Chair’s Corner

  • A visit back in time

    By: Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer March 18, 2017 What we thought would be a regular 2-day respite from the city, an out-of-town jaunt to Tagaytay and Lipa, turned out to be much more than a spillover of our college golden jubilee euphoria. From our Tagaytay base, Costiera Fermiliana on Ligaya Drive, where continue reading

  • All that Luang Prabang offers

    By: Neni Sta. Romana Cruz March 04, 2017 Along with nine classmates who decided to celebrate together 50 years from college, I have just returned from a trip to the old royal capital Luang Prabang in northern Laos—a true adventure in a place that initially lured us because it is said to be where time continue reading

  • Lest we forget

        By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer February 18, 2017 Thankfully, many events are highlighting the month of history that February is and ought to be for every Filipino. Who can think of February without thinking of Edsa and People Power? Despite the disappointments about the nonrevolution that did not alter the continue reading

  • Balancing rights of authors and end users

    By: Neni Sta. Romana Cruz February 04, 2017 Philippine Daily Inquirer About two years ago, there was a news clip on British authors declining invitations to a literary festival because the organizers were deemed less than professional in not offering each an honorarium. The authors were asserting their right to be compensated for work, like continue reading

  • Giving writers their due

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz January 21, 2017 Philippine Daily Inquirer An ubiquitous nook in school campuses is the photocopying center usually found in libraries—a must for students and teachers. We have witnessed—nay, even experienced—how easily and efficiently entire books are copied, so faithfully from cover to cover that the reproductions could pass for originals. continue reading

  • A book in every student’s hand, please

    By: Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer January 07, 2017 I know too well the folly of drawing up a long list of New Year wishes, so let me focus on only one. This should be predictable considering my recurring refrain about the need for literacy at home, in the classroom, everywhere. Yes, just continue reading

  • Of Christmases past and present

    By: Neni Sta. Romana Cruz December 24, 2016 Philippine Daily Inquirer Because the warm family memories of my childhood Christmases continue to see me through life’s challenging seasons, I ensure that my children though now young professionals and grandchildren, ages six, three and one and a half years, are similarly blessed. More than the presents continue reading

  • When all else fails, there are books

    By: Neni Sta. Romana Cruz December 10, 2016 Philippine Daily Inquirer If we allow it, this time of the year can drive us to a mindless frenzy, lamentably so contrary to the season of peace and joy we know it must be. Aside from the travails of Metro Manila living and what appears to be continue reading

  • The Marcos myth-making continues

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer November 26, 2016 Yes, we lament the treachery that took place on Nov. 18, but should we wonder that a dictator’s life full of deceit and deception should include such a ghastly episode, complete with speculations on wax replica or human remains, casket size, and secret chamber? continue reading

  • Catching up with ourselves

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz November 12, 2016 Philippine Daily Inquirer Did we need a commendably coordinated Philippine Education Summit with an overflow crowd of 500 to be reminded of all that is wanting in our public school system? These issues are all too familiar: perennial classroom shortages; quality of textbooks insulting to our students; continue reading

  • What a difference gov’t subsidy makes

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer October 29, 2016 The Frankfurt Book Fair (FBF, or Buchmesse) is behind us now, having ended six days ago. But what a specially significant event this year’s participation of the Philippines was, only the second consecutive year that its publishing industry managed to do so. Our Asean continue reading

  • On to the world via Frankfurt

    By Neni Sta. Romana-Cruz October 15, 2016 Philippine Daily Inquirer Just a few years ago, the National Book Development Board (NBDB) would never have dreamt of making a presence in the Frankfurt Book Fair (FBF), the world’s largest, held in five separate large pavilions and one Agora (a la the ancient Greek city-states) that take continue reading

  • Back to the classroom

    By Neni Sta. Romana-Cruz 1 October 2016 Philippine Daily Inquirer There was no better way to celebrate National Teachers Month than being in a public school classroom to teach for 50 minutes. It was the second time I had done so for Teach for the Philippines (TFP) Week, during which invited individuals serve as guest continue reading

  • Not easy to teach or talk about

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer September 17, 2016 Since 1995, the Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Sexual Abuse (CPTCSA), a nonprofit, nongovernment institution has been working toward a safe world for children free from sexual abuse and exploitation. Expatriate social worker Lois J. Engelbrecht and current executive director Zenaida continue reading

  • Bravo, Clarissa Delgado and TFP!

    By Neni Sta. Romana-Cruz 3 September 2016 Philippine Daily Inquirer It was with special interest that I read the recent announcement of Asia Society’s 2016 roster of Asia 21, emerging young professionals from the Asia-Pacific representing the private, public and nonprofit sectors selected for “outstanding achievement, commitment to public service and a proven ability to continue reading

  • What to tell today’s youth?

    By Neni Sta. Romana-Cruz 20 August 2016 Philippine Daily Inquirer When, IN a previous column, I cited in passing the Kid’s Choice Awards as a unique feature of the National Children’s Book Awards/Best Reads, it was not intended to minimize the significance of the role of our child judges, all 10 of them, ages 7-14. continue reading

  • A month of remembering and reading

    By Neni Sta. Romana-Cruz 6 August 2016 Philippine Daily Inquirer I BEGAN August wearing yellow in loving memory of Cory Aquino, a woman I was fortunate to know beyond her being the Philippines’ first woman president. And it is neither sheer fanaticism nor blind loyalty that drives me to remember her each time. Aug. 21, continue reading

  • Best reads for 2016

    By Neni Sta. Romana-Cruz 23 July 2016 Philippine Daily Inquirer The 33rd National Children’s Book Day festivities held last Tuesday at the lobby of the Cultural Center of the Philippines were more celebratory than usual because the traditional ceremonies included the announcement of the 4th National Children’s Book Awards (NCBAs). The biennial awards had been continue reading

  • Who’s afraid of technology?

    By Neni Sta. Romana-Cruz 9 July 2016 Philippine Daily Inquirer I AM winding up one of my regular tours of grandnanny duties in San Francisco. The demands and expectations are now more complex, having tripled with Diego, six; Emilio, two; and the year-old Juliana. Their parents, Edmund, a doctor at Kaiser, and my daughter Tanya, continue reading

  • Education for All by 2030

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz June 25, 2016 Philippine Daily Inquirer Education Secretary Br. Armin Luistro FSC has every reason to describe the opening of this school year as the best he and his team have ever experienced, judging from the reports received on the ground and through the Department of Education’s hotline. Not that continue reading

  • Celebrating Rizal and plays that rock

      By Neni Sta. Romana-Cruz 11 June 2016 Philippine Daily Inquirer To many, the byline of Christine S. Bellen, a professor at Ateneo de Manila University (Admu), may be associated with the “Lola Basyang” series, the subject of her master’s thesis and popularized as a children’s book series and adapted into ballet and a TV continue reading

  • It’s expensive to love books

    In that terse statement, National Book Development Board (NBDB) deputy executive director Anna Katarina Rodriguez summed up an important facet of literacy in the country today. Cleverly using the Filipino word “mahal,” one familiar to some of our Asean neighbors, she highlighted its two important meanings: “expensive” and “beloved.” Rodriguez was a panelist in a continue reading

  • A tale of two libraries

    By Neni Sta. Romana-Cruz 14 May 2016 Philippine Daily Inquirer How could I sit through two recent library-related events without being anguished, thinking of two government directives significant to literacy but, from all indications, ignored and forgotten today? These directives are then Education Undersecretary Isagani R. Cruz’s memo (Department of Education Memo 34 s. 2001) continue reading

  • A day of many traditions

    APRIL 23 was a particularly significant literary milestone because it marked the 400th death anniversary of two illustrious names in world literature: William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes, who coincidentally died on the same day. The tradition of Día del Libro has its origin in Barcelona, Spain, that has men and women exchanging roses and continue reading

  • Turning authors into celebrities

    HALF OF the month of April, Philippine Literature Month, may be gone, yet the Alab ng Panitikan schedule of activities continues with much fervor, thanks to the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF), the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, and the National Book Development Board (NBDB). It was wonderful to be witness to two continue reading

  • All-out for Alab (‘Ay Lab’) Panitikan 2016

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz 20 March 2016 Philippine Daily Inquirer FRANCISCO BALAGTAS’ birth anniversary on April 2 was the most appropriate reason for Presidential Proclamation No. 968, issued on Feb. 10, 2015, and declaring the month of April as “Buwan ng Panitikang Filipino” (National Literature Month). But now, on its second year, we find continue reading

  • Edsa 2016 engages the millennials

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz 20 February 2016 Philippine Daily Inquirer IF PREVIOUS Edsa People Power celebrations were bathed in nostalgia and joyful festivities that simulated the dancing in the streets in the heady days of February 30 years ago, this year’s program of activities deliberately departs from that. The reality check had to happen continue reading

  • Listen to their own words

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz 9 January 2016 Philippine Daily Inquirer In my years of introducing the craft of writing to young writers, I am always excited, the way I am when my own books are poised to roll off the press: when the final step of the writing process happens for them—seeing their bylines continue reading

  • Luistro’s latest challenge to publishers

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz 26 December 2015 Philippine Daily Inquirer At a meeting with publishers at the Department of Education last month, Education Secretary Br. Armin Luistro FSC spoke in strong, uncompromising terms regarding improving the quality of learning materials for public schools and reforming practices in the procurement of such books. It was continue reading

  • ‘Laláng’ in Davao

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz 5 December 2015 Philippine Daily Inquirer It was nothing short of a miracle that the 6th Philippine International Literary Festival of the National Book Development Board (NBDB) took place in Davao City so successfully despite it being nose to nose with the departures of Apec leaders from Manila. But actually, continue reading

  • Heady over books in November

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Saturday, 21 November 2015 Philippine Daily Inquirer The Philippine Book Development Month of November was off to a promising start with the “Booklatan sa Bayan” of the National Book Development Board (NBDB) at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in Sta. Mesa. I had never been on that campus continue reading

  • Bold step for PH publishing

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz
    24 October 2015
    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    By this time, the intrepid team of seven publishers that made possible the Philippines’ first-ever collective stand at the 67th Frankfurt Book Fair (FBF or Buchmesse) would have returned home, energized by the initial foray in the international market and encouraged by the number of inquiries from rights buyers.

    To give one an idea why the Buchmesse boasts of being the world’s largest, it is housed in six buildings (called halls) featuring, among others, the Antiquarian Book Fair; an Education Center featuring current issues in education; Comics; International Publishers where the Philippines’ stand was, along with those of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia; the guest of honor in a separate pavilion; Children’s & Young Adult; Fiction and Non-Fiction; Art Books/Gifts/Design; Religion; Tourism; Academic Publishing; and Stationery & Gifts, a very popular Calendar Gallery. Think of SMEX 6-10 times over. One needed a map to check out the areas one wanted to visit, and the all-day shuttles were a big help.

    In our same hall was Iran, whose large exhibition space was starkly empty—an expression of boycott because of its displeasure that Salman Rushdie was invited to the Buchmesse opening press conference. No author-sighting for me, especially of Isabel Allende; I only have memories of my Paulo Coelho encounter last year.

    Each day had a packed schedule of forums on a wide range of topics. One of the sessions featured a member of the Philippine Team Frankfurt delegation, Jorge Abiva Garcia of Abiva Publishing House Inc., who gave an introduction to Philippine textbook publishing. He was the only featured Filipino speaker.

    The Buchmesse is not a consumer or retail fair in the way our September Manila International Book Fair (MIBF) was. The books on display were only available for sale in the last three hours of Sunday, the final day. It was open to the public only in the last two days, when the book-buying public came in droves along with a horde of cosplayers, showing just how much characters from sci-fi, comics, or anime are loved and seriously studied. In the trains on those days was the typical sight of adolescents in full regalia, complete with makeup and wigs, carrying homemade signs, hammers, swords, lasers and appropriate accessories.

    If not the general public, who is the main audience of the Buchmesse? The first three days were restricted to trade visitors, representatives of book publishing and multimedia companies from all over the world to negotiate international publishing rights and licensing fees.

    The Buchmesse is a revered tradition in Germany, and all roads literally led to it for the week. Even the German Embassy in San Francisco, where I had to apply for a visa, waived the fee after I explained my circumstances. Initially they said it was not possible for a temporary visitor like me to secure one, but later they said they were happy that the Philippines would be represented. Similar sentiments were aired by the German visa personnel at the Frankfurt airport.

    Many actually expressed surprise and relief to find the stand of the Philippines at the Buchmesse. Too long in coming, said Buchmesse official Claudia Kaiser. But it would be inaccurate to say it was a first time for everyone in the team, for some of our leading publishers—Karina Bolasco of Anvil, Ani Almario of Adarna, Jun Matias of Lampara/Precious Pages—have been to the fair, as individual participants, though not annually. Rex Group of Companies and the Philippine Educational Publishers Association led by Dominador Buhain and Sonia Santiago have been a constant presence. Visprint Inc. had its own complimentary stall for two successive years under the Buchmesse’s international training program for young publishers-trainees (Nida Ramirez and Kyra Ballesteros).

    One could see how those efforts are now reaping benefits and goodwill. When foreign publishers dropped by, they were better known and sought. A good number were primarily interested in selling their book rights to the Philippine market, the usual starting point for a business relationship. I could not resist asking for a reciprocal relationship. Others wanted books in English to expose foreign children to stories from Asia. Others wanted books originally written in Filipino. It was fortunate that UST Publishing House’s Jack Wigley was present, because foreign universities and libraries wanted materials for Southeast Asian studies.

    The recurring comment was: But where do we find your books aside from the stray titles that find their way to Amazon? The team tried to address this with a catalogue of Philippine publishers which included even the nonparticipating publishers.

    National Artist Virgilio S. Almario, who heads the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino, paid us a visit as he wound up a previously scheduled personal visit to Berlin. His presence was fortunate as he could join us for a meeting to which we were invited with Buchmesse CEO Juergen Boos, who especially welcomed the Philippines as a first-timer.

    All in all, it was good for the Philippines to be found. Lirio Sandoval and Ani Almario of the Book Development Association of the Philippines (who also initiated the MIBF three decades ago) and National Book Development Board executive director Graciela Cayton deserve all the credit for this endeavor.

    Neni Sta. Romana Cruz ( is chair of the National Book Development Board, a trustee of Teach for the Philippines, and a member of the Eggie Apostol Foundation.

  • PH best source of content in Asia

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Saturday, October 10, 2015 Philippine Daily Inquirer When the Frankfurt Book Fair (or Frankfurter Buchmesse), the world’s largest annual trade fair for books, opens on Oct. 14, for the very first time in the fair’s more than 500-year history the Philippines will have its own exhibitor stand with the proud continue reading

  • Going beyond the curriculum

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz September 26, 2015 Philippine Daily Inquirer For National Teachers Month, I’d like to pay homage to five teachers who have made a difference in their students’ lives. Fernando Pagsibigan is now a teacher training adviser in Cambodia but cannot forget an experience from 13 years ago as a Grade 5 continue reading

  • Francis Varela, public servant and colleague

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz September 5, 2015 Philippine Daily Inquirer 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 continue reading

  • ‘Dad in white, lying dead on the tarmac’

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Saturday, August 22, 2015 Philippine Daily Inquirer I distinctly remember the sense of anticipation and uncertainty at the meeting of the Women Writers in Media Now (or Women) the day before Ninoy Aquino’s expected arrival on the afternoon of the next day, a Sunday. As had become a regular practice continue reading

  • Teach for the Philippines turns 3

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz August 15, 2015 Philippine Daily Inquirer What is there to fear about the traditional ghosts of August? The 8th of the month was an auspicious date for Teach for the Philippines (TFP) as it marked its third anniversary. And what more fitting venue to celebrate this milestone than at one continue reading

  • Pioneer reading woman

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz August 1st 2015 Philippine Daily Inquirer Aurora H. Roldan was an extraordinary woman of many persuasions. When we were in college and she was newly returned from graduate studies at the University of Southern California, she introduced us to the then-intoxicating and radical concept of speed-reading. What a magical trick continue reading

  • ‘Umuulan ng Libro’ in July

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz July 25, 2015 Philippine Daily Inquirer At the height of the torrential rains last week, the Philippine Board on Books for Young People (PBBY) chaired by Tarie Subido and the National Book Development Board (NBDB) began to worry that they may have been jinxed by labeling this year’s National Children’s continue reading

  • Remaining off that piracy watch list

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Saturday, July 4, 2015 Philippine Daily Inquirer The sight of the backhoe and armored vehicles on the Philippine National Police grounds in Camp Crame two weeks ago was chilling, evoking images of violent deaths, especially in the Ampatuan massacre. But on that Monday morning, the task of these vehicles was continue reading

  • Reliving Ninoy’s life and times

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz June 20th, 2015 Philippine Daily Inquirer I went to the Aquino Center in Tarlac on Independence Day, deciding that this year would be the best time to celebrate the holiday. On the ride there, I was suddenly filled with regret at the thought of never having had the chance to continue reading

  • Look who’s turning digital

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Saturday, June 6th 2015 Philippine Daily Inquirer At the National Children’s Book Awards ceremony in July 2014, Samsung Asia announced the launch of the Samsung Kids Time Authors Awards (SKTAA) in partnership with the National Book Development Council of Singapore. The competition called for children’s stories from Asean countries that continue reading

  • Take heed, teachers

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Saturday, May 23rd, 2015 Philippine Daily Inquirer It’s that time of the year when teachers are for the most part eager to start a new school year, hopefully all renewed and refreshed, building on and learning from the previous year’s successes and setbacks. Listening in on two authors mentoring young continue reading

  • A Dream Library

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Saturday 9 May 2015 Philippine Daily Inquirer One cannot be in London and not imbibe the vibrant city’s love for literature and the arts. During previous visits I felt deep regret when it was already time to leave and I had yet to go through my long list of things continue reading

  • Who’s afraid of K-to-12?

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Saturday, 25 April 2015 Philippine Daily inquirer Fear not. The K-to-12 program should be viewed, not as a threat, but as the best opportunity for Philippine publishers to grow and show off the best that they are capable of doing. In a nutshell, those were the reassuring words—in truth, an continue reading

  • It’s April, think Balagtas and ‘Panitikan’

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Saturday, April 11th, 2015 Philippine Daily Inquirer Even before the onset of April, panitikan was already in the air, announcing the very first month dedicated to it—Buwan ng Panitikang Filipino, or National Literature Month—as mandated by Proclamation No. 968. The proclamation was a dream come true for the Komisyon sa continue reading

  • ‘I love (Aylab) Panitikan’

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer Saturday, March 21, 2015 That is the wordplay on the “war cry” of the forthcoming special summer month of April—Alab Panitikan! (“Alab” is, of course, the lovely Filipino word for blaze, ardor, kindle, rage.) There is a new and wonderful reason for welcoming the month of April continue reading

  • A (modest) boon for authors, researchers

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz 7 March 2015 Philippine Daily Inquirer On March 13, the National Book Development Board (NBDB) will honor the latest batch of grantees of its Authors’ Trust Fund, or the National Book Development Trust Fund. The fund was established to support and promote Filipino authorship and the completion and publication of continue reading

  • Edsa: a story worth retelling

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Saturday, February 21st, 2015 It’s a school holiday on Wednesday, Feb. 25, yet how many of our students and especially their teachers know and appreciate what this day in recent history really means? Yes, I know what the cynics will say. What is there to celebrate about Edsa? What has continue reading

  • Where teaching is a coveted profession

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Saturday, February 7th, 2015 Philippine Daily Inquirer As the country in focus at the 2014 Frankfurt Book Fair, Finland went all out to showcase its literature, calling attention to authors, established and on the rise: Aleksis Kivi, Sofi Oksanen and children’s author and illustrator Tove Jansson, who was marking her continue reading

  • Telling it like it is

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz 24 January 2015 Philippine Daily Inquirer I like it when public officials do not mince words and say it like it is, with little need to resort to euphemisms or politically correct language. You’d think that it being the first meeting of the New Year, it would just be a continue reading

  • A book in every child’s hand

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Saturday, January 10th, 2015 Philippine Daily Inquirer If you think the issue of book donations is simple and uncomplicated, think again. It is not just a matter of a ceremonial turnover. I myself have gone through several changes of heart and mind about it. The day I felt like a continue reading

  • How to love to read—without books

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer Saturday, December 27th, 2014 Quite a conundrum to wrestle with. I had run many literacy workshops before, but this one for teachers of Marikina public schools, where Teach for the Philippines (TFP) fellows are assigned, was particularly challenging—and initially frustrating. While I have always enjoyed facilitating workshops continue reading

  • Books for the 12 days of Christmas

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer Saturday, December 13th, 2014 These are old and new discoveries, a merry mix of titles within easy reach in the house, by my desk, by the night light, on the computer table, on the kitchen counter, in a bag in the car for long waits and the continue reading

  • A November of books

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer It’s almost the end of November, which is Philippine Book Development Month as mandated by law and the Department of Education’s National Reading Month. And happily, many book-related events continue to take place. Just this week, also National Book Week, there was the congress of the Philippine continue reading

  • 33rd National Book Awards winners

    BREAKTHROUGH By Elfren S. Cruz The Philippine Star, November 27, 2014 Last Saturday, Nov. 20 was a special night at the Marble Hall of the National Museum of the Filipino People for Filipino authors, designers and publishers of the most outstanding books published in 2013. Started by the Manila Critics Circle led by Dr. Isagani continue reading

  • Filipino artist’s illustration chosen as cover of bestselling children’s book

    Photo Courtesy of Ms. Pepper Roxas The news that Amy Gary, editor of the Margaret Wise Brown Estate, found hundreds of pages of unpublished manuscripts in a cedar trunk in the attic of Margaret’s sister, is significant. Gary was not immediately convinced that this cache of writings on onionskin with rusty paper clips had never continue reading

  • Books as a measure of self-awareness

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer The 3-day Philippine International Literary Festival/Book Industry Summit of the National Book Development Board (NBDB) culminates today with the yearly Komikon Convention, a fitting crowd-drawing finale for days of discussions on “The Pressing Issue: Sustainable Publishing Amid Asean Integration.” The first day focused on an overview and continue reading

  • Never enough literary festivals

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer Saturday, November 1st 2014 I am still star-struck over my recent personal encounters with best-selling author Amy Tan and young talented poets Mark Anthony Cayanan, Mikael de Lara Co, Kristian Cordero, Allan Popa and nonfiction writers Chay Hofileña, Pam Pastor and Arnel Patawaran. And if time allowed, continue reading

  • At the Frankfurt Book Fair—but where was PH?

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer Saturday, October 18th, 2014 With the leisurely way I browse in bookstores, it was a real dilemma. How would I manage to cover the 7,300-plus book displays of exhibitors from more than 100 countries spread out in cavernous halls at the Frankfurt Book Fair (FBF) that ended continue reading

  • A tribute to a teacher: ‘Muy Bien!’

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer Saturday, October 4th, 2014 I was enrolled in Dr. Bien Lumbera’s comparative literature class at Ateneo Graduate School and was totally intimidated. Newly emancipated from sheltered years in a convent school where I read him in Antonio Manuud’s “Brown Heritage”—then the groundbreaking book on Philippine literature—and only continue reading

  • ‘Noli’ on the grand scale it deserves

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer Saturday, September 20, 2014 Expectations were high at the gala of “Noli Me Tangere: The Opera” at the Resorts World Manila Theater. After all, there was much hype even during the casting for the Manila production of what had originally been presented in the United States, the continue reading

  • Discovering Tampinco, discovering ourselves

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Saturday, September 6th, 2014 Call it an evening of yet another discovery of our little-known rich Filipino heritage. I was intrigued by the invitation of Vibal Foundation to the launch of a coffee-table book, “The Life and Art of Isabelo Tampinco” written by Santiago Albano Pilar and edited by National continue reading

  • To remember and to sing

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer One can immediately sense how successfully the spirit of Nick Joaquin has been captured in the large framed photograph of the National Artist that welcomes you to this ongoing exhibition at the Ateneo Rizal Library, Special Collections Building. It is a solo of a happily inebriated Joaquin—just continue reading

  • Kids say it best

    It was big news in the children’s publishing industry that at the PBBY-NBDB’s 3rd National Children’s Book Awards, Adarna House won all four of the selected Best Reads for 2014. These books are: “Hating Kapatid” by Raissa Rivera Falgui, illustrated by Fran Alvarez; “Ngumiti Si Andoy” by Xi Zuq, illustrated by Dominic Agsaway; “The Little continue reading

  • There’s no stopping National Children’s Book Day

    By Neni Sta. Romana-Cruz Typhoon “Glenda” may have temporarily upset all plans for the 31st National Children’s Book Day (NCBD) festivities on the third Tuesday of July, but booklovers like the Philippine Board on Books for Young People (PBBY) are never that easily discouraged. So what’s a minor setback wrought by the weather? The logical continue reading

  • Brother Armin’s love story

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer Saturday, July 5th, 2014 It was an unusual morning of launches at last week’s “Booklatan sa Eskwela: Tuloy ang Basa” at the Makati Elementary School Library Hub. Booklatan is a regular reading outreach program of the National Book Development Board (NBDB) in partnership with the local government continue reading

  • Alternative Publishing 101

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz The Limbag Kapihan for writers, artists, editors and translators drew a crowd eager to know “what’s next, now that my manuscript is ready to become a book?” Organized as part of a continuing series by the National Book Development Board with its stakeholders, the forum was scheduled on the heels continue reading

  • Teach the student, not the curriculum

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer Forty-five incoming Grade 3 teachers took their oath at the Teach for the Philippines (TFP) graduation ceremony of the 2014 Cohort two days before classes began for the public schools. As if the rigorous selection process they underwent—the nine-week summer institute in Dagupan immersing them in pedagogy continue reading

  • No substitute for ‘black marks’ on a page

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer Saturday, May 24th, 2014 When Joseph O’Reilly, the UK-based Save the Children senior education adviser, prefaced his opening remarks on “Getting the World’s Children to Read” with staggering statistics—that 61 million children are out of school and that 200 million schoolchildren in developing countries struggle to read continue reading

  • State of the Book Industry Address

    Delivered by Chair Neni Sta. Romana-Cruz during the Kapihan for Book Publishers and Sellers on May 22, 2014 at the Rizal Library, Ateneo de Manila University The Philippine book publishing industry is rich with the talent and craft of our writers. We have over 1,000 writers, both of literary and commercial content. There are around continue reading

  • Keeping the conversation on education going

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Saturday, April 12th, 2014 Philippine Daily Inquirer “Education that teaches people to ask questions” was how Drew Gilpin Hurst, the 28th and the first woman president of the 375-year-old Harvard University, described the kind of education that matters in a recent television interview. A major delight in being in the continue reading

  • Deciphering the Filipino psyche

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer Saturday, April 5th, 2014 An unexpected invitation during my continuing personal visit to the East Bay in San Francisco came from Chevron’s Filipino Employees Network (FEN), which wanted me to speak yet again on my pop culture books—“You Know You’re Filipino If…,” “Don’t Take a Bath on continue reading

  • Not just good but great teachers

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer Saturday, March 8th, 2014 When teachers introduce themselves and their careers with an apologetic “I am only a teacher,” my hackles are raised and I never pass up the chance to chide them and remind them about the vital role they play in the nurturing of hearts continue reading

  • No secret to Shanghai’s success in education

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer Friday, February 7th, 2014 The Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) is a study by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development of the scholastic performance of 15-year-old students in nations all over the world in three areas of competencies—math, science and reading—on a 1000-point scale. continue reading

  • Is pushing a button learning?

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer Friday, January 17th, 2014 Perhaps I will be a more credible speaker at literacy workshops with this experience I am going through with my grandson Diego, who is in the throes of the Terrible Threes. How everyone in the family laughed when I threw up my arms continue reading

  • Bonifacio still on my mind

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer Saturday, December 28th, 2013 Two major productions are to be commended for highlighting November, the month that was especially dedicated to Andres Bonifacio. One was “Teatro Porvenir, Ang Katangi-tanging Kasaysayan ni Andres Bonifacio, Macario Sakay at Aurelio Tolentino sa Entablado” of Dulaang UP, a Palanca Award-winning play continue reading

  • Do you know the way to Maragondon?

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer Friday, December 13th, 2013 I knew I was off to a great start when I began my private celebration of Andres Bonifacio’s 150th birth anniversary with the Gantimpala Theater musicale “Mga Anak ng Bayan,” written by Bonifacio Ilagan and directed by Joel Lamangan. Despite the initial frustration continue reading

  • Lipsticks today, books to follow

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer Friday, November 29th, 2013 Why is the education secretary, Br. Armin Luistro FSC, talking lipstick these days, even dropping lines like “Nail polish is the new lipstick”? What has gotten into him that he has this new vocabulary? In a brief conversation before the Senate’s final hearing continue reading

  • Honoring 2012’s best books

    BREAKTHROUGH By Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 21, 2013 A week after the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda, two groups of booklovers took time out to continue their tradition of honoring the most outstanding Filipino authors and books of the year. In her address to the audience, the chair of the National continue reading

  • Think November, think books

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer Saturday, November 16, 2013 The week of Nov. 11-16 was a coup of sorts for the National Book Development Board as it mounted the 4th Philippine International Literary Festival, dubbed “Text and the City,” in an innovative new format: a deliberate strategy conceptualized by NBDB deputy executive continue reading

  • Teach for All advocates from 32 countries, 6 continents

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer Saturday, November 2nd 2013 When I was invited to join the Teach for All conference held on Oct. 18-24 in Shanghai and then Tenchong in Yunnan province by Teach for the Philippines founders and top officials Margarita Delgado, Lizzie Zobel, and Clarissa Delgado, I thought my only continue reading

  • Literary guests for ‘Text and the City’ in November

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer Friday, October 18, 2013 All lovers of the written word, and, I have to add, illustrated images, in view of the rising interest in graphic literature: Brace yourselves for November, a month of literary events. The Manila City Library headed by Renan C. Santos will hold a continue reading

  • Flowers for the living: five special teachers

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer Saturday, October 5th, 2013 What does one remember of one’s teachers? Certainly not the lectures they made for these were not always brilliant or memorable, not the tedious rote drills for these were meaningless and mechanical, but, rather, the sundry incidents, even mere fleeting encounters with them, continue reading

  • Teaching for the Philippines, and leaving your mark

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer 20 September 2013 I was back in the classroom again a few days ago, coteaching a class of third-graders in Apolonio Samson Elementary School in Quezon City with Teach for the Philippines (TFP) fellow Leslie Espinosa for close to an hour. It brought to mind an invitation continue reading

  • First Read for 0-4 kids

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer Friday, August 30th, 2013 I had never been to a workshop quite like the recent Booklatan that the National Book Development Board (NBDB) had in Valenzuela on that Friday in August, the day before Tropical Storm “Maring” and the habagat began to unleash pouring rain across the continue reading

  • August and Cory and Ninoy

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer Friday, August 16, 2013 Cory Aquino would not have approved of all the fuss we make every time August comes around. As she has said often enough in gratitude to the crowd that faithfully attended the anniversary of Ninoy Aquino’s Aug. 21 assassination, you have done more continue reading

  • The love for reading is alive and well

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Friday, July 26th, 2013 I am normally hostile to persistent e-mail messages that have not been detected as spam and are not totally in the junk genre. I actually feel a degree of accomplishment—the same high one experiences in clearing one’s desk—in deleting them without taking the trouble of reading continue reading

  • ‘Basa, mga kapatid!’

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer In recent years, the Department of Education has been highlighting the third Tuesday of the month through a memo to all public schools enjoining them to celebrate National Children’s Book Day (NCBD) through storytelling, read-alouds, Drop Everything and Read sessions, and other reading promotion activities. Of course, continue reading

  • Reading: not easy to teach or learn

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Commentary, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 22 June 2013 In the June 4 edition of Public Education NewsBlast, an online weekly of the Los Angeles Education Partnership (LAEP), is a link to an article by Motoko Rich that first appeared in the New York Times titled “In Raising Scores, 1 2 3 continue reading

  • NBDB comes of age

    BREAKTHROUGH By Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) At the end of May the National Book Development Board, in partnership with Museo Pambata Foundation, held for the first time a two-day literary festival with a special focus on children’s literature. It was called “Little Lit Festival: A Coming of Age.”

The choice of title, even if continue reading

  • Too important to leave to educators

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer June 7th, 2013 As expected, the opening of classes has brought the Department of Education back in the glare of publicity once again. The usual shortages of teachers, classrooms, and books are highlighted, the K to 12 program is under critical scrutiny, as well as liberal and continue reading

  • Reading rocks, copyright rules

    By Neni Sta. Romana-Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer April 27, 2013 That was the catchy slogan of this year’s celebration of World Book and Copyright Day on April 23, an annual event traditionally spearheaded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco). It is a day meant to honor authors and literature and to continue reading

  • Do you know there is a Public Library Day?

    By Neni Sta. Romana Cruz Philippine Daily Inquirer April 12, 2013 “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” —Jorge Luis Borges March 9 was Public Library Day, the 113th such commemoration—but did any of us take notice? The National Library headed by Director Antonio Santos held a panel discussion on continue reading

  • Structures for Creativity

    In “The Power of Words” (in Magis, ed. Queena Lee-Chua), Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, SJ, expresses the hope that Philippine literature will develop fully to become the third jewel of our destitute nation, whose two original jewels are our music and our faith. A full body of literature can bring forth a people of great works continue reading

  • The VAT Exemption and its Challenge

    The Expanded Value Added Tax Law has been enacted, and it has retained the VAT exemption of books. When the public hearings on the E-VAT bill began, the National Book Development Board (NBDB ) passed a resolution appealing to our legislators to retain the VAT exemption of books in order to prevent an aggravation of continue reading

  • Filipina Achievers and Book Lovers

    Groucho Marx might have been joking when he quipped: “behind every great man is a woman.” A better quip goes: “behind every great man is an astonished mother-in-law (who is sure he would not have amounted to anything without her daughter).” Fortunately, we live in an age when more and more women are admired not continue reading

  • Why Make or Read Books?

    “Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). Low-quality books tire the eyes and bore the mind. High-quality books stimulate creative and critical thinking. Low-quality books breed mere words, and in this case Ecclesiastes rightly says, “the more the words, the less the meaning, and how does continue reading

  • Secondary Liability for Copyright Infringement

    Can an educational institution be held liable for rampant acts of indiscriminate photocopying of copyrighted materials within its campus? What if the machines used for the infringing acts are owned by an entity that merely rents campus space? Can an educational institution be held liable for allowing students to use infringing copies within the classroom? continue reading