My 2017 Great Reads List

“To know how to read is to light a lamp in the mind, to release the soul from prison, to open a gate to the universe.” (Pearl S. Buck)

How fast time flies! I just wrote my 2016 Great Reads list few months ago and here I am writing a 2017 edition. Truth be told, this year has been so busy and I honestly slacked off in my readings. Nevertheless, allow me to share these few books I read this year that have found a special place in my heart.

  1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre, a story of a young governess who fell in love with her employer (Mr. Rochester), is a classic tale set in 19th century England.

Jane views herself as a small, plain and obscure. Mr. Rochester is a single man with an orphan at his charge — Adele, whom Jane teaches at Thornfield Hall. Rochester’s attraction to Jane is attributed by their intellectual exchanges and by her ability to withstand his severe, domineering presence.

Despite their declaration of love for each other, Jane is forced to leave. Her despair is not simply the result of her feelings for Mr. Rochester- it is her discovery of a secret he has kept from her.

This novel strengthens the idea that in matters of love, honesty and acceptance are essential. And most importantly, wherever life may lead you, you will find yourself longing for that one person whom your heart desires.

I would say that this novel is one the best books I have ever read. Present in this masterpiece is the conflict between truth and acceptance, passion and morality, and a struggle for independence. They both truly loved each other but conscience tells her it is wrong to engage in such affair. What is amazing in this novel though is that the mind wins over the heart, or should I say Jane’s morality won over her passion. Because to do such a thing (to run away from love because you know it is the right thing to do) is not easy. She goes on saying:

“Gentle reader, may you never feel what I then felt! May your eyes never shed such stormy, scalding, heart-wrung tears as poured from mine. May you never appeal to Heaven in prayers so hopeless and so agonized as in that hour left my lips: for never may you, like me, dread to be the instrument of evil to what you wholly love.”

In the end, it was a happy novel where love wins because Jane and Rochester, after being separated by their tribulations, are reunited and they know this time around, their love’s right.

2. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Gustave Flaubert’s highly-acclaimed novel was set in mid-1800s Normandy, France, where a farmer’s daughter Emma marries a young doctor, Charles Bovary. With colossal ambition for a fairy-tale future like the ones she reads about in novels, she moves in with Charles with hopes of Utopian happiness.

But marriage doesn’t live up to Emma’s romantic expectations. Charles loves Emma but is preoccupied by his work. Throughout their marriage, Emma is bored and finds her husband’s dullness repulsive. She also encounters people and events which leads her to become more and more discontent with her life. She slowly turns into a materialistic and pleasure-seeking wife, to the extent of engaging in affairs with other men to seek fulfillment. With shame and terror of her infidelity and mounting debt, she dies in a painful suicide by arsenic.

This is indeed a tragic story but very thought-provoking. At one glance, you can say it is an adulteress’ tale of misfortune and that what happened to her was her own selfish doing. Others would also contradict that Emma is just a victim of circumstance and that she doesn’t deserve a terrible bashing that lasts until now. Well for sure, everyone deserves forgiveness but the truth ought to be highlighted that adultery should never be tolerated and the lessons Madame Bovary has taught us must never be forgotten.

I am no literary expert, but having an in-depth analysis of Emma’s character opens our eyes to a not-so-surprising reality that we are all like her. Like Emma, we have our motives that if left unchecked are very detrimental to us. We daydream of things we want to achieve, that we forget to savor the present. While dreaming for the future is not totally bad, what is wrong is failing to actually live in the moment where it could potentially shape the realization of those aspirations.

It is also note-worthy to point out that Emma’s envious desires are influenced by circumstances around her — the extravagant ball, the exquisite and expensive items sold to her by that merchant, the tempting men she met. Relating it into our lives, how many times have you found yourself being envious of what others have? This is something that we must all be vigilant about.

As Lydia Davis (Madame Bovary English translator), writes in her introduction, Flaubert was “holding up a mirror to the middle- and lower-middle-class world of his day, with all its little habits, fashions, fads.” I say, reading this novel is like holding up a mirror to yourself, you reflect and learn from it.

3. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

This novel is often cited to as Jane Austen’s Gothic parody. The story’s protagonist is Catherine Morland, an unwordly seventeen-year-old woman who spends a few weeks in Bath with a family friend. Catherine meets families and people through dances and dinners and falls in love with Henry Tilney, who invites her to visit Northanger Abbey, his family estate.

While there, Catherine, an avid reader of Gothic thrillers, allows the gloomy air of the old mansion to fill her thoughts with appalling suspicions such as the death of Henry’s mother or the hidden family secrets. Catherine creates terrible warnings in the most ordinary incident, until Henry made her realize to see the menace in mixing reality with fiction.

I must admit I had difficulty reading the first part of the novel. I wasn’t really able to follow the pacing of events. I think Austen’s style of writing at this time (this is her first completed novel) is too much for me compared to her other novels. But I was able to adjust after a few attempts of re-reading the first parts. (Hehehe I am not ashamed to confess that it indeed took me awhile to continue to the next chapter because I want to make sure that I understand what I just read.)

So my take away for this novel is that how crucial it is for us to be great judges of character. Like we need to know how to read and understand people. Many mistakes and failures in our lives can be attributed to the lack of this ability. For instance, Catherine befriended Isabella and never noticed how worldly and quite ambitious she is to the point that she really adored her and pushed his brother’s engagement to Isabella. Even Catherine’s family approved of this because they indeed thought she was fit for James because of her joyous countenance. Later on they knew she was a materialistic woman and broke off with James when she got a chance to flirt with a rich man.

Same is true with our lives, the people we meet everyday have their stories that at first are unknown to us. We begin to spend more days and weeks, months and years with them but we can really never tell if we have fully known them. It takes a keen observation and good judgment to choose who are these few but significant people whom you can really trust and are worth your loyalty too.

Also, this novel shows the importance of levelheadedness, logic and reasoning. I can really relate to Catherine because sometimes (just sometimes), I confuse reality and art, wrongfully connect the past and the present, and I am such a sensitive over thinker. It is no fun. It is perilous. One time I had my bouts of overthinking, a very wise handsome man reminded me of Matthew 6:27, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”. Let’s say amen to that!

4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel set in the 1930s in the Southern United States. Scout Finch and her brother Jem, live with their father Atticus in Maycomb, Alabama.

Scout and Jem learn that their father is going to speak on behalf of a black man named Tom Robinson, who is accused of violating a white woman. They have to face an avalanche of racial allegations because of Atticus’ representation in the case.

Tom is convicted though Atticus showed strong arguments that Tom could not have possibly done the crime. There was a report later on that Tom Robinson had been killed in an attempt to escape. In the end, Scout learns to see people with how they are, and not be daunted by prejudices.

In its simplicity, this novel is moving and compelling. It has a forceful political message regarding the oppressed lives of African-Americans in 1930s America, and the hostility they have to deal with every day. With Atticus’ boldness, he defends Tom Robinson despite the negativity of others.

As James Topham said, “Beautifully written, evocative, tender, but with a passionate message that drives the novel’s action, To Kill a Mockingbird is rightfully a much loved and much-studied classic. A tale of childhood, but also a tale of how the world should be (and how we can change it), the book lives on in the hearts of those who have read it well after the final page has been turned.”

So there’s my 4 Great Reads this year (I know I haven’t been reading diligently). If you have read these books please do feel free to share your thoughts about what you’ve learned from them. And I also accept book suggestion for year 2018.

And again, let me leave you with these words from Ray Bradbury: “There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them”. Together, let us read! Happy reading!


J’ai rêvé d’un rêve triste

Des fois je me demande
Si les rêves deviennent réalité
Parce que s'ils le fon
Alors mon coeur sera brisé en morceaux

Parce que hier soir
Pendant que la lune régnait
Et chaque âme était dans un sommeil profond
Le mien était très éveille
Réveillé dans mes rêves

Dans mon rêve
Vous étiez avec quelqu'un d'autre
Et vous avez l'air si heureux
Et bien que je déteste l'admettre
Vous avez l'air bien ensemble

C'est le souhait de tout le monde
Que leurs rêves deviennent réalité
Et moi aussi
Et maintenant
Mon seul rêve
Est-ce que ce rêve ne se réalise pas




Jo and Clyde’s Biliran Wedding


“Every once in a while, in the middle of an ordinary life , love gives us a fairy tale…” 

Stories of love always fascinate me. From start to finish, I would diligently watch a movie, read a book and listen to a friend’s lovelife drama with all eyes, ears and heart. (Char!)

Childhood years have given me so much faith in love. There were my uncles, aunts, relatives, and yes, my dear parents who showed me that despite imperfections of two conflicting beings, love prevails and ‘they live happily ever after’ does not only happen in fairy tales.

And perhaps I can give the accolade to  Ate Josephine – a petite, soft-spoken, talented, lovely teenager who would patiently tell stories to a pack  of naughty, pesky, demanding grade school cousins.

“Te, storya na pud te!,” we would gather around her and off she starts with her romantic, love tales derived from books, movies and most of the time she made stories with  her  audience as the characters.

Now fast forward 15 years, our Ate Jo is to share with us her own story of patient, true love. It’s like memories flashed back to the day when she was telling us the movie “Ever After” (starring Drew Barrymoore) and now it’s 2016 and she’s off to to live  her ever after with the man of her dreams.

So that fateful day came – June 25, 2016 at the lovely, scenic town in Naval, Biliran wherein families were gathered to witness this momentous affair.

 And now, as  I show you the photos, ladies and gentlemen, you are welcome to swoon with me and together let’s say “May Forever!”

The serene, cozy resort – Marvin’s Seaside Inn, Biliran, Leyte. We stayed here the night before the wedding, during the beautification rites (hehe) and the reception.
The wedding gown resembles the bride’s taste in simplicity, class and elegance. Yes, we know right, Ate Jo is  the woman!
Photo Courtesy: Dwight Anthony Tan Inchoco
She looks so beautiful in white! Photo Courtesy: Dwight Anthony Tan Inchoco


Photo courtesy: Dwight Anthony Tan Inchoco


Precious photos of families and friends.


Sealed with a kiss! Photo Courtesy: Dwight Anthony Tan Inchoco


Back at Marvin’s Seaside Inn for the reception.

Today, 25th of June 2016 will always be a special  day for we have witnessed a union of two souls  who have patiently waited until they found the love they’ve been yearning for.


To Ate Jo who is now Mrs. Gorme and to Kuya Clyde who has won her heart – all the best!



Watch a video tribute I’ve made Jo and Clyde Wedding for a dose of kilig! Also, all professional photographs you have seen in this post are from Dwight Anthony Tan Inchoco of D & N Production. Thank you for viewing and let’s all spread love, love and nothing but love!


Hugs and kisses from your all-time hopeless romantic…


MCD campus journ mentors join RTOT ’16

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. ” – Alvin Toffler

Learn. Unlearn. Relearn. These words from Alvin Toffler play a huge role for 21st century education. The curriculum, teaching methodologies and assessment have undergone a major ‘face lift’ over the years. Change has come especially for teachers. Gone are the days where educators are stuck in a four-walled classroom giving lectures and tests. Today’s molders of future leaders have side-line duties as accountants ( MOOE liquidation, anyone?), computer operators ( hello ICT coordinators!) and researchers( salute to our Master Teachers!), to name a few.

But there is one role of teachers which  them to inspire young minds to be an active part of society and that is being campus journalists. Campus Journalism is stipulated in R.A. 7079 “AN ACT PROVIDING FOR THE DEVELOPMENT AND PROMOTION OF CAMPUS JOURNALISM AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES” which moves the government to develop budding writers, and points the Department of Education  to manage  competitions, press conferences and training seminars for student writers and for teacher coaches/mentors.

Speaking of training, DepEd Region 8 hosted a Regional Enhancement Training for Division Mentors on Campus Journalism last June 4-7, 2016 for Elementary School Paper advisers and June 7-9, 2016 for Secondary Batch. This training envisions to upgrade the teachers’ journalistic skills so as to cascade their learning to their respective school divisions and more importantly, to their young journalists.

Enough of lengthy introductions…hehe. Let’s get it on!

Morning of June 4, 2016 we traveled to Tacloban City and were accommodated at Villa Lolita Apartelle. Each room has its own entertainment set, dining and kitchen area, bathrooms and ….a fridge! We just love this place! Check these photos out…


The training was held at Leyte National High School, Tacloban City participated by  school paper advisers, division mentors/coaches and journalism coordinators  in the region. Different journalistic categories were tackled with corresponding write shops to practice skills.

This year’s training was significant with the presence of Dr. Gerry Alkuino, a multi-awarded teacher-journalist who authors various journalism books.

Grab the opportunity! haha We asked Dr. Alkuino if we could take a photo with him and he gladly accepted our request. Thank you Sir!
Give me a sign! hehe Dr. Alkuino was kind enough to sign his book which I’ve bought  less than a year ago. He wrote, “Keep your star shining!” Thanks Sir!

First day of training also means first chance of ‘gala’. The ‘Lagalag’ team Ma’am Libeth, Sir Raymond, Sir Carmel and myself went  window shopping at Robinsons Tacloban.


And the training continued…

Break-away sessions were established wherein participants underwent workshops together with the expert regional trainers. This is where much of learning, unlearning and relearning took place.


After a mind-wrecking write/workshop, Maasin City Division campus journalism mentors garnered some best outputs in News Writing, Copy reading and Headline Writing, Editorial Writing, Editorial Cartooning, Feature Writing, Radio Broadcasting, among others.


But above all, what’s best in affairs such as this is being able to brush elbows and bond with co-educators. Learning valuable insights from campus journalism experts is also a plus factor. It’s such a sight to behold and a wondrous moment to remember.


June 7, 2016. The four-day workshop has come to an end but in reality, the training would never cease as we continue to transfer what we have learned to our respective divisions, schools, co-mentors and pupil-writers. We are your Maasin City Division mentors, and we will work together to develop social awareness among young citizens through campus journalism. So help us God! 🙂



Ooops, not so fast! View this video Regional Enhancement Training for Division Mentors on Campus Journalism to see what we were up to during this event. Thanks for dropping by and see you in my next post! 🙂