Down The Book Cubbyhole

The Geeky Adventures of a Bookish Girl

Blog Tour – Book Spotlight + Giveaway: Guardians of Tradition (Philippines Only)

raechella:

Interested in a book giveaway? Check this out. :)

Originally posted on Cinderella Stories:

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Guardians of Tradition: The Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan (2012)

by: Mae Astrid Tobias
Illustrations by: Rommel E. Joson
Photos by: Renato S. Rastrollo / National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA)

Excerpts:

Guardians of Tradition: The Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan (2012)

Guardians of Tradition: The Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan (2012)

What is the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan? (p. 4)

Filipinos are very artistic people. All over the county, you find people who love to sing, dance, paint, write, play musical instruments, and create the most beautiful things the way their forebears have taught them. There are also special people who spend their entire lives making sure that these traditional arts are not forgotten.

The Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan was created in 1992 through Republic Act No. 7355 in order to let the whole Philippines know about these people and their art.

For the duration of the Guardians of Tradition Blog Tour, Guardians of Tradition…

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Inferno—Dan Brown

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Received contemptuously by the Filipinos for disparaging the metropolis of Manila, dubbing it as The Gates of Hell—I don’t think Brown intended ignominy for regarding the Philippines as such. He plays with fact, a fact refuted still by our vehemently scorned nation.

Before you even think about chucking virtual tomatoes on Dan Brown’s opulent face, think about how much that’ll defile and cut the value of his dear tweed suit. (Mind not my shitty humor attempts.)

Given that Inferno tackles the incommodities of booming population growth; the employment of an ideal representation as validation to the extent of damage a nation’s congested populace may produce (i.e. poverty, unsanitary conditions, crimes, insufficient resources) is completely well-grounded. And since Manila holds the record of having the most densely populated city on earth, no wonder we became stars—although it’s a sin in our eyes.

Issues aside, I think Brown’s formulaic ploy is what makes this book lackluster. Just the same old tricks, conveying a different subject, and new recruits to catch up on. The infinite number of twists, breathtaking once, comes off now as dreary and nothing out of the ordinary. When you’ve been with Robert Langdon since Da Vinci Code, you would feel the same way. It’s like running around with the Professor for unvarying reasons, just into different locations, in a 24-hour timeframe. Seriously, a little surprise wouldn’t hurt anyone.

Nevertheless, what struck as satisfactory to me is the idea of Transhumanism and the different yet interesting take on international security threat. Who would’ve thought? He really did his research, you know. And he relates every work of art and architecture elaborately (though at times it appears a tad too travelogue-ish).

Leaving a question of moral issue has always been Dan Brown’s strong suit, and characteristically, he still succeeds on this part.

Overall, informative still (my brain screams in apoplectic rage for taking in too much information); scientifically/historically-taut narrative, with a dash of religion; thrilling and intriguing at its very core—just parched of freshness and novelty.

 

Rating: ★★★✰✰

Negligent Little Book Blogger: Book Loans 2013.3

Howdy guys!

Betrothed to scores of everyday nuisances running at the seams, I’ve actually forgotten that I’ve been running a pathetically bungling book blog in here!

Tsk. Tsk.

Anyways, herewith is an update of my current book borrows (either already surrendered to respective owners—since I haven’t filled in with my book loans for, like, three months—or still hanging around my shelf; read, unread, and whatever). Photo of the first book is courtesy of the internet (thank you), since I’ve already returned it last month, failing to snap a single picture and all.

1. Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist — Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

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2. One Day — David Nicholls

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3. The Ocean at the End of the Lane — Neil Gaiman

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4. Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman — Haruki Murakami

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*****

Endless thanks to my PRPB family (my book sponsors hihi) for the infinite pour of books, since my monetary fund isn’t that large enough to buy meself every book that I fancy. ;)

Walong Diwata ng Pagkahulog—Edgar Calabia Samar

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Pinagkaitan man ng dulugan at pagkakataong makapagbasa ng mga akda ni Haruki Murakami, hindi maikakailang ang awtor ng librong ito ay isang mabigat na apisyonado ng nasabing nobelista; sa gayon ang primaryang salarin sa paggulantang ng kakatwa ngunit masidhing istoryang nanghimasok sa dominyo ng Literaturang Pilipino.

Ang pangunahing sentimyento ko sa librong ito ay ang pagkagiliw ng prinsipal na karakter sa literatura—ang matindi niyang pagkakahalina sa ilang piling manunulat at akda ng mga ito ngunit hindi mabuo-buong nobelang pilit niyang tinatahi. Maaaring ganito talaga kung ang sarili mong kwento’y pira-piraso’t kulang-kulang—buo pa man ang pamantungan ng kuwento, kung hindi ganap ang diwa ay wala ring saysay.

Nagngingitngit sa kawirduhan, kalimita’y nakakaasar at nanggugulo, at sa maraming pagkakatao’y nakalulula sa mga pilosopiya’t metaporang sadyang pinagtagni-tagni upang tuluyang makumpleto ang surealistikong senaryo. Maraming pagkakataong ninais kong bumigay at isara na ang libro dahil tila puno ito ng butas, na wari’y hindi mapagkakatiwalaan ang pagkakabanghay ng maykatha sa bawat tagpong ipinukol na lang sa kung saan-saang dako. Ngunit hindi, may kung anong salikmatang puwersang pilit na tumutulak sa aking magpatuloy.

Napakahilig ng awtor mambitin. Natatapos ang bawat kabanata sa isang pagbubunyag ngunit iyong tipong maulap ang dating. Hindi niya iginuguhit kaagad ang mga pangyayari. Nakakasuya ito sa ilan (kung meron man) ngunit para sa akin ay epektibo itong istilo upang mabalisa ang mambabasa at patuloy na sumubaybay sa mga susunod pang kabanata. Huwag lang labisan ng husto. Mahilig rin siyang makipaglaro sa mga salita.

Sa huli, hindi maitatanggi ang mapanharayang kaisipan ng maykatha. Naiiba ito sa karaniwang moda ng maraming manunulat. Binabalot ng mapanglaw na sansinukob ngunit may natatanging tinig na pinalilibutan ng misteryo’t kasawian.

May patutunguhan rin naman pala. :)

 

Rating: ★★★✰✰

It’s A Mens World — Bebang Siy

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Katulad ng marami na sinubukang sumisid sa alindog ng librong ito, isa rin ako sa mga nagsikunot ng noo’t nagsitaas ng kilay sa titulo nito. Sa unang tingin kasi, aakalain mo talagang nagkaroon ng isang matinding pagkakamali sa pagkaka-imprenta ng suklob nito. It’s a Mens World—hindi ba’t kulang ng kudlit? Isa pa, ang pangunahing pumasok kasi sa isipan ko pagkabasa nito ay ang isang tagpo sa American TV series na Glee, iyong parteng nagdadalang-tao si Quinn Fabray at kinanta iyong It’s a Man’s Man’s World (with matching preggy back-up dancers) na waring nagngingitngit sa galit at kinokondena ang mga kalalakihan. Sa madaling salita, inaasahan kong ang nilalaman ng librong ito ay patungkol sa peminismo, lalo pa’t ang awtor ay isang babae rin.

Ngunit sa oras na buklatin ang libro’t mapagawi sa unang sanaysay, aha, iyon na. Kaya naman pala.

Hindi rin naman pala nalalayo sa inaasahan ko ang librong ito. Sentro man ng buhay ng awtor ang kinukwento, ipinapakita rito ang natural na kalakasan ng mga babae—hindi iyong kalakasan na naikabit na sa imahe ng mga lalaki, ngunit ang kalakasang maimamanipesta lamang ng mga desendyente ni Eba.

Lumulutang sa bawat pahina ang katapatan at katapangan ng manunulat. May mga nakapaloob rin ditong ilang seryosong isyung kinakaharap ng marami sa ating mga babae na binudburan naman ng katatawanan at kalokohan ng pilyang si Bb. Bebang Siy. Maiikli lamang ang bawat sanaysay ngunit maaabot mo ng todo-todo ang nais nitong ipahiwatig sapagkat gumamit ang awtor ng epektibong paraan ng pagsasadula—ito iyong parang magkakilala lang kayo’t nagtsitismisan sa isang tabi. Walang magagarang salita, natural ang agos ng pagkakwento.

Isa ring inspirasyon ang librong ito. Ilang beses mang bumagsak ang awtor sa mahigpit na pagkakakapit sa buhay na inaasam-asam, heto siya’t patuloy na tumatayo upang magkaroon ng pagbabago. Animo’y isang gusgusing bata na nakikipaghabulan lamang sa mga tulad ding gusgusin ang dating imahen ng awtor. Kay drama-drama ng pinanggalingang pamilya at akalain mo iyon, kinidnap pa ng sariling tatay (?). Ngayon, aba’t nakapagsulat at nakapaglimbag pa ng libro!

 

Isang nakakatuwa, nakalilibang, ngunit matagumpay na paglalakbay mula kamuwangan patungong kaganapan.

 

P.S. Ano na kayang nangyari kay Michael? :D

 

Rating: ★★★✰✰

The Fault in our Stars — John Green

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Determinedly clinched in profundity, hilarity, and romance—this tragically-glazed novel shoots sparks, figuratively and literally. When I say figuratively, it is because of the massively animated bandwagon it has initiated; literally, not because it spurts fire and whatnot, but because this novel reminded me one of Nicholas Sparks’ most celebrated novel, A Walk To Remember.

Both novels are, in fact, very different from one another. It’s just that TFioS’ lead characters, Gus and Hazel, reverberated—to me—as reincarnations of Jamie and Landon. Two opposite polars doggedly struggling to adhere themselves together. Plus, one finds his/her self’s transformation, not just for the sake of the other, but for a more meaningful, higher purpose. Further toted up with a cancer-ridden premise.

Weaving through the three-fourth perimeter of this book, I was actually wondering why people are making such a fuss about this when nothing really strikes as extraordinary for me—other than mind-bogglingly clever teenagers and bizarrely unnatural dialogues. It wounded me up a little bit, cringe at times, whilst reading through their conversations, especially comes their superior philosophical acumens (um, hello Socrates). I could almost glimpse John Green and a herd of nerdfighters grinning evilly on the background.

Nevertheless, the remaining one-fourth of the book is what left me bowled over. Not that I was surprised or anything about Gus’ fate. Authors are kind of odd sometimes, you know. They fill in the death seat with a helpless being to make us believe that that person will be the tragedy; when in fact, the assumed hale and hearty is actually the tragedy. But because this formulaic ploy is a conventional routine nowadays, readers already foretaste the unanticipated. Since the introductions of the lead characters took place, I already knew who’s it gonna be—the beautiful Augustus Waters. I also want to nitpick just a little bit. At the onset of the story, we were introduced to dour, fragile little Hazel whose life depended on a tankful of oxygen. However, the moment Gus’ cancer was revealed, it almost felt like Hazel’s cancer was hardly highlighted. Despite knowing that she’ll be shedding her mortal coil soon after, the weight of her disease at the start of the story contradicted her almost healthy bearing by the end. Inconsistent, that is.

It seems that John Green also follows a certain paradigm when it comes to delineating his tales. I’ve only read Looking for Alaska besides this and I can already perceive some resemblances. The geeky characters, the bromance, the she/he’s-out-of-my-league issues, tragic death. My younger brother actually declared that JG is a younger version of Mr. Sparks, and I kind of agree with that because they both sell tragic tales that really clicks on the market.

Why 4 stars? Probably the tears I shed by the end of the book? Yes and no.

Although the teenagers’ intense veneration to philosophy is quite disturbing, I love every little message they imply. It may be a cancer book, but unlike others, it doesn’t zero in on the patients’ hopelessness and feebleness. It pivots instead into the positive and constructive strengths of the disease-vessels.

Van Houten’s advent to the scene is what I love best, too. Characters need not be appealing to imprint an inexplicable mark on the readers. And finding out that there’s an underlying reason for all of the meanness, he got his redemption he so fully deserves even so.

Speaking of characterization, I love JG’s cobbling up of certain characters as well, however not fleshed out they turned out to be. They are Isaac, Hazel’s parents, and surprisingly, Ludewij.

Overall, as stated above, the book kicked off as a modest tale to me, but the closing stages pinched my heartstrings to the fullest. So yeah, there isn’t any fault in any of my four stars up there. :)

 

Rating: ★★★★✰

Saving My First Kiss: Why I’m Keeping Confetti in my Closet — Lisa Velthouse

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By default, Lisa used to be a “party of one”…

Until she decided to hole up a bunch of party supplies in her closet, all set to pop off the moment Prince Charming brushes her chaste lips.

But sitting outside the fence watching as others muck around isn’t really as easy as it seems.

What if waiting takes forever?

Lisa Velthouse, in this slender assemblage of counsels and guidelines, introduces middle-of-the-road pickles for adolescents and young adults alike, determined to be of assistance to them, to be proof against already adapted worldly exploits. Lisa however did not tackle such issues with imprudence; she, on the other hand, broached specific topics in a fun, lightweight kind of way— further pillared by personal experiences. It’s neither just your usual self-help handbooks which only address shallow and apparent dilemmas, nor your typical Christian booklets entrenched with intensely religious themes. But it is also a journal of sorts—Lisa’s instructions and advices stemmed from her own blunders, misjudgments, and emotional and spiritual deliberations.

Though slim in pages and large in texts, it occurred to me that I mustn’t rush wolfing down Lisa’s wise words. Instead, it must be nibbled bit by bit so as to gratifyingly savor the whole lot. It actually took me a fortnight to eventually slam the book shut.

Featuring recognized Christian figures like C.S. Lewis and other Christian voices, this book doesn’t stop short with moral values to accentuate and give backing into. Add to that the carefully-selected Bible verses that intently expound such values.

Overall, this book gleams in comparison to other works that I have read, not because it is intellectually challenging, has the most beautiful prose, the synchronized flow of narration, nor the apt characterization—but because I just love the words, the messages the author’s trying to convey.

 

Rating: ★★★★★

PRPB Goes to Museo Pambata

May 25, 2013. Momentarily cut loose from all the commitments and obligations in school, workplace, and other eventful stuff that keeps everyone subjugated for the rest of the week—PRPB (Pinoy Reads Pinoy Books) society chucked all of their worries aside and traded them for a day of charity and FUN! (Yes, we were all on a sabbatical lol)

969781_10200830972487847_308182144_nEvent invite and program

If truth be told, I am truly unfit to blog about the said activity since I belatedly arrived at the venue. Imagine being stuck in a maddening traffic for hours, propelling you into a loony hiatus and frenzied anxiety. If only I could “accio” someone else’s broom just to be abruptly whisked away from that dang pandemonium, I would. But this is no Wizarding World. (Yup, Potter senses are tingling yet again hihi)

22PRPB group snapshot in the museum’s front steps

Regrets aside, I only missed the museum tour with the kids—which is really as exciting as it sounds—and fortunately turned up with time to spare for the real event. Nevertheless, I’ll simply indulge myself with pictures for the time being. Haha.

4A marketplace replica inside the museum

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A miniature jeepney and the kids’ happy faces

944169_10151394886845776_1323634372_nA girl indulging herself with a book

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A column of amazing canvases adorning the museum’s wall

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Vibrant cartoon strips inside the museum

A scurrying throng of animated kids infiltrated the room in a jiffy, deafening the once muted space. You can feel the liveliness and excitement of the kids, enough to make one feel lively and excited all the same.

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The superbly keyed up kids

Following some forewords and acknowledgements, Maria Ella commenced the storytelling session with Ang Hukuman ni Sinukuan by Virgilio S. Almario. It’s funny how some kids’ attention were diverted to their candies and treats, some in chitchat, amidst a good number who were fully engrossed in the story, actively participating in the storyteller’s grills and childlike tomfooleries. PRPB members then engaged the kids with some games so as not to bore them but keep them entertained, as well.

970452_10151483171034200_1446698186_n“Ang Hukuman ni Sinukuan” told by Maria Ella

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My favorite snapshot so far. I just LOVE the little guy’s smile; somewhat it makes me happy inside :)

Shortly, the children were once again plunged into a different story, Brightest, told by the author herself, Ms. Joanne Crisner. This one’s indeed a very beautiful story. Albeit the particular target of the book, which is those under the children’s umbrella, adults alike will find it remarkably moving. I recommend it to everyone.

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“Brightest” told by the author herself, Ms. Joanne Crisner

For sure, the day wouldn’t be complete without… ehem… food! Subsequent to the storytelling session with the kids, a banquet of food awaited their starving bellies, courtesy of Jollibee. Why Jollibee, you might say. Yup, kids will prefer Jollibee over anything. They’re like bestfriends with the bee. Haha.

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The kids and their Jollibee treats

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She’s enjoying her spaghetti. Yum.

We did eat the lot, too. We spent chatting with each whilst chomping through our food. And yes, taking pictures could not be subdued.

Children were then bequeathed with individual bags, complete with school supplies inside—no more reason for them to put off school this coming school year. I hope the children use their stuff fittingly and seriously pour over their studies.

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School supplies for the children

On the other hand, we also donated books for the Museo Pambata. All in all, we probably produced more or less 200—300 even? I’m not really sure. One member hopes that some well-off and kindhearted man donates an ample sum to refurbish the museum in the future, since some rooms are poorly furnished and some museum stuff are either conked out or damaged. Or the government—they should likewise allocate enough budget to maintain the beauty of our museums and preserve our history instead of devoting themselves into erecting exclusive infrastructures that neither brands our country nor are indigent-friendly. I have yet to set my eyes on these to confirm the said claims since I wasn’t able to tour with the group.

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Some book titles donated to the Museo Pambata

Then comes the fun part—the final hour was allotted to our group. Biena, our daybook in the flesh, has gone all the way not only to organizing our event, but providing certificates to every PRPB attendee, as well. Each one was handed the so-called “diplomas”, provided with a jokey background for everyone to laugh at. Funnily enough, since we were all donned in orange, the organizers (who clamored for this color) were determined to put up a “Best in Orange Attire” contest, both for male and female, just for fun. Unmindful of the aforementioned contest, most of us were rather comically surprised. Jhive won the male category, what with his shirt’s bright orange hue, nationalistic theme, and all. DC won the female category, feigning an exaggerated act of astonishment.

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“Katibayan ng Pagpapahalaga ay iginagawad kay…”

Finally, group pictures wrapped up the afternoon.

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The Pinoy Reads Pinoy Books

Actually, there was an after-party following the activity but I wasn’t able to go since I hurriedly flee without even saying goodbye. Haha. They went to a videoke hub or something and sang their hearts out. I’m curious as to who’s in tune and not. lol

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“Crooning simply because we’re awesome”—destroying each other’s eardrums in the process haha

So there, another fun and successful PRPB date and outreach activity! I believe the next one’s going to be in Laguna on July. I am super excited already! PRPB rocks! :)

Related blog post: http://www.mariaellabhi.blogspot.com/2013/05/pinoy-reads-pinoy-books-goes-to-museo.html

Disclaimer: I do not own the photos in this blog post (except for the lone pathetically photographed certificate haha). Photos courtesy of Reev Robledo, Phoebe Andamo, Maria Ella Bestos, and Ben Pones.

Books Loans 2013.2

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Last May 4, 2013—a Sunday afternoon, that is; Phoebe—a PRPB colleague—and I had a random meet-up at Dasmariñas, Cavite. We spent the entire afternoon by wolfing down an entire pizza all by ourselves, savoring our mango desserts, and draining them down later by our preferred refreshments at a pirate-themed restaurant in the heart of Pala-Pala. Since (ehem!) we’re girls, schmoozing is merely a conventional routine of ours. We chitchatted like there’s no tomorrow, hitting on topics specifically concerning our group, book stuff, and well you know… boys (either hot celebrity actors or fictional characters lol). Afterwards, after exchanging a million words, we decided to finally buy tickets and watch Iron Man 3 (Here’s a secret: Phoebe haven’t watched movies 1 and 2 yet!) Then, we went book hunting from various book stores, me not really buying anything and Phoebe ending up with 2 purchases. To highlight our rendezvous, Phoebe brought the books I’ve been borrowing from her, the titles of which are:

So far, I’m down three books already (I indulged myself first with the comics and manga since they’re short reads hehe). The other two will be read quite shortly after my currently-reading list. :)

Brightest — Johann de Venecia, Joanne Chrisner, Josephine Litonjua

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Albeit the audience target of this book, that is, those under the children’s umbrella—Brightest isn’t merely a tale that could charm its way over a child’s defiant whims; but one that could surely exhume a vulnerable chunk of yourself.

There is more to it than just cartoon and words.

One must not read black and white so as to crack the meat, but one must look right through the prose’s sheer simplicity. What does a firefly catcher doing asking directions from a nearby firefly? Should the firefly have fled at the sight of the catcher? Lean back and reflect for a moment. What if the firefly and the firefly catcher are one and the same? Only segmented into two different pieces?

We can assume that the firefly catcher is lost; lost not just in the sense of literal direction, but lost in his determined course in life. A drape of ambiguity clogs his desire, forming a hazy panorama that shortly surfaced into doubts. Appearing next to the slumbering firefly and asking for the right direction translates into his self-confrontation. But similar to the firefly’s apathy, this self-confrontation of his isn’t greatly reinforced just as yet. A little lift, a little push, and the goal comes to life:

“All at once, the firefly felt a jolt surging through his frail body. His wings flapped open from his back, and his dying star has suddenly sparkled to life!”

Whilst the reawakening might have yielded a remarkable advent, another setback sets in. The firefly catcher dreads that he won’t find his way home all by himself. The firefly plucks his star, offers it to his very anxious company, and tells him that the star will guide him to where he belongs—signifying the importance of finding your own destiny, that you alone can fulfill your heart’s desire.

 

However lightweight; however meager the slivers of paper, and brief the encounter with words—Brightest still gleams in comparison to other tomes simply because of the underlying message seeping through its pages. The illustrations even resonates a poignant milieu, achieving the perfect touches of an outstanding book.

 

A big shoutout to the publisher, Josephine Litonjua, for providing me a copy. :)

 

Rating: ★★★★✰

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