Biblio Freak

If I were not a homeschooling mom, would I be as obsessive-compulsive about amassing books for my kids?

I don’t know but I certainly am more fixated about getting as many books as I can whenever I pass by second-hand bookshops.  The Book Sale in MOA is one of my favorites, being well-stocked and near our house.  I got six books that I thought would satisfy my hunger.  (Note: MY hunger, not my kids’ but the books are for them!)  But then I discovered Biblio at the U.P. Town Center.

Usually when I go through stacks of pre-owned, pre-loved books in a shop, it would take several flips and some time before I find something I like but in Biblio, I grabbed almost every other book in sight with greed.  It was too easy to sift through the treasures like diamonds loosely scattered on the surface and there was no need to dig through muck.  I ended up with twelve books but I had to stop myself because it could have readily doubled without self-restraint.  Plus you get a free cup of brewed coffee for every 300 peso purchase but I skipped that since I didn’t want to lose time with the books.

I’ve never seen so many Magic School Bus books in a used bookstore which made me ecstatic because in China, the brand new ones cost a fortune and here, there were all under a hundred pesos each.  One of my favorite children’s book, Twenty One Balloons by William Pene du Bois was also there sitting in the basket, waiting for me, knowing that I’d come save him from being an orphan forever.  If there is one book I wish every kid (and parent) could read, it would be Twenty One Balloons because I want them to step in and get lost, like me, in the author’s wild imagination.

While wading through the selections, I called up my friend, Jen because I found books that her daughters might love because my sons loved those too: “When You Give a Moose a Muffin” and “When You Give a Mouse a Cookie” by Laura Numeroff.  I also tried calling up Bunny because we once braved a dusty warehouse to find books for our kids but now, here was a nicely interior-decorated space where you don’t have to sneeze or suffer an ounce.

And that’s just the children’s books I’m going through.  Since I started using a Kindle, I stopped buying books for myself and just focus on purchasing physical books for my kids. Finding Biblio, I’m tempted to go Kindle-free for a while.

I don’t know whether to be happy or sad that Biblio is quite far away from where we live. I’d save money if I can’t go there as often but then I’d miss the thrill of being reunited with my childhood friends.  Being a homeschooling mom, I have a perfect excuse to splurge on books because we don’t have textbooks. I curate our own library and make up the curriculum along the way.  I can hog all the books I want for my kids.



This is their Facebook page: Biblio



For the sisterhood of “Where are you?”

Do you go on auto-pilot ticking off as many things in a to-do list

That you forget the most important thing that doesn’t even warrant

Entry into the phone’s memo pad reminder

Quiet time that’s thrown out the window the moment calendars get filled

Productivity in disguise

We step out of the umbrella despite the fact

“Somebody dreams great dreams for me”

Sin is a tiger that pounces on you and has pinned you down

Can I write without bothering to join spaghetti streams?

No syntax, just this

Snake shedding skin after skin after skin

Till grace finds us willing

To take a kiss

Removing weeds of selfishness, impatience and

The hardness of the heart crumbles

We are all saving each other from the brink of self-destruction

I’m Cain and not Abel as I want to

I can die pretending

Or I can live on hope

With mercy at its back breaking wave upon wave

Until the stone is polished serene









Blogless Silence


It is the silence of sudden, overwhelming toxicity but also the extended sigh of rest. We landed in Manila several nights ago and the kids are enjoying being in a house with four dogs.  The grandparents are happy while I’m in a contained panic over fitting everything that needs to be done within a limited time frame.  What’s new?  That’s how it usually is whenever I go back home to the Philippines from what seems like a simple, semi-fairy tale existence in a different country, sheltered from complex past baggage that is actually not too far from present burdens with another skin.

Now back to documenting this journey. I figured the focus these next weeks would be homeschooling methods and preparations for the trip.  The round the world plans have evolved from a thirty-country, twenty-five school, four year project to a twelve-country, twenty-school, ten-month endeavor.  Nothing’s final until the tickets are bought, visas stamped and there’s always space for changes throughout, and we’re always open and flexible, but here’s the updated itinerary:

Month Country Town/City/State Schools & Sites to Visit
January 10 – 21 Japan Tokyo Shure University, Fuji Kindergarten
January 22 – 30 Indonesia Bali Green School, Green Village
February 1 – 28 New Zealand Auckland; Christchurch Timatanga School (Aukland), Tamariki School (Christchurch)
March 1 – 26 Philippines Manila
March 27 – April 11 Israel Hadera IDEC Conference (International Democratic Education Conference)
April 12 – 21 Switzerland Lausanne
April 22 – 28 Germany Berlin Robin Hood Forest Kindergarten, Evangelical School Berlin
April 29 – May 10 England Suffolk Summerhill School (Suffolk), Newman University (Birmingham – Helen Lees)
May 11 – 27 USA Massachusetts Sudbury School
May 28 – 31 USA Rhode Island Big Picture School
June 1 – 30 USA New York Free School Albany, AERO Conference (Alternative Education Resource Education), Bronx Green Machine
July 1 – 10 Canada Toronto Eric Jackman Inst. of Child Study, Compass for Self-Directed Learning (Ottawa), Nipissing University (Carlo Ricci)
July 11 – 15 Canada Regina
July 15 – 20 USA Minnesota
July 20 – August 20 USA California (SFO – LA) Redwood Forest, Tinkering School, Timbernook, Incubator School, 826 Valencia, High Tech HS
August 20 – 28 Colombia Bogota Fundacion Escuela Nueva
August 29 – September 15 Brazil Sao Paolo Lumiar
September 16 – 30 Zambia Livingstone
October 1 – 15 Tanzania Dar Es Salam

Here in Manila, I got a regular tutor to come teach the kids reading and math everyday — one hour for Joshua and half an hour for Jimmy.  The rest of their day is spent playing or going out to meet up with family and friends.  Hopefully, the technical glitch with the mandarin online tutor will be solved soon, too.

I have to start looking more in-depth and seriously into the following possibilities for the trip: Couchsurfing, Talktalk bnb, Airbnb, Help Exchange, Affordable Travel Club, housesitting websites, homestays, travel insurance, car rentals and airfare comparisons.  Schools have to be contacted, visas applied for plus on the side, there’s architectural design work that needs to be done before going back to China.

Meanwhile, Manila is a wonderful pit-stop for stocking up on homeschooling resources.  My favorite Book Sale stores never fail to yield literary treasures for children and with our home’s WiFi, I can download to my heart’s content audio book recordings for long car rides in urban gridlock, for drives to the provinces and for future road trips.  Today, for example, on the way to Calatagan, Batangas, Joshua listened intently to the first six chapters of Prince Caspian (Chronicles of Narnia) and I promised to get him the next installments.

My friend, Donna also embarked on a hard-to-resist task that I’m now co-writing with her an article about the democratic university called Shure in Tokyo.  We met the founder and students during APDEC (Asia Pacific Democratic Education Conference) in Taiwan and Donna visited Tokyo last month where she saw the university for herself.  Intrigued to see how it works, I, too can’t wait to check out Shure next year.

That’s the other thing I realized — the need to release this whole round the world project from expectations of grand results such as a whole, bilingual book with accompanying book tour.  Perhaps the blog is a good enough start followed by contributing articles to journals, magazines and websites, and sharing experiences at conferences.  Where the journey leads, though I venture ambitious guesses, it’s enough that it happens and we savor the ride with all its ups and downs.  Bite-size, short term writing projects instead of grand, long term ones are more realizable and less stressful.  The long-haul goals may evolve into who knows what form and should not be allowed to add unnecessary pressure.

On our last night in Kunming, we had dinner with new friends we made in Dali — a mother who sent her son to participate in Qiu Jin’s summer camp and whose son became fast friends with Joshua during their brief time together. The mom is likewise interested in non-traditional education and was looking for alternatives in Kunming but it turns out the International Schools there didn’t allow Chinese students so I helped her find Waldorf options through Donna.

It’s more than enough to be a player in this cosmic game called life, connecting dots as we go along and the more dots connected, the more fun, squeezing out mysterious meanings from the jaunts, loving the path, not the destination, appreciating the God of small things is in charge of the big things.