35. What's more amazing is her methodical thought process. She's one of those who do not make use of an outline.

She has plenty of dead essays and narratives that are kept in her file though. Like all writers, she too has a well of loneliness to wallow in. It was raining as she talked about her dark side. Water was pouring in buckets and, if my observatin was correct, we all were getting wet as we pour over her essays on loss and retribution.

I have not been to my well spring of loneliness for a while. Perhaps I need to go back and soak myself one more time. Maybe then, I can allow my creative juices to flow again.

Rica seemed to have read my thoughts for she gave me a copy of Sawi: Funny Essays, Stories and Poems on All Kinds of Heartbreak. I was pestering her for a free copy and she replied, at that time, that she got only two copies from the publisher. She gave one to her mom, and if she gave me her last copy, the book is more than a token of friendship.

I felt deeply satisfied for having done this activity for KUTING. I know, as always, it would not have been possible with out the help of Ace and Becky, Teacher Portia and the faculty of the Reading Department of the UP, College of Education. There were only eight KUTINGs present this morning, but it was better than 3 or 4. We parted ways around lucnh time. Perpi Alipon-Tiongson gave me a ride to Philcoa. And of course, how could we not talk about children's literature and its criticism. Just like Perpi, I believe in the need to critique the produce of chidlren's literature in the country, however, much has to be done to develop research and a body of literature to truly critique fiction for children. I still believe in applying a good dose of children and young adult psychology into its critique. Ah, the work is cut out for all of us in the children's literature industry.

After a two hour tutorial session at Psychpros, I ended my day by dropping by Dean's launch. It was winding down to a close when I got there and I was able to catch Charles and Tin Mandigma in the thinning crowd. Karina Bolasco and Gwen Galvez were there. We exchanged pleasantries and I greeted and bid goodbye to Alex and, to Nikki, who is as beautiful and composed as always.

Now, I have two books to devour, two books to keep me at bay during the coming lean months.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Appreciation Day 2007

Appreciation Day has come to a close. The community mass, students presentations and class party went on as fun and successful as usual. Faculty and Staff got gifts from the Student Council - t-shirt, bag and the annual red rose. The administration gave us a cool sweater and a promised 5,000 worth of gift cheques for Christmas. Happy news! But to hear from the school director of a possible scholarship grant for our daughters in Immaculate Concepcion Academy, was happier news.

How can I leave Xavier School now with this prospect?

In the afternoon, we had a community gathering where faculty and staff from the GS, HS and Central Administration came together for a dance party and dance contest ala Dancing with the Stars. The Grade School went home very much satisfied with the results of the contest. Our GS Assistant Principal for Unit 3, Dr. Jojo Ng and Preschool Teacher, Jonah Danao won the grand prize for the dance contest. They were classy; they had teh chemistry and they were HOT! HOT! HOT!

I'm equally glad even though two more dancing couples from the GS didn't win. Gr. 5 Math teacher, Mark Bigare and Andrea Aniban. Gr. 3 English teacher were so cool and cute! Gr. 2 Guidance counselor, Dan Abrogina and Gr. 6 Social Science teacher, Cheyenne Ventosa danced to intricate and difficult steps. Yes! They were all so great that I'm so glad I'm their co-teacher. They didn't win, but they're winners for me!.

It's the end of the week and it could not have ended better if not for the Appreciation Day celebration. For a while, I put away worries and troubles that has continued to shake and wake me up in my sleep and conscious moments.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Speculative Discussion

Ok...so I've decided to join in the hulabaloo of all things debatble and discussion worthy on speculative fiction in the country.

For one, I enjoy reading speculative fiction and, should I gain confidence in the near or distant future, I might try writing some myself. There are plenty of opinions and perceptions to read and ponder on the great debate of what is Philippine Speculative Fiction. Some I really find too strong a prescription of what it is and what it should be that I cringe at the ideas and impressions presented in the blogs and the websites. But, like Dean, I'm glad that these things are happening on this side of the literary industry. Such debates and discussions indicate a blooming awareness of the topic in question. It's a healthy sign that people involved in the wriitng, reading, production and promotion of speculative fiction are thinking it out loud and making sense of it all.

If my memory serves me right, Philippine Children's Literature went through the same process of being defined, identified, prescribed with this and that, placed in a box, set in stone, marked with lines and borders, etc. It happened around several decades back - in the late 80's and early 90's. The answer to the question, what is children's litearture, has been satisfyingly settled, although, schools of thought as to its writing still exists. And such schools of thought differ from one writer to another, from one writing clique to the next. Ah, aren't we a very political lot?

The point is, all these blog posts and ruminations contribute to Philippine Speculative Fiction's growth and development.

I agree with Charles on leaving it up to the reader in setting his or her own parameters and set of standards. Reading empowers. People who read enough are not stupid not to know enough of what they are reading. Paradigms and perceptions must be respected and yes, it reflects our choices and decisions.

And now, I take a stand. What is Philippine Speculative Fiction?

It is fiction that gives me a sense of wonder and disquiet. It is fiction that eats me away in my sleep and in my waking hours. It is fiction that makes me dream and hope. It is fiction that makes me see connections rather than gaps. It is fiction that brings me to fear and anger and frustration. It is fiction that I can laugh and love with. It is a fiction that is written by a Filipino and it is alright if the Filipino writer chooses to either write in English, in Filipino, in the vernacular or any lanuage he or she can freely and comfortably write in.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Weavers of Magic



Selected pictures from the seminar-wokshop at Benitez Hall, UP Diliman last Saturday, September 22, 2007. Writers Augie Rivera, Grace Chong and illustrator Totet De Jesus graced the morning session. Ace and I provided the storytelling workshop for teacher participants in the afternoon session. Winners and finalists of the 3rd Alitaptap Intercollege Storytelling Competition were present to demonstrate their storytelling chops. Michelle Agas (1st place winner) and Jerson Capuyan (2nd place winner) displayed their winning form. Miko and Nathan, finalists from the same contest, regaled the teachers with their perfromance telling as well.

The second leg of the seminar-workshop series will end on September 29, 2007 with a book launching and a discussion of literature based approaches in the teaching of reading by Teacher Dina Ocampo-Cristobal and Dr. Nemah Hermosa.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

LitCritters Secret #1

Here is a conversation I had with one of my friends in the children's literature industry upon knowing that I'm attending the monthly Open Session of LitCritters in ADB, Serendra --

Writer Friend: Sumali ka na pala sa LitCritters ( So you've joined LitCritters.)

Me: Yup. Once a month I make it a point to sit in the Open Session.

Writer Friends: Lahat ba sila dun palagi nage-English? ( Do they always speak English?)

Me: Hindi. Marunong magtagalog si Nikki. (No. Nikki can speak Tagalog.)

And the rest who make up the core of the LitCritters, and those attending the Open Session, do speak Filipino.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Rene Villanueva Blogs!

Rene Villanueva, KUTING honorary member and (once touted as) the Hans Christian Andersen of the Philippines is now blogging at renevillanueva.blogspot.com.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Stomach Problems

I mentioned to a comment in my Multiply blog that I'm begining to bloat again.

I usually do when I'm near my menstrual period or when I ate so much salty food. I drink lots of water to counter the bloating, but for the past few days, water therapy did not work.

This morning, I had a terrible pain in my abdomen. It was so severe that I almost blacked out. I was brought to the school infirmary and first aid did not help. At 9AM, the school physician ordered for a car to bring me to the hospital. With in minutes, the school driver and the school nurse had rushed me to Cardinal Santos Memorial Hospital. There, I met Papadoms who excused himself from work. He stayed with me until the doctors in the ER disccharged me at lunchtime.

So it turns out that I was suffering from fecal stasis. Keep the feces there in the small intestines for a few more days and it will develop into a fecal mass. I was given medication and it has worked its purpose. I am better now. For a while. A follow up check up is necessary.

Papadoms want me to stay home tomorrow, take a sick leave for another day to rest. I can not afford it although the idea is very tempting.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Now Zac Efron makes out with...

Nikki Blonsky - his costar in Hairspray. And they did it on US National TV with the fans and other actors from the movie cheering them on.

Goodness. What crazy things did I do when I was a teenager?

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Apology of Vanessa Anne Hudgens

OK. This is a scandal that made me sit up and say, "Wait a minute!". The Joey De Leon and Willie Revillame word war passed me by like a summer wind. The Malu Fernandez hulabaloo just made me roll my eyes. Naked photos of Vanessa Annne Hudgens is, on the other hand, a different issue all together.

First of all, she is a teenager. Doesn't matter if she's of legal age or a FilAm actor from the US whose cable made TV-movie is raking in millions for the Disney franchise. She may already be an adult, but not old enough to know that posing naked to reign a man-boy in his boxers could really spell trouble to both self and career in this time of YOU Tube and My Space. Second, my kids love her TV-movie to bits. Papadoms and I had to watch High School Musical 2 last night with Nico and Zoe to see for ourselves how wholesome and better this second offering of Kenny Ortega is. It's Disney and yes, it is sanitized. There was the kiss at the end that was sweet and tender and visually flavored with fireworks.

Oh, how it brought me to my teenage years - the joy of living in the now!

Seeing Vanessa Hudgens last night made me hope against hope that she will not turn into the next Lindsey Lohan. Remember The Parent Trap? That was ages ago, I know, when parties, drugs, alcohol, rehab, weight problems and Paris Hilton were far fetched realities. The trappings of fame and popularity, perhaps.

Innocence is broken now, my kids' and others too. Such times we live in.

Vanessa better mean her apology. I await her rising from this muck (which can actually work on her favor too, really! It would all depend on her agent and publicist. She has a lot to undo, besides.) and see if she is any different from her predecessors. You're time will come, sweetheart. Don't rush it. Mandy Moore had her demons too, but it appears that she knew how to tame them.

The Man On The Moon 1 of 2

(Part 1 is here)

They journeyed for seven days and seven nights across the field of broken promises where Cat caught locusts for them to eat. The following day, they came upon the river of dreams. The young man listened to the music that the green waters make. Quickly enough he learned the complicated note patterns. He took his flute and sang with the river. He invited the wind to sing with them and she did not disappoint.

Cat listened with more interest this time, relieved to hear a new song, a new melody. When the trio finished their aerial ensemble, Cat approached the river and asked permission to fish. The river gurgled and revealed where the tastiest of fishes thrive. There, Cat and the young man fished for dinner. He cleaned and cooked the catch. While eating, Cat told stories of the giant bird, how to please her and how not to anger her.

She may like you, for she too can sing. She told him.

“That’s encouraging.” He replied with a smile.

But she asks so many questions.

“To a sincere heart, answers are easy to come by.”

Cat looked up at the moonless and starless night sky. We’re only halfway the journey. We better rest.

And so, they slept by the river who gave them dreams, for him, a million stars falling on his hands; and for her a long and lonely road back to the shadows.

In the morrow, they started early. They passed through the forest of disillusionment where Cat wounded herself from picking nuts and berries. The young man carried her in his arms as she was too weak to walk. Upon reaching the valley of hope he found herbs that could heal any wound known to man and beast. He chewed the tops and spat them on her cut. He bandaged her leg with his handkerchief. There, they rested for a couple of days.

I am sorry to stall our journey. She started.

“Don’t be. I have been thinking a song for you.” And he put the flute close to his lips.

At the last note, she cried and turned away from him, afraid that he might see her tears. He stroked her back, her head and her wounded leg.

“Sleep, Cat. Sleep well.” He moved closer to her. He kept her warm all through the night.


As soon as Cat’s leg healed, they trekked towards the mountain. They emerged from the valley of hope refreshed and renewed. The young man paid tribute to the fog that blocked their way with a hymn. The mountain heard his flute and it brought ripples of laughter at his feet. He told the fog to lift itself up so that he could show them the crack that led to the giant bird’s abode.

Cat saw the opening immediately. She ran as she recalled the rough pathways to the bird’s cave. The young man quickly followed. In the dark, he called for her for he could not see. She answered back, but when he did not reply, her eyes shone for him.

He saw her. Or rather, he saw her bright yellow eyes in the darkness like two moons. He remembered the very reason for his journey.

We’re almost there. Cat said when he stood beside her.

Following the bend, they walked slowly together. He, for nervous excitement. She, for fear of facing the inevitable.

They reached the end of the bend.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Zoe is Blooming

Papadoms was full of happy stories when he arrived last Friday from Zoe's school. He dropped by the school to get her report card and amazingly, she has an average of 86.75. Not quite the grade we're expecting because, she is not getting full supervision and assitance from us. It's yaya who follows up on her. All she has to do is to check on her homework wether it's done or not. Despite that, she has managed to get an average cumulative grade this quarter.

This means that our "bunso" is coming into her own.

Unlike Nico who received close supervision from me since he started school at three years old, Zoe's academic supervision at home is very lax. It must be the second child syndrome, but I've developed an attitude of not rushing her into things. I was pretty excited with Nico, pushing him as far as he can go and stretching him to his potentials. The result exhausted both of us. This time around, I'm leaving it to Papadms to make connections with our eldest. The boy is showing signs of talent in art, music and sports. He still reads and enjoys comic books a lot. Math is still the area of terror and insecurity so I have asked for outside help to intervene. His adviser has been very supportive.

Zoe's teacher, on the other hand, is more than supportive. According to Papadoms, Teacher Claire is very fond of our youngest. She's made her the class "ate" following her classmates' choice as the oldest and most responsible in class. She has reported that Zoe has a lot of friends in school. This was a contradistion to reports from her past teacher in Kinder 1 last year.

It's true that Zoe has greatly improved in reading, writing and numeracy skills. I can see that for myself. She has the habit of reading signs all around her. She mimics the reading of books that are too complicated for her, but displays an uderstanding of picture cues. She can sit through longer storytelling time and takes initiative to pick a book of her choice to read. What's more, she makes her own books now. Her written words, all invented and inverted spellings - signs that she is developing a phonemic awareness. Her language skills manifest a growing cognition of the English language. She corrects herself and repeats the sentence if necessary. There is evidence of structure in her wriitng and squiggles replace the difficult words in an attempt to continue the flow of idea.

On our way home from the grocery this afternoon, she told me that 2+2 makes 4. And that 3+1 makes 4 all the same. It's not that difficult, she said. Only another way of doing things, Mama, she adds.

I'm so tempted to take control. The fear of making the same mistakes keeps me at bay. I'd rather watch my daughter's blooming from a distance this time around. The girl has better sense, really, and knows when to ask help from parents and peers.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Mourning for Madeleine

I knew about Madeleine L'Engle's death from Dean Alfar during the LitCritters Open Session today.

How can I forget her? She gave me my first taste of Science Fiction through A Wrinkle In Time, a book that my mother chose for me from the shelves of the library of the old IS Manila in Makati. It was the book's feminist's pull that made its mark on my adolescent consciousness. How I adored Meg and her many eccentricities. At thirteen, I was, if not different, the weirdest girl in class. Madeleine told me not to worry. It's alright to be weird.

I am currently reading her book, Sold Into Egypt, a collection of essays and memoirs on religion, faith, the historical Bible, feminism and the grieving process she went through upon her husband's death.

Storytelling @ Magsaysay Training Center

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Rowling Reads from Hallows

To read aloud one's story or poetry for children to children is a must for every writer of children's literature.



Scotland has lucky children and teens over there.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Live Blogging : PAASCU Visit

A picture taken this morning at the HE Building of the high school I am accrediting in Lipa City, Batangas. Right now, it's wrap up. I've done mine and luckily, we'll finish before 6PM.

I am with a competitive team of accreditors led by Mrs. Rita Atienza of the Education Department of the Graduate School of the Ateneo De Manila University. Such experiences provide me with a bigger picture of how Philippine private school libraries are doing. There are a lot of things to be done, really. Accreditation helps educate administrators, teachers and even library staff to the importance of school libraries in the school cmmunity.

Literary & Literacy Saturday

KUTING's guest writer for this month's GA was essayist and columnist Rica Bolipata-Santos. Rica shared her writing life and the process that goes into her writing. It was a morning filled with stories and life lessons. All of us were held captive of this youngest of the Bolipatas. She will always be an inspiration to me, if not, my beacon of hope that I will, or shall find my own writing voice. Her story of becoming into her own writing identity, facing rejection and being brave will echo into my own cave of fear. She ceased writing at 13 years old, but returned to the path laid on for her by her muses at 35. What's more amazing is her methodical thought process. She's one of those who do not make use of an outline.

She has plenty of dead essays and narratives that are kept in her file though. Like all writers, she too has a well of loneliness to wallow in. It was raining as she talked about her dark side. Water was pouring in buckets and, if my observatin was correct, we all were getting wet as we pour over her essays on loss and retribution.

I have not been to my well spring of loneliness for a while. Perhaps I need to go back and soak myself one more time. Maybe then, I can allow my creative juices to flow again.

Rica seemed to have read my thoughts for she gave me a copy of Sawi: Funny Essays, Stories and Poems on All Kinds of Heartbreak. I was pestering her for a free copy and she replied, at that time, that she got only two copies from the publisher. She gave one to her mom, and if she gave me her last copy, the book is more than a token of friendship.

I felt deeply satisfied for having done this activity for KUTING. I know, as always, it would not have been possible with out the help of Ace and Becky, Teacher Portia and the faculty of the Reading Department of the UP, College of Education. There were only eight KUTINGs present this morning, but it was better than 3 or 4. We parted ways around lucnh time. Perpi Alipon-Tiongson gave me a ride to Philcoa. And of course, how could we not talk about children's literature and its criticism. Just like Perpi, I believe in the need to critique the produce of chidlren's literature in the country, however, much has to be done to develop research and a body of literature to truly critique fiction for children. I still believe in applying a good dose of children and young adult psychology into its critique. Ah, the work is cut out for all of us in the children's literature industry.

After a two hour tutorial session at Psychpros, I ended my day by dropping by Dean's launch. It was winding down to a close when I got there and I was able to catch Charles and Tin Mandigma in the thinning crowd. Karina Bolasco and Gwen Galvez were there. We exchanged pleasantries and I greeted and bid goodbye to Alex and, to Nikki, who is as beautiful and composed as always.

Now, I have two books to devour, two books to keep me at bay during the coming lean months.

Appreciation Day 2007

Appreciation Day has come to a close. The community mass, students presentations and class party went on as fun and successful as usual. Faculty and Staff got gifts from the Student Council - t-shirt, bag and the annual red rose. The administration gave us a cool sweater and a promised 5,000 worth of gift cheques for Christmas. Happy news! But to hear from the school director of a possible scholarship grant for our daughters in Immaculate Concepcion Academy, was happier news.

How can I leave Xavier School now with this prospect?

In the afternoon, we had a community gathering where faculty and staff from the GS, HS and Central Administration came together for a dance party and dance contest ala Dancing with the Stars. The Grade School went home very much satisfied with the results of the contest. Our GS Assistant Principal for Unit 3, Dr. Jojo Ng and Preschool Teacher, Jonah Danao won the grand prize for the dance contest. They were classy; they had teh chemistry and they were HOT! HOT! HOT!

I'm equally glad even though two more dancing couples from the GS didn't win. Gr. 5 Math teacher, Mark Bigare and Andrea Aniban. Gr. 3 English teacher were so cool and cute! Gr. 2 Guidance counselor, Dan Abrogina and Gr. 6 Social Science teacher, Cheyenne Ventosa danced to intricate and difficult steps. Yes! They were all so great that I'm so glad I'm their co-teacher. They didn't win, but they're winners for me!.

It's the end of the week and it could not have ended better if not for the Appreciation Day celebration. For a while, I put away worries and troubles that has continued to shake and wake me up in my sleep and conscious moments.

A Speculative Discussion

Ok...so I've decided to join in the hulabaloo of all things debatble and discussion worthy on speculative fiction in the country.

For one, I enjoy reading speculative fiction and, should I gain confidence in the near or distant future, I might try writing some myself. There are plenty of opinions and perceptions to read and ponder on the great debate of what is Philippine Speculative Fiction. Some I really find too strong a prescription of what it is and what it should be that I cringe at the ideas and impressions presented in the blogs and the websites. But, like Dean, I'm glad that these things are happening on this side of the literary industry. Such debates and discussions indicate a blooming awareness of the topic in question. It's a healthy sign that people involved in the wriitng, reading, production and promotion of speculative fiction are thinking it out loud and making sense of it all.

If my memory serves me right, Philippine Children's Literature went through the same process of being defined, identified, prescribed with this and that, placed in a box, set in stone, marked with lines and borders, etc. It happened around several decades back - in the late 80's and early 90's. The answer to the question, what is children's litearture, has been satisfyingly settled, although, schools of thought as to its writing still exists. And such schools of thought differ from one writer to another, from one writing clique to the next. Ah, aren't we a very political lot?

The point is, all these blog posts and ruminations contribute to Philippine Speculative Fiction's growth and development.

I agree with Charles on leaving it up to the reader in setting his or her own parameters and set of standards. Reading empowers. People who read enough are not stupid not to know enough of what they are reading. Paradigms and perceptions must be respected and yes, it reflects our choices and decisions.

And now, I take a stand. What is Philippine Speculative Fiction?

It is fiction that gives me a sense of wonder and disquiet. It is fiction that eats me away in my sleep and in my waking hours. It is fiction that makes me dream and hope. It is fiction that makes me see connections rather than gaps. It is fiction that brings me to fear and anger and frustration. It is fiction that I can laugh and love with. It is a fiction that is written by a Filipino and it is alright if the Filipino writer chooses to either write in English, in Filipino, in the vernacular or any lanuage he or she can freely and comfortably write in.

Weavers of Magic



Selected pictures from the seminar-wokshop at Benitez Hall, UP Diliman last Saturday, September 22, 2007. Writers Augie Rivera, Grace Chong and illustrator Totet De Jesus graced the morning session. Ace and I provided the storytelling workshop for teacher participants in the afternoon session. Winners and finalists of the 3rd Alitaptap Intercollege Storytelling Competition were present to demonstrate their storytelling chops. Michelle Agas (1st place winner) and Jerson Capuyan (2nd place winner) displayed their winning form. Miko and Nathan, finalists from the same contest, regaled the teachers with their perfromance telling as well.

The second leg of the seminar-workshop series will end on September 29, 2007 with a book launching and a discussion of literature based approaches in the teaching of reading by Teacher Dina Ocampo-Cristobal and Dr. Nemah Hermosa.

LitCritters Secret #1

Here is a conversation I had with one of my friends in the children's literature industry upon knowing that I'm attending the monthly Open Session of LitCritters in ADB, Serendra --

Writer Friend: Sumali ka na pala sa LitCritters ( So you've joined LitCritters.)

Me: Yup. Once a month I make it a point to sit in the Open Session.

Writer Friends: Lahat ba sila dun palagi nage-English? ( Do they always speak English?)

Me: Hindi. Marunong magtagalog si Nikki. (No. Nikki can speak Tagalog.)

And the rest who make up the core of the LitCritters, and those attending the Open Session, do speak Filipino.

Rene Villanueva Blogs!

Rene Villanueva, KUTING honorary member and (once touted as) the Hans Christian Andersen of the Philippines is now blogging at renevillanueva.blogspot.com.

Stomach Problems

I mentioned to a comment in my Multiply blog that I'm begining to bloat again.

I usually do when I'm near my menstrual period or when I ate so much salty food. I drink lots of water to counter the bloating, but for the past few days, water therapy did not work.

This morning, I had a terrible pain in my abdomen. It was so severe that I almost blacked out. I was brought to the school infirmary and first aid did not help. At 9AM, the school physician ordered for a car to bring me to the hospital. With in minutes, the school driver and the school nurse had rushed me to Cardinal Santos Memorial Hospital. There, I met Papadoms who excused himself from work. He stayed with me until the doctors in the ER disccharged me at lunchtime.

So it turns out that I was suffering from fecal stasis. Keep the feces there in the small intestines for a few more days and it will develop into a fecal mass. I was given medication and it has worked its purpose. I am better now. For a while. A follow up check up is necessary.

Papadoms want me to stay home tomorrow, take a sick leave for another day to rest. I can not afford it although the idea is very tempting.

Now Zac Efron makes out with...

Nikki Blonsky - his costar in Hairspray. And they did it on US National TV with the fans and other actors from the movie cheering them on.

Goodness. What crazy things did I do when I was a teenager?

The Apology of Vanessa Anne Hudgens

OK. This is a scandal that made me sit up and say, "Wait a minute!". The Joey De Leon and Willie Revillame word war passed me by like a summer wind. The Malu Fernandez hulabaloo just made me roll my eyes. Naked photos of Vanessa Annne Hudgens is, on the other hand, a different issue all together.

First of all, she is a teenager. Doesn't matter if she's of legal age or a FilAm actor from the US whose cable made TV-movie is raking in millions for the Disney franchise. She may already be an adult, but not old enough to know that posing naked to reign a man-boy in his boxers could really spell trouble to both self and career in this time of YOU Tube and My Space. Second, my kids love her TV-movie to bits. Papadoms and I had to watch High School Musical 2 last night with Nico and Zoe to see for ourselves how wholesome and better this second offering of Kenny Ortega is. It's Disney and yes, it is sanitized. There was the kiss at the end that was sweet and tender and visually flavored with fireworks.

Oh, how it brought me to my teenage years - the joy of living in the now!

Seeing Vanessa Hudgens last night made me hope against hope that she will not turn into the next Lindsey Lohan. Remember The Parent Trap? That was ages ago, I know, when parties, drugs, alcohol, rehab, weight problems and Paris Hilton were far fetched realities. The trappings of fame and popularity, perhaps.

Innocence is broken now, my kids' and others too. Such times we live in.

Vanessa better mean her apology. I await her rising from this muck (which can actually work on her favor too, really! It would all depend on her agent and publicist. She has a lot to undo, besides.) and see if she is any different from her predecessors. You're time will come, sweetheart. Don't rush it. Mandy Moore had her demons too, but it appears that she knew how to tame them.

The Man On The Moon 1 of 2

(Part 1 is here)

They journeyed for seven days and seven nights across the field of broken promises where Cat caught locusts for them to eat. The following day, they came upon the river of dreams. The young man listened to the music that the green waters make. Quickly enough he learned the complicated note patterns. He took his flute and sang with the river. He invited the wind to sing with them and she did not disappoint.

Cat listened with more interest this time, relieved to hear a new song, a new melody. When the trio finished their aerial ensemble, Cat approached the river and asked permission to fish. The river gurgled and revealed where the tastiest of fishes thrive. There, Cat and the young man fished for dinner. He cleaned and cooked the catch. While eating, Cat told stories of the giant bird, how to please her and how not to anger her.

She may like you, for she too can sing. She told him.

“That’s encouraging.” He replied with a smile.

But she asks so many questions.

“To a sincere heart, answers are easy to come by.”

Cat looked up at the moonless and starless night sky. We’re only halfway the journey. We better rest.

And so, they slept by the river who gave them dreams, for him, a million stars falling on his hands; and for her a long and lonely road back to the shadows.

In the morrow, they started early. They passed through the forest of disillusionment where Cat wounded herself from picking nuts and berries. The young man carried her in his arms as she was too weak to walk. Upon reaching the valley of hope he found herbs that could heal any wound known to man and beast. He chewed the tops and spat them on her cut. He bandaged her leg with his handkerchief. There, they rested for a couple of days.

I am sorry to stall our journey. She started.

“Don’t be. I have been thinking a song for you.” And he put the flute close to his lips.

At the last note, she cried and turned away from him, afraid that he might see her tears. He stroked her back, her head and her wounded leg.

“Sleep, Cat. Sleep well.” He moved closer to her. He kept her warm all through the night.


As soon as Cat’s leg healed, they trekked towards the mountain. They emerged from the valley of hope refreshed and renewed. The young man paid tribute to the fog that blocked their way with a hymn. The mountain heard his flute and it brought ripples of laughter at his feet. He told the fog to lift itself up so that he could show them the crack that led to the giant bird’s abode.

Cat saw the opening immediately. She ran as she recalled the rough pathways to the bird’s cave. The young man quickly followed. In the dark, he called for her for he could not see. She answered back, but when he did not reply, her eyes shone for him.

He saw her. Or rather, he saw her bright yellow eyes in the darkness like two moons. He remembered the very reason for his journey.

We’re almost there. Cat said when he stood beside her.

Following the bend, they walked slowly together. He, for nervous excitement. She, for fear of facing the inevitable.

They reached the end of the bend.

Zoe is Blooming

Papadoms was full of happy stories when he arrived last Friday from Zoe's school. He dropped by the school to get her report card and amazingly, she has an average of 86.75. Not quite the grade we're expecting because, she is not getting full supervision and assitance from us. It's yaya who follows up on her. All she has to do is to check on her homework wether it's done or not. Despite that, she has managed to get an average cumulative grade this quarter.

This means that our "bunso" is coming into her own.

Unlike Nico who received close supervision from me since he started school at three years old, Zoe's academic supervision at home is very lax. It must be the second child syndrome, but I've developed an attitude of not rushing her into things. I was pretty excited with Nico, pushing him as far as he can go and stretching him to his potentials. The result exhausted both of us. This time around, I'm leaving it to Papadms to make connections with our eldest. The boy is showing signs of talent in art, music and sports. He still reads and enjoys comic books a lot. Math is still the area of terror and insecurity so I have asked for outside help to intervene. His adviser has been very supportive.

Zoe's teacher, on the other hand, is more than supportive. According to Papadoms, Teacher Claire is very fond of our youngest. She's made her the class "ate" following her classmates' choice as the oldest and most responsible in class. She has reported that Zoe has a lot of friends in school. This was a contradistion to reports from her past teacher in Kinder 1 last year.

It's true that Zoe has greatly improved in reading, writing and numeracy skills. I can see that for myself. She has the habit of reading signs all around her. She mimics the reading of books that are too complicated for her, but displays an uderstanding of picture cues. She can sit through longer storytelling time and takes initiative to pick a book of her choice to read. What's more, she makes her own books now. Her written words, all invented and inverted spellings - signs that she is developing a phonemic awareness. Her language skills manifest a growing cognition of the English language. She corrects herself and repeats the sentence if necessary. There is evidence of structure in her wriitng and squiggles replace the difficult words in an attempt to continue the flow of idea.

On our way home from the grocery this afternoon, she told me that 2+2 makes 4. And that 3+1 makes 4 all the same. It's not that difficult, she said. Only another way of doing things, Mama, she adds.

I'm so tempted to take control. The fear of making the same mistakes keeps me at bay. I'd rather watch my daughter's blooming from a distance this time around. The girl has better sense, really, and knows when to ask help from parents and peers.

Mourning for Madeleine

I knew about Madeleine L'Engle's death from Dean Alfar during the LitCritters Open Session today.

How can I forget her? She gave me my first taste of Science Fiction through A Wrinkle In Time, a book that my mother chose for me from the shelves of the library of the old IS Manila in Makati. It was the book's feminist's pull that made its mark on my adolescent consciousness. How I adored Meg and her many eccentricities. At thirteen, I was, if not different, the weirdest girl in class. Madeleine told me not to worry. It's alright to be weird.

I am currently reading her book, Sold Into Egypt, a collection of essays and memoirs on religion, faith, the historical Bible, feminism and the grieving process she went through upon her husband's death.

Storytelling @ Magsaysay Training Center

Rowling Reads from Hallows

To read aloud one's story or poetry for children to children is a must for every writer of children's literature.



Scotland has lucky children and teens over there.

Live Blogging : PAASCU Visit

A picture taken this morning at the HE Building of the high school I am accrediting in Lipa City, Batangas. Right now, it's wrap up. I've done mine and luckily, we'll finish before 6PM.

I am with a competitive team of accreditors led by Mrs. Rita Atienza of the Education Department of the Graduate School of the Ateneo De Manila University. Such experiences provide me with a bigger picture of how Philippine private school libraries are doing. There are a lot of things to be done, really. Accreditation helps educate administrators, teachers and even library staff to the importance of school libraries in the school cmmunity.