iterature. Everyone in De La Salle is
probably familiar with this word already,
especially after taking HUMALIT or
LITERA1. But does anyone know what it really
means, and how it affects the world? Sure, there
are those who really take the time to appreciate
a literary work, but what about the countless
others who see reading as a task rather than a
recreational activity? This issue is for you.
This month, the Menagerie scratches
the surface of one of the world’s oldest pastimes:
reading. We take apart the current trends in
literature and analyze each aspect. We take a peek
at the past of this art form, link it to the present,
and try to predict what the future holds.
First, we give a little background on the most
prominent young adult fiction novels that have
captivated many generations of readers. What do
these books tell about that particular generation?
Does art imitate life or vice versa? Then, for
our cover story, we take a look at some of the
world’s best-selling books and whether or not
they deserve it. Sure, it sold more than a million
copies worldwide, but did it get there based on its
literary merits or simply good marketing? After
that, we try to sneak a peek at what the future of
holds for written literature. With more passive
media readily available, will the art of reading
eventually die? Lastly, we go to the Lounge
where we feature a professor from CCS who has
instigated e-learning here in the Philippines, and
what the future of learning could be.
So, where do you stand in this battle of the
storytellers? Do you side with the directors and
actors, or do you stick with the authors and their
characters? Read on before deciding.
Jeff Salvado
Menagerie Editor
internet photos
edited by
Johna Baylon
Airi Beltran
Beatrice Ong
Kringle Garcia
Justin Regis
ant &
here’s always something appealing
about fast cars. Whether it’s the sound
of the roaring engines, the smell of
burnt rubber, or the sight of those
sweaty drivers, there’s a certain thrill
about witnessing a good Formula One
race. This year, the world witnessed its
first night race in Singapore, complete
with car crashes and technical glitches,
capping off a remarkable racing weekend
from Sept. 26 to 28.
For those who aren’t that big of an
F1 fan, it might’ve come as a surprise
that there has never been a night race
in its history. Reminiscent of a video
game backdrop, the construction was
one to beat. Overhead shots of the
Marina Bay area outlined the glowing
5.067 kilometer-circuit of city streets.
The event clearly rivals the glamorous
Monaco Grand Prix, which used to be
the only city circuit in F1’s 58 years.
With the nighttime aspect giving its edge,
the complexity of the track challenged
even the best drivers, especially those
with major player Ferrari.
Just watching the series of slip-ups
would leave anyone baffled. Ferrari’s
Felipe Massa lost his first place lead with
a rather comical mishap—he left the pit
with the fuel hose still attached, dragging
some of the crew, and leaving him with
a damaging time penalty. Other unlikely
crashes, including Renault’s Nelson
Piquet Jr., Force India’s Adrian Sutil,
and Massa’s teammate Kimi Raikonnen,
only furthered the confusing spectacle.
As expected, underdog Fernando
Alonso’s victory for Renault wasn’t
pretty, fueled with controversy over how
he got his lead. With Williams’ Nico
Rosberg claiming second and McLaren’s
Luis Hamilton on third, 61 laps on
Singapore’s picturesque streets proved
to be quite a feat.
Although the results were
disappointing for those with favorites,
it was still a good watch, down to every
exhilarating detail. After all, you don’t
see top racers fumble over each other in
every F1 event. With three races to go,
the fate of the Grand Prix seems to be
with Hamilton, who maintains his sevenpoint lead in the overall championship,
although one can never tell. Despite the
bloopers, the night race lived up to the
hype. As rumors arise of other Asian
countries following suit, the Singapore
night race undoubtedly etched its place
in Grand Prix history.
by ali caronongan
By Marie Beatrice Angeles
Project Runway
dapted from the (in)famous show hosted by Heidi Klum,
Project Runway Philippines features model Teresa Herrera as the
host, with a judging panel composed of fashion icon Rajo Laurel
and model Apples Aberin-Sahdwani. Jojie Lloren, the supposed
Tim Gunn figure, is in charge of the difficult task of keeping the
contestants at their sanity level throughout the competition.
At stake is a P500,000 paycheck, a fashion editorial spread
in Mega Magazine, and an opportunity to showcase the winning
collection at Philippine Fashion Week. Fourteen fashionforward contestants, who all posses hopes of establishing a
reputation in the fashion industry, battle for
title as they undergo challenges in simulating
the arduous experience of a top designer.
And like every script in talent-search
history, one contestant is eliminated at
the end of every episode. With so much
pressure, rant fests would inevitably ensue
from the contestants—giving the show
its much-deserved reality television
The show could do away with the
2008 Formula 1TM SingTel Singapore
Grand Prix
countless testimonies of the contestants regarding their feelings
toward a certain challenge or a fellow contestant. Even if these
outtakes prove to be the show’s bankable aspect, a surplus of
emotional regurgitations can easily turn the show into a Maalaala
Mo Kaya episode with sewing machines as featured props. The
world of fashion designing, after all, is not dictated by the sensitive
stability of a contestant but on the ability to continuously surprise
the judges with creations that can either be palpable or acrid in
Equally fascinating to watch are the judges themselves, with
Laurel being the “eloquent one” and Aberin-Sahdwani as the
“poker-faced and monotonous” critic. Herrera should also stray
from the usual one-liners originally said by Klum, and could
attempt to add a little spontaneity to elevate her mediocre hosting
A far cry from its original version, the show has aptly
appropriated the very concepts that make it appeal to every
Filipino viewer. Although predictable and dramatic, it is amiable
enough to add to the list of decent primetime offerings aimed at
digressing the ludicrous fascination for banal showbiz hoopla.
Heroes: Volume 3: Villains
By angela velasco
cience fiction TV phenomenon Heroes is back. With no writers’
strike to impede its creativity, the show is back to leave viewers
stunned and wanting more after each episode. Volume 3 begins
with the assassination of Nathan Petrelli (Adrian Pasdar), revealing
his brother Peter as the shooter. His prevention of the assassination
leads to an even grimmer future where a formula that gives anyone
abilities leads to a chaotic world where many abuse their powers.
To make matters worse, the prisoners of Level 5 in the Company’s
basement have escaped and only Noah Benett (Jack Coleman)
knows how to stop them.
The first five episodes have enough
twists that keep you hooked enough
to watch the whole season. But what
makes this season more valuable is the
unexpected yet natural development
of the characters. Fans that have
followed the series since season one
will very much appreciate the new dimensions that have been written
for each character. The characters not only understand their powers
more but also mature with such understanding. Claire (Hayden
Panettiere) still desires to be more “normal” but decides to find a
higher purpose for her abilities. Ando (James Kyson Lee) shows
promise of stepping out of his limiting sidekick role. A new side of
psychotic killer Sylar (Zachary Quinto) is revealed, which will leave
viewers puzzled yet even more curious for such a development.
The actors are able to flesh out the new dimensions of their
characters well, without compromising the different quirks that
viewers have grown to love. Although we are yet to see a standout
performance from the cast, the storyline and the actors complement
each other well enough to keep the viewers addicted.
The show doesn’t fail to deliver using its fantastical elements
to provoke philosophical thoughts on greed, power, idealism and
mortality. Providing the right balance of entertainment, suspense and
contemplation, Heroes does not fail in being a fan favorite.
Tropic Thunder
n describing Tropic Thunder, a few words come to mind
like disgusting, frivoling, rude, violent and offensive. Just that the
movie also happens to be completely and utterly hilarious.
It follows has-been action star Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller),
C-list comedian Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black) and award-winning
method actor Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.) as
they shoot an over-the-top blockbuster in the middle
of a drug cartel. Be warned that this movie is not for
everyone. If you have a strong distaste for gore,
violence and extremely crude humour, then stay
far. It literally celebrates indecency through a
symphony of curses accompanied by a bloodsoaked euphoria of race and drugs. Also,
this film heavily alludes to American popular
culture in many of its jokes. So if you the word
“TiVo” doesn’t ring a bell, neither will many
jokes. But if you meet these requirements then
you’re in for a gut-wrenching, laugh-a-minute spectacle, and I
mean that in every sense of the word.
The movie prances around characters that are the epitome
of stupidity. Within the first ten minutes, it immediately grabs
the audience and unapologetically shoves its jokes down your
throat. And many of these jokes work, mainly because it’s a
satire filled with witty self-deprecating jokes. Even the actors
(save Stiller) are a walking hyperbole of themselves in real life.
Downey, in particular, gives such an astounding performance
as a black man that he steals every scene he’s in. Also notable
are a slew of cameo performances by actors whose identities
I’d rather leave a surprise.
By the explosive final act, with all the self-glorified spoofs
at their finest, you will realise that this movie is rare kind of
comedy. It never hesitates one the expenditure nor the quality
jokes, no matter how humiliating. If only Disaster Movie was
just as ambitious.
1998 - early 2000s
Twilight series
2005 - 2008
Stephenie Meyer’s
The romance novels by Stephenie Meyer
are making waves all over the world, especially
among teenage girls. Laura Miller, a reviewer
for the opinion website, reflected
on the extraordinary commercial success of
the series, saying that it “succeeds at communicating the obsessive, narcotic interiority of all
intense fantasy lives.” She goes on to explain
that most of books’ appeal lies in the plain
character of Bella Swan, allowing readers to
more comfortably step into her shoes while
falling into the dazzling arms of Edward Cullen. Whether or not this book deserves its success has been the topic of much debate. One
thing is for sure
though, the Twilight series has
acquired a massive youth following
that it may be on its
way to becoming
the next cultural
Who has not heard of the “boy
with the lightning scar”? Harry Potter
is a household name nowadays, and
it’s easy to see why: not only is the story
gripping and absorbing, the characters
are perceived as very relatable teenagers. Despite the presence of fantastical
monsters, wands, magic potions, and
spells, the novels are grounded in the
themes of friendship, courage, and
triumph. Everybody who read and
grew up with the series also witnessed
Harry, Ron and Hermione grow up,
and that gave the books a deeper sentimental value.
The horrors of the Holocaust are
relived in the journal of a 14-year old
Jewish girl we have all come to know
as Anne Frank. After being published,
her diary immediately received both
merit and mockery; many believed the
diary to be a forgery and a popularity scam. But all these snide comments
were eclipsed by the growing sympathy
of the people who knew the tragedies
that occurred in concentration camps
across Germany and Austria. The novel stands out by showcasing an ordinary
girl facing impossible odds, but was still
able to transcend beyond race, gender
and age. Though more biographical
than fictitious, Anne Frank’s diary is
an important addition to the YA genre
because it chronicles real
so much insight
into the human
condition, and
because Anne
herself serves
as an inspiration to adolescents everywhere.
J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye
Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl
Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women
revolves around the story of the March
sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy; and
their journey towards discovering their
true selves. Alcott made a big statement
by using her real-life experiences to
give the March sisterhood texture and
depth. The dilemmas of these young
ladies are depicted in the vices they
represent from the women of that time.
Moreover, the novel also captured and
immortalized the ways of 1870s American society, when women, and especially young teenage girls, were at the verge
of breaking free from
the stigma
that undermined their
capabilities and
J.D. Salinger depicted Holden Caulfield as a young boy whose life has been
battered in every way imaginable. His
life is complete with a dysfunctional family, a sadistic roommate and a perverted
professor—all of whom seem wholly
dedicated to making his existence more
miserable. The plot develops around
Holden as he struggles to keep himself sane amidst difficulties. The book
is not considered YA fiction since the
book was initially marketed to a more
mature audience. However, it struck
a chord in the youth of its time, who
were sympathetic towards Holden and
his angst-ridden ranting. The book was
not well-received at first because of its
vulgar language, but it has since become
a mainstay in high school and college
curricula. Holden Caulfield himself has
developed into an icon for rebellious
teenagers today.
1983 - 2003
Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley High series
All modern-day YA fiction can attribute
their beginnings to their 19th century counterparts, one of which is Mark Twain’s The
Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The book tells
the tale of a boy named Tom, who is loved
by readers because of his cleverness and cunning. The exploits of Tom Sawyer and his
friends pioneered the trend that focuses on
the ability of its protagonists to get in and out
of nasty situations using only their wits. Tom,
in effect, makes for a very relatable character,
especially for young boys who crave action and
excitement. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
and its contemporaries—Huckleberry Finn,
Heidi, Treasure Island, and many more—
were not originally lumped together under a
genre. Their appeal to adolescent readers led
to their recognition as YA
Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women
1868 - 1869
Harry Potter series
t m a y c o m e a s a surprise that
d e sp i t e t h e i mportance we
g i v e t o t h e l a t e st techno lo gical
g a d g e t r y , b o o ks a r e more powerful
a m e d i u m t h a n e v e r bef ore. Young
a d u l t f i c t i o n, t y p i c ally called YA,
i s t h e ne w l y e m e r ged genre that
c a t e r s sp e c i fi c a l l y to o ur age. YA
fi c t i o n m a y r u n t h e entire gam ut
o f l i t e r a r y g e nr e s, but common
t he m e s i nc l u de c oming of age and
t he c h a l l e ng e s of g ro wing up. To d a y , a v a st nu m b er of titles fall
u nd e r t h e Y A c a t e gory, and more
t ha n a fe w a r e fa m ous aro und the
wor l d for b e i ng c u lturally signif ic a nt . A nd e x a c t l y how these books
c a m e t o b e so r e nowned, and what
t h e i r e f f e c t s on our generation
a r e , i s no t a b i g m ystery.
J. K. Rowling’s
BY Arik Abu and Gianina Densing
Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
The adventures of Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield formally ended in 2003,
but fans can still be found all over the
world. Sweet Valley High is generally
thought to be a precursor to the trendy
teen series in the market today, the most
notable of these being Gossip Girl and
The A-List. These ‘mean-girl books,’ as
they have been dubbed, resemble the
Sweet Valley High series in that they
centre on the lives of a group of teens,
their families, and their high school experiences. Francine Pascal’s series was
comparatively chaste, but during its time
it was criticized
for its
vapid portrayal
of teenage girls
clothes, makeup,
the social
ceived notion that such books “will not stand the test of time.”
Books like these, due to its instant success and the immense
popularity it has garnered, are not immediately classified as
works of Literature. Sangil says how “time is [a factor] needed
for it to be judged accordingly.” She cites how the works
of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series was previously
regarded as Popular Fiction when it was newly-released fifty
years ago. Even the dramas of William Shakespeare were not
seriously received during its Renaissance debut, but nowadays
one cannot study literary works without seeing his name in the
established canon.
the Literary
erhaps we all have read—or at least heard of—the
magical story of broomsticks, witchcraft, wizardry
immortalized in seven novels. Sheer fascination
and an established following aided to establish the “boywho-lived-with-and-the-thunder-shaped-scar-to-prove-it”
as a notable figure in Pop Culture.
In 2005, controversy greeted the publication of a typically-deemed murder
mystery novel. It narrated the combined efforts of a Harvard symbologist and
the murder victim’s French granddaughter to embark on a whodunit escapade and unraveling truths set to distort the foundations of Christianity. And
while such a plot may sound ludicrous to some, it helped in establishing Dan
Brown’s Da Vinci Code a place in Popular
Literature. The frenzy it garnered sent readers trooping to bookstores, suddenly reviving
readership and sparking literary interest
among the general public.
Fast forward to 2008, and history repeats
itself in the hoopla generated by Stephenie
Meyers’ Twilight saga. And while the reading
public is busily indulging themselves in the
penned forbidden mortal-vampire romance,
the spark for literature has been inevitably
re-ignited once again.
Is our generation witnessing the birth
of a literary revolution? Is it possible for
the Twilight Series to be acknowledged and
placed on a literary pedestal in the near
future? And could Stephenie Meyer be immortalized alongside the likes of William
Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe—J.K. Rowling
and Dan Brown even?
to the field of literature. Our literary studies also acknowledge the works
of Jose Rizal, F. Sionil Jose and Jose Garcia Villa as among those that
constitute the body of Philippine Literature. Established literary critic
Terry Eagleton even weighs in how “[the literary canon is] fashioned
by particular people for particular reasons at a certain time,” and this
further elucidates how Literature’s
discursive nature becomes subject
to its continuous re-shaping and reevalution according to the ideals and
values perpetuated in the present
“Literature’s evolution (its defintion and its reception) is always a
sign of the times,” says Prof. Anne
Frances Sangil of the Literature
Department. How this generation
could define the literary status quo
entails an observation of the tastes
and trends that define the readership
of books nowadays. It is true that the
readership of a certain book aids in
determining the nature of literature,
and the shifts in the books that top
the Best-seller lists prove such.
“Value judgments (on a literary work)
depend not just on the inherent quality of a work but also the value system
of a certain generation,” Sangil adds.
value judgements
on a literar y work
depend not just on
the inherent quality
of a work but also
the value system of a
certain generation
Definition Evolution
History bears witness to the publication of countless books that have
been immensely hailed by literary critics and perpetuated because of massive cult followings. Considering what is deemed “literature” nowadays
has deviated from its roots as a medium of instruction used in prestigious
academes. Nowdays, it is accessible to many even if its misconstrued elitist
spectre continues to haunt its relationship with the public.
To define Literature is to define a construct—a term that is simply
defined and re-defined by a certain society. The term “Literature” cannot
be fully boxed into an absolute concept because works deemed as such
are produced by a country’s culture and ideologies. Our literary studies
currently recognize the existence of a western canon–one that is produced
with the timeless works of well-established writers who have contributed
Bookshelf Attraction
The cases of Rowling, Brown, and Meyer have headlined the subbranch of literature that recognizes the “here and now’s” gracing the
literary scene. If it is deemed “too soon” to tell whether or not their
respective books will emerge as timeless classics, then it could be at least
classified as Popular Literature for the meantime.
“It (Popular Literature) must appeal to a great number of people,
hence the word ‘popular’,” explains Sangil. She also explains how such
books also constitute an ephemeral “shelf-life” because of the preconOCTOBER 2008
The Market and the Media, Oh My!
Shakespeare and Tolkien may have not witnessed their
works being canonized in literary bookshelves during their time.
However, writers nowadays may find such a task less daunting
in doing so with the aid of two influential factors present in this
generation: media and marketing strategies.
When Neil Gaiman’s American Gods was released in 2001,
its publishers decided to have its full text available online for a
certain number of hours. Because of this tactic, the sales of the
book increased to 250 percent after its public viewing.
Contrary to popular belief, the success of merchandise is
not solely defined by its packaging, but also how it is received
by the market. It is commonly noted that bestseller books
which catapult to stardom are worth the read or purchase—be
it for the purpose of entertainment, inspiration, breakthrough
information, or controversy. Critical acclaim may not be necessary in establishing the book into the public consciousness
since the success is heavily dependent on the hype generated
by the reading public.
The Harry Potter phenomenon also sheds light on the
strong influence of the media in attracting readers. After
sustaining a remarkable ten year run in the New York Times
Best Selling list, it would just be too dangerous to attribute 375
million copies sold translated in 65 languages to the magic of
marketing. After all, the pioneering Potter craze has paved the
way for this recognition-giving body to create a separate division for the bestselling children’s books and children’s book
series. This alone is already a huge literary contribution for it
has not only introduced a new dominant player in the market
but more importantly, it has expanded the variety of genres that
readers are exposed to.
Controversy may also draw readers into sheer fascination
with books. In the case of the equally phenomenal Da Vinci
Code, it used a personal selling move to jumpstart a worldwide
hit. It has been a subject of interest that Dan Brown searched
for the most well-known writers of and sent them
copies to review even before the book’s release. As a result,
the book has already reaped astonishing reviews even before
it reached the bookstores. But due to its highly controversial
nature that challenged two thousand years’ worth of belief, this
sneaky but smart pre-selling promotion might just have been the
cherry on top of the whole treat for the sly Mr. Brown.
These two premises adhere to the notion that good marketing complements a good book. But what we’d really like to
know is if marketing can actually create the perception of a good
book. Moreover, is it actually possible that a book becomes a
best-seller because it was advertised to be such?
The closest example of this is Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret,
whose readership can be attributed to its web hype and movie
release. Similar to Gaiman’s American Gods, its publishers
created a weblog where the author placed information on the whole
process of coming up with the story and what to look forward about it.
This tactic inevitably produced curiosity among potential readers, engaging them into a realm of interest for the yet-to-be-published manuscript
of a self-help book.
The fact that many books are packaged under the “Self-Help” category with the “promise of changing lives” did not help The Secret become
a literary spectacle, contrary to marketing expectations. Even if 20,000
copies were sold and the book was recognized in the in the best-seller
lists for 27 weeks, critics dismissed that it has nothing more to offer than
a title as its driving point. It has a struggling content that was covered by
an intriguing appeal, an Ivy League author, and an affordable price.
Shedding Light on Twilight
In the case of the Twilight series and its possible “literary” canonization draws mixed reactions from those exposed to the pangs of the ongoing
popularity wave. Readers such as Camille Verzosa, an Engineering student
from the University of the Philippines, says how “[Meyers’ prose uses] a
story to model/characterize certain issues in a person’s life, fictional or
otherwise. It tells of at least one emotion, experience, or event. And, as a
work of fiction, it delivers to those needs.” And like other self-professed
fans, she also notes the series’ escapist nature. “Generally, I love Twilight.
I am actually hooked,” she says, “but, I also think there are some points
in its storyline that seem unimaginable even in a fictional novel (especially
in Breaking Dawn). Maybe we could consider it bad fiction or bad literature. But it would still be literature.” On the other side, there are those
who do not see the series defying the “classic” standard since its stylistic
elements fall short. “Aside from its grammatical errors, it lacks theme
and action,” says Abdul Onos (IV-LMG). “The absence of events in the
story drags the plot, and it contributes to the lack of character formation
in the case of Edward [Cullen] and Bella [Swan].”
Sangil, also a reader of Meyers’ work, understands the mass appeal
generated by the success of the books. And although she cites the lack
of characterization and the existence of a shallow storyline as the novel’s
weakpoints, she believes that it is in the very character of Bella’s “Mary
Sue” prototype where the popularity effect could be attributed to. “Bella
saves the day. She’s the star of the series. That’s how most of the fans
want to see themselves, at least in their fantasies,” she says. Also, she
credits the popularity of the novels to the media hype that has helped
established a fan base among readers who are suitable reading Meyers’
style of writing.
A Timeless Test (Or “Goodbye, Shakespeare. . . Hello, (insert
name of instant writer here) ?”)
Debating whether or not Popular literature headliners being labeled
as “good” or “bad” literature is another story. The non-existence of a
subjective evaluation in determining a work’s “literary-ness” is in the
taste and preference of the critic. “Not all popular fiction is rubbish.
Not all popcorn bestsellers are unintelligent,” adds Sangil, The unjust
treatment of academic scholars against Popular Fiction, saying how a
text’s popularity effect does not contribute to its literary value. Does
this imply the probable possibility of such works being included in the
literary canon in the near future? Sangil says, “If you want to know if a
work will turn out to be a classic, you really have to wait and see if it will
be able to stand time’s test.”
Until then, we look forward to our great, great, descendants to give
us the verdict on whether or not they will be reading vampire love stories alongside books of Hogwarts wizardry and tales of Robert Langdon
deciphering conspiracies.
BY Aaron Sitosta, Florante de Jesus ,
Jeffrey Salvado
Ladies and Gentlemen, reading is
espite a millennium of entertaining and provoking
countless minds, reading
is seemingly on its deathbed. The world has moved on to
24/7 visual entertainment that serves
to complement our infamously peanut-sized attention spans. How will
reading’s terminal descent pan out?
Prognosis is anything but good.
Readership decline
Numbers don’t lie, and they’re saying that
reading has been steadily declining for the past
few years. According to the 2007 National Book
Development Board survey, the number of
avid book readers sharply decreased from 95
percent of the population in 2003 to merely 64
percent in 2007. With the short attention span
syndrome people have acquired, technology
does have the upper
hand over print materials. Not only do TV,
movies and the Internet
offer brief content that
can easily be digested
and appreciated, they
also provide gratuitous
eye candy. This phenomenon could also be
attributed to the world’s
faster pace. Accessibility
and urgency are what
people are assessing information with, and it’s
no wonder they opt for the Internet and other
media for this need. In a survey conducted
among DLSU students, 86 percent spend their
time browsing the Internet and watching TV
and movies, compared to a mere 35 percent
who have read recreationally in the past two
Prof. Darcy Reburiano of the Literature
Department had an interesting observation
in his HUMALIT class. Reburiano asked his
class what their favorite book was, and a large
number said that it was Twilight. While this
may not seem remarkable at first, a closer, more
critical look would tell a grim and sad reality.
While it is good that the students actually had
a favorite book, agreeing on a single one could
imply that it’s the only
thing they’ve read. As to
what the source of this
popularity is, Reburiano
attributes it not to its literary merits but by sheer
hype. Immense popularity
may not necessarily mean
great quality but instead
good marketing. It might
get people to read for a
while, but after the hype
dies down, it’s likely that
these sudden readers will
go back to sitting on the
couch or the computer chair.
I m m e n s e
popularity may
not necessarily
mean great quality
but instead good
Hype Machine
There still seems to be hope for reading,
as seen by the success of popular fiction for
children and adolescents like the Harry Potter
series and more recently, Stephenie Meyer’s
Twilight. “Any book for that matter may have a
positive impact on the youth”, says Prof. Joahna
S. Mante of the Department of English and Applied Linguistics. “It is very probable that reading a simple novel like [Harry Potter] may lead
to a better understanding and appreciation of
the more ‘serious’ literature.” But on the other
hand, will it really work to help curb the declining readership of literature? From the outset, it
might seem that way what with everyone lugging
around the latest installment of the said series;
even those who seem unlikely to pick up any
kind of reading material. The actualization of
this theory remains to be seen though.
Junkfood Literature
The future of reading seems pretty bleak
as the prospect seems to hinge on a choice of
either dabbling in popular, fanaticized literature
or the eventual demise of the medium itself.
The loss will not be solely bared by the wishful
and sentimental notions of bibliophiles everywhere. In the end, we are all stakeholders in this
future tragedy. Literature doesn’t just entertain
but provokes us out of our intellectual comfort
zones, broadening our horizons to see beyond
it a reality that isn’t often comfortable to watch.
It does so in a way that internet or television can
only hope to replicate. Reading literature opens
minds, affects emotions, and fuels imagination
no other form of storytelling can. It is sad that
people have become satisfied with their more
passive counterparts. While there’s nothing
wrong with wanting to feast on visual spectacles,
just like junk food, it’s delicious but ultimately
unhealthy. They may be entertaining, but it
can not give the mental nourishment needed
from time to time. Unfortunately, there is no
cerebral equivalent to a root canal once brain
rot ensues.
BY Roch Santos and Anthony Tang
echnology is breaking barriers
i n no t onl y h o w w e c o nne c t w i t h
others, but also through a new
r ang e o f op p ortuni ti e s fo r l e a r ni ng , d e velopment, mentoring, and knowledge
tr ansfer. Org an i z ati ons a nd i ndi v i d u a l s
all over the world are discovering
a ne w l e v e l of d i re c t c o l l a b o r a ti on that c oul d be th e m os t powerful accelerator for generating
new ideas, creating innovative
solutions, and engaging everyone in the process. This shift
opens the door of opportunity
for education sectors to be at the
forefront of leading change—a
change that will grant us passport
to anything we wanted to learn
simply by plugging ourselves into
a computer and downloading the
necessary knowledge into our
long-term memory. With this
passport, get ready to immerse yoursel f i n a t h r e e - d i m e n s i o n a l , c o n d u c i v e
environment, and further enhance
your le a r n i ng e x p e r i e nc e . W e l c om e t o
E-learni ng .
spreading the word of
education. In 1997,
he became the
CCS dean, and
by the time he
stepped down,
he focused more
on writing Instruc-
tion to all Filipinos, which he has achieved
through four revolutionary e-learning websites and portals:,,, and Philippine Online
These sites are highly dedicated to help
groups and individuals in the Philippines
foster lasting improvement in their
learning. Through the support and
resources they provide, students (particularly those from public schools),
out-of-school youth, and adults will
be granted access to quality education
anytime and anywhere. Together with
VIBAL, Dr. Espiritu is right on track
fostering the development of knowledge, nurturing individual creativity,
empowering communities, and giving
accessible information to the public.
He realized, “People
would put their information in their blogs
but not contribute to a
wiki page.” To direct this concern, Dr. Es-
e-learning provides
capacitybuilding and people
empower ment in
terms of education
Breakthrough E-learning
E-learning stands for “electronic learning,” which Dr. Jose Lloyd Espiritu, a
professor from the College of Computer
Studies (CCS), defines as using technology for education to deliver learning. It is
learning derived from the organic action of
sharing and exchanging information directed
and driven by a larger scale of participants:
the web.
Gearing towards the vision of giving the
privilege of rich knowledge to the youth,
Dr. Espiritu has dedicated half of his life
tional Systems Technology programs offered
in CCS, which specialize in courses on
web design, content management, and
online learning.
As e-learning advanced
through the years, Dr. Espiritu took action and helped
extend its efficacy and worth.
He contributed
to this cause
by working in
VIBAL Publishing House,
Inc. and its corporate social responsibility arm, VIBAL
Foundation as their edtech consultant. With him
is VIBAL’s core advocacy
of sharing open informa-
piritu personally went
on a countrywide school-toschool campaign to
Luzon, Visayas, and
Mindanao. He vigorously encouraged students, especially the likely
“core nucleus contributors”
or those coming from writing
clubs and school publications, to
write for the ongoing project’s wiki
pages. Contributing content is not as
easy as it seems, so Dr. Espiritu started
to train the students in wiki writing and
resource contribution so they can attain
the level of competence and confidence
required. Through the years, he had also
trained developers and social designers from
seven state universities around the country
in flash authoring, designing e-modules,
and other related web-based learning elements.
University Updates
Don’t think that the university is being
left out though. Dr. Espiritu spearheaded an
e-learning course in Instructional Systems
Technology, which will be replacing the
course Distance Learning next term here in
DLSU. He also entered the university into
a partnership with the Knowledge Channel,
an educational cable TV channel which is
available for free in some public schools.
Dr. Espiritu, together with
the College of Education, is
helping to create modules
for the channel prototyping 40 episodes that are 20
minutes each. His project
begins with a module
on Geometry. He plans
to involve students in
developing these
photo by patty lagera
modules with experts and some ABS-CBN
staff to finish hopefully the entire project
by June 2009.
Blowing the Nation Forward
Even the government is recognizing the
potential of electronic education. The Department of Education is now also investing
in e-learning, harnessing and capitalizing
on the Internet as a learning tool. The
department realizes that information and
communication technologies can become
an essential part of the solution to poverty
and other socioeconomic ills.
Dr. Espiritu says “Everybody seems
to be [doing] their social responsibility in
helping out.” However, e-learning has just
started to gain its foothold in the country
and its potentials may have not been proven
yet. Most traditional educators including
parents, think that computer-based learning
may not be as effective as going to school.
They are still caught up in the conventional
setting of students’ learning and the role of
school-bound teachers rather than learning
from other people from the world over.
Dr. Espiritu then contends that the major
obstacle that impedes Filipinos from fully
embracing the concept of e-learning is not
the lack of development funds, but the
preparedness and cultural resistance that
instinctively come across most of the traditionalists’ minds. “People are too [comfortable] with the way they do things,” he said.
“These people find it difficult to adapt to
new forms of education; therefore, defeating
their potential to explore the new wave of
learning and teaching methods.”
The vast knowledge that e -learning is
making available will only be harnessed
if more Filipinos become open to its possibilities. This begins with understanding
that goes beyond the school curriculum, the
classroom walls, and even graduation. With
e -learning, millions will slowly regain their
right to education.
artwork by monika ortega