bookwatch vol19 no2


Bookwatch 2nd Quarter Issue 

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Art and the Creation Stories awarded Best Book for Youth and Child

2015 Catholic Mass Media Best book for Youth and Child was awarded to Author and Artist Maria Lourdes de Vera, RN.  Art the Creation Stories is a book that rediscovers the capacity for artistic expression. It seeks to explore skills and artistic aspirations in visual art and storytelling. It inspires the use of one’s transformative power to create and nurture the Child’s well spring of imagination.


“This book is a well – crafted attempt to integrate art appreciation, storytelling and religion in a structured framework intended to cull creativity from and provided mastery to a child’s cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains using bible stories expressed as art. From a strictly educational sense, the exercises contained in the publication promote and practice high order thinking skills even in the young. It strengthens participative, constructive, and collaborative learning processes in the mental framework of learners at an age where they are most flexible and malleable.” Edwin V. Rodriguez, MD, MHPEd, Pediatrician and Medical Educator, UST-Faculty of Medicine and Surgery. Fr. Angel A. Aparicio, OP, Regent, UST-Faculty of Medicine and Surgery.


It introduces new movement in the language of teaching by validating the importance of Art and the beauty of the artistic expressions. It calls for collaborative process as an integrative factor in building a healthy and happy school environment. This new and unconventional approach to teaching was given a thumbs up by Fr. Rogelio Alarcon, OP Founder of the first Homeschool in the Philippines and Founder of Angelicum College, Quezon City and Seibo College, Malabon City; was quoted as saying that this is an “Excellent Work!”


NBDB extends promotion of Intellectual Property Rights


As part of its mandate to respect and inculcate the concept of intellectual property ownership, the National Book Development Board (NBDB) participated in the recently held Intellectual Property (IP) Youth Camp in Cebu City last August 19-20, 2015. Organized by the Intellectual Property of the Philippines (IPOPHL), this program aims to create a globally competitive Philippines by encouraging the youth to be creative, innovative, and respectful of Intellectual Property Rights.


On its third year, IPOPHL brought the youth camp to Cebu to expand the reach of the program. There were about 40 participants who attended the event from science and technology and private secondary schools in Cebu province.


Executive Director Graciela Mendoza-Cayton shared an inspiring message about the country’s book industry and the importance of reading with the students. In her speech, Ms. Mendoza-Cayton encouraged the students not just to read Filipino-authored, books but also to write in support of the industry and to establish a pool of creators.


The NBDB supports programs that campaigns for the development of the Copyright sector, specifically the book industry. These programs include World Book and Copyright Day held annually on the 23rd of April, copyright clinic for NBDB-registered stakeholders, and the launch of book champions and IP ambassadors.




Aiding the Development of Regional Book Industry


The National Book Development Board (NBDB) through its Booklatan sa Bayan program lent its support to the growing book industry in the Ilocos region. Booklatan sa Bayan is a quarterly program of the NBDB that aspires to promote a culture of reading and lifelong learning among Filipinos. It aims to encourage the production of original content, help promote and develop library systems, reading centers, and other points of book access. Booklatan sa Bayan has visited various cities and provinces in the Philippines including Malabon City, Valenzuela City, General Santos City, Laoag City conducting different activities such as lectures, seminar-workshops, book fairs, and storytelling sessions to students, teachers, librarians, writers, and readers.


In its most recent event on July 30 and 31, 2015, a book fair and a series of lectures called “Libro Ilokano 2015: 1st Ilokano Book Fair” were held at the University of Northern Philippines auditorium (UNP). The event is an initiative of Gunglo dagiti Mannurat nga Ilokano – Filipinas (GUMIL Filipinas) and UNP’s Center for Ilokano Studies, in cooperation with the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) and NBDB.

The two-day event was themed “Lagip ni Don Belong, Iti Libro Matiganayon”  in honor of the late Don Isabelo de los Reyes, well-known Ilocano writer, politician, labor activist, and revolutionary leader from Vigan City. Participating book sellers and publishers were Adarna House, Anvil Publishing, KWF, Lampara Books, Librong Lira, National Bookstore, UP Press, and Visprint, Inc.


On July 31, the speakers in the first series of lectures were author Bebang Siy, writer and translator Dr. Michael M. Coroza, and author Eros Atalia. Bebang Siy enumerated the effective stepson how an aspiring author can engage his/her readers. Issues on copyright were also tackled in her lecture. The key points in translating literary works from English to Filipino and other regional languages were discussed by Dr. Mike Coroza. Contemporary author Eros Atalia gave a talk about flash fiction in Philippine history.  The speakers in the afternoon lecture-workshops were Ilokano writers, Sherma E. Benosa, Anna Liza M. Gaspar, and Neyo Mario E. Valdez.


The book fair was attended by authors, publishers, and teachers and students of literature.



Isang pag-alaala at pamamaalam

Usec. Francisco M. Varela






The sadness within these walls is the quiet

sadness of space itself; invisible, inescapable.

And hollow, like a forgotten well I’d like to fill up

with flood waters, lava, or quick-drying cement.

Departures are never as swift as the flick of a light

switch, or as definitive as the collapse into dust

cloud and rubble of a tall building under engineered

blasts of planted dynamite. You walk out in particles,


leaving granulated good-byes like very fine sand. I’m

sure some remnant of your reflection is still around,

bouncing off yet another conniving surface                                        



Excerpt from “In Absentia” by Sid Gomez Hildawa                                    


Narito sa lupa ang mga bagay

para tayo may makapitan



Sa ilalim ng sapin-saping talukap

walang ikunukubling

mata ang sibuyas.


Walang dahilan para lumuha.

Kailangan lamang pumikit

para makitang muli

ang mga nawala at naglaho                                                                

Excerpt from “Dito sa Lupa” by Allan Popa

Two years ago, he appeared at one board meeting with his arm in a cast. He explained that he and his motorcycling group were on one of their trips to northern Luzon when his cycle crashed. We were at the edge of our seats as he narrated what happened. But as he vividly recounted the close shave and relived the exact split second when he knew an accident was certain to happen, he remembered no fear. Nor a serious lamentation that his damaged motorcycle was just newly bought. Nothing to worry about, he said, being a regular at the shop. And we could tell that his sense of daring and adventure would always continue to overpower all else. There was no stopping him—on his motorbike or at the Department of Education.

That was why when I found out that he figured in a fatal crash on that cruel Saturday morning of Aug. 29, I was not surprised that he had continued to pursue his passion with big bike-riding and the sense of total freedom it always gave him. But I was devastated and distressed to know that when his motorcycle skidded on the Pililla, Antipolo, that day, he did not make it. How could the DepEd’s superhero Batman, the term of endearment conferred on him by his staff, who gave him Batman cufflinks as a birthday present on March 30, have been so vulnerable?

We at the National Book Development Board (NBDB) had a special bond with Undersecretary Francis Varela because he was the DepEd’s designate as NBDB vice chair. How fortunate to have him with us since 2011; he was no nominal vice chair and neither was he your typical government bureaucrat who spoke only empty, ambiguous diplomatese. He was sharp and direct, guiding us to the judicious use of our budget, advising us on the fine print of contracts, reminding us about DBM (Department of Budget and Management) and COA (Commission on Audit) restrictions. Like Education Secretary Armin Luistro, he was very concerned about unethical practices in the publishing industry so that we chided him when, during the rounds of interviews for NBDB executive positions, he was raising pointed questions. “Are you continuing your investigation for the department?” wehad to ask.

What little time he had to spare from his responsibilities as education undersecretary for finance and administration, he would generously give us. Why, he was always just a text away and would respond to my nagging reminders about documents buried on his desk, the fate of the Library Hub, feedback that he and Secretary Armin ought to know, his aunts in Bacolod (on the Varela side) awaiting a visit, and even a personal complaint about our family driver’s grandson being harshly spoken to on the first day of school.

Our monthly breakfast meetings were set based on his available mornings and he never failed us except for an occasional Malacañang meeting on the DepEd budget. And because he was the only board member that could read and speak Cebuano (he is from Oroquieta, Misamis Occidental), by default, he chaired the committee for the Cebuano manuscripts for the NBDB Trust Fund author grants.

The only task we never got him to do, except once, was to deliver a speech. This rare occasion was at the Museo Pambata for the 2013 Little Lit Fest opening ceremony. He surprised us with his acceptance, but he got a bigger surprise from the NBDB who arranged for his only son, Rafa, then only seven, to introduce his father.

He was teased that his son in a white long sleeved shirt and a necktie was better dressed.  Francis wore his signature white linen polo barong, always crisp and cool and yes, chic.

 When he overheard some of us discussing what the board should wear for our formal annual report photo, he laughed  and said, pointing to his white polo, “This is as good as it can get for me.”
Not that there was anything wanting in his attire, as his secret fans will attest. They have insisted on photo ops with him, claiming that he is a matinee idol lookalike.  A few secretly called him Pretty Boy. To the rest of us, it was  good enough that he could be a Rizal clone. 

From that time on, after we saw for ourselves how articulate and precocious Rafa was, Francis would get a kick out of receiving constant invitations for Rafa mailed to his DepEd central office. Rafa became NBDB’s favorite panelist for child readers and was a likely choice for the board of reader judges for the first-ever Kids’ Choice Book Awards. That initial public appearance of Rafa also caught the attention of KidZania folks who promptly recruited him as one of their child models.

Fellow board member Karina Bolasco, heartbroken as the rest of us, remembers Francis and the “positive energies” he exuded from “how he carried himself in board meetings: straightforward, noncombative but firm, was always helpful in analyzing (not just financial) problems…. He never raised his voice, not once, yet the Board more often than not, followed that voice.” She last saw him along with his entire family at a recent Spanish guitar concert where Adrik, son of Che Cristobal and Dina Ocampo, performed. The families are close friends not only because of the DepEd but also because their sons were child judges for the Kids’ Choice Awards. It impressed Karina that the Varela family patiently stood at the back as there were no more seats, and when chairs were provided them, they did not bother to be in the VIP center rows in the Ayala lobby.

Thank you, Francis for the chance to work with you and allowing us to know you beyond your official government title.

How it pains to say goodbye. 
By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz
Chair, NBDB 
Reintroducing the NBDB's services and provisions


Last August 14, 2015, a Kapihan Session was held for the National Book Development Board’s registered individuals and entities. The event was facilitated at the NBDB office in Ortigas Center, Pasig City. The goals of the session are to reorient the NBDB registrants to the policies and procedures and introduce the new amendments in the incentives and services implemented and offered by the agency.


The four-part session started with the introduction of the current state of the book publishing industry in the Philippines. In the discussion, the stakeholders were made aware of the main industry players and the abundance of local authors. NBDB Executive Director Ms. Graciela Mendoza-Cayton also discussed the National Book Development Trust Fund grant that is carried out every year to help authors develop and publish their manuscripts.


Incentives for registered stakeholders were enumerated and discussed by Mr. Wilfred Castillo, NBDB Director I. These incentives were tax- and duty-free importation of raw materials and books, income tax holiday, National Book Development Trust Fund, and endorsement of applications for registration with the BOI to avail incentives under Executive Order 226 or the Omnibus Investment Code.


The Executive Order 226 or Omnibus Investment Code is created to encourage investment in desirable areas of activities. Ms. Melanie De Belen-Dingayan, a representative from the Board of Investments, further explained the EO 226 and its application process. According to her, it is mandated to accelerate the development of the national economy and to support small and medium scale industries.


Atty. Rhia Aladin, NBDB Acting Director I, briefed the attendees on the amendments of the rules and provisions of the agency. One of these amendments is in regard of the registration process. New registrants will only have to pay a one-time filing fee of Php 100.00 and annual registration fee of Php 300.00 will be done annually. Individuals such as author/writer, book translator, editor, illustrator/designer/lay-out artist, and literary agent, are exempted from the registration fee however required documents must be submitted annually for the renewal of registration.


The session concluded with a Q&A portion and the presentation of the directions the NBDB will take in the next five years.


Related articles:

 NBDB’s first kapihan session:

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