The Butter Battle Book

(Originally posted at on September 30, 2010 4:33 AM)

My favorite Dr. Seuss book is The Butter Battle Book.  (I have a copy from the first printing.  I bought it from BOOKSALE.)

Here’s some information about it (from Judith & Neil Morgan, Dr. Seuss & Mr. Geisel: A Biography.  New York: Random House, 1995, pp. 249-250):

Ted (Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss) recalled his Oxford studies of the conflict between the thirteenth-century Guelphs and Ghibellines of northern Italy, a deadly quarrel between those loyal to the Pope and those pledged to the Holy Roman emperor, setting cities like Florence and Siena at each other’s throat.  As Ted chose to remember history, they had fought because the Guelphs cut their apples vertically while the Ghibellines cut theirs horizontally.  Such nonsense became his metaphor for mounting cold war tension, and he plunged into the nuclear-war theme with a vigor that he had not felt for years.  He posed technical questions to retired military friends in San Diego, especially Victor H. Krulak, a Marine Corps lieutenant general who had been prominent in the Vietnam war.  […]

He wrote his nephew that he was working eight to ten hours a day on “the best book I’ve ever written.” […] [A friend] told Ted that the book’s inconclusive ending—would there be nuclear war?—would trouble some readers, but he agreed that it was the only honest one. […]

An in-house memo to Random House salespeople described The Butter Battle Book as “probably the most important book Dr. Seuss has ever created.” […]

Maurice Sendak wrote the following endorsement for the book (Morgan & Morgan, 1995, p. 252):

Surprisingly, wonderfully, the case for total disarmament has been brilliantly made by our acknowledged master of nonsense, Dr. Seuss. . . . Only a genius of the ridiculous could possibly deal with the cosmic and lethal madness of the nuclear arms race. . . . He has done the world a service.


Komiks (Blg. 3)

(Originally posted at on September 18, 2010 4:49 AM)

For those who want to know more about Komiks and the Komiks industry, I strongly recommend that you get a copy of Pinoy Komiks Rebyu. (I got a few issues last August 30, 2010.)  The magazine has many articles, including a brief history of Pinoy komiks, a review of a 1980 magazine (The Philippine Comics Review), interviews with artists, writers, and editors, and articles on censorship and on komiks as a political instrument.  But what really caught my interest was the article entitled “Mga Dahilan ng Pagbagsak ng Komiks” (Reasons for the Downfall of Komiks).

The issue has 68 pages (including the cover).  (It seems that all Pinoy komiks include the cover in the page count.)  The cover is glossy (colored on the outside, black-and-white on the inside), while the pages are black-and-white newsprint paper.  This is a real pity as I would love to see the illustrations and pictures in color.

Billiard Paths

(Originally posted at on September 3, 2010 10:08 PM)

Many years ago (perhaps around 1998), I bought a copy of Joseph O’Rourke’s Art Gallery Theorems and Algorithms (published in 1987) from a BOOKSALE outlet.  One of my favorite sections was the one on Mirrors (section 10.5) because it had a lot of open problems on illumination and billiard paths.  I have written a short article (Periodic Billiard Paths in Triangles) targeted at undergraduates.  It’s a summary of one open problem:  does every triangle have a periodic billiard path?

Komiks (Blg. 2)

(Originally posted at on August 29, 2010 7:15 PM)

Filipino Komiks vol. 1, no. 1, published in 2006 by Risingstar Printing Enterprise has 76 pages (including the cover) and has a cover price of 100 pesos.  The cover is colored and on glossy paper; the pages inside are black and white on newsprint.  It has eight self-contained stories and three articles on local comic artists/writers.

The last sentence of the editorial says it all:  “Mabuhay ang mga nagmamahal sa komiks!”  (roughly translated as “Long live those who love komiks!”)

Komiks (Blg. 1)

(Originally posted at on August 22, 2010 9:48 AM)

A few years ago I decided to look for some local “komiks.”  Note the spelling; I would say that “komiks” are written for the masses while “comics” are targeted at the more elite crowd.  They used to be found at newsstands in public markets, but everywhere I went, I could no longer find them.  I finally found a person at a newsstand in a public market in Quezon City, who had no komiks on display, but when I asked him if he had any, he reached inside his cabinet and brought out the six issues below.

They are dated 1992, 1993, and 1994. Note that the prices on the covers have been covered with blank price stickers. That’s the way I got them. Some of the actual cover prices have been marked over with a pen, but a few of them could be seen: 5 pesos, 6 pesos. I forgot the price that the man at the newsstand wanted for each issue (20 or 25 pesos, I think), but I considered it a very good price, as I was actually willing to pay up to 100 pesos for each.

It’s hard to describe the condition of the issues, considering that the paper is newsprint and was never white to begin with, but I would say that all of the issues are from fine to very fine. (The condition of a comic book is rated from Poor, Fair, Good, Very Good, Fine, Very Fine, Near Mint, to Mint.)

Some of the komiks came out once a week, while others came out twice a week. Some (Pilipino Komiks, True Horoscope Stories, Extra Special Komiks) have 32 pages; others (Superstar) have 48 (counting the covers). In all cases, only the first 8 and the last 8 pages are in color; the rest are in black, white, and shades of red.

I’m very interested in when, how, and why the publication of komiks stopped.  If you have any information, please comment.  Thanks.

Jean Llorin

(Originally posted at on July 28, 2010 4:56 AM)

My mother-in-law, Jean Llorin, whom we call “Nanay” (the Filipino word for “mother”), passed away last July 7, 2010.  Many have already written about her.  (For example, see this and this.)

Her curriculum vitae lists her areas of expertise and experiences as training (gender sensitivity, violence against women, parenting, adult learning methods, community organizing, value clarification, team building, organizational development, cooperative formation), peace advocacy (conflict resolution and management, marriage counseling, family ministry, formation of peace zones), organizing (youth volunteers for HABITAT, rural poor volunteers for housing, women in politics), and advocacy for lay spirituality (inter-religious dialogue, retreat direction, spiritual direction, facilitating recollections).  It also mentions that her personal mission is “To journey with persons and help each one find God in their lives.”

There is a saying: “Madaling magsalita; mahirap gumawa” (Talking is easy; doing is difficult).  Nanay not only spoke about what the world needed but also did something about it.

The picture above was taken by Nanay’s relative, Rita Dulay, at Ateneo de Naga University’s Church of Christ the King right before Nanay’s burial.

German Studies in the Philippines

(Originally posted at on July 16, 2010 1:30 AM)

My friend Kai is requesting that I help him with the following call for papers, so I’m reprinting it here in its entirety:

Call for Papers

To mark its 100th year anniversary, the Department of European Languages of the University of the Philippines–Diliman, in collaboration with the Goethe Institut–Manila, is publishing a book on German Studies in the Philippines.  The book will be a collection of scholarly articles by Filipino academics on various aspects of German Studies, including literature, cinema, history and politics.  Offering a rare opportunity for Filipino scholars to participate in the production of knowledge on Germany and highlighting their unique perspectives in German Studies, the book will be a valuable addition to the expected spate of publications that will mark this year’s celebration of the 20th anniversary of German reunification.

The book will be a first attempt to gather the works of an admittedly small number of academics from all over the Philippines who are engaged in German Studies or whose field of interest or specialization includes Germany.  It should therefore inspire other academics to develop interest in the field and encourage Philippine universities to include German Studies in their curricula.

To be called 20: Filipino Perspectives in German Studies, the book will be edited by Asst. Prof. D.V.S. Manarpaac, coordinator of the German Section of the Department of European Languages at the U.P. Diliman, and will be launched in March 2011.  Contributions following the guidelines below are hereby solicited.

  1. The article should be on any aspect of German Studies, including (but not limited to) literature, cinema, history and politics.
  2. It should be written in English.
  3. It should subscribe to the Chicago Manual of Style.
  4. It should be between 10 to 20 pages including Bibliography.
  5. It should not have been previously published—in print or online.

Please submit your contributions in Word format not later than 15 November 2010 to: